On Tuesday March 20, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing to solicit citizen feedback on the proposed repeal of the County’s cluster subdivision zoning ordinance. Cluster zoning is a development strategy that allows builders to group houses on smaller lot sizes in one area of a development while preserving the remaining land on the site for recreation, open green space, or protection of environmentally sensitive areas.
Repealing the ordinance without a ready replacement will create significant uncertainty for Realtors®, builders, and property owners who have followed the current law in good faith. Property owners and businesses who have invested significant resources in developing plans utilizing the current cluster zoning ordinance will be in limbo for an undetermined amount of time while the County drafts a replacement ordinance.
How Cluster Zoning Helps Stafford
- Reduced development footprint means less infrastructure to build and maintain
- Cost savings associated with more compact development allows for more affordable new home construction options
- Denser development makes it easier and less costly to expand modern amenities such as water and sewer and broadband infrastructure
- Preservation of green space and natural habitats helps preserve green space and Stafford’s rural character
Risks of Repealing Cluster Zoning
- The lack of a cluster ordinance will only contribute to Stafford’s increasing home costs by making lot preparation more expensive
- Increased costs to develop land could negatively impact property values, hurting Stafford residents and decreasing tax revenue for the County
- Exposes the County to significant liability as those who have followed the law in good faith will lose their investments of time and money if this state-mandated ordinance is repealed
The Board of Supervisors should work with the development community to address concerns with the ordinance and AMEND, not REPEAL the cluster zoning rules to ensure that this tool continues to be available to preserve open space and reduce the impact of development in Stafford County.
Want to send a letter to the Stafford Board of Supervisors urging them to amend the ordinance and not repeal it entirely? Use the form letter pasted below to weigh in.
I am writing as a member of The Fredericksburg Area Association of Realtors® (FAAR) to express my concerns about repealing the County’s current cluster ordinance. As a resident and active Realtor® in the community, I urge you to AMEND, not REPEAL the cluster ordinance by working with the development community and other stakeholders to address any issues with the ordinance the County has identified.
The goal of the ordinance is to help high-growth counties like Stafford preserve green space and reduce the footprint of development. If homes can be clustered, savings can be realized on water and sewer infrastructure, road construction, and lot preparation thus reducing the impact of development on the environment and reducing future maintenance costs of infrastructure. In addition, denser development helps with broadband service deployment. Repeal of the cluster ordinance will contribute to the ever-increasing cost of housing in the County while encouraging sprawl in our rural areas.
Repealing the ordinance without a ready replacement will also create significant uncertainty for Realtors®, builders, and property owners who have followed the current law in good faith. Property owners and businesses who have invested significant resources in developing plans utilizing the current cluster zoning ordinance will be in limbo for an undetermined amount of time while the County drafts a replacement ordinance. I urge the Board to reach out to all stakeholders to gauge the true impact of repeal before taking official action on this issue.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue. I urge you to AMEND and not REPEAL the cluster ordinance for the good of Stafford County.
Supervisor Cindy Shelton
Supervisor Meg Bohmke
Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer
Supervisor Tom Coen
George Washington District
Supervisor Jack Cavalier
Supervisor Gary Snellings
Supervisor Wendy Maurer
Rock Hill District