Proposed planning, zoning fee structure could spur new development

In an effort to jump- start economic development in Chesterfield, James J. L. Stegmaier, county administrator, proposed a reduction in planning department fees. A code amendment passed by the planning commission on Feb. 15, if approved by the Board of Supervisors, will bring Chesterfield’s planning fees more in line with other localities in the Richmond area.

The Board of Supervisors had previously enacted a fee holiday for commercial, industrial or office planning applications in an effort to stimulate commercial building activity. That initiative expires in September.

The new fee schedule would cut fees across the board, with the deepest cuts for amending conditions of zoning (rezoning) or other conditional use applications. A rezoning for residential use would drop from $5,300 to $1,500 and a commercial use rezoning would be reduced from $4,100 to $1,500. Most fees could see a reduction of at least 25 percent, although some of the lower and more minor issue fees would remain unchanged if the Board of Supervisors approve the fee reduction in the same form as approved by the planning commission.

The Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce, Chesterfield Business Council and the Home Builders Association of Richmond spoke in favor of the fee reduction and congratulated the county administration on considering the fee changes.

“It is our understanding that the cost of such changes would have to be absorbed by the general fund,” said Debra Girvin, government affairs committee chair for the Chesterfield Business Council. “However, changing the application fee structure will enable the county to further advertise the message ‘Chesterfield County is open for business.’”

But not all the speakers agreed that the entire fee reduction package is appropriate at this time. Paul Grasewicz, representing the Surrywood Homeowners Association, asked the commission to consider reducing the fees on commercial development fees only. He said residential development is not economic development.

“Residential development doesn’t pay for itself,” Grasewicz said. “Proffers on residential zoning explains that and rapid development doesn’t help.” Grasewicz further explained that review for residential subdivisions is more complicated than that of a commercial development.

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