Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Developers may not have to pay for the burden their development places on Virginia communities, local governments.

Fairfax County state senator Richard Saslaw, a Democrat no less, is co-sponsoring a bill in the Virginia Assembly that would restrict local governments' ability to negotiate proffers with developers to build the infrastructure needed to support that construction according to an article in The Roanoke Times.  Here are some excerpts:

Bills that would limit proffers alarm local governments

Posted: Monday, February 1, 2016 4:06 pm
RICHMOND — Legislation working its way through the General Assembly would make it more difficult for local governments to force developers to pay for public infrastructure or change building plans, a prospect that has caused alarm among some local officials who fear it could limit sharply their ability to manage growth.
Bills have been introduced in both chambers to dramatically reshape the proffer system, which allows localities to extract cash payments and other concessions from home builders through the residential rezoning process.
The legislation would prohibit localities from making zoning decisions tied to “unreasonable” proffers; virtually eliminate localities’ ability to request changes to building materials or designs through the proffer system; and require more proof that new residents would strain services such as schools, roads or parks.
The legislation is backed by the Home Builders Association of Virginia, which says its aim is to restore fairness to a practice described by critics as “legalized extortion.” . . .
Under the legislation, localities would be able to require proffers only for schools, roads, parks and public-safety facilities such as police and fire stations. Parks were covered through an amendment to the bill, which would prevent localities from attempting to get developers to pay for museums, libraries and community centers.
The proposed law would allow proffers to be used only to cover costs “specifically attributable” to a development project, a higher bar than the “reasonably related” and “roughly proportional” standards currently in use.
“We think those terms are vague and loose and have been defined by the local governments to mean whatever they want them to mean,” Toalson said.
Henrico only uses architectural proffers, but other localities in the Richmond area have cash-proffer policies that bring in revenue to help in responding to growth. . . .
The full article is here.

From our perspective, developers' contributions to the communities in which they build fall far short of the offsetting the impact of their construction.  If they did, in fact, meet the full impact, we would not have congested roads nor overcrowded schools to start with. 

Even more weird from our perspective is why a Democratic Senator from Fairfax County would be sponsoring a bill that would make it more difficult for our financially-challenged County government to generate the revenues needed to make Fairfax a livable county.  Did Saslaw not get the word that Fairfax needs revenues?  Does he not realize that fewer proffers will likely mean higher property tax rates in the county?  Or does he just not care because he is so well financed by the developer community?

Apparently developers are just not making enough money and don't owe their communities anything for the opportunity to make their profits. 

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