by Jeremy Borden, The Washington Post

15 March 2013

“The close vote this week by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors for a potential development on the county’s western end could portend a contentious road as developers look to pave the way toward a new housing and commercial development.

“The site of several past battles over development — namely the 2006, 6,800-house failed effort called Brentswood — the issues for a new development called Stone Haven are similar, even if the politics and players have changed and the size of the proposal is expected to be smaller.

“Stone Haven is an 864-acre piece of contiguous open space between Wellington and Linton Hall roads, a place of booming growth in the past and the ills that come with it: namely overcrowded schools, roads and playing fields. In community meetings to reach out to the surrounding community before a formal plan was submitted, residents say developers and representatives for landowner Hunter Trust, have promised a site for a new high school, playing fields and perhaps a recreational center.

“Going forward, area resident Jeanine Lawson said she’s not sure if she will oppose the development plan. The biggest question, she said, is whether the developer would deliver on promised amenities.

” ‘A lot of folks are expecting those carrots that were dangled in front of them,’ Lawson said. ‘I’m going to do what I can to see the fields, the rec center and everything else’ come to fruition, she said.

“Supervisor W.S. Covington III (R-Brentsville) said that a key sticking point would be a site and dollars for an area high school, a key concern for residents.

“He said that while developers are required to offer ‘proffers’ — or contributions to offset the impact of development — a developer doing site work for the building of a high school had never been done in the county. He said he’s expecting something like that for Stone Haven to move forward.

” ‘I haven’t cut any deals, I’ve just been saying “You’ve got to do this to have any chance,” ‘ Covington said.

“A formal plan for Stone Haven has not yet been presented, but supervisors on Tuesday moved forward with studying the area for a change to the county’s long-range Comprehensive Plan, the first step in considering new housing and commercial space for the area. Officials expect a more formal proposal to be introduced within the year.

“A new plan could mean from 6,000 to 13,000 potential new jobs in retail and office space, and from 600 to 1,600 new housing units, county planners say. Those numbers could change as developers create a detailed plan.

“The vote was 5-3 on Tuesday. Supervisors Michael C. May (R-Occoquan), Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Potomac) and Peter K. Candland (R-Gainesville) voted against moving the potential project forward. Caddigan said that area growth and the area’s overcrowded schools — Prince William has the largest class sizes in Virginia — led her to vote against the project. Candland said in an interview that his concern about overcrowded schools were similar.

“May did not return a phone call requesting comment. Peter Dolan, an attorney for Hunter Trust, could not be reached immediately Friday.

“A more formal plan and rezoning request would eventually go before the Planning Commission and again before the supervisors for a final vote.”


Excerpts from “Board moves forward with Stone Haven”

by Tara Slate Donaldson, Gainesville Times

20-26 March 2013, pp. A1, A6


“A number of major new developments got the go-ahead last week as the Board of County Supervisors initiated several amendments to the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

“The most controversial was the Stone Haven property on the Linton Hall Corridor but supervisors also agreed to move forwad with plans for Midwood Center in Haymarket and Heritage Crossing, Richmond Station and Cannon Branch, all just outside Manassas.

“The Comp Plan is the major document that outlines long-range growth and land use in the county.  In order for a rezoning to win approval, it must match the land use envisioned in the Comprehensive Plan.  If it doesn’t, the developer must first get the Comprehensive Plan amended and then ask that the property be rezoned.

“That makes the Comprehensive Plan the land use equivalnet of the Constitution and the March 12 initiation votes were the first steps for getting it amended.  Each specific amendment will now go through the planning process, which will take several months.  At the end, public hearings will be secheduled and supervisors will vote on whether to approve the final projects.

“Stone Haven

“Most of the Linton Hall Corridor is built out.

“Most, but not all.  One of the last large undeveloped parcels is an 864-acre site at Linton Hall and Devlin roads.

“The site has long been somewhat problematic for the county because while it is currently undeveloped, it was planned long ago for a mix of commercial and residential development that [allegedly] wouldn’t now work well in the area.”  [passage omitted]

“Last year the owners [of the parcel] proposed a new plan with a different mix of residential and commercial uses, plus an environment resource area where the Piney Branch flows through.”  [passage omitted]

“The housing was a problem for Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan (R) however.  She voted against the proposal, saying that for years, she’s heard from Linton Hall Corridor and Gainesville residents who want slower growth.

” ‘They complained to us, and rightfully so, that we needed to slow the growth because their schools were horribly overcrowded,’ she said, adding that she’s not inclined to add to that problem now.

“Coles Supervisor Marty Nohe (R) took a different tack, saying that what he’s heard from area residents is that they’ll accept the extra develoment if they also get all of the promised amenities, especially the ball fields, that could go along with it.

” ‘If at the end of this process it’s clear that the community is expecting a lot of amenities to come out of this, but that we don’t have room in our budget to construct those amenities, then I’m not going to be able to support this project,’ he said.  ‘If the basis of the expectation is that people are going to get soccer fields but those soccer fields won’t actually get built, well then that’s not fair to the community.’ ”  [passage omitted]