by Tara Slate Donaldson, The Gainesville Times
12 January 2012, pp. A1, A2
“Changes will soon be coming to Innovation Park in light of Tuesday’s approval of a new sector plan for the area.
“Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (R) hailed the redevelopment plan, which he said will give George Mason University ‘a real college campus,’ complete with student housing and restaurants.
“The sector plan creates a high-density ‘center of commerce’ district on the university’s campus around the Prince William Parkway at University Boulevard.
“That area is already set aside for high-tech business and education as part of Innovation, the county’s business park that is anchored by the university.
“Now, the area will also feature retail, offices, hotels and housing.
“Planning Commissioner Kim Hosen said on Tuesday that she had voted against the sector plan when it came before the commission, because the transportation plans ‘aren’t in sync’ with the reality of the development.
” ‘But that is a great place for high-density,’ she added.
“Stewart later agreed with one of Hosen’s concerns, the location of a planned VRE station. Early plans indicate that the station could not feasibly be built inside the actual campus but would have to be constructed further west.
“While he said that situation isn’t ideal, he added that it’s too soon to know for sure about the location.
“Hosen said that uncertainty over transit plans was one of her major issues.
“However, the sector plan was approved without opposition on Tuesday.
“That vote was an easy opening for the board meeting which ended in contention after an hours-long public hearing over an office development in Occoquan.
“That proposal generated a huge outcry from town residents who packed both the Board Chambers and the lobby on Tuesday night.
“Residents had a number of concerns, ranging from transportation to recent flooding problems that they fear may be made worse by more development.
“However, the crux of the issue was the character of the town and what many characterized as the developer’s lack of responsiveness to community concerns.
” ‘He is counting on the Board of County Supervisors to bail him out from poor planning and bad community relations,’ said Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta.
“On the other hand, the proposal does include a conservation easement, which supporters say helps make it a far better plan than any earlier development request for that site.
“Not many people spoke up in favor of the idea, but former Supervisor David Rutherford was one.
” ‘I don’t think the county will ever get a better proposal than this one,’ he said.
“In the end, the debate among supervisors came down to community relations versus jobs.
“Occoquan Supervisor Mike May (R) opposed the proposal because the developer had not engaged in the proper ‘give-and-take’ negotiations with the town and had not tried hard enough to earn community support through concessions.
“But Stewart supported the measure because, he said, the county needs more jobs.
“He pointed out that two-thirds of county residents commute to other jurisdictions to work, which means the county only has one-third of the jobs it needs to support its population.
“The only way to solve that problem and the accompanying traffic congestion is to build more offices, he said.
“After failed attempts to kill or defer the plan, it eventually passed, 5-3. May voted against it, as did Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi (D) and Coles Supervisor Marty Nohe (R).”
Per county Planning Staff e-mail dated 11 April 2012, immediately “below please find the link(s) to, Comprehensive Plan Amendment #PLN2011-00249; Innovation Sector Plan Chapter Update to the Comprehensive Plan, approved by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors on January 10, 2012.”