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DEVELOPERS' DILEMMA
Stafford developers propose projects, but hesitate to file for rezonings because supervisors have not reached consensus on growth

 A Silver Cos. proposal for Sherwood Farm on State Route 3 is one of several large-scale rezonings being considered in Stafford.
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Date published: 10/18/2004

By RUTH FINCH

• Aerial photos: Click here to view Development Watch 2.0, an overview of some major projects

Four months ago, developer Rob Gollahon had grand plans for the 480 acres he owns off Eskimo Hill Road.

At a community meeting at Stafford Middle School in May, he told neighbors that he envisioned a 1,500-home neighborhood called Stafford Town Station. His plans included a 40-acre commercial center, plenty of green space, easy access to Interstate 95, a shuttle bus to the commuter-rail station on Brooke Road and a proffer package to Stafford County worth more than $20 million.

Proffers are carefully negotiated but voluntary contributions, usually of money or land, that developers give to counties. The county uses the money or land to help build new roads, schools, parks or other facilities needed to accommodate the new residents.

Stafford County quadrupled its proffer guideline amounts in 2000, and Stafford Town Station was to be the first large-scale residential development to offer the entire $20,399 per home called for in the new guidelines.

Since the new guidelines went into effect, developers have pursued large-lot rural subdivisions that don't require rezonings or proffers.

The growth game
Part 1:
• High-density developments run into snags. Is there a plan for smart growth?
Part 2:
• Proffers do not guarantee rezoning approval
• Stafford developers propose projects, but hesitate to file for rezonings because supervisors have not reached consensus on growth
Part 3:
• New tool for managing growth draws interest, but can area taxpayers afford it?

Supervisor Kandy Hilliard, who represents the Eskimo Hill Road area, initially said Gollahon's willingness to seek a rezoning represented an opportunity for the Board of Supervisors to take back control of the county's explosive growth.

"Stafford is going to grow. We can either allow growth to come in by right [without proffers] or we can look at this and see if there is a better way to bring growth," she said in May.


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