By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
On Tuesday(7/24), in a largely predictable move, the Greene County Board of Supervisors chose to retain the original cash proffer amounts on a proposed development located slightly Northwest of the intersection of 607 and US29 (Sheetz). in Ruckersville.
Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development defines a Cash Proffer as:
A cash proffer is (a)any money voluntarily proffered in a writing signed by the owner of property subject to rezoning, submitted as part of a rezoning application and accepted by a locality pursuant to the authority granted by Va. Code Ann. Section 15.2-2303 or Section 15.2-2298, or (b) any payment of money made pursuant to a development agreement entered into under authority granted by Va. Code Ann. Section 15.2-2303.1.
The Free Enterprise Forum has been a steadfast opponent of the cash proffer system.
At the May, 2018 meeting the Greene Planning Commission agreed to lower the proffer for a 2008 Planned Unit Development from $9,000 to $1,200. Of course, the Planning Commission only makes a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
At the July 24th Board of Supervisors meeting the Board heard the request from the Kinvara Properties, LLC to reduce the amount of proffers for the 50 units proposed for the property. This calculates to a reduction in proffers of $390,000.
The new zoning administrator, Jim Frydl, outlined the public hearing which is about the property between the Food Lion development and Deer Lake Estates. And specifically, the public hearing was to deal with the request to amend the amount of proffers.
Butch Davies represented Kinvara Properties and explained that the company his client is negotiating with doesn’t believe they can pass on the cost of the $9,000 proffer in their price to the customer. In addition he explained that the economy has changed since the proffer was originally agreed to. He also believes that Greene County needs affordable housing for the workforce.
The meeting next shifted to comments from the public which all that addressed the board felt that the county should not change the proffer agreement that was originally made. Many felt that the county shouldn’t lower the proffers as it would set a precedent that would encourage other developers to request lower proffers also. One speaker from the public also shared that his work age children are just starting out in the workforce but their incomes are too high and they would not be eligible for the units in this project. So, in fact, the units are not “affordable housing for the workforce”.
The irony of the concern of setting a precedent by lowering the proffer is that the state has developed new proffer guidelines which are designed to more accurately capture new government costs that are specifically generated by the development. Therefore future proffers will likely be significantly reduced for new projects. So, in fact, the lowering of the proffer amount for this request would not set a precedent for future considerations (but might for the limited number of other unbuilt projects with existing proffers).
The consensus of the Board was that the original proffer agreement needs to be honored since it was freely agreed to by both parties. In fact the feeling is that the economy has improved recently. However, the concern that Kinvara Properties expressed at the Planning Commission meeting was that property wasn’t marketable with the full $9,000 proffer.
Based on this economic reality, the property will probably remain undeveloped with the current proffer burden until the market reaches a point where the project can sustain such costs or the parcel is again rezoned (with lower proffers). In either case the community’s vision as expressed in the Comprehensive Plan for affordable residential development in the Ruckersville development area is a dream deferred.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online at http://www.freeenterpriseforum.org