James City Planning Commission to consider residential proffer amendment

Staff writer

The James City County Planning Commission will consider whether to recommend an amendment to reintroduce residential proffers to the zoning ordinance Wednesday.

A proffer is an offer by a rezoning applicant to provide something to offset anticipated impacts of the rezoning, such as money or an agreement to perform some type of action.

Up for the Planning Commission’s review is a change to the county zoning ordinance’s section on proffers — namely, whether to strike out language that prohibits proffers for residential projects put in place in 2016.

A public hearing will precede the Planning Commission’s consideration. After the group makes its recommendation, the Board of Supervisors is expected to consider final approval of the amendment in July.

In 2016, James City County stopped accepting residential proffers because of changes to state law that introduced restrictions the county decided made it too great a burden and liability to accept proffers. Among those restrictions is a prohibition on localities requiring, requesting or suggesting, or accepting “unreasonable” proffers.

On-site proffers are considered unreasonable unless they mitigate impacts directly attributable to new residential development. Off-site proffers are considered unreasonable unless they specifically address the project’s impacts on public facilities and project benefits directly from those proffers.

“There were some real barriers put in place at the time,” planning director Paul Holt said during a policy committee meeting in early May.

But in 2019, the legislation was tweaked with language that is clearer and, in county officials’ eyes, poses less liability for localities. The new law takes effect July 1.

County staff has spent recent weeks exploring how the changes to state law may affect the county’s acceptance of residential proffers.

Right now, the amendment to the zoning ordinance language is the only change on deck. County staff is also looking into the finer details of how the changed legislation will affect specific proffer programs the county once allowed.

Want to go?

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: 101 Mounts Bay Road, county government center board room.

Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, jojacobs@vagazette.com, @jajacobs_

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