by Don Shaw to PWCBG

7 March 2014

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Re: Inquiry To PWCBG
Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2014 09:09:35 -0500
From: Don Shaw [e-mail address withheld]
To: Ralph Stephenson [e-mail address withheld]
CC: Kathy Stephenson [e-mail address withheld]

Hi Ralph,

Thanks for the response.  Yes, I support the balanced growth principles enumerated on your website of:

  •    “Adequate road/transportation and utility infrastructure, as well as public education capabilities are in place at the time that residential or commercial developments are built (or as they’re needed,  instead of years after they’re first needed.)
  •     Commercial development at least keeps pace with residential development.
  •     Residential development rezonings are approved only when there’s a need for new housing.”*

*Excerpted from Why Balanced Growth Is Important

The primary cause for congested roads, overcrowded schools, and a disproportionate tax base in Prince William County is, I believe, the lack of smart, controlled growth.  We should adopt a holistic approach in which we review the requirements from across the spectrum.  We should be proactive and not reactive and conduct realistic impact studies on traffic, utilities, and educational infrastructure BEFORE approval of any new residential rezoning development.  We should actively attract commercial businesses while protecting the Rural Crescent as part of our long-term plan.

For too long in Prince William County, we have had to live with the consequences of runaway growth.  Prime examples of overstressed infrastructure include crowded and inadequate roadways:  Route 28, Vint Hill Road, Linton Hall Road, US 29 and others have seen a massive increase in traffic over the past decade.  New schools are being built, but not at a pace that is keeping up with development.  Take Patriot High School, for instance.  Just two short years after it opened, trailers were placed out back because the school was over capacity.  Similar stories can be told about Gainesville Middle School, Bull Run Middle School, Battlefield High School, and others.

The Board of County Supervisors should work with the School Board to minimize the number of modular classrooms (trailers) placed outside our schools.  Students must depart the school buildings to go to class in the trailers; increasing travel time between classes and causing some students to be late.  They are disruptive to a student’s routine, and they are less safe than our school buildings; their temporary nature provides less protection in the event of a natural disaster such as a tornado and are more difficult to monitor to prevent unauthorized access.  Not only do trailers increase the risk to our children’s safety, they also send the wrong message.  Their existence sends the message that properly funding our schools is not a priority.

Residential rezonings have happened at a hurried pace in Prince William County.  We have quite a backlog of rezoned land available for development, yet it seems that there is always a push to get “just one more” development approved.  Should we develop in Prince William?  Yes – growth requires development.  However, we must be smart about how that growth is managed.

We have seen the results of an inadequate mix of commercial and residential development in Prince William County.  The most recent economic downturn exposed the unsustainably high proportion of residential to commercial property tax base in our county; creating an increased burden on homeowners in Prince William County.  We need to have a plan to attract commercial businesses to the county.  Most people who live in Prince William County commute elsewhere to work; placing additional burden on our already stressed transportation infrastructure.  But it is not enough to just have a plan; we must act on that plan and work to increase the commercial portion of the residential-commercial mix.

It is a tall order to accomplish the course corrections necessary in Prince William County, but I firmly believe that we can succeed.  A key ingredient to that success, as stated on your website, is “constant citizen vigilance and engagement with county government.”  I am thrilled to be running and to have the opportunity become the next Brentsville Supervisor.  One of my first intended actions is to establish a series of “listening session” meetings in the Brentsville District to ensure that the constituents’ voices are heard.

You can read more about me and my positions on my campaign website   Thank you for your time and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Best regards,  Don

On Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 4:44 AM, Ralph Stephenson wrote:

Hi, Don.  Don’t know that I ever got back to you on your note immediately below.  Thanks for writing.  Question:  Do you support the balanced growth principles described here on the PWCBG website:
Why balanced growth is important ?

PWCBG does not officially endorse candidates.  We do, however, evalute the supervisors.  See the supervisor report cards.   (You can easily get there from the home page of

Two Republicans are running to replace Covington, who has not yet resigned but is expected to soon, as you probably know.  The two Republicans are Jeanine Lawson and Scott Jacobs of Nokesville (realtor, real estate investor, and reportedly an ally of the incumbent, Mr. Covington.)  Jeanine is the odds-on favorite to win, but I don’t think she’s taking anything for granted….   I believe you’re the only Democratic candidate so far.    Ralph

On 10/9/2013 2:40 PM, Don Shaw wrote:

Hi Ralph,

Thanks for getting back to me.  No worries about the length of time – we all get busy and time gets away from us sometimes.

Most definitely please include me on your email notification list.  I am indeed in Brentsville District and have read a lot about how Supervisor Covington has been more beholden to the developers than his own constituents.  Have you heard of anyone who is interested in running against him in 2015?  Does PWCBG endorse candidates in races?

Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing more from you!