On Tuesday, March 20, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors listened late into the evening from speakers on the cluster subdivision ordinance. There were 26 speakers who spoke in opposition to repeal while 8 speakers supported repeal of the cluster ordinance. Planning Director Jeff Harvey detailed the positives and negatives of cluster development in a presentation to the Board followed by a history of clustering in the County.
According to state law, the County must have a cluster ordinance that applies to at least 40% of unimproved land. The current ordinance was updated in 2012 and makes the option of clustering available on all land in the County. Since this expansion, developments have been built in Hartwood and other more rural areas. This rural development has concerned citizens and Board members as contributing to increased traffic congestion and stress on local schools, while not always preserving open space like the law intended. Supporters of cluster zoning, including many Realtors, spoke out against total repeal and urged the Supervisors to work with all stakeholders to amend the ordinance to address the County’s issues.
At the end of the meeting, the Board voted 6-1, with Jack Cavalier as the only dissenting vote, to repeal the cluster ordinance in rural areas but maintain it in the Urban Services Area and those areas immediately adjacent to the Urban Services Area. The Supervisors who voted in favor of the partial repeal felt it was a good compromise that kept Stafford County in compliance with state law but put a halt to new home approval in the most rural parts of the County.