Stafford's Board of Supervisors will continue to work on Stafford's Healthy Growth initiative once again on October 29, 2020, at a joint hearing with the Planning Commission. The Board first considered this issue in 2018 during the development of the Board’s Strategic Plan, which identified Healthy Growth as a Board Priority. The Board conducted a comprehensive public engagement campaign seeking input from residents in 2019. Staff used the results to formulate plans considered by the Board in several work sessions. The Board chose to pursue reducing residential development density in rural areas, an action that would require amending the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance.
"Our forward momentum on Healthy Growth was slowed a little by the events so far in 2020, but we are ready to get back on track to ensure the growth in this county aligns with the goals of our Strategic Plan for the County," said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Meg Bohmke, Falmouth District. "We welcome the public to this joint hearing as we all move forward together to plan for the best possible future for Stafford."
The Board and Planning Commission will consider establishing a maximum allocated density of one dwelling unit per 10 acres in the A-1, Agricultural Zoning District. The Proposed Ordinance also defines "allocated density" as the number of dwelling units or rooms allowed by the Zoning Ordinance for a lot divided by the lot's net area. The proposed amendment will not change the minimum lot size of three acres for conventional subdivisions and 1.5 acres for cluster subdivisions in the A-1 Zoning District.
The Healthy Growth initiative arose out of a desire by the Board for better-managed growth by adhering to Stafford's Comprehensive Plan, a long-range vision for the County based on shared community values and preferences. Currently, the Comprehensive Plan recommends that the Targeted Growth Areas receive 50% of the projected future growth. Based on current approvals and development patterns, the number Targeted Growth Areas are expected in the future is only 8.2% of future growth. The Comprehensive Plan discourages residential development in the rural areas of the County. The rural areas are planned to accept 20% of future residential growth. Current approvals and development patterns show that the rural areas would receive approximately 30% of the future growth, an unsustainable path considering the public safety, road improvement, water and septic, and school impacts it would create.
The joint public hearing will be held on Thursday, October 29, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Colonial Forge High School, 550 Courthouse Road, Stafford, Virginia. All parties are invited to appear and state their views. The auditorium will accommodate 65 individuals with minimal overflow seating in the cafeteria next to the auditorium. In-person speakers will receive a number and will listen for their number to be called up. The meeting will adhere to all required Coronavirus protocols such as social distancing and face coverings. Public hearing comments are also being accepted online by visiting www.staffordcountyva.gov/publichearings; please provide comments before 4:30 p.m. on October 28. The meeting will be streamed online via www.staffordcountyva.gov and viewable on Facebook Live and cable access channels. The proposed amendments and Q&As are also available online at https://staffordcountyva.gov/2181/Healthy-Growth-Initiative.