by Rose Murphy, Bull Run Observer

19 Sep 2014, pp. 34, 37

“Prince William County’s Planning Commission agreed with County Planning Staff Sept. 3 and recommended approval of the 864-acre Stone Haven project on the south side of Wellington Road near Jiffy Lube Live.

“Up for consideration were a rezoning application and a Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA).  Austin Haynes, commission chairman, noted after the 5-2 vote that Prince William County School Board also favored the application.

“The county’s board of supervisors [BOCS] gets the final say on the development when it holds its own public hearing.  No date for that meeting has been announced.

“Voting for both changes were Fran Arnold, Gainesville District; Ronald Burgess, Brentsville District; Alex Vanegas, Coles District; Russell Bryant, Woodbridge District; and Rene Fry, Potomac District.

“Voting against both the rezoning and the CPA were Kim Hosen, Occoquan District representative, and E. Bruce Holley, Neabsco commissioner.

“At the start of the Planning Commission hearing, Haynes said he believed his voting on the applications for a rezoning and a comprehensive plan amendment (CPA) would pose ‘no conflict for me,’ but that he would not vote.  He did not recuse himself, nor explain the reason for his not voting.

“The Stone Haven project is proposed to include 1,650 single-family detached home and townhouses and up to 1.1 million square feet of office/employment and commercial/retail development.  The application includes 85 acres to be dedicated to the county without cost for use as a high school site.  Depending on results of a public facility review (PFR), another 30 acres of the property could be used for a middle school or active recreation.

“A Planning Department staf report shows homes in the development are expected to generate 477 students in grades K-5, 235 pupils in grades 6-8 and 180 high school students.  Students would attend Piney Branch Elementary School, Gainesville Middle School and Stonewall Jackson High School.

“Devlin Road Elementary School will open to the east of Stone Haven in September 2015, and a Linton Hall Road area middle school is set to open in September 2018.  Any high school in the Stone Haven area would open in 2019.

“The applicant also would make improvements or build parts of University Boulevard, Rollins Ford Road, Wellington Road, Devlin Road and Piney Branch Lane.

“Both University Boulevard and Rollins Ford Road would have a 128-foot-right-of-way.  University Boulevard would be four lanes divided from Devlin Road to Progress Court.  Rollins Ford Road would be four lanes divided from Linton Hall Road to existing Rollins Ford Road near Wellington Road.

“The applicant also would dedicate 64 feet from the centerline along Wellington Road and additional land for turn lanes.  An additional eastbound lane would be built along Wellington Road with right and left turn lanes with Piney Branch Lane.

“The applicant also would dedicate 64 feet from the centerline on Devlin Road, and additional width for turn lanes for widening in the future.  Also included would be building the intersection of Devlin Road and University Boulevard.

“On Piney Branch Lane, the applicant would dedicate 33 feet from the centerline and build a road from Wellington Road intersection to the entrance of the property.

“More than 30 people spoke during the commission’s public hearing.

“Kathy Stephenson questioned whether the overwhelming[ly] residential project would be tax positive for the county, claiming that tax-negative dwellings would be built first.  She added she saw no high-paying jobs resulting from Stone Haven.

“Ralph Stephenson said the proposal would add 5,000 people within one square mile.  He contended also that once land that could be used for employment purposes ‘is gone, it’s gone.’

“Patti McKay told the hearing that ‘you need to separate what the people want from what they’re willing to accept.’ She added that the county’s staff report was only out a few days.
‘This is Brentswood, Jr.,’ she contended, referring to a larger project rejected by the county several years ago in the nearby area.

“Those speaking in favor of the project included Gail Peterson, T.C. Robinson, Jennifer Robinson, Bob Dumbarton, Kevin Allen, Mike Kitchen, Rick Holt, Brendon Shaw, Derrick Harris and Brenda Wolfe.

“Peterson said the project would provide an opportunity to improve roads in the area. Robinson, who said he coaches travel baseball, applauded the addition of sports fields in the plans.

“Dumbarton asserted the area would be developed anyway, and asked whether residents ‘want to see dump trucks or soccer moms.  This is just good stuff.’  He added the plans are modest and will ‘not turn into an anthill.’

“Shaw commented positively on the acreage set aside for park space and a high school.  According to Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations (DPOR), Shaw is a licensed real estate agent with CRE Companies, Inc., Manassas.  Other licensed real estate salesmen at that firm, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS), are Haynes, Planning Commission chairman, and Jackson Miller, who represents the 50th District on Virginia House of Delegates. Shaw did not tell the hearing he is a real estate salesman.

“Wolfe, who identified herself as a realtor with three children, said she was concerned for schools in the area.  She estimated Stone Haven would result in less traffic [as published]. DPOR reports her real estate license is with RK Realty, LLC, the company which, according to its website, has Stone Haven listed for sale. The web site notes the tract is ‘currently in rezoning process.’

“Dave Cline, associate school superintendent for finance and support services, said ‘There is a critical need for a new high school.’

“Those speaking against the Stone Haven project included Mary Beth Shaw, Lisa Schumann and Caroline Abbot.

“In explaining his no vote on both applications Holley contended the ‘residential lots are disgraceful,’ calling them ‘teeny.’  He also questioned the wisdom of having only five-foot sideyards.  He added he supported everything in the two applications except the residential portion.

” ‘The devil is in the details,’ Holley remarked

“Hosen explained her vote included concern for how the open space area of the project was calculated.

” ‘Stone Haven proffered open space includes a stream and associated Resource Preservation Area, all stormwater management facilities, active recreation facilities, a community recreation center, powerline external buffers,’ Hosen wrote in an e-mail Sept 4.  She added that an area shown as an active recreation site seems to have changed to the middle school site.

” ‘Parking lots are not shown on the plan but I would assume some would be needed with the “open space” for the community rec center and ball fields.’

“The Planning Commission in January 2012 got a request for a CPA for about 337 acres of the Hunter Trust Property also called Stone Haven.

“Supervisors voted in March 2012 not to initiate the project, asking instead for a study of a wider area.  Four meetings were held to solicit public input, and supervisors received that study in November 2012.

“A second CPA application was filed with the county in January 2013.  In March 2013, supervisors initiated the CPA to study changing the long-range land use to coincide with the study.  A companion rezoning was filed with the CPA.”