Starting next year, new homes built in subdivisions in Stafford County will have a $2,999 fee tacked on to help pay for road work.
The Board of Supervisors approved a countywide transportation impact fee Tuesday night on a 5–2 vote, with supervisors Susan Stimpson and Bob Thomas against.
The program was years in the making, and makes Stafford the first in the state to charge impact fees on new development. The county previously had two smaller areas subject to fees.
The idea behind impact fees is for new growth to help pay for itself through fees that go directly toward roads, specifically in Stafford toward improving 20 highly traveled roads throughout the entire county, identified as a $204 million wish list.
The adopted plan goes into effect in May 2014 and will exempt plans that have construction approval at that time. There are about 1,100 housing plans in that stage now, said Deputy County Administrator Keith Dayton, and depending on the strength of a plan and how aggressive a developer is during the process, more plans could be exempt by next year.
“There certainly is a window for people in the pipeline,” Supervisor Paul Milde said.
The fees exempt non-residential development. So, for example, companies building new shopping areas would not face the fee. The county would essentially cover what those fees would have been by using other money.
“Nothing stops economic development like charging someone who wants to do business in the county several thousand dollars,” said Milde, who motioned for the changes.
Culpeper had been the first county to adopt a countywide impact fee two years ago—and then the first to repeal those in December after determining they were a business deterrent.
Several residents spoke during Tuesday’s public hearing, arguing that current fees were high enough, that all county residents should bear the costs, or that the county didn’t need to fix its roads.
“I have yet to see anything about where you are going to get that money from over the life of this project,” county resident Dean Fetterolf said about the majority of the money needed for work on the 20 identified roads.
Of the $204 million list of improvement that county officials say needs to be done, impact fees on new homes would pay for less than half. Supervisor Cord Sterling said that the board realizes that there’s not enough revenue for the entire list, but that other sources of county transportation funding will help fill in the gaps.
Stafford won’t see a significant amount of revenue until at least 2017, based on a higher fee that was originally proposed and that was the subject of calculations in board documents.
“There is a reduction but there’s still substantial funding available to us if the fees are reduced,” Dayton told supervisors.
One resident suggested that since everyone uses the roads, everyone should contribute money to fix them.
“It’s a countywide problem, not an individual subdivision problem,” said Bill Johnson. “The impact should be borne by the entire county, not just a few landowners or developers.”
But Stimpson was strongly against any sort of fees and said that the General Assembly should be held responsible for transportation needs, not individual localities that have less taxing power.
“This is not a pioneering effort that I want Stafford County to be known for,” Stimpson said.
Family subdivisions, where a family builds additional houses on a large tract of land, are exempt from fees. Individuals building on lots that are already divided will also not face the fee.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975