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Stafford County, Virginia

Stafford County, population 128,961 (2010) lies across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, Virginia, 40 miles south of Washington, DC. Stafford County is linked with the greater metro area via Interstate 95, U.S. Highway 1 and by rail. In February 2013, the County launched a pilot TDR program by adopting a TDR program designed to permanently preserve agriculture, forestry, rural open space, natural resources and scenic views.

To qualify, sending sites must be a parcel in existence on the effective date of the ordinance which is at least 20 acres in size, zoned either A-1 or A-2, identified in the County’s Comprehensive Plan as a sending site and also designated in the Comp Plan as agriculture, rural or park. Land with hydric soils and steep slopes are subtracted from gross acreage before calculating the TDRs available to a sending site as well as subtracting the land occupied by existing rights-of-way (or five percent of gross acreage to accommodate future rights of way) plus any land precluded from development by preexisting easements or prior TDR severances. The maximum potential number of TDRs available to the sending site is then calculated by multiplying this net acreage by the applicable maximum density allowed by the site’s zoning minus one TDR for each existing dwelling unit. As of program adoption in 2013, the sending area consisted of 2,983 acres of land on two peninsulas extending into the Potomac River. The County calculates that this formula could generate as many as 688 TDRs. The program allows TDRs to be severed individually and sequentially.

Receiving areas must be located within the Urban Services Area, have the infrastructure capacity necessary to serve the bonus development (or a commitment to supply the needed infrastructure) and be zoned A-1, R-1, PD-1, PD-2, Planned Traditional Neighborhood Development or Urban Development. The ordinance allows developments in some of these zones to use TDRs to reduce on-site open space requirements as well as gain bonus residential density. For example, in the R-1 zone, the use of TDR allows baseline density of 1.5 units per acre to be increased to 14 units per acre and the open space ratio to be reduced from 0.5 to 0.25. In addition, TDRs can be converted into 3,000 square feet of bonus non-residential floor area in zones that allow non-residential development.

Developers can use TDRs as a matter of right and the negotiation of proffers and other development consideration does not apply to the bonus density achieved through TDR.

The initial receiving area, referred to as the Courthouse Receiving Area, consists of 125 acres surrounding the Stafford County Courthouse which is located roughly three miles west of the sending area. The receiving area is near I-95 ramps. The County calculates that this receiving area could absorb 688 TDR units. This calculation verifies that the proposed receiving area can accommodate all of the potential sending area TDRs as required by Virginia code 15.2-2316.2[B][10].