By Aila Boyd

The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors voted last month to hold a public hearing on an amendment to the county’s code that would allow citizen petitions for Community Development Authorities (CDAs).

The public hearing will be held at the board’s meeting on September 24.

Ken McFadyen, the county’s director of economic development, briefed the supervisors on the scope of CDAs.

It was explained during the meeting that CDAs are entities that the Board of Supervisors has the authority to create under state law. Appointed by the Board of Supervisors, CDAs function as special assessment districts to finance major public improvements such as upgrades to infrastructure or community services through service fees for special tax assessments within the district, both of which are only allowed with the concurrence of the supervisors.

CDAs were described as opportunities for creative financing, public-private partnerships, and investment in economic development and redevelopment.

A CDA in the Short Pump area in Henrico County was described as being a successful example. “Use of a CDA is an innovative concept in this part of the Commonwealth,” the agenda packet said. McFadyen added that CDAs aren’t “widely leveraged” in other nearby municipalities, but that Botetourt County is “perfectly situated to explore” the use of them.

It was also noted that the Board of Supervisors does not have the ability to unilaterally create CDAs. In order for one to be formed, citizens who own land that is either 51 percent of the land area or 51 percent of the assessed value of the area within the CDA district must formally petition the Board of Supervisors to create an authority.

Before citizens can petition the board, the supervisors must first adopt an ordinance giving themselves the authority to do so.

McFadyen said to the supervisors, “You aren’t obligated to commit to any particular infrastructure projects. You’re just simply giving the county a vehicle to do so should it prove in the near future that it would be beneficial.”