What Would Proffer Limitations Cost Loudoun? Supervisors Want to Know

The Loudoun Board of Supervisors has been strident in its objections to bills working their way through the General Assembly that would limit localities’ abilities to request or accept proffers from developers.

But proffers, like the growth in Loudoun that they help support, are a complicated topic, and quantifying the impact of legislation that hasn’t even passed yet is difficult.

“The more we look at this bill, the more we see unintended consequences,” warned Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn).

Now, Loudoun will try to put a number on it.

The Board of Supervisors on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution directing the county staff to conduct an impact study and forward the results to state House and Senate leadership, members of Loudoun’s assembly delegation, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).

“This board, for the last four or five years, has worked diligently to improve the process here in Loudoun County, and the Virginia building association, I feel, has literally slapped us in the face,” said Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian), who made the motion. “We approach all of this in good faith.”

The Homebuilders Association of Virginia penned the first draft of the proffer bills in the General Assembly.

Proffers are deals struck when developers request rezoning a parcel for development. They are agreements developers make to offset their projects’ impact on county services. For example, it may include helping to pay for classroom space needed to accommodate the school-aged children who will live in a planned development or providing land for parks or fire stations.

When considering a rezoning request, Loudoun planners calculate the anticipated proffer contribution of a development based on the project’s impact to a variety of services—how much extra it will cost to keep up with fire and rescue, schools, or libraries, for example. The county’s proffer formula even considers different housing types, with single-family homes having a greater cost impact than townhouses or apartments because of the number of school aged children expected to live in them.

Under these proffer bills, Assistant County Administrator Charles Yudd said the county could not include some impacts in its proffer calculations.

Buona gave an example: “The landfill. Every citizen uses the landfill, but we couldn’t use that, right?”

Volpe’s motion directs the staff to calculate the difference between proffers collected as part of Loudoun rezonings in the past 25 years and what would have been permitted under the proposed rules.

“This has more far-reaching implications than what we realize until we literally run down a list,” Volpe said.