by Tara Slate Donaldson, The Gainesville Times

10 October 2007

“A new group has formed in Prince William to encourage proffer hikes and a slowdown of residential development. But though Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth [PWCBG] claims to be a bipartisan organization, the founders spent much of their first press conference Tuesday refuting claims that it is just another front for Republican candidates.

“It may be too early to tell which is true. It is also too early to tell whether the group will have any appreciable impact on the proffer debate.

“On Tuesday, group founders Bob Pugh and Ralph Stephenson hosted a press conference at the McCoart Building. They were joined by Prince William Republican Committee member Denny Daugherty, Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, Gainesville Supervisor John Stirrup and candidates Faisal Gill and Chris Royse, all Republicans.

“Planning Commissioner Gary Friedman was also present and though he has run for public office as a Democrat, several Democratic Committee members who watched the press conference pointed out that the Democrats are no longer claiming Friedman after his break with the party to align with Republicans.

“The stated purpose of the group is to encourage the Board of County Supervisors to increase proffers on residential development — something they are expected to do anyway next Tuesday.

” ‘For an industry or company to try to force taxpayers to subsidize a product that is already in oversupply or glut may be good politics for some, but it is not good economic policy,’ said Stephenson. ‘Nor does it represent good government or the best interests of taxpayers.’

Stephenson and Pugh said they had invited all of the supervisors and Democratic candidate for chairman Sharon Pandak to attend their press conference.

“The absence of any Democrats was notable, although Pandak sent an e-mail to the group and the press beforehand saying she isn’t opposed to proffer hikes.

” ‘The proffer guidelines have been updated over the years and they need to be updated again, as recommended by county staff,’ she wrote. ‘They must better reflect current costs and impacts.’

“Next week, the board is set to increase the proffer amount by 36 percent.

“The current proffer for a single-family house will rise from $37,719 to $51,113. The proffer on a townhouse will increase from $31,927 to $43,262 and the proffer for a multifamily unit will go from $19,526 to $26,545.

” ‘We’ve been getting overwhelmed by residential development,’ Stewart said. ‘The commercial tax base has slipped.’

“The proffer hikes would only affect residential development, not businesses or nonprofits.” …

“Pending Supervisors’ Votes Rile Public:  Protest, News Conference Address Proposals on Illegal Immigration, Proffers”

by Christy Goodman, The Washington Post

11 October 2007, p. PW01

“For a change, most of the action Tuesday was outside the Prince William County Government Center instead of inside at a meeting of the Board of County Supervisors. In the back parking lot, a protest formed. Out front, a news conference took place. And later, people gathered for a community rally.

“The protest: the board’s pending vote on restricting services to illegal immigrants.

“The news conference: the board’s pending vote on raising residential proffers by 36 percent.

“The meeting: See the protest.

“People were riled up… [passage omitted on illegal immigration issue]

“At a news conference before the meeting, several Republican candidates, two Republican board members and a few residents announced that they would be watching the supervisors’ vote Tuesday on raising the fees developers pay to build residential properties, making them the highest in the state. The group, dubbed the Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth, vowed to post a report card of the supervisors’ actions, including board Chairman Corey A. Stewart and Supervisor John T. Stirrup Jr. (Gainesville).

“Enter the opposition.

” ‘I see the leadership of this organization as all Republicans,’ said Harry Wiggins, the finance chairman of the Prince William Democratic Committee, who repeatedly interrupted speakers to call the group ‘a Republican front.’  ‘This has nothing to do with proffers or growth or anything. It is all about Corey Stewart,’ Wiggins said.

“Stewart had just finished explaining that $51,113 per house in fees to pay for schools, parks and transportation, called proffers, was ‘the true cost of residential development in the county.’

“Stewart and the Citizens for Balanced Growth said the 36 percent increase in proffers was needed to help slow residential growth while boosting commercial development.

“Another resident, Claire Rollins, told the board, ‘As far as proffers are concerned, you know that is extortion. . . . It is going to be passed on to the buyer.’

“Chris A. Royse, a Republican candidate for Woodbridge supervisor, tied the day’s issues together, saying his district has been consumed with unruly development and the ‘lawlessness’ of illegal immigrants for too long, which he said was one of the reasons he supports the efforts of the group” …  [passage omitted on illegal immigration issue]