Public meeting to be held on developer request to lower proffer

Middletown officials are holding a public meeting regarding a developer’s request to lower a proffer amount that would offset anticipated costs to an area school system resulting from a new subdivision.

The public can express their thoughts on the request at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 during a public meeting to he held before the town council meeting, said Middletown clerk Christina Smith.

Developer Dave Holiday has requested a proffer amendment that would allow him to pay $5,887 for each of the 180 units that would be built at the Village at Middletown subdivision. This is a reduction from the $13,952 per unit as previously agreed to. A proffer is a voluntary offer by a landowner to perform an act, contribute money or donate land to offset the impact of new development.

The schools impacted would be Middletown Elementary School, Robert E. Aylor Middle School and Sherando High School, all in Frederick County.

The decision to hold the public meeting came after town officials started to receive phone calls and communications from Franklin County residents wanting to ask questions and express concerns about the proffers being lowered, said Mayor Charles Harbaugh.

Town council members were unanimous in wanting to hear from the public, he said.

It also allows a month for Frederick County officials to let Middletown know their thoughts, he said.

Holiday did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The request to recalculate the proffer figure is the result of Senate Bill 549 that the General Assembly passed last year. The law is intended to protect the developer and municipality from accepting an unreasonably high or low offer. It reads “that no locality shall request, or accept, any unreasonable proffer in connection with a rezoning or a proffer condition amendment as a condition of approval of a new residential development or new residential use.”

The cost difference will have no direct impact on the town but the council’s approval is needed because the town collects the funds for Frederick County.