by Keith Walker, Manassas Journal Messenger

31 August 2007

“Prince William [Board of County Supervisors] Chairman Corey A. Stewart, R-at large, is set to impose higher proffers on residential development.  Proffers are contributions developers pay to offset the negative effects their developments have on the surrounding community. They make the payments in exchange for favorable rezonings.

“Developers currently pay $31,719 per single family house. In May, the county planning staff recommended that amount be increased to $51,113.

“In 2006, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors raised proffers from the 2004 rate of $22,986 to the current rate.

” ‘I think it’s important that the whole $51,000 proffer be enacted and adopted, and I want it implemented as soon as possible,’ Stewart said.

“Stewart plans to bring a proposal to increase proffers before the board in October.

“When Stewart ran for the chairman’s seat in 2006 in a special election against Democrat Sharon E. Pandak, he proposed raising proffers to $47,000, so he is pleased with the county’s recommendation.

” ‘It’s even more than I thought it was going to be and that’s good,’ Stewart said.

“Pandak, who is running again for the chairman’s seat and will face Stewart in a general election in November, said Stewart’s proposal is ‘political grandstanding’ that is ‘too little, too late.’

” ‘I believe that we have to have new development cover its cost so that current residents don’t have to pay for it. But to suddenly bring it back up in October because it’s two weeks before an election to me has nothing to do with good policy,’ Pandak said.

“Whenever proffer increases are proposed, developers resist the increases, saying that they will have to pass the cost to homebuyers.

“Stewart doesn’t buy the argument.

” ‘They can’t add it to the cost of the housing. A house is sold according to what the market will bear,’ he said.

“Consumers simply won’t buy a house if adding proffers increases the price too much, Stewart said.

” ‘No one is going to say, “I’ll give you a premium on your house because you paid a proffer,” ‘ he said.
“The area’s slower real estate market offers the county the chance to catch up with infrastructure, Stewart said.

“Pandak said the real estate market slowdown and a year-long residential building moratorium the board imposed in December 2006 preclude any new proffers.

” ‘What kind of proffers are coming in?’ she asked. ‘In order to get proffers you have to have new development.’

“Pandak added, ‘What this looks like to me on Corey’s part is a last-ditch effort to suddenly say somehow he’s done something.’

“Stewart said he’s looking to the future.
” ‘It might not affect that many homes just because there aren’t a lot of rezonings requests coming through right now. This is really a long-term reform,’ he said.

” ‘The state of the market shouldn’t affect what we do with regard to proffers,’ he added.

“Stewart would limit proffer increases to residential development, since he believes the county should be trying to attract businesses.

” ‘We’re trying to encourage more office, high-end retail and other commercial development. We don’t want to discourage it,’ Stewart said. ‘What’s really taking a toll on our infrastructure is residential development.’ “