Land Use To Change…$44M New Courts Building…Comp Plan Adjustments..Mixed Use Ordinance….

Once again, as the holidays approach, it’s time for meetings freighted with important issues; meetings which will see less citizen attendance because, well, the holidays are approaching. It’s time to wrap up all those yes votes with a pretty bow and put them under the developers’ tree.

Board of Supervisors Meeting – Tuesday, Nov. 26 – 6 p.m.
Pubic Hearings begin at 7 p.m.

What’s on the docket? 

An ordinance to amend the Hanover County tax code regarding land use assessment comes up for a Public Hearing at the November 26 Board of Supervisors meeting, one already top heavy with Comp Plan amendments.

What is the land use ordinance now? 

Hanover County’s tax code provides for assessing and taxing property (often termed “land use”, for short) depending upon the intensity of the use, i.e. commercial parcels are taxed at a higher rate than agricultural parcels.  Taxes are rolled back for less intensive uses until the property is rezoned, triggering payment of five years of rolled back taxes.

What is the change? 

Ordinance 13-14 proposes that when a parcel is rezoned for a more intensive use, the property can remain eligible for assessment and taxation at the previous lower rate and that the roll-back taxes are not due until the that property changes to a non-qualifying use.

What are the concerns?

Equity:  Could an agricultural property owner  rezone, then sit on the property forever without paying the increased taxes, even though no developer is waiting in the wings? An agricultural property owner who rezones to commercial/industrial/business will pay lower taxes at the “land-use” rate than a non-agricultural property owner who rezones to commercial/industrial/business. Is this unequal taxation?
Monitoring:  Are enforcement departments for zoning AND taxation going to work together to ensure that property is accurately taxed by USE once rezoned?

Case studies:  What other localities have implemented such a program? How has this provision worked elsewhere? Is there a precedent?
Revenue: The Virginia Department of Taxation believes localities may experience decreased revenue if they choose not to tax rezoned parcels according to their new designation. The loss of proffers resonates.
What else is on the docket?

Supervisors will be deciding to spend $44M on a new courts building. This isn’t a new project – it was shelved several years ago due to cost. As succinctly described in the Herald Progress, we just had an election. The county could have followed its 2005 precedent by widely explaining the need to spend $44M on a new courts building, and allowing the public to vote on the matter. Not this time; it’s going to go right to Public Hearing.

And to conclude the docket?

The Supervisors will conduct a Public Hearing on the amended revisions to the Comp Plan. And in conclusion, the Public Hearing will give the public a final opportunity to comment on the Mixed Use Ordinance amendment(s).

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