Report of 27 September 2006  Stewart-Pandak Debate

by Keith Walker, Potomac News

28 September 2006

“Corey A. Stewart hammered developers in a debate with Sharon E. Pandak on Wednesday night at the the McCoart Administration Center, saying developers should pay for just about everything.

“Pandak told the crowd of about 150 that there was no ‘money fairy.’

“The two are candidates for the at-large seat on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and traded opinions on transportation, land use and development.

“Stewart, the Republican candidate who represents the Occoquan district on the board, said the reason he wants to be chairman is to ‘Try and do something to slow down residential growth to improve our transit systems, our transportation systems, reduce our commute times.’

“Stewart’s answer is to get more money from developers to pay for open space, transportation, schools and police.

” ‘We are over-planned, we have somewhere between 30 and 40 thousand units already in the pipeline ready to go,’ the 38-year-old Stewart said of coming development in the county.

“Developers build the houses that need services and developers should pay proffers to offset the adverse effects their development has on the community. He has called on the board to raise the proffers developers pay by $9,000 per house.

” ‘If developers do not pay for development, you do,’ said Stewart, who was elected to the board in 2003.

“Pandak, who served in the Prince William County Attorney’s Office for 25 years and as county attorney for 15 years until she retired in 2004, said government was more complicated.

“It takes more than asking developers for additional proffers, said Pandak, a Democrat.

” ‘You simply cannot go out and say, “We’ll charge the developers,” ‘ the 58-year-old Pandak said.

“The county should follow the comprehensive plan, zoning and rezoning laws and the capital improvements plan while it works with developers to get the best for the county, Pandak said.

” ‘It may be something different that the developer can do to address those issues,’ Pandak said.  ‘To say, “OK, let’s charge the developers additional $9,000” doesn’t truly measure impact,’ Pandak said.

“The candidates were asked if they would ever consent to development in the rural crescent.

“Stewart said absolutely not.

” ‘Do you really want to see Springfield extended all the way across Prince William County to the Stafford County line, the Fauquier County Line to Loudoun?’ he asked.

“That’s what would happen without the rural crescent, he said.

“Pandak reminded the audience that as county attorney she helped write the laws that established the Rural Crescent, which encompasses 80,000 acres stretching from Quantico Marine Corps base to Loudoun County. Zoning in the Rural Crescent allows for 10-acre parcels. It was created in the 1998 comprehensive plan.

“Transportation can be improved by controlling residential growth and Stewart said he would do just about anything to slow growth.

“‘Controlling residential growth is not a partisan issue,’ Stewart said.

” ‘This affects all of us whether we’re Republicans, Democrats, socialists or communists. It doesn’t matter. And I frankly would work with any of those parties to try and solve this problem,’ Stewart said.

“He said high density development belongs around mass transit nodes in Tysons Corner, the District of Columbia and the Pentagon.

” ‘It does not belong in Prince William County,’ he said.

“Pandak said she would collar the state to get more money for transportation.

” ‘We can’t expect to deal with all these issues locally,’ she said.

” ‘We can’t expect to deal with the Stafford traffic that comes up the [Interstate] 95 corridor,’ she said.

“Pandak said the county has to get the state and federal governments involved to fix local traffic problems.

” ‘We’ve got to yank their chains and say, “This has got to change,” ‘ Pandak said.

“County surveys show that residents want more open space and the candidates were asked how they would get more open space.

“Pandak said the board should put a $25 million open space referendum on the agenda for next year to buy ‘precious open space.’

“Stewart said he would look to the developers to pay for open space through the proffer system.

“Pandak pointed out that proffers are voluntary and the county can only get proffers when developers are seeking rezoning.”