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County News

Posted on: January 18, 2019

Stafford Considers Cluster Subdivision Map as First Step in Smart Growth Analysis


The Board will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, January 22, 2019, on the proposed Cluster Subdivision Areas map. The proposed map is the result of the Board of Supervisors charging the Planning Commission with conducting a comprehensive review of state-mandated cluster development regulations and agreeing on a draft map of where that type of development may take place. This map would become an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance. It does not affect a property owner’s ability to develop a conventional subdivision. The map identifies areas for cluster development within the Urban Services Area (USA), as defined below, and areas adjacent to the USA. It is important to note that conventional subdivisions are permitted anywhere in the County, consistent with zoning and subdivision regulations.

Cluster development is a by-right development practice that allows for reduced lot sizes in exchange for preservation of open space. It is one of the tools, along with the Purchase of Development Rights Program (PDR), the Transfer of Development Rights Program (TDR), Targeted Growth Areas (TGA) and USAs, that the County uses to facilitate healthy growth. The USA is an area in the county where public sewer and water utilities, most public facilities and higher density development exist, or is planned. By targeting TGAs and the USA for the more densely populated cluster developments, the County reduces the burden to taxpayers for expanded services like infrastructure, public safety and schools.

Last fall, the Board of Supervisors identified “healthy growth” as a priority when they adopted Stafford’s first-ever Strategic Plan. The goal is to examine options on how to balance the preservation of the rural character of the County while also allowing it to thrive and grow. The plan calls for actionable steps over the next three years to identify and execute growth management strategies that align with Stafford’s Comprehensive Plan without negatively impacting taxation. Paramount to both of these efforts is public input.

Important steps in addressing the healthy growth priority include collecting data from Stafford’s comparative localities, developing a list of tools available to incentivize desired development in the USA, engaging with stakeholders and analyzing the costs to the County for developments within and outside the Urban Services Area (USA). To promote impartiality, a consultant will assist with the gathering of Board of Supervisors approved data and engaging stakeholders.

Two facilitated roundtable discussions are planned for stakeholders, with up to ten participants at each meeting, selected to represent a diverse cross section of viewpoints on growth and development in Stafford County. The meetings are open to the public and will consist of an educational component along with a discussion by roundtable participants. The meetings will be recorded and documented as part of the process. Soon after, there will be two larger open sessions with educational segments as well as opportunities for public discussion, summarizing the information and data gathered during the analysis and roundtable discussions. One meeting will be held in the northern end of the County and one in the southern end of the County, to provide opportunities for all citizens to participate.

At the conclusion of the public meetings, the information will be compiled and brought to the full Board of Supervisors for the Board to decide the next steps. A proposed timeline for the work plan is shown below:

  • January through February 2019 – Comprehensive Analysis
  • March through April 2019 – Conduct Public Outreach/Facilitated Roundtables and Public Meeting
  • May 7, 2019 – Presentation to the Board of Supervisors
  • May 21, 2019 – Recommendations to the Board for Next Steps

Additional Info...
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