PW Pulse, 9 October 2008, p. A7

The Committee [of] 100’s October 1 meeting at Manassas’s Sheraton Four Points addressed Prince William County’s Comprehensive Plan for ‘Smart Growth’ development affecting construction through the year 2030. The comprehensive plan proposes 19 ‘Centers of Community’ and six regional ‘Centers of Commerce.’ Panelists included Ray Utz, PWC’s Chief of Long Range Planning; Bob Marshall, 13th District Delegate to the General Assembly; Stewart Schwartz, founder, Coalition for Smarter Growth; Michael Vanderpool, Land Use Attorney. Peter Galuszka, award-winning journalist and blogger at ‘Bacon’s Rebellion,’ moderated the forum.

“According to the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], ‘Smarth Growth’ covers a range of develoment and conservation strategies that help protect the environment and make communities more attractive, economically stronger, and more socially diverse. In PWC, Smart Growth refers to the latest trend in planning and is generally defined as vibrant, walkable, environmentally sensitive communities providing public transportation and preserving farmland, thus reducing sprawl. According to Vanderpool, mixed use development with housing, condos, work places, and shopping conveniently located within walking distance represent a preferred layout by young professionals. Vanderpool described PWC’s previous planning as ‘Post WWII’ in which land was segregated into housing, work, and retail space, thus demanding private transportation. He contended that this land is better developed as centers versus ‘more of the same’ since the land will be developed one way or another.

“In conjunction with Utz’s staff, a group of citizens appointed by the Board of County Supervisors proposed the Centers of Commerce and Centers of Community. Delegate Marshall addressed potential inappropriate voting by Citizen Advisory Board members. According to law, board members with conflicts of interest must abstain from voting. Delegate Marshall also criticized what he viewed as lack of communication with the public about this process. Two thousand postcards containing limited information were mailed out only to residents living near planned centers. Utz said, however, that the information was released to the press and made available on the county’s website.

“Citizens cited the backlog of new and foreclosed homes as well as other current unused buildings. Schwartz said there were no easy answers but that recevelopment of existing empty lots and buildings should be considered over more build-outs. Other citizens voiced the need for protecting trees, Manassas Battlefield Park, additional Civil War battlefields and historic sites. Mr. Utz, who recently received more detailed battlefield maps, said those resources were considered in developing the proposal and would be included in the long-range plans….”