The latest Avendale sleight-of-hand: a set-up to lose an “adequate public facilities” case

The News and Messenger opined on January 21 that “no new homes should be built in the Linton Hall area until new schools appear,” endorsing a policy that one member of the Board of County Supervisors may propose on February 2.

But check out the School Board enrollment projections through 2018-19, and you’ll see that overcrowded schools are an issue elsewhere in the county.  Projections indicate Marumsco Hills and Mullen elementary schools will reach 130% of capacity.  Shouldn’t we limit overcrowding at all schools?  Why focus on Linton Hall?

The worst-case scenario: this is part of a scheme to bust the Rural Area boundaries, adding 178 acres to the Development Area with the Avendale development… but appear to be sensitive to the school concerns.

There are many reasons to reject the bust-the-Rural-Area Avendale proposal, beyond school overcrowding.  Pretending that the only problem is school overcrowding is like pretending that we only need to order a diet soda to go with our supersized meal, in order to lose weight.

The mechanisms by which county officials are allowed to shape that growth AFTER a rezoning are limited.  However, BEFORE rezoning, the General Assembly does empower the county to shape development through the Comprehensive Plan and zoning ordinances.

Our hands are not tied.  The county has full authority to deny the requested Comprehensive Plan Amendment and rezoning request for Avendale.  Rejecting the proposed change in land use is the simplest, easiest way to limit future over-crowding of schools along Linton  Hall Road.

However, the General Assembly has blocked passage of an “adequate public facilities” ordinance for Virginia counties.  Once an area is zoned for development, local officials must permit that development.  New subdivisions may generate new burdens on public infrastructure, so Prince William can require proffers to mitigate that impact – but under Virginia law, the county can’t deny building or occupancy permits until adequate public facilities are available.

Currently, the Avendale property is zoned for 12 houses.  If supervisors enlarge the Development Area and approve Avendale as requested, the developer will be granted zoning for 295 houses.  At that point, the county lose sthe capacity to block construction and occupancy of the additional 283 houses.  Prince William officials will lose in court, if they claim the legal right to deny “by-right” development of parcels being developed according to the zoning.

The best strategy for county officials to shape growth and minimize school overcrowding: steer development to areas where facilities have been planned.   Approve Comprehensive Plan Amendments and rezonings to encourage new housing only in places where public facilities will be adequate, as scheduled in the county’s Capital Improvement Plans (CIP’s).

What would you call a proposal that creates a legal right for a developer to… well, develop, but then try to stop the developer at the last minute – using a legal argument that has been rejected already?

That’s not just a “bad strategy” for protecting the Rural Area.   That’s a fraud.

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1 comment so far

  1. Mom on

    This bill makes it even more fraudulent as the County won’t be able to offset the cost of the school construction until after the homes are built.

    HB 374 Cash proffers; collected or accepted by locality after completion of final inspection.
    John A. Cosgrove

    Summary as introduced:
    Cash proffers; acceptance by localities. Delays collection or acceptance of a cash proffer by a locality until the residential property has been issued a certificate of occupancy by said locality.

    Status:
    01/12/10 House: Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/13/10 10103416D
    01/12/10 House: Referred to Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns
    01/15/10 House: Assigned CC & T sub: #2
    01/21/10 House: Subcommittee recommends reporting with amendment(s) (11-Y 0-N)
    01/22/10 House: Reported from Counties, Cities and Towns with amendments (18-Y 4-N)
    01/25/10 House: Read first time
    01/26/10 House: Read second time
    01/26/10 House: Committee amendments agreed to
    01/26/10 House: Amendment #1 by Delegate Marshall, R.G. rejected
    01/26/10 House: Amendment #2 by Delegate Marshall, R.G. rejected (26-Y 73-N)
    01/26/10 House: VOTE: — REJECTED (26-Y 73-N)
    01/26/10 House: Amendment #3 by Delegate Marshall, R.G. withdrawn
    01/26/10 House: Engrossed by House as amended HB374E
    01/26/10 House: Printed as engrossed 10103416D-E
    01/27/10 House: Read third time and passed House (71-Y 27-N)
    01/27/10 House: VOTE: — PASSAGE (71-Y 27-N)
    01/28/10 Senate: Constitutional reading dispensed
    01/28/10 Senate: Referred to Committee on Local Government


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