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Housing Work Begins

Planning Commission starts looking at changes to county housing policies.

The Planning Commission began work on the county’s housing policies, Monday, June 4, focusing on the financial realities of meeting the county’s unmet housing needs.

Michael Capretti, a member of the Housing Advisory Board, presented the commission with a financial scenario for building a 50-unit rental development, where residents are at 100 percent, 50 percent and 30 percent of the area median income (AMI).

"We need to address issues where it is below 100 percent of the AMI," Capretti said.

In April, the Board of Supervisors initiated a Comprehensive Plan amendment in order to broaden and update countywide housing policies, including clarifying the need for affordable housing and create direction for programs to address the need.

In 2006 the median income for the Washington, D.C., area was $90,300. The Comprehensive Plan amendment would focus on those resident whose income falls below the median.

Commission Chairman Robert J. Klancher (Broad Run) directed Capretti and the Housing Advisory Board to create the financial matrix following the commission’s public hearing, May 21.

"I wanted to get a sense of what the costs are and what we are really dealing with," Klancher said.

Under Capretti’s development scenario land would have to be bought at approximately $200,000 to $300,000 per acre. Commissioners debated adding language that would incorporate affordable developments into larger rezoning projects or to build it into the proffers.

"We are looking at ways to defray the land value by pushing costs into other parts of larger land applications," Klancher said.

Some commissioners, however, said they did not know of any large active rezonings, the size of South Riding or Ashburn Village, where the county could find the land needed for affordable housing.

"We have to think outside the box," Commissioner Suzanne Volpe (Sugarland Run) said. Volpe suggested the commission look into the smaller parcels owned by developers and giving incentives to those that worked with the county. She also pointed out a relationship Stafford County has with the local banks.

"When a house is foreclosed on, they find out from the bank and pick it up for a song," she said. "With those houses they can help meet their unmet housing needs."

Capretti warned against trying to create one policy to fit all development applications.

"The HAB would rather see a list of policies that we could fit to the appropriate application," he said.

The commission will meet again to discuss the county’s housing policies, Monday, June 11, at 6 p.m.

— Erika Jacobson