Fellow Prince William County Citizens:
We and many other citizens groups have worked hard to bring limits to residential development in our county so that schools, roads, the environment, and the very limited commercial tax base can begin to recover from more than two decades of out-of-control residential development. (In recent decades, only ~15% of county real estate tax revenues have come from the county’s relatively small commercial tax base, with almost 85% coming from residential housing.)
But as we look over the political landscape of Prince William County going into the 5 Nov Board of County Supervisor (BOCS) elections, we are deeply concerned at what we see. Last weekend we wrote to you regarding how official bipartisan support for the Rural Crescent and limits on residential development have now, unfortunately, apparently become a thing of the past. That article is now posted on our pwcbg.org website — hyperlinked immediately below, it has some important additional info, added after the earlier version we sent you last weekend. Note that Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth (PWCBG) is allied with Preserve the Rural Crescent and Friends of the Rural Crescent (PRC and FORCE), as well as other citizens groups, and wrote the article in collaboration with them:
We believe that the Prince William County Democratic Party’s lack of specific and unequivocal support for the Rural Crescent and limits on residential development, as noted in the article above, coinciding with big spending on Democratic BOCS campaigns from Democratic groups outside the county, residential developers, and big labor, portends something ominous for the county and its residents. We believe it means that the Democratic Party, which has already nailed down two uncontested seats on the eight-member BOCS, and is currently favored to win the at-large chairman’s seat, may need to win only two more of the remaining five seats to have a commanding 5-3 majority on the board. Once in power, then expect them to seek and receive even greater residential developer and allied campaign funding than they’re already getting, as they: a) support developer efforts to build even more high-density tax-negative residential housing than we’ve seen in recent years, b) make the overcrowding in county schools and on county roads even worse, c) raise taxes as county services decline, and d) then blame it all on someone/something else. This is a great leap backward, in the opposite direction of progress. It is also the Corey Stewart formula for holding onto power for 12 years as BOCS chairman. But Corey always struggled to find a BOCS majority before. Now there will be a permanent and pliable, bought-and-paid-for majority for residential developers and their allies. “Pliable” as evidenced by how all eight of the Democratic candidates have, in lockstep, refused to support the Rural Crescent pledge and limits on residential development.
We are in no way comforted by assiduously politically-correct language or assurances from Democratic candidates, received after our article above was sent out, appearing to issue vague support for balanced growth. For example, consider this one received 3 Oct via direct mail from Brentsville BOCS candidate Maggie Hansford, who was nowhere to be seen when we were fighting major land use battles for the last 14 years in Brentsville and elsewhere: “Maggie will fight to protect and preserve the rural crescent. She believes that development doesn’t have to come at a cost to our local farms, green spaces, and parks.” We hear virtually the same thing regularly from the very residential developers and big landowners who want to pave over the Rural Crescent — and any other cheap land they can get their hands on — with high-density residential development. In other words, “You can have it all (high-density and high-volume growth, in reality, and balanced growth and rural preservation, in name at least, all at the same time) without making any choices. And don’t worry, there won’t be increasingly overcrowded schools and roads and tax-negative development as a result this time.”
Our plea to you from PWCBG and other citizens groups is that you share all this information with as many of your Prince William County family members, friends, and neighbors as you can via Facebook, other social media, email, websites, etc. Ask them to support on 5 November the five (out of six) Republican candidates who have publicly and unequivocally pledged support for the Rural Crescent and limits on residential development: Jeanine Lawson (Brentsville), Peter Candland (Gainesville), Yesli Vega (Coles), Douglas Taggart (Potomac), and John Gray (at-large chairman).
Ralph & Kathy Stephenson
Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth
Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.