by PWCBG’s Robert Pugh, ┬áPotomac News

8 December 2006

“The election for the Prince William Board of County Supervisors is still almost a year away, but the political silly season has already started. After Corey Stewart’s solid win against a very credible opponent for board chairman running on a platform of reigning in uncontrolled development, Supervisor Covington has now proposed an unfeasible ‘moratorium’ on [rezonings for] new housing construction. Other board members are also trying to jump on that bandwagon.

“Supervisor Covington knows this gimmick will not work. He wrote — in an e-mail on April 13 — responding to growing opposition to the proposed Brentswood development:

“‘Fairfax County has already unsuccessfully tried to implement some of the suggestions …, e.g. a moratorium on new building, or no rezoning without adequate public facilities in place. In fact, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that public facilities should follow rather than precede development.

“‘Virginia property owners have a vested right to develop properties. Local governments cannot restrict this right for a greater public good or require property owners to construct adequate public facilities, e.g. schools, roads, libraries, to support their developments.’

“On the same evening Supervisor Covington put forward his resolution, he also voted in favor of adding 1,400 houses to the Harbor Station development. On Oct. 24 he voted for 220 new residential units in the Caton’s Ridge development in Occoquan, opposing then-Occoquan Supervisor Stewart.

“Creating land use policy that serves the broad public interest is much more complicated than taking either extreme position of catering to the residential development industry’s interests, or grandstanding to call for no development at all. It is a long-term process that requires mature judgment, leadership and consistent, balanced action on behalf of the entire community, which includes both developers and citizens.

“Prince William County will soon revise its Comprehensive Plan for land use. This document guides future development in our county. In fact, denying a rezoning request that is consistent with the Comp Plan is extraordinarily difficult for the board. If a pro-development board succeeds in quietly restructuring our Comp Plan to favor the residential development industry, promoting balanced development and economic growth in Prince William County could be rendered virtually impossible. Citizens paying close attention to the details of what the board does with the Comp Plan is vastly more important than applauding specious, unworkable calls to stop residential building.

“Our job as citizens is to ensure that the rest of the Board knows that we are watching their actions carefully, especially in the Comprehensive Plan revision.”