Albemarle County Planning Commission

March 10, 2009



STA-2008-00002 Subdivision Fees

Amend Sec. 14-203, Fees, of Chapter 14, Subdivision of Land, of the Albemarle County Code.  This ordinance would amend Sec. 14-203 to impose new fees and to increase existing fees charged for almost all listed applications, permits, reviews, approvals, inspections and other services provided by the County in the administration of Chapter 14.  The following fees would be increased: (1) preliminary plats reviewed by commission: (a) 1-9 lots: from $720 to $4100; (b) 10-19 lots: from $1100 to $4350; (c) 20 or more lots: from $1330 to $4650; (2) preliminary plats reviewed by agent: (a) 1-9 lots: from $360 to $2100; (b) 10-19 lots: from $550 to $2100; (c) 20 or more lots: $670 to $2100; (d) 2 lots under section 14-232(B)(2) or lots fronting on existing public street: from $95 to $490; (3) final plats reviewed by commission: (a) 1-9 lots: from $720 to $4200; (b) 10-19 lots: from $1100 to $4430; (c) 20 or more lots: $1330 to $4650; (4) final plats reviewed by agent: (a) 1-9 lots: from $360 to $1950; (b) 10-19 lots: from $550 to $2200; (c) 20 or more lots: $670 to $2450; (d) 2 lots under section 14-232(B)(2) or lots fronting on existing public street: from $95 to $1050; (5) reinstatement of preliminary or final plat review: from $65 to $1000; (6) plat for rural subdivision, family subdivision; resubdivision, or boundary line adjustment: from $95 to $1350; (7) easement plats: from $95 to $950 if no deed, to $1500 with a deed; (8) bonding inspection for a plat: from $50 to $500; (9) groundwater assessment Tier 4: from $1000 to $1500; (10) waiver after preliminary plat approved, before final plat approved: from $180 to $1650; (11) waiver after final plat approved: from $830 to $1650; (12) relief from conditions imposed by commission prior to adoption of chapter 14: from $180 to $770; (13) appeal of plat to board of supervisors: from $240 to $540; and (14) extension of plat approval: from $45 to $240.  The following fees would be added: (1) each review of public road plans, including revisions after approval: $250; (2) each review of private road plans, including revisions after approval: $400; (3) authorization for one or more private streets within subdivision: $1350; (4) waiver of one or more street standards before preliminary plat approved: $1050; (5) waiver of curb and/or gutter requirements before preliminary plat approved: $1050; (6) waiver of street interconnection requirements before preliminary plat approved: $1050; (7) final plat for subdivision without approved preliminary plat: applicable preliminary plat fee plus applicable final plat fee; (8) bond estimate request for subdivision improvements: $500; (9) bonding inspection for bond reduction: $500; groundwater assessment Tier 1: $50; and (10) notices required by section 14-216 and 14-221: $200 for first 50; $1 for each notice beyond 50.  The following fees would be changed but not necessarily increased: (1) groundwater assessment Tier 2: from $250 plus $25 per lot to $330; (2) groundwater assessment Tier 3: from $400 plus $25 per lot to $1300.  The proposed fees and fee increases are necessary to assure that the fees cover the cost to the County to provide those services.  The proposed fee increases are authorized by Virginia Code § 15.2-2241(9).  The full text of the ordinance is available for examination by the public in the offices of the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors and in the Department of Community Development, County Office Building, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. (Mark Graham)


Mark Graham presented a PowerPoint presentation and summarized the executive summary.  (See Executive Summary and PowerPoint Presentation)  This is Community Development fees for the Subdivision Ordinance public hearing for a recommendation for the Board of Supervisors. 


Mr. Strucko invited questions from the Commission for Mr. Graham.  There being none, he opened the public hearing and invited public comment.


Alex Toomey, resident of Albemarle County, builder and developer, pointed out that he just reviewed the proposal several hours before the meeting.  What he did not understand was that there was no mention about the roll back taxes that they pay on the lots that they create.  For instance, there is an example of a two lot neighborhood.  If those lots assess for $200,000 a piece that would be about $7,000 in roll back taxes that the developer would have to pay and 20 percent of that going to Community Development would cover the cost.  On the 20 lot neighborhoods they are talking about the cost of $4,000.  A smaller percentage of those roll back taxes would easily cover the cost that the county incurs.  The other question is that there is no talk about actually cutting costs in the county for outsourcing since he thought that the developer is the outsourcer.  The developer hires Virginia engineers licensed by the State of Virginia to stamp the plans and say the plans meet the State Ordinance.  In the last couple of years the county simplified the process by eliminating the final approval by the county.  VDOT is now doing all final approvals for subdivision roads. So in the normal year are those savings calculated into this new proposal of what it costs.


Neil Williamson, of Free Enterprise Forum, noted that he provided a document to the Commission outlining some of his concerns with the study that was used as well as his two key points. There is recognition of the cost of complexity of the ordinances.  Just from the discussion tonight there is a significant cost of complexity in Albemarle County’s ordinances. The Commission has developed those ordinances to protect the public good and to protect what they perceive.  The public lean on those ordinances in order to be able to say what they know is going to happen with the land near them. He thinks that is a public benefit and as such the enforcement of those ordinances should be shared by the public and the private sector.  He has had folks call him and say that the public sector should pay 100 percent because the developer pays to engineer the plans, pays to have the engineers come in for the reviews with the county engineers and then pays the interest carried on the property.  He thought that there is clearly benefit to the applicant as well as to the public.  The Free Enterprise Forum is supportive of the 50 percent cost sharing.


There being no further comment, Mr. Strucko closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Commission for discussion and action.


Ms. Porterfield asked staff to reply to Mr. Toomey’s questions.


Mr. Graham replied that in respect to the roll back taxes he was not sure how it inners into the equation except that it is a source of revenue for the County.  It is not directly related to the cost of a subdivision review.  Therefore he was not sure how to relate that to subdivision fees. 


Mr. Loach asked for an explanation of the roll back tax.


Mr. Graham explained when land is pulled out of Land Use they pay the taxes for the previous five years.


Mr. Loach noted that they are talking about land in the Land Use Taxation Program when they talk about the roll back taxes.  He noted that most of the land in the Land Use Program has been in since 1975.  So even paying the 5 years of back taxes they have to realize that the county has subsidized the land owner for the better part of 20 years.  So anything over 5 years they are getting a benefit from the Land Use Program.  So he did not agree with the conclusions that were being suggested.


Mr. Graham noted that with respect to his other point on the outsourcing of the road approval that they have noted that there is a much lower fee for public roads that are reviewed by the county than for private roads.  That is because they are discounting that part that is actually being done by VDOT rather than the county at this point.


Ms. Joseph agreed with staff that the reasonable request is 50 percent.  She said that the community has decided that they have certain standards and she felt it was part of the community responsibility to help pay for the review of that. 


Mr. Morris agreed.  He thought that staff has put a lot of thought into this and 50 percent is where he thought it ought to be.


Ms. Porterfield pointed out having attended the Board of Supervisors meeting a couple of weeks ago when they opened up discussion on the incoming budget she just cannot vote for something is not going to try to recoup the cost of doing business.  Whether it is the cost of doing business for the developer the developer is still going to pass a goodly portion of those costs on to whoever is going to buy the properties, which makes it the people in Albemarle County who want those areas to build.  She went along with bringing the advertising down to 75 percent instead of 100 percent because they could not get the votes.   She just firmly believes, especially in this economy, they can’t ask the Albemarle County taxpayers to pick up things that they may or may not be directly benefiting from.  Even though she understands what they are saying she felt that right now the cost of doing business was the cost of doing business.  If they want to pick up 25 percent of it then that is where they are.  But, she just can’t go any lower than the 75 percent.


Mr. Loach agreed with Ms. Porterfield that this is the cost of doing business particularly with the current economy.  He felt that every department has to get in the mode to recover costs if and when they can.  As far as the cost if there was no development then there would be no cost incurred by the county.  He felt that having their cost covered was different than having a fire department for protection.  It is two entirely different things when talking about protection. 


Mr. Edgerton agreed with Mr. Loach and Ms. Porterfield with one exception in that he would be willing to drop back to the 50 percent that staff is recommending for the 2 lot family division.  He continues to be frustrated by the amount of work that has to be done by the county and the fact that they can’t seem to pay our staff enough or to hire enough staff to even handle it when they are in a more prosperous time than they currently are in.  Actually they are struggling with the current work load.  He agreed with Ms. Porterfield that 75 percent is a good compromise between the 100 and 50 percent.  He would recommend that they go with the 75 percent with the one exception on the 2 lot family division as recommended by staff.  Theoretically that is there to protect the rural land owner that wants to keep some land in the family.  .   

Mr. Franco noted that he was obviously new to the conversation on this side of the fence.  But he did think that a lot of what occurs right now is initiated by the public.  The proposal comes from the development community especially with ministerial acts and there should be a check box that it does this or it does not.  A lot of the process is being driven by the public and being questioned by the public.  As such he felt that the public has a shared responsibility for the cost of that review.  He supports the staff recommendation of 50 percent.  He agreed that the fees need to be updated from the 1991 costs, which was when it was last updated.  But he truly believes that the public is a big piece of this process and they need to share that cost.


Mr. Strucko noted that previously he agreed to the 75 percent because that was the cap to advertise.   He agreed with Ms. Porterfield, Mr. Loach and Mr. Edgerton.  He liked Mr. Edgerton’s suggestion regarding the 2 lot family subdivision.  It is for the very reasons that the others stated.  He asked if there was a motion.


Ms. Porterfield asked under the notice section what was meant by “or delivering.”


Mr. Kamptner noted that it was “and delivering.”


Ms. Porterfield suggested that they get that out of there because the cost to hand deliver 50 notices is going to be a lot more than $200 when staff had to be sent out in a car to deliver.  She suggested that it say “preparing and mailing.”


Mr. Graham noted that delivering could be that the persons are here at the county. For example, there are other meetings that staff can hand deliver the notice directly to the person at the meeting rather than mail it.


Ms. Porterfield questioned if they want it to be so open ended. 


Mr. Graham noted that he read it to mean that it was staff’s prerogative to choose.


Mr. Kamptner replied yes, that this is not obligating staff to hand deliver notices.


Ms. Porterfield agreed to second the motion as long as staff was not being obligated to hand deliver the notices.


Ms. Joseph noted that she thinks of the bottom line and that the economy is a reason she can support the 50 percent.  She felt that they have to think of the economy in terms of people are out there trying to make a living actually doing this sort of thing and submitting site plans.  So she was thinking of it in those terms, too.


Mr. Franco said that in the economy today he was not sure if the comment of being able to pass on the expense to the buyer is realistic.  He thought that maybe in the days when things kept going up and up they could. But he thought that they have reached a cap where they can’t continue to pass this burden on to the new resident. 


Motion:   Mr. Edgerton moved and Ms. Porterfield seconded to recommend approval of STA-2008-0002 Subdivision Fees to the Board of Supervisors with the 75 percent cost recovery as shown on  the Chart known as Attachment 4, with the exception of the two-lot family division with the 50 percent cost recovery.


The motion passed by a vote of 4:3.  (Strucko, Loach, Edgerton and Porterfield voted aye.) (Franco, Morris and Joseph voted nay.)


Mr. Strucko noted that STA-2008-0002 Subdivision Fees would go before the Board of Supervisors on April 8, 2009 with a recommendation for approval with the 75 percent cost recovery as shown on  the Chart known as Attachment 4, with the exception of the two-lot family division with the 50 percent cost recovery. 


(Recorded and transcribed by Sharon C. Taylor, Clerk to Planning Commission & Planning Boards)




STA-2008-003 Subdivision Fees – Executive Summary Chart 4





















Subdivision Type


County Cost

Current Fee

Fee Study

Staff Recommended *

75%  Cost Recovery

100% Cost Recovery **



Fluvanna County

Greene County

James City County

Stafford County


2 Lot Family Division













































5 Lot Subdivision

Preliminary - Admin











$400 (+ $250/reubmisssion)




                   -  PC






























Final -           Admin





























20 Lot Subdivision

Preliminary - Admin











$1,510 (+$250/resubmission)




                    - PC






























Final -           Admin












































*   Note:  The staff recommended fees did not include a separate fee for notices.  This could be added without changing the fees listed, but results in fees that are slightly higher than 50% of cost.  





















Return to executive summary