Stafford County planning officials have submitted 26 proposals to the Board of Supervisors to restrict the pace of residential growth.
The measures, urged by Supervisors David R. Beiler (I-Falmouth) and Robert C. Gibbons (R-Rock Hill), would require developers to pay more of the county's costs upfront and would establish standards for many amenities, including driveways, sidewalks and street lights.
Stafford has suffered a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall widely attributed to the costs of residential development.
"We've got a budget crunch, and the main reason is we have to pay for all the growth," Beiler said. "We're growing faster than 99 percent of the counties in the country. This is almost a defensive plan to keep things from getting any worse."
The full Board of Supervisors will review the proposals.
Managing residential growth has become a defining issue in Stafford and other outer counties as they are being populated by an influx of residents who are increasingly willing to move farther from Washington. Local officials who favor slower growth often say they feel hamstrung because the state government controls most development-related laws.
A determined contingent of slow-growth advocates went to Richmond this year vowing to win legislative approval for rules that would give localities greater authority to manage their growth. But lawmakers rejected virtually every slow-growth measure on the table, including bills that would have allowed local governments to ban development in areas without adequate schools, roads or utilities. The General Assembly also declined to give jurisdictions more power to charge developers fees for each house they build.
Stafford's list is a local effort to do what the General Assembly would not. The 26 measures include proposals to rearrange several of Stafford's fee structures so developers will have to pay money before the county does work rather than billing them later.
"The issue is to get money upfront because it encourages serious [builders]," said Bob Bos, public utilities administrator. "Those that aren't serious sit on [projects]; we do all the work and we don't get paid if they change their mind."
In all, officials say that they can add about $350,000 to the $1.25 million in fees they collect each year if the Board of Supervisors approves the fee-related measures.
Some of the other recommendations include:
* Developing and adopting a design standards manual to ensure quality development.
* Establishing community standards for landscaping, parking lots, residential driveways, sidewalks, curbs, gutters and street lights.
* Enforcing all county codes to their full extent rather than simply responding to complaints. This would require additional personnel.
* Eliminating expedited reviews.
* Prohibiting waivers for subdivisions and site plans.
It is unlikely that all 26 of the measures will be adopted, county officials said.
"This is a laundry list of items," said Dan Schardein, director of code administration. "We'll have to look at the feasibility of everything; some might not be worth doing. But it's what we can come up with."