by Ralph & Kathy Stephenson, Potomac News

4 May 2006

“When a financial offer sounds too good to be true, it inevitably is.  Brookfield Homes’ proposed Brentswood Development along Devlin and Wellington near Gainesville is no exception.

“The apparently good things about it are illusory and could easily be changed, reduced, withdrawn or denied in the future after the project began. For example: 1) County transportation division representatives point out that most likely no new road building can be done around Brentswood before VDOT begins it, which contradicts a key Brentswood selling point; 2) Brookfield’s supposedly generous road proffers will be mostly or wholly paid for by VDOT, i.e. taxpayers.

“On the other hand, the bad things about Brentswood are certain, and — if the rezoning is approved on 16 May — we’ll be permanently stuck with them: more traffic congestion than ever from 20-30,000 more people (from 6,800 mostly high-density homes and commercial properties); unfunded tax liabilities (from a significantly worsened residential-to-commercial tax base); etc.

“Last year Chairman Connaughton reported $863,000 in campaign contributions from Brookfield and other big developers, at least some of whom may well participate in Brentswood.

“Receiving money from any contractor over whom you have decision-making authority is illegal for federal employees.

“We urge the chairman and any other county supervisors who have received Brentswood-linked money to take the high road and recuse themselves from consideration of this case, thus avoiding the appearance of a serious conflict of interest.

“We urge the Board of Supervisors as a whole to follow the advice of the county Planning Commission and Republican Party, and reject Brentswood.”