The Silver Cos. moved a step closer to receiving approval for a community development authority to oversee the Stafford County portion of the Celebrate Virginia project.
The Celebrate Virginia North Community Development Authority would be a five-person body, appointed by the Stafford County Board of Supervisors. It would be responsible for financing improvements within the project, such as roads, sewer lines and storm water management systems. The authority would be able to levy taxes on property owners inside its limits to pay for the infrastructure.
The county would not have to pay for these services but would have to ensure that water and sewage capacity is available.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to have the Planning Commission look at ways to revise the county's transportation plan to accommodate Celebrate Virginia. Board Chairman Kenneth T. Mitchell (R-Aquia) was unable to attend the meeting.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will vote whether to send the proposal to a public hearing. If that is approved, a public hearing, which promises to include the same fireworks seen at every other step of the project, would likely be scheduled for early October.
With a formidable show of lawyers and businessmen, the Silver Cos. laid out its plan for a community development authority Tuesday night. It stressed how the authority would put the onus on the company rather than the county and sought to convince leaders that it was a wise move.
Although the supervisors generally appeared to agree, Robert C. Gibbons (R-Rock Hill) and David R. Beiler (I-Falmouth) pressed the company on the effects the project would have on the surrounding area.
In particular, the supervisors were not convinced that the county's road system could handle the approximate 20,000 employees the company estimates would be going in and out of the development each day.
After a series of increasingly tense exchanges among the supervisors, Silver representatives and county planners, company President Larry Silver finally declared that "we can't solve all of Stafford County's problems."
Silver said that Celebrate Virginia will bring more than $10 million in additional revenue to the county and that Stafford could use that money to deal with gridlock or other problems.
Celebrate Virginia is a massive commercial, retail and tourist attraction planned for about 1,900 acres in Stafford and the City of Fredericksburg. Local leaders are squarely behind the project, seeing it as an economic engine. Meanwhile, a vocal cadre of residents is firmly opposed to it, calling the project more unwanted growth.
Some supervisors, who would like to see ground broken on the project as soon as possible, encouraged their colleagues to move the process along Tuesday night.
"I would hate to see anything else delay this project," said Supervisor Alvin Y. Bandy (R-George Washington).