Supervisors set proffers guidelines

By Susan Gibbs

The Greene County Board of Supervisors has approved proffer guidelines meant to compliment the county’s capital improvement plan.

The action took place at the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, February 26.

“It’s a guide for wording,” explained Board Chairman Jim Frydl, who was reached by phone after the meeting. “Applicants do not have to proffer anything, and no one will be punished if they do not use the wording.

By definition proffers are voluntarily offered by a property owner as a means to offset potential impacts of zoning changes, and new uses of property. Greene County derives its authority to accept proffers pursuant to the Code of Virginia provision Section 15.2-2303 and Article 16-12 of the County Zoning Ordinance.

According to paperwork included in the Board’s packet at the February 26 meeting, staff – meaning Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda and County Planner Stephanie Golon – was directed by the Board to review possible guidelines. The county’s planning commission then reviewed the proposed guide and provided comments.

The document provided to supervisors February 26 included Chapter 11 of the “Zoning Law for the Virginia Zoning Official” authorized by Greg Kamptner on July 29, 2010.   This chapter gives a brief outline of the state code requirements regarding proffers.

According to the guide, the county can accept proffers, in addition to cash, on: architectural design; buffers; construction of public infrastructure; land dedications; landscaping; monetary contributions to offset impacts to capital facilities; private amenities; screening; and use restrictions.

Once accepted, proffers are binding agreements that run with the zoning of the property. Proffers may only be accepted at the conclusion of public hearings with the county planning commission and board of supervisors, according to documentation in the Board’s packet.

The proffer guidelines consist of multiple components, which include general policy guidelines, monetary contribution guidelines, and capital improvements guidelines.

While proffers are “voluntary” Greene’s policy states that all property owners shall consent to proffers being offered as part of the rezoning application, and that the consent shall be evidenced by the owner’s signatures that are witnessed by a notary.

The applicant must also provide illustrations, exhibits, descriptions, references to permitted uses, and circumstances of performance.

In addition to the $5,778 per residential unit cash proffer, guidelines toward monetary contributions shall apply towards the future construction of capital facilities as identified in the county’s capital improvement plan.  Most of those, according to county documents, are in the form of the dedication of land to be used for the construction of future public facilities that would serve the future use of the reclassified property.

However, Greene’s guidelines state that if the applicant stipulates the land for one public use, he must also make provisions that supervisors may develop the property for another purpose after serving the developer with notice.

Developers may also choose to construct capital facilities that they intend to dedicate to the county, and the guidelines refer to “commonly proffered conditions’ such as buffers above and beyond the applicable zoning district regulations and/or restrictions on the regulations of the zoning district in respect to such areas as outdoor storage, signs, access lighting or use of property.

The guidelines also include directions for outdoor storage, hours of operation, buffers, landscaping, maintenance of landscaping, the maintenance of open space in a natural state, and the preservation of all non-invasive existing trees and shrubs.

It also contains density requirements in the form of the dedication of a certain amount of affordable housing and the phasing of the clearing of the parcel as well as construction. Physical improvements specifications include fencing made of specified materials, sidewalks, low-impact development methods for the control of storm drainage, dedications to build energy efficient and “green” structures and to use sustainable materials, to provide a water conservation plan for structures, setbacks and parking.

There are also guidelines for access to and from a property, interconnectivity, and standards for private streets, and for lighting – which prevent the illumination of any off-site property, disability glare and provide for dimming – as well as for trails and standards for those trails.

And, as to private amenities: the applicant can dedicate to build private playgrounds, pools, tennis courts or other facilities to be used by future residents. He can also establish an owners association.

Finally, monetary contributions to offset impacts to capital facilities may be proffered.

 

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