Proffer Policy Update




Development of a Proffer Policy




Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, Cilimberg; Ms. McCulley







February 1, 2006


ACTION:     X                         INFORMATION: 



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This topic was very briefly discussed with the Community Development process improvement work session on August 10th.  At a later meeting in November, the Board asked staff to provide further information about what would be involved in developing a proffer policy.  Towards that end, staff has gathered information from other localities' proffer policies and has met to discuss the Board’s options. 


Currently the Board has no proffer policies, cash or otherwise, except for the precedence of prior zoning decisions made by the Board.  Definitive policies, whether or not they include cash, seem to be necessary if the County is going to continue to accept proffers that are assured to address the identified impacts from a rezoning and promote the public health, safety and welfare.




Goal 4.1:     Provide effective, responsive and courteous service to our customers

Goal 3.3:     Develop and implement policies that address the county's growth and urbanization while continuing to enhance the factors that contribute to the quality of life in the county.




An initial consideration in the development of a proffer policy is its potentially detrimental impact on the Rural Areas.  Staff offers the following:  the Rural Area (“RA”) / Development Area (“DA”) development dynamics are a function of market demands, the amount of land available for development in each area, the ease or difficulty of developing in each area and the level of proffer expectations, cash or otherwise, in the DA (since rezonings will not likely be occurring in the RA).  In discussion with other counties where their proffer policies are paired with restrictive rural area allowances, the development pressures on the rural areas in those counties are less.  As an example, Fauquier County has sliding scale zoning in their rural zoning districts whereby the number of additional lots that can be created from a parent parcel decreases as the parent parcel’s size increases, moving from 1 lot per 10 acres for the first 20 acres to 11 lots for a  205-acre parcel. Where proffer policies have been aggressive and the rural area zoning is not as restrictive, more pressure has been experienced in the rural areas in those counties (ex. Stafford County).  In Albemarle, where part of the market has traditionally been strongly oriented to the RA, there is a large inventory of existing unimproved lots and parcels with development rights in the RA and building permits and subdivisions are relatively simple to obtain.  An aggressive proffer policy may have the unintended consequence of greater pressure to develop in the RA as a “path of least resistance,” although some of the market will gravitate there no matter what.  On the other hand, with a significantly growing inventory of potentially 7,000 + DA dwelling units through recent rezonings and potential future rezonings that may occur before a proffer policy is put in place, there may be little effect on the RA if a proffer policy is adopted.


Because proffers are intended to address the impacts of development, the first logical steps to a proffer policy are to:


a.       identify which impacts should be addressed with proffers;

b.       indicate how Albemarle has/has not traditionally addressed each impact with proffers to-date; and

c.       identify the standard for the levels of service we want to maintain for each impacted public element (schools, transportation, parks and the like). 


This initial work (phase I) can lay the foundation for a clearer and more predictable legislative review process for all, even if cash amounts are not developed.  This initial work is also a necessary foundation in the event cash amounts are proposed in the future.


We have asked the Office of Management and Budget whether the current fiscal impact model is adequate to address the impacts of specific development proposals.  They have assured us that with some refinements projected to take 3 months, the current model is adequate.




Staff does not expect to need the professional services of a consultant for this initial phase I staff work.  If some of the analysis of levels of service goes beyond staff's expertise, staff will return to the Board and address that budget impact. 


The indirect impact is that this phase I work will involve significant staff time in various departments in the County.  Some of the staff who will be involved are those who are already involved in legislative applications and text amendments (several of which are already behind our work schedule).  The Board will need to consider this new initiative in the context of other departmental project priorities, to give further direction.


If a committee is convened (as phase II) after initial staff analysis, there may be some (limited) budget impact in terms of clerical support.  Phase II staff work with the committee will be fairly intensive for key staff.   


It should be noted that the return from this work will be a time savings on future applications.  This time is now spent with discussion/negotiation about how to address impacts and expectations.




Staff recommends the Board determine if this new initiative is a priority for staff to undertake.  In the event the Board finds that it is a priority, staff suggests that this work be prioritized in the 5-year Community Development work plan.  Staff recommends the formation of a staff proffer team to identify the standard for the levels of service for each proffer element (phase I).  Staff projects that it will take a minimum of 6 months to produce a recommendation and it will involve consultation with other departments and agencies. Once these elements and standards have been drafted by staff, staff will report back to the Board. 


At that time, the Board may chose to form an advisory citizens' committee, to review and provide comment on the elements and standards recommended by staff.  It is difficult to project how much time the committee will need to complete its work.  After it has completed its review, staff proposes a minimum of two joint work sessions with both the Planning Commission and the Board to address a proffer policy.  The first work session would focus on the impacted elements (public facilities).  The second work session would focus on the level of service expectations for each public element and the various ways they can be addressed.  At the conclusion of these work sessions, the analysis and proffer policy will need to be included in a Comprehensive Plan amendment. 




A - Proffer Policies for Virginia Localities

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