On Tuesday, March 2, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors voted 4-3 to downzone nearly 90,000 acres spread across more than 2,000 parcels in the rural A-1 zoning category from one house per 3 acres to one house per 6 acres. Supporting the measure were Crystal Vanuch, Meg Bohmke, Mark Dudenhefer and Gary Snellings. Opposing it were Cindy Shelton, Tom Coen, and Tinesha Allen. The ordinance takes effect immediately, although any subdivision applications in the pipeline will not be impacted. The Board failed to exempt family subdivision as part of Tuesday’s action, but did instruct the Planning Commission to come back with a measure to address that issue within 100 days.
Here is some direct guidance from the County on how the change impacts landowners: A-1 zoning district now requires a gross density of 6-acres. The minimum lot size of 3-acres for conventional subdivisions and 1.5 acres for cluster subdivisions would stay the same. A land owner will now need at least 12 acres in order to subdivide their property. If the owner was intending on subdividing a single 12-acre parcel, they would have the option to create two lots of varying sizes (such as 3 and 9; 4, and 8; 5 and 7; or 6 and 6). The key would be that the density must be one lot per 6-acres or greater. Subdivision applications currently in process can proceed based on the requirements in place when the application was filed. The subdivision application has 18 months to be approved from the date it was filed.
FAAR will continue to advocate for the family subdivision exemption. That issue will go to public hearing so FAAR will have a presence at any of those meetings to ensure that families retain the right to subdivide their land. For those agents seeking additional information, please contact FAAR Public Policy Director Kim McClellan at 540-373-7711.