PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA REQUEST

Owners/Applicants:

Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Angler Opal Associates, LLC

 

May 10, 2007

Staff Lead:
Melissa Dargis, Assistant Chief of Planning

Department:
Community Development

 

Magisterial District: Cedar Run
Service District:
Opal

 

PIN:
6981-27-6354-000, 6981-44-4079-000 and 6981-54-4190-000

Topic:

Willow Creek: A Request to Amend the Proffers for a Previously Approved Rezoning REZN05-CR-004 (Formerly Green Springs), Cedar Run District

 

Topic Description:
The applicant wishes to amend the previously existing Proffer Section III related to below market priced housing for Willow Creek.

Project Information:
The proposed proffers indicate 15 units onsite are dedicated for workforce housing.  This housing is reserved for Fauquier County Sheriff’s deputies, public school teachers, and any other Fauquier County or School Division employees who have been employed for not less than three years.  If any of these units onsite cannot be filled with a qualified homeowner, the developer has proffered $76,613 ($55,000 plus $21,613), to the County as a “soft-second” mortgage.  An appointed non-profit committee would select qualified purchasers, and those funds would be used to acquire a home anywhere within the county, subject to the same resale restrictions outlined in the proffers.

At its April 26, 2007 work session, the Planning Commission discussion included not only the applicant’s proposal, but a variety of alternatives that are not reflected in the proffers.  With the first scenario, the applicant was asked to consider the current proffer policy of $28,503 per single family detached unit instead of the $14,470 proffered with the project and starting with the 32nd unit.  The second option was to apply the current proffer policy ($28,503), plus the $55,000, for any workforce housing unit not provided on site.  The final option was to “split the difference” between the project’s proffered contribution of $14,740 per dwelling unit and the current proffer policy of $28,503.  This idea had two variations – one that proposed this new amount for all project units and the other proposing it only for those workforce units the applicant could not provide onsite (plus, $55,000) per workforce unit.

At the public hearing, the applicant brought forth a new proposal to increase the proffered contribution of $14,470 to approximately $21,613 (total: $76,613) for any workforce housing not provided in Willow Creek.  The proffer committing to this proffer was received on April 30, 2007.  Commissioner Stone indicated that the applicant should observe the current proffer policy of $28,503 for the first market rate unit to compensate schools and the other associated public facilities.  He also recommended the $55,000 soft-second also be increased by that latter amount.  The Planning Commission was concerned that there was no concrete leverage to assure the entire 15 units would be provide on site.  The applicant, Angler Opal Associates, LLC, remains confident that all workforce housing, as proffered, will be provided.

Project Background:

The applicant submitted a request to amend the proffers in order to allow for the approved workforce units procedure to be clarified.  It specifies that individuals must qualify (financially) for the program, units must be owner occupied principal residences, and the units shall be dispersed within the development and not be distinguishable from market-rate housing.

This rezoning (formerly known as Green Springs) was originally approved in October 13, 2005.  Its approval was for the rezoning of approximately 165 acres from Residential (R-1) conditional to Residential R-1 and R-2 with proffers to allow for a residential subdivision.  The approval included, via proffers, fifteen (15) workforce housing units.  For individual family’s to qualify under the approved proffers, they must have a cumulative income not exceeding 80% of the region’s median income for a family of four, that income totals ±$58,000.  Staff notes that the, per unit, the applicant’s proffer for the market rate units for this project is $14,740 and start at building unit thirty-two (32).  The current Board of Supervisors Proffer Policy is now $28,503 per single family detached unit and starts with the first building lot.

As stated previously, the applicant is confident all 15 workforce units will be provided within Willow Creek.  Several substantive changes have occurred.  First, the 80% of median income criteria has been dropped.  School Board and County employees, who have worked 3 years or more for this jurisdiction, are still the targeted population.  Second, if any workforce housing unit cannot be completed on site, the applicant has proffered $76,613 as the “soft-second” which now can be used countywide through the specified non-profit committee.  The uncontrolled variable is still the cost of the Willow Creek homes.  Excluding the lot costs, the selling prices for homes in the adjoining Green Meadows subdivision started in the ±$350,000 range.  Plus, the applicant has remained firm in their position that the workforce housing units would be indistinguishable from the market rate units in terms of architecture and size.

 

Land Area, Location and Zoning:  

The property is located on the east side of Routes 29/15/17.  A map of the properties is shown below.   

                      

                           

 

Neighboring Zoning/Land Use:
The property is bounded by Rural Agricultural (RA) to the north and east and RA and R-1 to the south and west.

                             

Action Requested of the Board of Supervisors:
Conduct a public hearing on the proposed rezoning request.

 

Planning Commission Recommendation:
On April 26, 2007, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on this item and voted unanimously to recommend denial. 

 

Staff Analysis:
Staff and the appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and other relevant policies and regulations.  Findings, comments, and recommendations are summarized below. The actual responses from referral agencies are available upon request.

Zoning Office

The Zoning Office has the following comments:

Staff acknowledges that the language of these proffers has previously been approved by the Board of Supervisors, and that only the proffers related to the workforce housing are proposed to be changed.  However, staff continues to offer comments on all of the proffers because of concerns about the language originally approved.  These comments are intended to clarify the meaning of the proffers so that staff can properly administer them and avoid conflicts in interpretation as the development proceeds.

Zoning Comments:

1.      Proffer 1.1 must be in compliance with Zoning Ordinance (Z.O.) Sec. 13-202.D.5 which limits changes to the Concept Development Plan (CDP) to reasonable changes necessary for engineering reasons. The proffer statement should make clear that any reasonable adjustments to the CDP will be for engineering reasons. In any case, proffers do not modify or waive zoning requirements.

2.      Proffer II.1 conflicts with the Zoning Ordinance; it states the “proposed R-1 cluster portion of the property shall provide not less than 15% open space.”   Any cluster portion must provide 50% open space and any conventional R-1 must provide 25% open space, as no reduction in open space has been requested or approved by special exception, as required (Zoning Ordinance Section 2-406).

3.      In the first paragraph of Item III, proffers are enforced as zoning conditions.  Zoning conditions cannot be modified by agreement. This language should be stricken from the proffers.

4.      It is not clear how the amount of 55,000 per housing units (up to 15 housing units) was arrived at. It appears that this is based on a percentage of the average prices of housing units in Willow Creek or in the County as a whole.  The higher the prices of housing units are to be in Willow Creek, the less incentive $55,000 will be. For example, a $55,000 incentive does not make a $1m house affordable. This being the case, it is possible that paying a regular “market price” for a house elsewhere in the County might be less expensive than taking advantage of the proffered $55,000. It is noted by the Applicant that buyers might wish to buy elsewhere in the County since the Applicant is proffering the $55,000 to include housing units throughout the County and the Town of Warrenton. More information regarding these matters is needed in order to establish that $55,000 is sufficient to accomplish the stated intentions in the proffers.

5.      It is not clear whether the $55,000 incentive is taxable income to the employee.  Explain who pays the taxes on the $55,000 incentive in the proffers.

6.      Explain whether there is an income level qualification for the eligible employees mentioned in Item III.1.

7.      Item III.3, it appears that all workforce housing will need to be sold or contracted a year after the foundation for the first home is laid on the property (entire subdivision). In Item III.4, there is a staggered schedule proffered for contributions of the $55,000 increments for workforce housing. In Item III.5, it is unclear when contributions other than the down payment are to be made. Contributions should be made as housing units are sold or contracted up to the 15 housing units. Clearer language or a table should be provided to make this information more understandable and less confusing.

8.      Item IV.3, the Zoning Ordinance requires all residential structures to be 25 feet away from the 100-year floodplain elevation, not just outside the floodplain. The Zoning Ordinance cannot be amended by a proffer and this language is meaningless and should be removed.

9.      Item IV.4, the reference to the Northern Virginia BMP Handbook, seeks to bind the County to a particular interpretation.  A proffer cannot tie the County; only the applicant, and therefore the language is meaningless and should be removed from the proffers.

10.  References to the “Applicant” are made in Items IV.4. V.1, V.2, VI.1, VI-2. The language should be generalized for example, the language of the 2nd paragraph under Item IV.4 should be rewritten to read as:

A “super silt fence” shall be installed along the rear property lines of lots #48 - #51 to provide a tree saved area to the adjacent property owner to the east (i.e. PIN # 6981-54-4190).”

11.  Item V.1 and Item V.2, no statement is made as to when the recreation improvements will be installed.

12.  Item VI.1, the applicant appears to be the only one who will use the new road.  Please provide language to clarify what everyone else will do.

13.  Item VI.1, if no public roadway is agreed to by the adjacent property owner, it appears there is no use.  This language should be clarified.

14.  Item VI.4, clarify what “heavy construction traffic” means.  The language should be changed to state that no construction traffic shall access the property from.

Summary and Recommendations:

It is recommended that the Board of Supervisors hold the public hearing on this case.  It is further recommended that action be postponed and the hearing remain open, since more project refinements are necessary.  The Board should consider Planning Commission’s recommendations whether or not the workforce housing provisions contained in the proposed proffers are appropriate and will still meet the intent of the original rezoning. 

The Planning Commission recommended denial because of its concern that the proffered workforce units will not actually be built, and the overall project was not upgraded to meet the Board of Supervisors Proffer Policy.  The applicant indicated that it could not offer anything beyond a cash contribution of $55,000 plus $21,613 for the soft-second should any workforce unit not be provided on site. 

Staff asks the Board of Supervisors to consider focusing on moving forward with this item and its precedent setting workforce housing program.  Additional work is required with the applicant to upgrade the “soft-second” mortgage for any workforce units not constructed on site and to refine language regarding the non-profit committee.  Time must be allocated to create a viable non-profit committee properly empowered to screen candidates and effectively deal with this creative “soft second” mortgage and outline re-sale ramifications.  This workforce initiative will be part of a more coordinated and established comprehensive affordable housing program, Countywide, in the future.  It is imperative that this committee commence as soon as possible so that details regarding the soft-second mortgage, selection criteria and screening and qualification of potential applicants can be determined.

Staff encourages the applicant to consider refining its proposal to achieve the 15 workforce housing units onsite or to consider the Planning Commission’s request for the current proffer policy (e.g., for the workforce housing: $28,503 in lieu of the $21,613, plus the $55,000).  A proffered $76,613 can serve as a “soft second” mortgage portable to other homes that are for sale (single family, town house or condominium) countywide, subject to the terms of the Proffer Statement.  This specific proffered contribution would be for the benefit of Fauquier County and School Division employees.

The Planning Commission and staff have noted with this amendment to the approved rezoning for Willow Creek that the homes did not need to be restricted to only 15 single family detached units.  Options for single family attached and condominiums as a substitute could be viable, with smaller units envisioned.  However, this position is contrary to information shared with the adjoining subdivision and the unified housing objective represented in the original rezoning.  Residents were informed that the Willow Creek homes (market rate versus workforce housing) would be indistinguishable in design and size, and similar to their community.

This project presents a unique opportunity to establish an effective start-up model for integrating affordable workforce housing within our growing Service Districts.  These districts are intended to provide the full inventory of housing types and opportunities for our existing and future resident population.

 

Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Fauquier County Department of Community Development

 

Attachments:

1.      Project Proffers

2.      Planning Commission Staff Report (4/26/07)

3.  Resolution to Deny

4.  Ordinance

     

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