Citizens for Balanced Growth

Year: 2007 (Page 1 of 4)

“Rural Crescent under attack as some speakers at hearing on church permit contend?”

by Rose Murphy, Bull Run Observer

14 December 2007, pp 11-12

“Mandatory hookup to public sewer is one of the conditions Fireside Wesleyan Church must pay for in the Rural Crescent as part of a special use permit (SUP) granted by Prince William Board of County Supervisors after a December 4 public hearing. A companion comprehensive plan amendment (CPA), which would have changed the site from agricultural and estate zoning to residential, was turned down by the board.

“The church plans to build up to a 400-seat religious institution and a summer day camp for up to 50 children on the 14.61 –acre property on the west side of James Madison Highway north of Lee Highway in Brenstville Magisterial District.

“Voting for the SUP were Wally Covington, (R-Brentsville); Marty Nohe, (R-Coles); Maureen Caddigan, (R-Dumfries); John Jenkins, (D-Neabsco), and Hilda Barg, (D-Woodbridge). Against the motion were John Stirrup, (R-Gainesville); Mike May, (R-Occoquan), And Corey Stewart, (R-at large and board chairman).

“More than 40 people addressed the hearing, speaking both for and against the SUP. Several criticized the board for moving the hearing, originally set for January 20, to December. They also charged the church was being used to extend public sewer into the Rural Crescent, which the county set aside for minimal development on large tracts.

“Covington said after the vote he always has supported the hookup of the church to public sewer, and that the SUP does not change the boundaries of the Rural Crescent. He said the church property is ‘a unique area in a failing watershed above Lake Manassas.’  He added that passing the CPA ‘would have set up a broader precedent for other churches’ in the area.

“Stewart also noted after the vote that, ‘the sky’s not falling.’  He explained that the passing of the CPA ‘would have been a disaster, and would have been the first time the board made a major change in the Rural Crescent to allow for development.’  He added it is unclear what precedent, if any, passing the SUP may have set.

“Kim Hosen this week questioned why the board had not had public facilities review (PFR) before the vote, since the SUP extends sewer into the Rural Crescent. She contended the county bypassed the PFR by claiming the matter ‘was routine and ordinary.’

“Hosen, who represents Occoquan District on the county’s planning commission, noted she believes the vote on the SUP ‘sends a message to the community that the board is committed to the Rural Crescent, and that their votes are strong enough to uphold the density called for in the comprehensive plan.’

“In its SUP proposal, the church said if the CPA were approved, it would connect to public sewer and bear all the costs. It added that if the CPA were denied, it would install a septic system. The motions passed by the board, although denying the CPA, makes connection to public sewer a condition of the SUP.

“Gifford Hampshire, attorney for the church, told the hearing before the vote that a consultant reported that the property is suitable for a septic system, but that the question is, ‘How long the septic system will last.’ He said the church could install a two-acre septic field for $200,000, then have to pay an additional $60,000 to $90,000 to hook onto public sewer should the septic system fail.

“Covington asked county staff if Prince William County Service Authority (PWCSA) could be expected to waive the sewer hookup fee if the church septic field failed. John White, planning staff member, said, that while he ‘is not familiar with PWCSA pricing policies,’ he believed the service authority would want to collect the fee.

“Hampshire contended the church does not plan to sell the property for residential development, and that even if it did, the board ‘could deny a future residential rezoning request.’  He added the church could ‘give a restrictive covenant, providing that the property can only be used to develop a church. This could be enforced by the county.’

“Hampshire told the hearing area where the church wants to build ‘has a documented history of failures of septic systems.’

“Stirrup said he feared extension of sewer into the rural area would set a precedent, and ‘would provide a de facto need for sewers.’ He pointed out documentation supplied by the applicant to bolster its contention of failed septic systems was at least 25 years old.

“Stewart asserted that passing the CPA ‘would bring other applications on Rt. 15, but that passing the SUP still would allow the church to be constructed.’

“Fran Burnszynski of the county’s planning staff told the hearing the church’s first application was for a 1200-seat church, which was reduced to 400 seats. In response to a question from Barg, he said he did not know if a percolation test had been done for the site.

“Nohe reported this would not be the first time sewer was extended into the Rural Crescent. He explained it had been approved in recent hears for failed residential properties on sites just north of the church property. The sewer line runes across the church property, he added.

“During the public hearing, Patty McKay, Nokesville, chastised the board for ‘trying to sneak (the church) in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

” ‘I’m not surprised at Mr. Covington, whose agenda is to extend sewer into the entire area,’ McKay said. She added she ‘has sympathy for the church, but approval of this would end the Rural Crescent.’

“Bob Pennefather, president of Nokesville Civic Association, told the hearing, ‘This is a good church on a bad site. This is not a religious issue. You should evaluate churches as you would other residential or commercial uses. Churches who have brought in other areas shouldn’t see others be rewarded for picking bad sites. Emergency measures apply only to existing systems.’

“Beatrice Pennefather entreated the panel, ‘Don’t be the board who took down the Rural Crescent.’

“Gainesville resident Jim Price remarked he ‘wants them to have a church, but not at any price. If you make an exception for a church, how about other things that also serve the community.’

“A Carriage Ford Road resident contended, ‘We’re not going against the Rural Crescent. We’ve done the research. There is a history of failed septic systems in the area, and the sewer is at the street.’

“Austin Trenum, a school student from Nokesville, asked the board to save the Rural Crescent.  ‘Don’t set the example that trickery is good policy,’ Trenum asked.

“Michele Trenum, Nokesville, asserted the hearing ‘had been finagled to tonight’s date. Fireside is being used as a pawn to change the Rural Crescent.’ She said the board could say yes to both the church and the Rural Crescent by requiring the church to install a septic system and no hook to public sewer.

“Steve Mast, who said he’s a church member, said the church has invested a good deal of money in the site.

“James Eckert, church treasurer, said the church previously owned land at Devlin and Linton Hall roads, but had to sell it when realigned Linton Hall came through the site.

“Irene Croushorn, Nokesville, said her husband’s family has been in Prince William County for 100 years and owns a 600-acre farm.  ‘If the CPA is passed, it will set a precedent. Lawyers will scramble to see who’s next,’ the added.

“Tim Horn said he spent $30,000 for his septic system, and that the church ‘should abide by the rules.’  He contended the church knew there was no sewer connection when it purchased the new property, and that ‘giving preferential treatment to a church is wrong.’ He noted he and some others testifying were present, even though ‘It’s the first night of Hanukkah.’

“A man who said he was with [Prince William] Citizens for Balanced Growth [Ralph Stephenson] charged that ‘Covington is a big landowner, [with lots of] big landowner friends.’

“Catherine Ring asked the board to remove the SUP and CPA from the agenda, calling moving up the hearings a ‘sleazy scheduling maneuver.’

“Tom Kopko, chairman of the county’s Republican Committee, said ‘the Rural Crescent is under assault, and the church is being used as a pasty this time… Your church is a weapon.’ He added there’s a ‘sewer loophole’ in the county’s comprehensive plan, which he will attempt to close as chairman of the land use committee working on revising the plan.

“Allen Perdue, church pastor, related how the church had to move from its previous building site, and added that sewer already exists along its new property line.

“Cindy Smith told the board she objected to its advancing the hearing schedule for the church, noting middle schools had band and chorus performances set for that night. She added her son asked her, ‘Is the church paying Mr. Covington?’

“Some other speakers favoring the church proposals include Carl Sanders, Dennis Mast, Rachael Dodson, Michael Mast, Jennifer Bradley, Brian Miller, Elaine Wriebel, Jeff Todd, Carla Cox, Joshua Bradley, and Matthew Bradley.

“Elena Schlosberg-Kunkle of Advocates for the Rural Crescent (ARC), told Covington, ‘This is good, Wally. No one caught it the first time. We get it now. The sewer is the real Trojan Horse.’ She contended, ‘no one is against the churches in the Rural Crescent, just against sewer.’

“After discussion on the proposals, Covington passed out a revised SUP motion for consideration. His revision mandated public sewer hookup for the church, while the original SUP said the church would install a septic system should the CPA be turned down.

“May noted he could ‘support the SUP as written, but is concerned that (the revision) is a precedent for sewer. The next group of good people will remember we did an exception for this.’ He said he had to vote against the revision.

“Stirrup called Covington’s revision, ‘A dramatic change. This is the first time I’ve seen it.’ He asked staff to explain the new version. Burnszynski replied he had not ‘digested’ the new language.

“Nohe remarked that, ‘This is about the Rural Crescent. Precedent was set in 2002 when the previous board said there were unusual circumstances to let eight houses on two-acre lots have sewer.’ He was referring to the properties just north of the church site.

“Stirrup observed the ‘Previous SUP was okay and consistent with the comprehensive plan. The church could have septic. This mandates sewer line, and anticipates a failure of the septic system. The data on that is more than 25 years old. I can’t go with that.’

“Stewart contended the ‘church has gotten an undeserved black eye’ in the process, and that there are ‘lots of unanswered questions. The implications and what precedent may be set are unclear. I would like more staff analysis.’

“Before the vote, Barg, who is retiring at the end of the year, objected to being called a lame duck by some of the speakers. She said she intended to vote on the SUP and CPA.

” ‘I’m not a lame duck, and I will continue quacking until December 31,’ she admonished.”

“Board Allows Sewer Line for Church in Rural Crescent”

by Kristen Mack, The Washington Post

6 December 2007, page B5

“The Prince William Board of County Supervisors has voted to extend a sewer line to a church in an 80,000-acre swath of the county protected from development, which critics say could lead to future growth in the Rural Crescent.

“The board created the crescent-shaped preserve about 10 years ago to conserve rural land in the western part of the county. The Rural Crescent creates a transition between the county’s developed eastern and central sections and the rural character of Fauquier County to the south and west. Sewer hookups generally are off-limits to deter dense development in the area.

“The board voted Tuesday night to allow the 250-member Fireside Church, which is part of the Wesleyan denomination, to hook into the county’s sewer line. The church, which bought land on the dividing line of the Rural Crescent just west of Route 15, had asked supervisors to change the county’s Comprehensive Plan to allow the sewer connection.

“Instead, the board approved a permit allowing an exception for the church because Fireside’s property is near an existing public sewer line and the poor soil on the church’s property would not support a septic system.

” ‘This is a tremendously dangerous precedent,’ said Supervisor John T. Stirrup Jr. (R-Gainesville), whose district includes a large portion of the Rural Crescent. ‘You will see other applicants coming to us in the near future asking for the same consideration.’

“Gifford R. Hampshire, Fireside’s attorney, said the church made a responsible request. The church would be more like a community center for Boy Scout meetings and other local events, he said.

” ‘We didn’t come into this recklessly,’ Hampshire said. ‘It’s the desire to build the church within the limits of the law. It will not set a precedent for residential development. This is a different sort of development. It’s a church.’

“Zoning laws covering the Rural Crescent limit development to one house per 10 acres. Most of those houses have septic systems.

“Slow-growth activists say that denying access to the public sewer system is Prince William’s ultimate weapon against sprawl. Regulations allow the county to extend sewer into the Rural Crescent only if an existing structure’s septic system fails and there is no other solution or if the property is within 300 feet of a public sewer line.

“Tuesday’s hearing and vote were initially scheduled for late January because the board has a long-standing rule not to consider land-use changes after an election and before the new supervisors are sworn in. Fireside’s application was moved up with short notice, leading to accusations that supervisors rushed it onto the agenda before the new board can consider it.

” ‘This smacks of trying to sneak in a change when people are distracted and not paying attention,’ said Patti McKay, who lives in the protected area. ‘This will cause irreparable harm. This is the virtual end of the Rural Crescent.’

“Resident Bob Pennefather said it sounded like ‘a case of a good church trying to build on a bad site. This is not about religion. It’s about land use, impact and fairness.’

” ‘I have sympathy for Fireside Church’s desire to grow within our community,’ Pennefather said. ‘However, when it comes to land use, churches must be evaluated just like other structures, commercial or residential.’

“Supervisor W.S. Covington III (R-Brentsville), who backed the church’s request, said it was intended to give Fireside a sewer connection but not set a larger precedent by amending the Comprehensive Plan, which would have applied broadly to development in the area.”

” ‘I have no hidden agenda. I’ve always said I support sewer in the rural area,’ said Covington , whose district includes the Rural Crescent. ‘I am saddened by the tone. I take offense to some of it.’

“The board supported the measure 5 to 3, with Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large), Supervisor Michael C. May (R-Occoquan) and Stirrup voting against it.

“Fireside parishioners filled the board chambers, and members of its youth group wore T-shirts saying, ‘Ignite Your Passion for God!’

“Pastor Allen Perdue said: ‘We come as a church family, because that’s what we are. We are passionate about serving God. But this is not a vote for or against God. I come representing Jesus Christ. I’m not asking for special consideration.’

“Fireside holds services at four sites throughout the county. Now that the sewer hookup has been approved, Perdue hopes to have a sanctuary built in two years, he said.

” ‘Everything hinged on this,’ Perdue said. ‘We needed to see what the will of the county was. We have not presumed that we had any more rights than anyone else.’

“Another church is scheduled to go before the board this spring with a similar request.

” ‘I’m not looking to change the rural area and the density,’ Covington said. ‘I get their concern in reference to this opening things up, but I don’t believe this will cause a ripple across the rural area. I’ve always thought there should be an open discussion.’ “

Speeches to Board of County Supervisors

by Ralph and Kathy Stephenson of Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth, 4 Dec 2007

Kathy Stephenson 4 Dec 2007 speech to Board of County Supervisors

Good evening, members of the Board.  My name is Kathy Stephenson and I live in Bristow.  I represent Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth.  We stand for balancing residential growth with traffic, tax, local economic, school, and quality-of-life issues.  I invite all who are watching or listening to visit our website at pwcbg.org.  That’s PWCBG.ORG.

Tonight the Board has scheduled a vote that could bring sewer lines to undeveloped land in the Rural Crescent for the first time.  Fireside Wesleyan Church wants to build a new facility on public sewer in the Rural Crescent, on Route 15 just north of the intersection with Route 29. Although everyone  welcomes churches (I’ve been a churchgoer my entire life), that is not the issue here.  Approving the extension of public sewer to this undeveloped property would change the Comprehensive Plan restrictions on access to public sewer in the Rural Crescent and open the area to development at higher densities.

You cannot pick and choose:  what is fair for a church is fair for developers. Thus, my concerns focus on the Comprehensive Plan and not on any particular use:  religious and residential applications are approved using the same rules.

In addition, the Board vote on this application does not follow standard processes. The County’s established policy has been not to vote on development applications after an election and before the new Board is seated.  Supervisors recently changed this policy to allow votes on commercial applications.  However, this particular proposal was scheduled for a Board vote in January after the Holidays, but then recently quietly moved to December 4.

If Supervisors are interested in eliminating the Rural Crescent by providing widespread access to public sewer and changing the Comprehensive Plan, the appropriate way to do so is through a Comprehensive Plan update and not by a precedent-setting action on a single development application.

Supervisor Covington, who supports this proposal, has made no attempt to hide the fact that he would like to see the Rural Crescent sewered and thus opened up to widespread development.  According to an interview with reporter Catherine Hubbard that appeared in the Bull Run Observer on 11 August 2006, page 5:  Concerning the Rural Crescent, “Covington said he’d like to see more cluster housing and allow homes that are currently on septic to hook up to sewer…  ‘There’s more that we can do to have more orderly development,’ ” he said.  [See pwcbg.org for more details on Supervisor Covington statements on this and related issues.]

I urge the board to vote against the text amendment for Fireside Wesleyan as the Prince William Planning Commission has recommended.

Let’s not pave paradise and put up a parking lot. … [pause]   Let’s not sewer the  Rural Crescent and pave it over with residential development.

Ralph Stephenson 4 Dec 2007 speech to Board of County Supervisors

Good evening, members of the Board.  My name is Ralph Stephenson and I live in Bristow.  I also represent Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth.

As the Bible says, when we serve our fellow human beings, we serve God.  True service is freely given to and for the benefit of all those whom we can reach, not just our closest friends or supporters.  In politics, perhaps the best that can be expected is the greatest good for the greatest number, but even that perhaps-somewhat-lower standard rules out serving only our friends and cronies.

Tonight I would like to publicly thank the entire Board for their service.  But I would particularly like to single out two members of the Board.  First, I would like to thank Supervisor Nohe for meeting with two young Boy Scouts before the last Board meeting on 19 November.  He spent considerable time with the Scouts, treating them like they were honored guests, which they indeed were.  And he did it with no fanfare and no one else present but two or three people, including me.  I commend and thank you, Supervisor Nohe, for this unselfish act of service and am sure that it is just one example of many that could be given.

I would also like to thank someone who has been unselfishly supporting balanced growth issues, including defending the Rural Crescent, for a long time, longer than most of the current members have even been on the Board.  I am confident that she will continue to be a leader of this Board in supporting balanced growth policies.  My heartfelt thanks to Supervisor Caddigan.  [pause]

Now, … [pause]  per longstanding county policy, including the county’s Comprehensive Plan, sewer lines should not be extended to undeveloped land in the Rural Crescent.  This is in order to protect this relatively small part of the county from high-density development.  Allowed exceptions to this rule are few.

At a public hearing a few months ago, Supervisor Stirrup proposed that the Park Valley Church, located in his district on the edge of the Rural Crescent, be hooked up to nearby public sewer.  He proposed a “no-net loss” approach  which provided that new land be added to the Rural Crescent to compensate for the small amount being lost.

At the same hearing, Supervisor Covington attempted a Trojan Horse proposal to allow public sewer lines anywhere in the Rural Crescent, under the subterfuge that he was really just doing this for churches.   At the time, the Board saw this for what it was and voted it down.

Now, Supervisor Covington is back with another Trojan Horse, this time a  precedent-setting text amendment to the Comprehensive Plan to allow sewer for Fireside Wesleyan inside the Rural Crescent, with no mention of the compensatory, no-net-loss-to-the-Rural-Crescent approach that he had earlier promised.   (Also unmentioned, of course, is the fact that Supervisor Covington is a big landowner with lots of big landowner friends who constantly seek county government land rezonings in hopes of selling their  land at a killing to big residential developers – no matter what the cost to county taxpayers in higher property taxes, falling property values because of an increasingly glutted housing market, increasingly crowded public schools, more traffic congestion, reduced public services, and lost open spaces.)

Let’s not sewer the Rural Crescent and then pave it over with high-density development.  I urge the Board to vote against the text amendment for Fireside Wesleyan.


Prince William Conservation Alliance synopsis of the Fireside Wesleyan proposals titled: “Rural Crescent at Risk … Again”

“This coming Tuesday, December 4, 7:30 p.m. at McCoart, the Prince William Board has scheduled a vote that could bring sewer lines to undeveloped land in the Rural Crescent for the first time. This precedent-setting action could change the Comprehensive Plan and set the stage for high densities within the Rural Crescent.

“Fireside Wesleyan Church wants to build a new facility on public sewer in the Rural Crescent, west of Route 15 near the intersection with Route 29. Although everyone welcomes churches, approval of public sewer to this undeveloped property would change the Comprehensive Plan restrictions on access to public sewer in the Rural Crescent and open the area to development at higher densities.

“You cannot pick and choose, what is fair for a church is fair for developers. Thus, the concerns focus on the Comprehensive Plan and not on any particular use: religious and residential applications are approved using the same rules.

“In this case, the applicant has submitted a Comprehensive Plan Amendment requesting access to public sewer as well as a Special Use Permit to allow construction of religious facilities. However, the applicant claims that they do not need a Comprehensive Plan Amendment because the existing rules allow undeveloped land in the Rural Crescent to be served by public sewer if surrounding properties have documented sewerage system failures.

“In the past, this Comprehensive Plan rule has been applied only to properties with existing structures in order to address existing health and safety issues associated with sewerage system failures. A new interpretation based on the speculation that a future septic system on undeveloped land will fail would change the Comprehensive Plan and open the Rural Crescent to new development proposals at higher densities.

“In addition, the Board vote on this application does not follow standard processes. The County’s established policy has been not to vote on development applications after an election and before the new Board is seated. Supervisors recently changed this policy to allow votes on commercial applications. However, this particular application was scheduled for a Board vote in January and recently moved to December 4, catching citizens concerned with protecting the Rural Crescent by surprise.

“If Supervisors are interested in allowing all Rural Crescent properties access to public sewer and changing the Comprehensive Plan, the appropriate way to proceed is through the Comprehensive Plan update and not by a precedent-setting action on a single development application.

“The Rural Crescent has been instrumental in changing the County’s reputation from the home of low-end retail to a quality community that is attractive to a broad range of commercial development. It has helped the County focus new development in areas where existing infrastructure can be maximized, create opportunities for a diversity of residential housing, and protect our public drinking water supply, scenic viewsheds and the rural character of west Prince William. Protecting the Rural Crescent protects our wallets as well as our watersheds. The Rural Crescent is working for Prince William not against us.

“Share your views on Prince William’s Rural Crescent!”

Fireside Wesleyan Public Hearing
Tuesday, December 4 at 7:30 p.m.
McCoart Government Center, directions
Citizens have three minutes and organizations have five minutes to speak at the public hearing. Public hearing speakers are not required to sign up in advance.

“Principi wins Woodbridge seat”

InsideNova.com, 27 November 2007

“Republican Chris Royse conceded the race for the Woodbridge District seat to Democrat Frank J. Principi at 10:55 p.m. Tuesday.

“Independents Steven Keen, 52, and Luis Ramirez, 58, also ran against Principi to replace Supervisor Hilda M. Barg, D-Woodbridge, who will retire at the end of her fifth term in January.

“Unofficial election results showed that Principi won 44 percent of the vote in the four-way race.

“Principi was pleased with the results, especially considering that he was in a race against three other ‘hardworking, serious candidates.’

“Principi’s first plan is to meet with county officials.

” ‘I need to meet with some of the department heads and attend some of the meetings as supervisor elect to prepare to hit the ground running in January,’ he said.

“During the campaign, Principi, 46, said he would try to bolster relationships with state and federal officials, and look to them to help the county get money to ease transportation problems.

“He also said he would try to mend the relationship between the School Board and the Board of County Supervisors, which he said was strained over last year’s budget cuts, and bring business development to theWoodbridge District.

” ‘I want to focus on getting people moving again. I want to be for managed growth with town center, urban, vibrant growth kinds of development where people can work live and play in the same neighborhood,’ he said.

“Principi said he knocked on 8,000 doors during the campaign.”

Land Use Votes 2001-2007 (Nov07)

Board of County Supervisors:

Supervisors’ Balanced Growth Report Cards

Criteria Used to Rate Supervisors: The table below is based on supervisors’ voting records, public statements, and other political activity related to balanced growth issues. Numerous newspaper articles, e-mails from supervisors, and other information on this website document the supervisors’ positions. (Click this link for more information on supervisors’ positions.) The information is also based on county residents’ perceptions of the effects of supervisors’ tax and land use decisions on quality of life in the county, as reported in the 2005, 2006, and 2007 county surveys of residents. (Click this link for more information on the county surveys.)

The table below applies only to supervisors’ positions and votes on balanced growth issues and are in no way an attempt to evaluate their records in any other way. (PWCBG does not formally endorse any supervisors or supervisor candidates.)

The two formal development proposals referred to in the table headings below, and on which there were actual votes by the Board of County Supervisors (Brentswood 2005-2006 and Cherry Hill 2001 — columns 3 and 5, respectively) were, in oour judgement, foundational balanced growth votes that revealed a great deal about the attitudes of the supervisors. (Following Supervisor Hilda Barg’s retirement at the end of 2007, the only supervisors still on the Board who took part in the 2001 Cherry Hill vote are Supervisors Caddigan and Jenkins.)

Relative to the last column to the right, we indeed believe that residential developer campaign contributions influence politicians’ behavior in the long run and are thus germane to a discussion of balanced growth issues. If that were not true, why would donors contribute? On the other hand, we consider it even more important to judge the politican’s actual political behavior.

Link to previous supervisor report cards: | Proffers (Oct07)
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Supervisor John Stirrup Chairman Corey Stewart Supervisor  Mike May Supervisor  Maureen Caddigan Supervisor  Frank Principi Vice-Chrmn Marty Nohe Supervisor John Jenkins Supervisor Wally Covington
Opposed Brentswood Development (2005-2006). Actively opposed Actively opposed N/A Opposed N/A Supported Supported Actively Supported
Supports preservation of Rural Crescent by keeping  out development and sewer lines, which make high-density housing possible. Strongly supports Strongly supports Strongly supports Supports.  Opposed 2003 Greater South Market proposal to place a large housing development in the Rural Crescent.  Supports Mixed record. Mixed record.  Supported 2003 Greater South Market proposal to place a large housing development in the Rural Crescent. Has consistently  supported expansion of sewer lines and other development into Rural Crescent.
Opposed Cherry Hill Development
(2001).
N/A N/A N/A Opposed N/A N/A Supported N/A
Supports reasonable proffers from developers so County taxpayers won’t bear all infrastructure costs (police, fire, roads, schools, etc) of new residential development Supports Supports Supports In October 2007, voted against increasing developer proffers to offset costs to taxpayers of  residential develpment. N/A In October 2007, voted against increasing developer proffers to offset costs to taxpayers of  residential develpment. In October 2007, voted against increasing developer proffers to offset costs to taxpayers of  residential develpment. In October 2007, voted against increasing developer proffers to offset costs to taxpayers of  residential develpment.
Brings necessary road improvements to county and particularly his/her district in a timely manner. Yes Yes Yes Yes N/A Yes Yes Mixed record
Supports high-quality commercial development. Supports Supports Supports Supports N/A Supports Supports Supports
Minimizes dependence on developer campaign funding (<20%), to avoid conflict of interest. Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No

Editorial: “A Breather in Loudoun; The Rascals Are Mostly Gone; Now It’s Time for Calm”

The Washington Post

12 November 2007, p. A20

“Voters in Loudoun County are ready for a change.  Disenchanted with local politicians who wanted to keep Loudoun growing at warp speed, they tossed out four of the five reliably pro-growth Republicans who controlled the county Board of Supervisors. Inevitably, the new board will want to signal that the days of rubber-stamping new subdivisions are over. It should be wary of an overreaction. What Loudoun needs, and has lacked, is a moderate middle course on development and a new civility in its politics.

“It’s no surprise that places that expand at breakneck pace give rise to political tumult and elected officials who confuse their constituents’ interests with those of developers. In Loudoun, which has been among the nation’s fastest-growing counties, the ethical murk has prompted an FBI investigation. That, together with horrific traffic, overcrowded schools and the extraordinary venom of political discourse, left many residents dismayed and disgusted. Little wonder they threw out nearly all the rascals.

“Still, the rascals are not quite done; the outgoing board remains in office through the end of the year. And, starting this week, developers, having waited out election season on the sidelines, will be presenting the incumbents with applications to build at least 4,000 new homes. In deference to voters who have spoken clearly in electing new supervisors of a different cast, the outgoing board should defer a final decision on those applications to its successors.

“Still, if the new board that takes office in January jams on the brakes too hard, the result could be lawsuits, adverse court rulings and a return to the politics of inflexibility and character assassination that marked the past few years. That’s not in the county’s interest, and it’s not what voters want, either. With the county facing a depressed housing market, falling revenue and swelling spending on education, this is a moment for pragmatism.”


Editorial:  “Restoring Sanity in Loudoun; In Tuesday’s Elections, Plenty of Rascals To Throw Out”

The Washington Post

1 November 2007, p. A20

“In the last four years, Loudoun County has begun to make a name for itself nationally — not only for its breakneck growth and sky-high median income but also as a place where local politicians and developers have cuddled up to each other so brazenly that the FBI and federal prosecutors started asking questions.

“For this, Loudouners can thank the Republican majority on the Board of Supervisors. In their first act four years ago, the Republicans showed their contempt for voters by stripping the board chairman, an Independent and the only board member elected countywide, of most of his power. Then, rather than steer a steady course in what was already the fastest-growing county in America, the supervisors accelerated. The effects in traffic jams, overcrowded schools and higher property taxes will be felt for years.

“Put plainly, the board majority in Loudoun has been an embarrassment. Even after The Post reported on some of the supervisors’ unseemly ties and sweetheart deals with developers, a number of them refused to endorse tighter ethical standards. We hope voters will throw out the rascals in favor of candidates — both Republican and Democratic — who would restore some balance and decency. Elections for the board will be held Tuesday; The Post’s endorsements appear in bold type below:

“Chairman: The incumbent, Scott K. York, although deprived of most of his powers as chairman, has remained a voice for sanity, dignity and pragmatism. His Republican opponent, Michael J. Firetti, a salesman, lacks the slightest grounding in Loudoun’s affairs and was ready to move out of state a year ago, before he was recruited by development interests to challenge Mr. York. Mr. Firetti’s campaign manager and big-time donor — the same man who persuaded him to run for chairman — doubles as a spokesman for major developers.

“Blue Ridge District: Three-term incumbent Jim G. Burton, an Independent, has opposed the majority’s hell-for-leather growth policies. Although he tends to tilt too far in the other direction — for instance, by challenging the state’s plan to add $400 million for badly needed road and rail improvements in Northern Virginia — he is a faithful representative of his largely rural district. His Republican opponent, Mark A. Albright, a businessman, is relatively unversed in county affairs.

“Broad Run District: Lori L. Waters, the conservative incumbent, is the only Republican elected in 2003 who had the judgment to see that the board’s policies would lead the county to ruin. She broke ranks with the majority, earning the enmity of developers but the admiration of constituents who saw her as an honest broker of competing interests. Neither the Democratic candidate, Phyllis J. Randall, a civic activist, nor the Independent, Jack W. Ryan Jr., a software company employee, has been similarly tested.

“Catoctin District: Too many members of the current board have added fuel to a street-fight atmosphere. Incumbent Sarah R. “Sally” Kurtz (D), despite mostly sensible stands on the issues, too often contributed to the acrimony. Her Republican challenger, Geary M. Higgins, is a moderate former School Board member and experienced business negotiator who believes board members should seek a middle ground on transportation and growth-related fiscal issues. He deserves a chance.

“Dulles District: The incumbent, Republican Steve J. Snow, thinks the county should absorb however many new houses the market will bear. Democratic challenger Stevens R. Miller,with broad experience in local government matters, is a bright lawyer who would help restore common sense to growth policies.

“Leesburg District: C. Kelly Burk, the Democratic challenger, is a county public school teacher and Leesburg Town Council member who has been a consistent critic of poor planning. Ms. Burk, who has considerable fiscal expertise, seeks more detailed reviews of the transportation, public safety, school and environmental needs posed by development. Republican Jim E. Clem, the lackluster incumbent, has been a cheerleader for the board’s development policies.

“Potomac District: Bruce E. Tulloch, leader of the Republican majority, has blurred the line between the public’s business and his own, having sought help from developers whose projects he helped before the board. He also steered the county to pay $13.5 million in a dubious land transaction that netted a huge sales commission for one of his key political allies. His Democratic challenger, Andrea C. McGimsey, a business owner and former AOL executive, is a civic activist who would offer common sense in place of Mr. Tulloch’s ethical myopia.

“Sterling District: Eugene A. Delgaudio, the Republican incumbent, is a clownish, abrasive public official who skewers gays, public transit, illegal immigrants and anyone who crosses him, perhaps hoping it will distract from his votes in favor of practically every development proposal. Having opposed measures to improve the board’s ethics practices, he is now raking in campaign cash from developers. His Democratic challenger, business owner Jeanne R. West, is a sensible alternative who would restore dignity to the office.

“Sugarland Run District: The Republican incumbent, D.M. ‘Mick’ Staton Jr., was one of the leaders of the board’s campaign for unbridled growth. Now, incredibly, he poses as a champion of moderation and restraint on taxes. A better bet is Democrat Susan Klimek Buckley, a capable lawyer and civic activist with a special commitment to the school system.

Sheriff Steve O. Simpson, an Independent and 12-year incumbent, has earned the right to reelection. Unlike Republican candidate Greg J. Ahlemann, Mr. Simpson has refused to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria and has instead appropriately focused attention and resources on arresting those who commit crimes. Mr. Simpson’s 20-plus years of experience in Loudoun law enforcement and his effective management of the department also give him the edge over a worthy Democratic challenger, Michael E. George.

“Voters should vote yes to authorize bonds to finance fire, rescue and sheriff’s stations; schools; community centers; and a library.”

“Once Again, the Winds of Change: New Supervisors May Revisit Growth Policy”

by Sandhya Somashekhar, The Washington Post

11 November 2007, p. T1

“The overwhelming victory of a slate of slow-growth candidates in the Loudoun Board of Supervisors race last week raises the specter of another abrupt shift on a board that in recent elections has swung dramatically between pro- and slow-growth philosophies.

“The swings have been criticized by developers and smart-growth activists alike, who say the members bring a measure of uncertainty to a land-use process that ought to be consistent and fair.

” ‘Here we go again,’ said developer John A. Andrews II, after voters Tuesday ousted four incumbents who had won office in 2003 on a pledge to loosen controls on growth. ‘Every four years it’s the same thing.’

“Board Chairman Scott K. York (I), one of eight winning candidates who campaigned on a promise to rein in ‘overdevelopment,’ said Thursday that it is premature to put ideological labels on the new board, which includes four Democratic newcomers whom York said he barely knows.

“He said he hopes the panel will continue the legacy of the 2000-04 board, which sought to control development in the county’s rural west, concentrate most of the building in the suburban east and preserve a semi-rural zone in between. Several of the candidates who won seats Tuesday concurred with that approach during their campaigns.

” ‘What I hope occurs with this board is that we will end up taking an approach that is a little sturdier [than the current board], following up on what the previous board did and not salivating to open up much of the county to a higher density of residential growth, which is what some members of the current board wanted to do,’ York said.

“York cited protection of the ‘transition area,’ which serves as a buffer between the east and the rural two-thirds of the county, as a high priority. The board last year considered opening up the transition area to suburban-style development, but the proposal to allow as many as 33,800 houses in the area known as Dulles South ultimately failed.

“When the pro-growth Republican majority swept into office in 2003, one of their main goals was to turn back the previous board’s stringent restrictions on building in western Loudoun. The Republicans said those rules, which had reduced the total number of houses allowed in the rural west from about 37,000 to 10,000, impinged on landowners’ rights to do what they wanted with their properties.

“After the Virginia Supreme Court threw out the regulations on a technicality, the Republican-led board approved rules allowing the development of about 18,000 houses. York was among those who favored a stricter set of regulations.

“Asked last week whether the new board would revisit that policy, York said it was far too early to know how the board would handle any specific issue. But he added that he expects ‘nothing radical in nature’ when the board takes office in January.

“The eight successful slow-growth candidates were part of a slate endorsed by Voters for Loudoun’s Future, a nonpartisan organization. But the eight are a diverse group: five Democrats, two independents and a Republican who was elected on a pro-growth platform in 2003.

“To underscore that they were not ‘anti-growth,’ York and the other candidates on the slate said during campaigning that they favored more commercial development in Loudoun to strengthen its tax base.

“Andrea McGimsey (D), who unseated Bruce E. Tulloch (R) in the Potomac District, said Thursday that she supports manageable and well-planned growth. McGimsey has been portrayed by critics as a hard-liner on the growth issue because she led a group affiliated with the Piedmont Environmental Council.

” ‘This whole characterization of slow-growth versus pro-growth, I think, really misses the mark,’ she said. ‘I ran on reasonable growth. This board kept trying to turbo-charge the growth.’

“McGimsey said she hopes to stay true to the guidelines that created the transition area between the east and the west.

“She said she also hopes to focus on the county’s existing communities. As one of her first orders of business, she said, she wants to look at whether the roads and other amenities in Loudoun’s suburban communities meet county guidelines. For example, she said, Ashburn has tens of thousands of residents but no county-run recreation center.

“Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling), the only pro-growth incumbent who was reelected, said he is ‘keeping an open mind’ about the new group. But he would be willing to fight his colleagues if they proposed extreme environmental measures, he said.”

“Board chairman candidates outline differences at Chamber of Commerce”

by Rose Murphy, Bull Run Observer

2 November 2007, p. 25

” ‘Today is a product of positive thinking of the board overtime,’ Sharon Pandak, Democratic candidate for Prince William Board of County Supervisors told a meeting of Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce October 12 at Montclair Country Club.

“Pandak is challenging Corey Stewart, a Republican, in the November 6 general election. Stewart won a special election against Pandak earlier this year in a race to replace Sean Connaughton, who accepted  a federal appointment.

“Pandak, a former attorney for the county, explained the county is the second largest in the commonwealth and the seventh wealthiest in the United States.

” ‘We need to preserve the environment, and get a better handle on growth. We need to deal with transportation. I’m committed to a world class educational system. I want the kids to stay here after high school,’ the candidate asserted.

“Stewart, who previously represented Occoquan District on the board, said the board has ‘cut costs, cut spending and focused more on transportation, public safety and education.’  He added he wants to keep a ‘business friendly’ county, and that 14 percent of the tax base is commercial development.

” ‘We need to get commercial development to 25 percent,’ he contended.

“Pandak noted the county needs ‘to be fiscally responsible, and engage in long-term thinking. When the county had lots of tax revenues, serious cuts were made in the tax rates. That made it more challenging. We shouldn’t need large swings in the tax rate. We many not be in a position to just nudge the tax rate this year.’

“The Democrat added the county needs to pursue more federal money for transportation and for homeland security.

“Stewart said that the previous administration saw a tax rate of $1.39 (per $100 of assessed valuation).

” ‘We reduced the rate. If the rate were not reduced, the tax bills would have skyrocketed. Prince William went to the lowest tax rate in the region, and that’s quite an accomplishment,’ he contended.

“The chairman added that there has been a 14 percent decline in assessments, and ‘that under Virginia code, the commercial property tax rate must be the same as residential. When residential rates go up, it’s the same for commercial. Commercial is now stable, or going up, but residential is down.’

“Stewart added he knows the tax rate will go up, and that ‘it’s important to cut costs and prioritize.’

“In discussing the business atmosphere in the county, Stewart said the perception is that the county is ‘not the most business friendly. We need to correct that.’

“The Republican contended the county’s ‘permit and inspection system is broken.’

“He said business get inspections and are ready to open, then an inspector finds ten items that need reinspection. On reinspection, more items are found, and some are different from the previous list, he explained.

” ‘After five to ten rounds of inspections, some people are out of business before they can open. This needs to be fixed,’ Stewart asserted.

“Pandak, who said she has a small business in the county, vowed to fix the business atmosphere. She said Innovation in western Prince William County ‘is the product of a board several terms ago. That was a progressive concept.’ She called this year’s moratorium on development a ‘sham that expires after election. We must send the message that we’re not closed for business.’

“Both candidates were asked what they’d do to help existing businesses grow.

“Stewart remarked education, public safety and transportation are the keys, and that Prince William is the only county in the state ‘with a significant transportation program.’ He added that the county is one of the one percent in the United States to have an AAA bond rating.

“Pandak volunteered the county needs adequate broadband capabilities ‘so we can reach around the world,’ and that the county’s economic development council should expand and be more diverse.

” ‘I want a dialogue with the chambers (of commerce) to get the county’s message out that we’re creative and innovative,’ Pandak added.

“In discussing illegal immigration, Pandak contended the federal government is responsible for a lot of the problems.

” ‘We must hold businesses which knowingly bring and hire (illegal immigrants) accountable with severe penalties,’ she pointed out. The Democrat added she would go to Congress and get the ‘congressional delegation and governor to listen.’

“Stewart asserted the county ‘cannot afford not to address’ the illegal immigration issue and its $2.5 million price tag to pay for public safety. He mentioned a man held on an assault charge at the county’s adult detention center.

” ‘His status was not checked, and he was released and strangled a county resident. He had been deported twice, and was an illegal alien,’ Stewart explained. He said, ‘this cannot happen today because the board voted unanimously’ on the July 10 resolution cracking down on illegal immigration.

“Asked how they would address the upcoming county budget shortfalls, Stewart said the focus should be on cost-saving measures.

” ‘We wanted to force staff to scrub the budget. There’s always ways to cut to reduce costs and keep tax bills down,’ he added. He said with a 14 percent reduction in real estate assessments, ‘We’ll need to look at more reductions in all agencies.’

“Pandak contended that ‘last year’s budget was shortsighted and led to worse challenges.’ She cited the overcrowding at Brentsville High School, noting the school that would have relieved that overcrowding has been delayed a year or two.

” ‘We need not to make short-term decisions that will cost more in tax dollars. Priorities must be weighed. We need to have budget meetings for the public, and to develop five-year plans with the schools.

“To a question on how to provide more workforce housing, Pandak noted, ‘There’s a problem with brain drain. We need to do more with live/work (properties).’

“Stewart pointed out the county can ‘try to provide more housing for teachers,’ and that the county can work with the private sector.

“In discussing the proffer system in which developers contribute funds to offset the impact of their developments, Stewart said he asked county staff ‘to give us the real cost of building the infrastructure for each house.’ He said the single-family proffer figure should be $51,000, according to staff.

” ‘If the builder doesn’t pay, you do,’ he told his audience. He added he believes a proffer should ‘stay in the area where the proffer is generated. For example, the Brentsville school portion should stay there.’

“His opponent contended, ‘Proffers are voluntary contributions made by developers as part of the process. Proffers can be part of a rezoning on whether the comprehensive (land use) plan is being met.’ She added the county started calculating proffer costs in the 90’s.

” ‘We need to be sure all affected parties are at the table’ in determining proffer amounts, Pandak said. ‘We won’t solve infrastructure problems with proffers. We need to look at impact fees.’ “

“Interchange work could move up”

by Lillian Kafka, Manassas Journal Messenger.com

25 October 2007

“Construction at the Gainesville interchange at U.S. 29 and Linton Hall Road could begin in 2011 — three years sonner than expected.

” ‘There are two huge hurdles that have to be jumped before we start any construction,’ said Joan Morris, Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman. The Federal Highway Administration will allow VDOT to clear one of those hurdles much sooner, Morris said.

“Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced Tuesday that the administration relaxed some requirements that VDOT must follow when buying land for road projects. VDOT won’t have to have all of the interchange plans complete before they start negotiating with landowners around the construction site.

” ‘Fifty-three parcels and 39 businesses have to be acquired, and if that was done using the standard engineering process, then we’d be advertising for construction in 2013,’ Morris said.
Now the administration will allow VDOT to buy land before the plans are finished, she said.

” ‘We are also working with utility companies to co-locate utilities in a bank or a corridor to streamline the relocations,’ Morris said.  Utility poles must be moved out of the way of construction vehicles and the future roadway before construction begins.   More than 15 utility companies have utilities in the area of the Gainesville interchange, Morris said.

“The Gainesville interchange is a $181.4 million project that will raise U.S. 29 over the railroad tracks in Gainesville and widen that highway from four to six lanes from Interstate 66 to Virginia Oaks Drive.

“Gallerher Road also will be raised above the tracks.

“Of the entire project’s cost, $77 million will be used to purchase property.”

“Gainesville Interchange date moves up three years”

by Tara Slate Donaldson, Bull Run Observer

24 October 2007

“Tired commuters in Gainesville got a piece of good news on Tuesday – the Gainesville Interchange is now expected to start three years earlier than previously hoped.  Gov. Tim Kaine (D) announced on Tuesday that work on the intersection will begin in 2010, not 2013.

“Kaine said an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration will help with right-of-way acquisition, an expensive and time-consuming part of any road project.

“The interchange that links Interstate 66 with U.S. 29 has long been one of the region’s top congestion points. While the plan to reconstruct the interchange has been firm, funding has been on-again-off-again for years.

Brentswood and the interchange
“Funding for the project dried up several years ago, kicking construction into the far-distant future.   But in 2005, the Virginia Department of Transportation resurrected the idea by putting it back on its Six-Year Plan and partially funding construction.  Prince William officials at the time credited the controversial Brentswood proposal with embarrassing state authorities into funding the interchange construction.

“After VDOT had taken the interchange off its to-do list, developer Brookfield Homes approached county supervisors with a request to build 6,800 homes in Gainesville. In exchange, the developer proffered massive amounts of capital improvements, most notably, the completion of the Gainesville Interchange.  With no available funds for a construction project estimated at more than $180 million, supervisors were at least willing to listen.  Brookfield proposed that in exchange for the 6,800 homes, it would hand out hundreds of millions of dollars in proffers, including a promise to foot the bill for the interchange. With no interchange fix in sight, and traffic worsening by the month, supervisors agreed to let Brookfield proceed with its Comprehensive Plan amendment – the first stage in a long approval process.  But shortly thereafter, VDOT money began flowing in steadily, and that helped sink the Brentswood plan in 2006.

“At the time, several county officials credited the Brentswood proposal with bringing in VDOT money. One said the Brookfield plan had ‘essentially shamed the Commonwealth of Virginia’ into funding the Gainesville Interchange.   Brentsville Supervisor Wally Covington (R) also said at the time that without Brookfield’s high-profile offer to pay for the interchange, VDOT officials may never have funded it.  ‘I think really, the $100 million that came in (in 2005) was unprecedented by VDOT,’ he said.

Railroad crossing
“All of that put the interchange back on track for construction in 2013. The new agreement with the FHA cuts another three years off that timetable.

“The project is difficult and expensive, in part because it costs so much to buy the needed land in high-priced Gainesville, and in part because of the railroad tracks.  ‘The biggest challenge at the interchange has always been the railroad crossing,’ Coles Supervisor Marty Nohe (R) said Tuesday.  The railroad crossing has been the site of numerous crashes and derailments over the years and is the cause of regular traffic tie-ups as vehicles stop to wait while trains cross busy U.S. 29.   When the new interchange is complete, a flyover will allow vehicles to move over the tracks, so cars and trains no longer compete for passage.

Credit
” ‘I am pleased that federal, state and local officials have worked in a bipartisan way to bring additional transportation relief to commuters in Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park,’ Kaine said in a written statement.  Sen. Colgan has been a tireless advocate for transportation improvements in this region, and these projects show we are making progress.’

“Western Prince William Sen. Chuck Colgan (D-29th), who is up for re-election next month, took partial credit for the speed-up, saying on Wednesday morning that he, Gainesville Supervisor John Stirrup (R), Del. Bob Marshall (R) and
Rep. Tom Davis (R) have all been working to find more funding for the interchange.

“Colgan said he wrote to Kaine last month, telling the governor that the 2007 budget compromise provides more funds for transportation, so the interchange should be moved up on the schedule.  ‘To me, that’s the number-one project in the state,’ he said. ‘To get that thing underway is going to be a big thing for us.’

“Colgan’s challenger, Republican Bob FitzSimmonds, issued a statement Wednesday morning accusing Colgan and Kaine of  ‘playing politics with transportation two weeks before an election.’

“But for others, the situation is nothing but positive.  ‘I’m delighted to see that we’re moving this forward three years,’ Stirrup said on Wednesday. ‘It clearly is the biggest choke point in Northern Virginia, if not in the whole metropolitan D.C. area.’ ”


Letter to Editor by PWCBG’s Ralph Stephenson

Potomac News, 6 November 2007

“It’s increasingly looking like last year’s controversial Prince William Board of County Supervisors performance ‘Brentswood’ may be coming again soon to a political theater near you — during the political sweeps after the Noovember 2007 elections.

“If Brentswood does return, expect one of last year’s main stars, Wally Covington, to reprise his role as political shill-in-chief for Brookfield Homes. Wally’s enthusiasm for this role is greatly strengthened by the fact that he’s a big landowner with lots of big landowner friends who hope to sell their land at a killing some day to big residential developers.

“If recent local news stories are any indication (see Oct. 24 Gainesville Times story on Gainesville Interchange), the biggest plot twist in the historically revised, delicately spun story line will be that Brentswood 2005-2006 was a good thing because it would have handed out ‘hundreds of millions of dollars in proffers, including a promise to foot the bill for the interchange,’ and the Brentswood plan’s very existence ‘shamed’ the state of Virginia into building the interchange.

“While this version of events is neither historically authentic nor logically feasible (adding 20,000 new residents and no new roads to an already heavily-congested two-square mile area cannot reduce congestion), it is appealing to Brookfield Homes, the financial backer of the performance.

“Go to the Web site http://pwcbg.org/BrentswoodI.html, for more information. The information includes the following: Brookfield was not legally obligated to make any road improvements outside Brentswood, and even if it did do so, it was to be reimbursed by the Virginia Department of Transportation and county taxpayers.

“As George and Ira Gershwin might say: Wally Covington’s got starlight; he’s got sweet dreams.  Brookfield’s got their man. What [developer could ask for anything more]?”

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