14-20 December 2008

(E-mails read from top to bottom in reverse chronological order)

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: BOB, FYI — Re: We Strongly Oppose the CoC Proposal
Date: Sat, 20 Dec 2008 22:02:04 -0500
From: Ralph Stephenson <stephenrk1@comcast.net>
To: Pugh, Bob <bob@insightwealth.com>

Stewart, Corey A. wrote:

Mr. Stephenson,


Thank you for your e-mail I wanted to send you an article that recaps what Chairman Stewart’s Planning Commissioner, Gary Friedman has implemented, Chairman Stewart is supportive of the changes.


Prince William land use changes in the works

By Cheryl Chumley


Published: December 10, 2008 http://www.insidenova.com/isn/news/local/article/prince_william_land_use_changes_in_the_works/26050/


Planning Commission members are drafting what one member characterizes as the most significant land use proposal in Prince William in years.


Under this latest Comprehensive Plan recommendation, supervisors would name certain areas of the county Urban Mixed Use or Village Mixed Use zones with the emphasis on rehabilitation and commercial development.


The proposal brought forth at the Planning Commission last week specifies two such areas: Yorkshire, located between Manassas Park and Fairfax County along the Va. 28 path, and the entire U.S. 1 corridor, from Belmont Bay to Quantico. Supervisors would still hold final authority on which sites are zoned UMU and VMU.


But for builders who meet certain criteria, these Comp Plan changes could bring significant benefits: They would not have to make proffers part of their application package for these sites.


“This absolutely revolutionizes how the county will grow,” said Gary Friedman, the Planning Commission’s at-large member responsible for bringing forth the idea at last week’s meeting.


In short, the plan requires a “concurrent percentage phasing” of the residential and commercial components of mixed-use developments, according to a fact sheet for the Planning Commission. That is, the sheet reads, “if Phase One of a project calls for 20 percent of the residential component it must also require at least 20 percent of the non-residential component.”


The intent, Friedman said, is to ensure developments in these zoned areas don’t slow or stop with housing, but rather bring forth the revenue-producing side of mixed-use projects — the commercial — in rapid fashion.


Other specifics of the recommendations: Development proposals must all focus on rehabilitation. They must span at least 100 acres. And they must not exceed the cap for residential. Only 25 percent of the development plan can include housing, according to the Comp Plan recommendations.


“These projects that come in under the first two conditions … will be considered by the county to be in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan and will be proffer-free,” Friedman said.


The proposal, he said, is win-win, as it protects the Rural Crescent, cleans up blighted areas of the county, and brings commercial development to areas of the county where some infrastructure already exists.


“This will have a major impact on the tax structure of the county,” he added.


Another plus is the Planning Commission’s latest recommendations bypass the politics and ethics complaints that undercut an earlier proposal. That plan from Land Use Advisory Committee members identified overlay areas on a map as Centers of Commerce and Centers of Community that were characterized by high-density, mixed uses that furthered “smart growth” principles.


One version of that proposal also recommended supervisors pursue a Transfer of Development Right program giving developers the ability to trade building rights for higher densities.


Two of the LUAC members were developers; some in the community complained these developers purposely pushed through a land use policy for Planning Commission and Board of Supervisor consideration that would impact their private properties and lead to personal financial gain. In response, one developer, as well as a couple of his committee colleagues, said all LUAC discussions were open and above board, and the locations of the builders’ properties were common knowledge.


John Stirrup, R-Gainesville and vice chair of the supervisors, ultimately sought investigation of the issue by the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Manassas and the attorney general’s office in Richmond.


“One big thing with this plan,” said Friedman, about his current proposal, “is that … it removes the problems associated with the LUAC from the [Comp Plan] discussions and just concentrates on the policy implications. All the Centers’ language is gone. There’re no Centers of Community, no Centers of Commerce, all the dots are gone from the map … and the TDRs are gone.”


Friedman’s proposal instructing staff to change and refine the language of the Comp Plan land-use chapter passed the Planning Commission with a 7-1 vote. Both boards — planning as well as supervisors — still have to consider and approve the final text.


Staff writer Cheryl Chumley can be reached at 703-670-1907.


I hope you find this information helpful.


Thank you,




Laurie Anne Cronin

Senior Aide

Chairman Corey A. Stewart

Prince William County Board of Supervisors

(703) 792- 5626 / (703) 792 – 4640

lcronin@pwcgov.org / cstewart@pwcgov.org



—–Original Message—–
From: Ralph Stephenson [mailto:stephenrk1@comcast.net] Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 9:37 AM
To: Caddigan, Maureen S.; Covington, W. S. Wally; Nohe, Marty E.; Stewart, Corey A.; Gainesville District; Jenkins, John D.; May, Michael C.; Principi, Frank J.
Cc: Stephenson, Kathy; Stephenson, Kate; Stephenson, Daniel; Stephenson, Benjamin
Subject: We Strongly Oppose the CoC Proposal


Members of the Board of County Supervisors:  Thank you for all you do to serve the county, and Happy Holidays to all of you.


We’d like to share with you excerpts from an e-mail exchange in late November 2008 with a friend regarding the Centers of Community/Centers of Commerce proposal put forward by the Land Use Advisory Commission.


We had e-mailed to him the following information:  …”An advisory body to the county — following behind-the-scenes lobbying by local residential developers for many months, with virtually no effort to keep citizens informed or to receive broad-based input from them — is proposing that at least 30-35,000 homes (likely to accommodate about 100,000 people) be built in the Haymarket-Gainesville-Bristow-Manassas area in the coming years.  If this does not sound to you like a good idea, I strongly urge you to get involved…”


He responded:  “…Thanks for keeping me in the loop on these issues. Unfortunately, I am out of town this week and will be unable to attend the [3 December Planning Commission] meeting.  As usual, hard working citizens will be under-represented due to our efforts to make a living and grow the economy…”


We in turn responded to him that we shared his frustration that ordinary citizens have to so frequently defend themselves against outrageous proposals like this one and the infamous Brentswood plan.


We the undersigned …  strongly recommend that AT MOST only one or two Centers of Commerce be added to the CompPlan now, IF AND WHERE THE EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE CAN SUPPORT THEM, and that no Centers of Community be added. With 20-30,000 homes approved but not yet built and thousands of homes in foreclosure in the county, only a fool or someone who stands to gain personally, to the detriment of the county as a whole, would suggest that we should now fast-track approval for 75,000 new homes (meaning ~225,000 people) by putting this in the CompPlan. Yet that is what this plan for 19 Centers of Community and 6 Centers ofCommerce indeed proposes.


Taxpayers will pay through the nose for this plan.  How will they pay?  Through:  1) ever-worsening traffic congestion (note recent Forbes article on Linton Hall having the worst commute in the country:
http://www.forbes.com/vehicles/2008/12/09/commute-traffic-town-forbeslife-cx_jb_1209commute.html);  2) increasingly overcrowded public schools; 3) declining property values in existing neighborhoods (oversupply drives down the value of your home and can eventually lead to older neighborhoods becoming blighted unnecessarily); 4) further damage to the county tax base (commercial  development subsidizes the tax base, while almost all residential development results in higher taxes for all of us); and 5) further adverse effects on quality-of-life issues, including the environment.


Again, we strongly recommend that AT MOST only one or two Centers of Commerce be added to the CompPlan now, IF AND WHERE THE EXISTINGINFRASTRUCTURE CAN SUPPORT THEM, and that no Centers of Community be added.

Ralph Stephenson

Kathy Stephenson