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Bill would allow attorneys’ fees for proffer challenges

Legislation is making its way through the General Assembly to make it easier for developers to fight local governments that seek to extract cash proffers before completion of new construction projects.

It’s the latest development in a debate over the retroactive effect of a 2010 statute that forbids local governments from collecting early cash proffers from developers. In a formal opinion, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said the statute covered prior proffer agreements. Fast-growing counties, including Stafford, Hanover and others, determined to stick with the early-collection deals they had already made with developers.

Sen. Mark Obenshain attempted to ride to the rescue of developers this year with his Senate Bill 1204 – it directed judges to award attorneys’ fees if a developer fought early collection efforts and won. The bill easily cleared the Senate and House, but the House watered down the attorney fee requirement, changing “shall” to “may,” according to The Free Lance-Star.

Although the House change goes back to the Senate for consideration, Obenshain said there is no chance of reviving the mandatory fee award.

By Peter Vieth

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