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Spotsylvania supervisors elect to opt out of Regional Transportation Authority

by | Jun 13, 2024 | ALLFFP, Government, Spotsylvania

The Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday night to approve a resolution allowing the county to opt out of a Regional Transportation Authority. 

The supervisors voted 5-1 to approve the resolution with only Battlefield District representative Chris Yakabouski voting against it. 

“I think we need to move something forward, and I would challenge my board in the most respectful way of, it not this, then what?” Yakabouski said. “How are we going to do these things?” 

An RTA would involve Spotsylvania, Caroline, King George, and Stafford counties and the city of Fredericksburg. 

Most RTAs allocate a portion of transportation taxes back to the jurisdiction where the funds originated, and the balance goes toward supporting larger regional transportation projects. 

Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads are two of the most influential RTAs in Virginia, but Spotsylvania supervisors do not believe the Fredericksburg area has enough in common to support an RTA. 

The Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization asked the five localities to consider splits of 70% regionally and 30% locally or 60/40 or 50/50, with the majority preferring 60/40. 

Yakabouski said roads and transportation are a major issue in the area, and a regional approach might allow Spotsylvania to tackle some of the concerns. He said slowing down development is not the only solution. 

“Even if we were to stop everything right now, we have a problem and how do we fix that?” Yakabouski said. 

The other supervisors did not share Yakabouski’s sentiment, mainly because they do not believe any projects that can benefit the entire region have been proposed. They also said the RTA is just another tax on citizens. 

Board Chair Jacob Lane called it “taxation without representation” for his Livingston District residents. 

“I’m not putting my people’s money up to give up 70% of it when these regional projects most likely won’t affect my rural constituents in the area,” Lane said. 

Drew Mullins of the Courtland District said that Fredericksburg and Stafford officials dominated discussion on the topic during a recent FAMPO subcommittee meeting. Spotsylvania supervisors noted that Caroline is not participating in discussions, and officials in King George have expressed strong opposition. 

“Right now, this is a regional taxing authority and I’m not for it,” Mullins said. “When it becomes a Regional Transportation Authority, with a transportation focus, I’m open for discussion.” 

Lee Hill District Supervisor Lori Hayes is one of the most vocal critics of RTAs. Hayes acknowledged that the roads in the county are “horrible” but said an RTA is not the answer, and she will be upset if legislation next year from the General Assembly forces the county into one. 

“We keep being told the state’s going to shove it down our throats,” Hayes said. “Those representatives work for us, just like we work for the people. So, it’s incumbent on us as leaders to go to the next level up and tell them ‘Stop,’ and we did tell them that at the beginning of the year and they did stop. I would hope they have better things to worry about than this in our communities right now.” 

In other business Tuesday, the board voted 5-1 to send Thornburg Village, a residential and commercial development project in the southern part of the county, back to the planning commission. Deborah Frazier of the Salem District voted against the motion. 

The planning commission previously voted 5-0 with one abstention to recommend denial. County staff recommended approval of the project, which requires a rezoning of 83.68 acres from Commercial and Agricultural to Planned Development Housing District with proffers. 

Approximately 13.29 acres of the project are currently zoned commercial and will stay that way whether or not the project is approved.

The residential portion of the project will contain no more than 163 single-family detached homes and 212 single-family attached units. The properties are in the southwest quadrant of 6242 Patriot Highway and 5624 and 5630 Morris Road. 

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