——– Forwarded Message ——–

Subject: Urgent Plea to Victor, Kenny, Andrea & Margaret Regarding 31 March
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2020 13:26:44 -0400
From: Stephenson, Ralph & Kathy <email address>
To: Angry, Victor S. <vsangry@pwcgov.org>, Franklin, Margaret <mfranklin@pwcgov.org>, Bailey, Andrea <abailey@pwcgov.org>, Boddye, Kenny <kboddye@pwcgov.org>

Victor, Kenny, Margaret, Andrea (info Doug Widener/Citizens Alliance of Prince William):

We and the thousands of people with whom we correspond and/or who have made their concerns and wishes known regarding the Devlin rezoning proposal were deeply disappointed by the BOCS’ 10 Mar Devlin rezoning decision.  On the other hand, you undoubtedly believed that you were doing the right thing by instructing the developer to work with Supervisor Lawson to cover many of the concerns raised by citizens at the hearing.

Your & our good intentions — Vice Chair Angry clearly was trying to do this in the exchange cited below (see end of this email thread) by our colleague Doug Widener and Citizens Alliance of Prince William.  You might be interested to know that Doug actively campaigned for all eight of the Democratic BOCS candidates during the 2019 campaign.  Supervisor Boddye, for whom we actively campaigned against his Republican opponent in 2019, addressed the need for high-standard flood controls, and not the current low-standard flood controls that exist following the clearcutting/deforestation by the Devlin west side landowner (in retaliation for the defeat of the Stone Haven proposal by strong public opposition in 2015.)  Kenny also wanted the construction of the Devlin development phased to allow roads and schools to catch up.  Supervisor Franklin wanted the developer to work with Supervisor Lawson on decreasing density, and Margaret was not the only one among you, as we recall, who expressed that wish.  And Supervisor Bailey expressed interest in, among other things, park space.

But none of your good intentions were legally binding on the developer because they were not specific and not in writing — just like a complex contract must be specific and in writing to be legally binding on, in this case, the developer.  See:  message immediately below this one, which is also posted at  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/open-letter-holding-pw-county-attorney-accountable-on-land-use-covid-19/ , including Doug Widener’s message at the bottom titled:  “Did Errors in Conducting the Devlin Road Public Hearing Invalidate that Project’s Approval?”  .. Also see particularly Doug Widener’s comments at the bottom of this link:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/chair-wheeler-holding-semi-public-31-mar-bocs-meeting-to-implement-greatly-increased-emergency-powers-suspension-of-public-comment/  

How to fix it — But you have a chance tomorrow, 31 March, the last chance, to fix all that by making a “motion to reconsider.”  We believe we are representative of the feelings of the vast majority in the western half of the county when we say that we would see a successful motion to reconsider the Devlin decision at the 31 March meeting as an important demonstration of good faith, good will, and trust-building by the BOCS.  We believe the motion to reconsider should address at least the following:

  • Density reduced to 258-350 houses only (half-two thirds of the proposed amount) on the same amount of land.
  • Flooding and drainage issues resolved to the highest legal standard, not to the low standard that exists since the watershed was removed by clearcutting of the forest.
  • Eminent domain to take land for road widening/improvement on the property owner’s side of the road (the ~west side) where no houses yet exist, not the Lanier Farms/Sheffield Manor side (the ~east side) where many new houses have been built within the last 20-30 years.  There will almost certainly be lawsuits if this does not happen.  (We bet the county lawyer, who seems very quick to fear developers and to use her powers to defend them, but not the public against them, failed to mention that.  Again, also see:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/open-letter-holding-pw-county-attorney-accountable-on-land-use-covid-19/)
  • Timing of developer build-out carefully limited to and only allowed after promised  a) flood, b) school (i.e. impacted elementary and middle schools are expanded with permanent additions, not just more trailers, so no school will be over capacity), c) road (i.e. Devlin widened from Wellington to Linton Hall), and d) any other relevant  infrastructure is in place.

As alluded to above, none of these four bulleted items are in the formal written proffers from the developer, despite what some BOCS members evidently believed at the hearing, and thus will not happen because they are not legally valid or enforceable upon the developer — again, just like a complex contract is not defensible in court unless it is clear and in writing.  We hope that, as appropriate, these and citizen-friendly provisions like them could be a part of developer proposals in this county going forward.

About us — Here is what we have believed and worked for since our beginnings in 2006:  http://pwcbg.org/why-balanced-growth-is-important/   We have always worked across party lines, including working closely over the last 15 years with Democrat Frank Principi (when he was one of only two Democrats on the Board) and Republicans Mike May, Jeanine Lawson, and Maureen Caddigan.  If you doubt our bipartisanship, ask Republicans Wally Covington, Corey Stewart, and Marty Nohe what it was like for them to have us constantly dogging them, documenting and publicly exposing their misdeeds and corruption to a growing audience for about 10 years.

We hope to work with you and support you in the future on truly preserving the Rural Crescent (not opening it up to  wholesale pillaging by residential developers, which is what they want) and slowing residential development to a pace that the road, school, and tax infrastructure and environment can support.  Why would anyone but residential developers want to do otherwise?

Best wishes and please stay safe,

Ralph and 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.