Citizens for Balanced Growth

Category: Corey Stewart (Page 2 of 2)

E-mail exchanges between PWCBG co-founders and PWC BOCS Chairman Corey Stewart

PWCBG co-founders Ralph Stephenson and Bob Pugh

Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart

23 March-8 April 2013:  e-mails in reverse chronological order, most recent on top

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Re: Falsities in Chmn Stewart’s Reply on Rez Development, Taxes, County’s Economy, etc; Stone Haven
Date: Mon, 08 Apr 2013 10:09:49 -0400
From: Ralph Stephenson [e-mail address withheld]
To: ‘Prince William County’ <BOCS@pwcgov.org>, ‘GT_Dan Roem’ <droem@timespapers.com>, ‘GT_Tara Slate Donaldson’ <tdonaldson@timespapers.com>, bordenj@washpost.com, kpugh@princewilliamtoday.com, editor@observernow.com, hkras@bristowbeat.com, stacyshaw@bristowbeat.com, jshaw@bristowbeat.com
CC: Bob Pugh [e-mail address withheld]

A high-level summary of PW County’s failure to attract business other than residential developers, and the consequences, from Washington Business Journal:

http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/2012/01/prince-william-county-a-sleepy-suburb.html?page=all

The article concludes with the following statement:

“The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments projects Prince William to hit 555,000 residents by 2030. Perhaps by then the county will have shed its sleepy image, or at least welcomed some big time employers into the fold.  I-95 and I-66 may never be wide enough to handle the traffic if it doesn’t.”

Ralph Stephenson
Co-Founder, Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Re: Falsities in Chmn Stewart’s Reply on Rez Development, Taxes, County’s Economy, etc; Stone Haven
Date: Mon, 08 Apr 2013 08:56:58 -0400
From: Ralph Stephenson [e-mail address withheld]
To: ‘Prince William County’ <BOCS@pwcgov.org>, ‘GT_Dan Roem’ <droem@timespapers.com>, ‘GT_Tara Slate Donaldson’ <tdonaldson@timespapers.com>, bordenj@washpost.com, kpugh@princewilliamtoday.com, editor@observernow.com, hkras@bristowbeat.com, stacyshaw@bristowbeat.com, jshaw@bristowbeat.com
CC: Bob Pugh [e-mail address withheld]

I concur with Ralph Stephenson’s analysis, and want to add a few points of my own.

Mr. Stewart’s numbers on changes in the real estate tax base in Prince William County are correct, but misleading, for the seven-year period based off 2005 and ending in 2012.  He includes apartments and state-valued public service properties in his definition of “commercial” to arrive at his totals.  To me, it’s very disconcerting that he considers apartments as commercial development.  Other analysts would consider them residential, even though they are owned by commercial entities.  They do nothing to improve the revenue-positive tax base in the county.

More accurately, the commercial/industrial part of the tax base was 10.08% in 2005 and 14.28% in 2012.  Even these numbers are skewed and show “progress” that does not really exist in developing the commercial/industrial sector in Prince William County.  2005 was at the height of the residential real estate bubble and artificially skewed the commercial/industrial percentage down and residential up.  There has been little, if any, actual change in the proportion of commercial/industrial in the County’s tax base.  After the residential real estate market collapse, commercial/industrial rose into the teens in its proportion in the tax base.  This change again does not reflect real economic development but instead anomalies derived from the expanding and then bursting residential real estate bubble.

Moreover, the commercial development that has taken place in Prince William County over the past seven years has been overwhelmingly low-wage service sector employment.  Please see my presentation to the PWC Committee of 100 January 30, 2013 for a detailed analysis of changes in the economic structure in Prince William County over the past decade (attached).   [Click here for that presentation.]

Prince William County remains a primarily low-wage service economy.  According to the latest data (downloaded today) from the Virginia Employment Commission, PWC ranks below the state average in hourly, weekly and annual wages, despite its proximity to the Washington, DC and being a part of the Northern Virginia economy:

Virginia Employment Commission Data

Mr. Stewart’s assertions on taxes falling during his tenure as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors strain plausibility.  He claims that taxes have been cut by 8.5% since he has been Chairman.  In fact, total general property taxes have risen 37% during his tenure as Chairman, which is twice the rate of inflation.

Property Taxes PWC

Job growth in Prince William County has been substantial over the past decade (refer again to my Committee of 100 presentation).  However, job growth has lagged behind population growth substantially.  Total at-place employment in Prince William County grew from 83,676 in 2001 to 108,573 in 2011, or 24,897 jobs. That is an increase of 29.75%. However, the population of Prince William County grew from 294,798 to 409,345 during the same period. That is growth of 38.86%. Thus, the rate of population growth has exceeded the rate of job growth by over nine percentage points.

The inevitable conclusion is that the economic vitality of Prince William County has deteriorated significantly as job growth fails to keep pace with population growth, and the jobs being created are primarily low-wage service jobs.  The wealth and affluence of Prince William County derives from the more than two-thirds of our residents who commute to other jurisdictions in the region to find high-wage jobs.  Those jurisdictions have pursued more forward-looking, balanced economic growth strategies while Prince William County has allowed itself to become a low-wage bedroom community subservient to the wishes of the residential development industry.

I am available to discuss any of this analysis if anyone in the news media wishes to explore the facts in more detail.

Bob Pugh
Co-Founder, Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

 

From: Ralph Stephenson [e-mail address withheld] Sent: Sunday, April 07, 2013 2:03 PM
To: Stephenson, Ralph
Cc: Prince William County; GT_Dan Roem; GT_Tara Slate Donaldson; bordenj@washpost.com; kpugh@princewilliamtoday.com; editor@observernow.com; hkras@bristowbeat.com; stacyshaw@bristowbeat.com; jshaw@bristowbeat.com
Subject: Falsities in Chmn Stewart’s Reply on Rez Development, Taxes, County’s Economy, etc; Stone Haven

Chairman Stewart, thanks for getting back to me but, regrettably, your answers below are not accurate.

  • Your first statement below about the real estate tax base (the residential-to-commercial ratio) is demonstrably false.    Per the county’s own records, in 2012 14% of real estate revenue came from commercial real estate taxes and almost all of the rest (82%) came from residential real estate taxes.  See the following hyperlink, pp. 24 and A9 (overall pp. 30 of 66 and 47 of 66, respectively) for details and historical statistics on the commercial-residential real estate tax ratio:    http://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/finance/Documents/2012%20Annual%20Report.pdf    To better understand this topic generally, please click on the following link: County fostering low-wage service economy, tax-negative land development  Why does this matter?  Many Prince William County citizens, including Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth, believe that Prince William County is overly dependent on residential housing for tax revenues, which leads to unnecessarily high tax burdens for county citizens and a  limited, low-opportunity local economy with relatively few high-income jobs and few high-tax-revenue- producing businesses.
  • Below you state:  “Prince William County has been ranked #1 in Virginia, #3 in the country in job growth and our median incomes continue to increase dramatically.  Just this past year they rose by over $3,000 and we were listed as being the 7th wealthiest county in the United States.”  //  That’s all well and good, but very few of those high-paying jobs are located in Prince William County; a very large percentage of them have something to do, directly or indirectly, with the area’s #1 industry, the federal government and federal contracting, lobbying, etc.  You seem to be taking credit for the federal government’s presence in the region, which of course is patently absurd.  On the other hand, you seem reluctant to take credit for aggressive, high-density residential land development which is, in fact, fostering a low-wage service economy and tax-negative land development here.  That in turn ensures that for a very long time to come, PW residents will live in a commercially underdeveloped area and have to commute long distances to other communities that are more commercially developed and have almost all the high-paying jobs.
  • I’ve lived in the same middle-class neighborhood in Braemar since well before you became Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors in 2007.  Unfortunately, my real estate taxes have gone up 9.5% since 2007.   So whose real estate taxes have you cut, exactly?  I’m still looking for that refund check in the mail.
  • Below you state:  “There is currently only a 2.5-month housing supply in the county as our community continues to rapidly rise out of the great recession. Although we are seeing an uptick in the number of applications to build new retail, office, and residential projects, it is nowhere close to where it was in the early 2000’s.”  // While I have no idea what that statement means, I do know that there is a very large backlog in the county of approved, but not-yet-built homes, not to mention foreclosed and vacant homes.  As recently as about 18 months ago, even avidly pro-residential developer Supervisor Covington acknowledged that there were 30,000 approved-but-not-yet-built houses in the county.  Are you suggesting that in the last 18 months, the 30,000 home backlog has been cleared and thus, at the county’s average rate of 3 per house, PW County’s population has increased by 90,000?   As you must know, that has not happened, thankfully.
  • It’s good that the county has built more roads and schools.  The traffic situation in western PW County has definitely improved since the intolerable conditions that existed before late-2006.  However, the school situation continues to be marked by serious overcrowding, which is an obvious impediment to teaching and the effectiveness of our schools.   If the new Stone Haven development between Devlin and Linton Hall roads is built, won’t that return the whole area to the intolerable traffic congestion that existed before late-2006 and worsen the already serious school overcrowding?   Have you mentioned to anyone that the high school that is being promised by you and Stone Haven’s developers will, in fact, be empty land, and cost taxpayers over $100M?  Have you mentioned to anyone that if you weren’t pushing development of so many new homes in the area, existing schools wouldn’t be so overcrowded and we wouldn’t need another high school right now?  Have you mentioned to anyone that after Stone Haven is built we’ll need another high school in addition to the one already promised?  For more info on Stone Haven, click on the following hyperlink:  Stonehaven_Brentswood2
  • Also, if Stone Haven really is to contain as few as 600-1600 new housing units, why so much hoopla, effort, and study?  In fact, do you need a rezoning at all, or is there already zoning for about that many houses in the immediate or surrounding areas?  Or do you and the developers, in reality, plan to make this development many times larger than that — once “developers create a detailed plan”.  Perhaps closer to the size of the original Brentswood plan — 6,800 homes — which you fiercely opposed in 2006.  See: Stonehaven_Brentswood2
  • Building unneeded homes just because developers want them cannibalizes older neighborhoods and their property values and prematurely ages them, leads to indirect taxpayer subsidies of these unneeded and harmful new developments, and most importantly of all causes severe school overcrowding and traffic congestion.  Taxpayers, not developers, pay for the police, fire, water, sewer, roads, schools, and other government infrastructure and services that must support such new developments.  Since you frequently claim to be fiscally conservative, why do you continually support unneeded and harmful taxpayer-subsidized housing, while ensuring that developer proffers to PW county are among the lowest in Northern Virginia?  See:  Proffers (2007-12)
  • You’ve failed to seriously address any of my questions below about your 180-degree reversal of position on the still-harmful effects of high-density, tax revenue-negative housing on school overcrowding, traffic congestion, local taxes, the environment, etc.  Therefore, I’m assuming that you have no response.

And now that the fallacies and falsities of all the arguments and supporting data in your note below are known, are you willing to once again return to supporting balanced growth policies, as you did before you became chairman?   If not, since there’s no real policy reason for you to continue to support pro-developer, rapid residential development growth policies, what reason could possibly remain for you to do so other than your own political ambition for statewide office and need for developer money to fund it?  Click on the following for more info on your [Chairman Stewart’s] conflicts of interest.

Let me know if you’d like to change or add anything to your response below.  Ralph

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Questions for Chairman Stewart
Date: Thu, 04 Apr 2013 14:21:33 -0400
From: Stewart, Corey A. <cstewart@pwcgov.org>
To: Ralph Stephenson [e-mail address withheld]

Ralph,

The county has changed dramatically since I first ran for Chairman in 2006.

Seven years ago the commercial tax base in Prince William County was 16% of the county’s tax base, during the last seven years that percentage has jumped to 22%. This large increase in the commercial tax base has gone a long way in helping to lessen the tax burden on county home owners. Since I have been Chairman we have been able to cut taxes in the county by 8.5%.

There is currently only a 2.5 month housing supply in the county as our community continues to rapidly rise out of the great recession. Although we are seeing an uptick in the number of applications to build new retail, office, and residential projects, it is nowhere close to where it was in the early 2000’s.

Since I began serving as Chairman, the county has been able to catch up with the uncontrolled growth of the 90’s and early 2000’s by investing half a billion dollars in local road projects and building 12 new schools. At the same the Trails and Blueway’s Council was commissioned by the Board and many parks and playing fields were improved, lit and opened.

Recently, Prince William County has been ranked #1 in Virginia, #3 in the country in job growth and our median incomes continue to increase dramatically.  Just this past year they rose by over $3,000 and we were listed as being the 7th wealthiest county in the United States.

I am proud to have the support of the business community and have worked diligently with them and county staff to eliminate unnecessary government red tape that cut in half the time it takes to start or expand a business in Prince William County.

–Corey

Corey A. Stewart
Chairman
Prince William Board of County Supervisors
1 County Complex Court
Prince William, VA 22192
(703) 792-4640
cstewart@pwcgov.org
www.pwcgov.org

 

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Questions for Chmn Stewart About Stone Haven, Residential Development
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2013 08:49:41 -0400
From: Ralph Stephenson [e-mail address withheld]
To: Stewart, Corey <cstewart@pwcgov.org>
CC: BOCS, Prince William County <BOCS@pwcgov.org>, GT_Dan Roem <droem@timespapers.com>, GT_Tara Slate Donaldson <tdonaldson@timespapers.com>,bordenj@washpost.com, kpugh@princewilliamtoday.com, editor@observernow.com, hkras@bristowbeat.com, stacyshaw@bristowbeat.com, jshaw@bristowbeat.com

Chairman Stewart:

I have the following questions for you and would appreciate a response as soon as possible.

  • In a Washington Post article dated 20 August 2006 regarding Brentswood , you are reported to have said the following:  Stewart told delegates that the county must rein in high-density developments, which do not bring in enough tax revenue to cover the county services used by their residents. “When we approve large developments, we are essentially approving a tax increase,” he said.

Why are you now in favor of a large high-density development like Stone Haven which, in your words above would be “essentially approving a tax increase” to pay for housing that the county doesn’t even need (Stone Haven) — particularly considering that even Mr. Covington has recently acknowledged that there are already ~30,000 houses that have been approved by the county but not yet built?

 

  • In a Potomac News article dated 28 September 2006 and titled  “Pandak, Stewart Battle at Forum” you are reported to have said the following:   Stewart, the Republican candidate who represents the Occoquan district on the board, said the reason he wants to be chairman is to “Try and do something to slow down residential growth to improve our transit systems, our transportation systems, reduce our commute times.”  Stewart’s answer is to get more money from developers to pay for open space, transportation, schools and police. “We are over-planned, we have somewhere between 30 and 40 thousand units already in the pipeline ready to go,” the 38-year-old Stewart said of coming development in the county. Developers build the houses that need services and developers should pay proffers to offset the adverse effects their development has on the community. He has called on the board to raise the proffers developers pay by $9,000 per house. “If developers do not pay for development, you do,”‘ said Stewart, who was elected to the board in 2003.
  • In a Manassas Journal Messenger article dated 31 August 2007 and titled:  “Stewart Seeks To Raise Residential Proffers,”  you are reported to have said the following:  “We’re trying to encourage more office, high-end retail and other commercial development. We don’t want to discourage it,” Stewart said. “What’s really taking a toll on our infrastructure is residential development.”

Why are you now in favor of residential development like Stone Haven despite, in your words above,”the adverse effects their development has on the community”?  And since developers still do not pay for development costs (your efforts described above to get more money from developers failed), why have you changed your mind and now become willing to foist upon taxpayers those costs, which include school overcrowding, traffic congestion, higher taxes (for new schools, roads, etc), and reduced property values in older neighborhoods?

 

  • In a Washington Business Journal article dated 17 Mar 2008) you are reported to have said the following:  “The way I look at it, we have an oversupply of housing right now,” said Corey Stewart, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “We need to develop more office space and high-end retail. That being said, we do need to encourage more mixed-use developments with walkable communities.” …  Prince William leans too heavily on home­owners’ tax dollars, Stewart said. Only 14 percent of the county’s tax base is derived from commercial properties.  For comparison, Loudoun County receives about 20 percent of its taxes from commercial properties, and Arlington County gets about 45 from commercial uses.

Considering the ~30,000 unit backlog of already-approved-but-not-yet-built houses plus vacant and foreclosed homes, and considering that the roughly 85:15 residential to commercial tax revenue problem in PW County continues, why do you want to make the problem worse by building Stone Haven?

  • The following YouTube video from Aug-Sep 2007, describes in your own words how you apparently began to lose interest in controlling growth and the housing boom, in favor of a new hot-button, attention-getting issue:  “My issue up until the immigration issue came up was controlling growth, trying to preserve more trees and open space, and socking it to the development community. . . The housing boom has not helped the average person.  It’s hurt the average person. . .  In July Supervisor John Stirrup introduced this resolution against illegal immigration in the County.  I didn’t know about it . . . I supported [it] … and it took on a life of its own.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0f8XDSKrNzs

It appears that there may be a connection between your apparent loss of interest in balanced, managed residential growth and the fact that you’ve set your sights on higher political office (you’re in the midst of your second campaign for VA lieutenant governor) and now need a lot of housing developer money to run for statewide office.  How would you respond to people who see a connection between your declared ambitions for statewide office and your recent embrace of large, unnecessary residential developer projects like Avendale and Stone Haven?
I will publish your response, or failure to respond to these questions within two weeks at http://pwcbg.org and further publicize the info beyond that as appropriate.  Thank you.

Ralph Stephenson

E-mail sent to local citizens by PWCBG’s Ralph Stephenson on 11 July 2012

—–Original Message—–
From: Ralph Stephenson…
To/Bcc:  [multiple names withheld] Cc: BOCS, Prince William County <BOCS@pwcgov.org>; Stewart, Corey <cstewart@pwcgov.org>; Covington, Wally <wcovington@pwcgov.org>; Nohe, Marty <mnohe@pwcgov.org>; Caddigan, Maureen <mcaddigan@pwcgov.org>; Jenkins, John <jjenkins@pwcgov.org>; May, Mike <mcmay@pwcgov.org>; Principi, Frank <fprincipi@pwcgov.org>; Candland, Peter <gainesville@pwcgov.org>
Sent: Wed, Jul 11, 2012 11:09 pm
Subject: Brentswood (aka Stonehaven) Is Back, And Look Who’s Behind It

My kids have all graduated from the PW County Schools, I’m only a few years from retirement, and I’m not too concerned about my home’s resale value in a glutted market because I intend to retire here.

  • But for those who face many years of horrible daily commutes and having their children in overcrowded schools …
  • For those who would like to sell their homes some day but face falling home resale prices and accelerated decline of older neighborhoods because of a continuously glutted real estate market …
  • For those who are concerned about high property taxes at least partly due to an increasingly unbalanced county tax base (way too much residential, not enough commercial)  …
  • And for those who are weary of the hypocrisy and corruption of local politicians who arrogate to themselves the mantle of fiscal conservatism while forcing taxpayers to indirectly subsidize unnecessary housing (think of police, fire, roads, and other taxpayer-funded infrastructure for housing developments, which are only partially offset by increased property tax revenues) …

For all those who feel that these problems are a threat to their families’ well-being, they might want to protest the latest gambit by certain members of the PW Board of County Supervisors to resurrect Brentswood.  Brentswood, as you may recall, was the infamous 2005-06 attempt by the PW County Board of Supervisors to cram housing for over 20,000 people into a two-square mile area bounded by Linton Hall, Devlin, and Wellington roads.  And it’s back.  Its new name is Stonehaven.  (To send e-mails to the Board advising them of your opposition to Stonehaven, use cc addresses above.)

Leading the charge to add more unneeded homes — at the behest of the big landowner and developer friends who finance their political campaigns — are Corey Stewart and Wally Covington.  (Even by Wally’s admission in the 2011 Republican primary, the county has at least 30,000 already-approved-but-not-yet-built homes.  So why is it so important, so urgent that even more new homes be approved and built?)

About Corey Stewart
Corey Stewart fought Brentswood in 2005-06 and capitalized on his opposition to it to become chairman of the Board of County Supervisors in an emotional campaign in which he pledged to always protect the community from such massive over-development.  But now Corey is running for higher office.  His latest quest (after previous failed US Senate and VA lieutenant governor campaigns) is, once again, focused on becoming lieutenant governor.  He needs campaign cash, and lots of it fast.  Corey’s heart, mind, and integrity is clearly for sale, and the price is relatively cheap:  any large housing developer can afford him.  See http://pwcbg.org  for more info thru Aug 2011 on Corey’s voting record which, in a 180-degree reversal, has become staunchly pro-residential-developer in recent years.

About Wally Covington
Wally Covington, who first campaigned in 2003 with slogans saying that PW County is not for sale to residential developers, has proven to be the most residential developer-friendly of all the supervisors.  See http://pwcbg.org  for more info on his voting record through the 2011 Republican primary, which he barely won by 4-5% percent only after what  amounted to a massive vote-buying campaign.  Wally’s corruption has become so brazen — on the order of what often happens in DC City Government — that he recently tried to donate $100,000 in taxpayer funds to a charity run by his wife.  The only thing that subsequently prevented him from doing so was a public outcry.   (See  http://www2.insidenova.com/news/2011/nov/28/2/covington-criticized-rainbow-center-donation-ar-1498738/ )

About Stonehaven (formerly known as Brentswood)
Here’s what a couple prominent members of the community, whose names I have withheld, have to say about Stonehaven and Wally Covington’s role in it.

1.  “Wally is up to his old tricks…  He has aligned himself w/ a crowd of Victory Lakes parents who are still quite bitter over the Patriot/Stonewall HS boundaries.  He’s now convinced them he can get a high school site out of of Stonehaven [as long as thousands of new homes are built as well.]  They of course have taken his bait…

“Anyway, [we] caught wind of a ‘public input’ meeting this Thursday night [12 July] at Piney Branch elementary.  Apparently the county planning dept sent letters to only [developer-friendly] Linton Hall HOA Boards and just sent them around the 4th of July; right out of Wally’s playbook — when people are not paying attention because they’re vacationing…  I’m afraid he’s going to have the Grizzly/VSA organizations there in addition to the Victory Lakes folks all pleading for more fields and schools.”

2.  “Thursday July 12 7-9 pm [at] Piney Branch elementary [there will be a] county meeting on Hunter Tract/Brentswood property….to discuss what citizens would like to see for that property…  No one was really notified about the meeting except for [developer-friendly] HOAs.   This is [supposedly] the Linton Hall citizen’s chance to voice what they would like to see done with that parcel in the comp plan.  [When] citizens don’t show up and voice their opinions [because they didn’t know about the meetings in time], the ‘public opinion’ will be crafted by the developers who’ve proposed Stonehaven.”

Stewart will run for Lt. Gov. Job

by Dan Roem, Gainesville Times

8 December 2011

“Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (R) confirmed during an interview on Sunday that he will seek the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Virginia in 2013.

” ‘I have made no official announcement, but I didn’t exactly make a secret of it,’ said Stewart. ‘I can’t make an official declaration but, when I make my move … I have not yet decided when to announce or how to do it.’

“Stewart has not formed an exploratory committee or began fundraising yet, though he did say at one point, ‘I’m going to have my own race on my hands’ come 2013.

“He talked extensively about what message he needs to send for such a campaign and said ‘yeah’ when asked if he was, in fact, running for lieutenant governor and not some other statewide office.

“When told the headline for this story was going to be ‘Stewart running for lieutenant governor,’ he laughed and said, ‘You can read into it what you want.’

“Regardless, he said he plans to stay on as county chairman through Election Day of 2013.

” ‘I would resign if I won the seat, but I would not resign before,’ said Stewart. ‘It would probably be November or December of 2013, assuming I’m successful of course.’

“THE RACE

“Stewart spent the weekend at the Republican Party of Virginia’s annual Advance meeting at The Homestead resort in Hot Springs. He hosted a room where he talked policy and politics with Virginia Republicans.

” ‘I had a very large suite last night. We had at least 200-300 people going in and out of there over the course of the evening. It was very successful and it’s, you know, it was a chance to meet Republicans from around the state,’ said Stewart.

“He explained that budding statewide candidates are able to meet with potential backers after the official party business for the day is done. The private events usually run for about three hours, ending around midnight according to Stewart.

” ‘It’s standard for statewide politicians or statewide candidates or potential statewide candidates to host suites, receptions, after the meeting are done,’ said Stewart, later adding, ‘It’s, to, you know, talk to Republicans around the state about the successes we’ve had in Prince William County.’

“While Stewart is well-known for championing a crackdown on illegal immigration, he said Republicans talked relatively little about that topic and more about other parts of his record.

” ‘What I found is that a lot of people from around Virginia are very well aware of Prince William County and the tremendous economic growth and the prosperity that we achieved in the county,’ he said.

” ‘And the trick for me is, you know, to broaden my notoriety to other issues aside from the illegal immigration (topic),’ he added, mentioning that he still stands on his record on the issue. ‘I need to tout the success we’ve had in Prince William and the reduction in government spending and the economic growth that we’ve achieved.

” ‘My challenge is going to be associating myself with those successes, economic successes, because what I don’t want to be known as is a one-trick pony, on cracking down on illegal immigration. I also need to associate myself with the strong economy (and) growth policies that we’ve had in prince William County as well.’

“HOME AND STATE

“Stewart touting Prince William’s growth rate comes more than five years after his initial run for county chairman when his primary issue was controlling residential growth.

“Though economic growth and residential growth are two separate topics, the growth in population is directly attributed to the growth of the economy within the county and region,

“During Stewart’s term in office, he has voted for residential growth over the objections of some residents in different parts of Prince William County.

“Among the other topics, he supported the Avendale development in Nokesville and he voted for the development of Haymarket Landing and the University of Virginia Foundation properties over objections from the Haymarket Town Council.

“However, local issues like rezonings and development within the Rural Crescent are likely going to matter little to a statewide GOP electorate.

“The county’s population boom over the last decade and, more importantly, its growing economy come at a time when many rural counties throughout the commonwealth have lost population.

“Rural counties tend to be Republican-leaning. Stewart presides over a county with 5.4 percent unemployment rate and the second largest population among counties in the commonwealth at over 400,000.

“Only one Republican, Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, governs a locality in Virginia with a larger population than Prince William County.

“Prince William and Loudoun also happen to be the two most crucial swing counties in the state.

“And as seen in the last several elections, so goes Prince William, so goes the state.

“All of those factors give Stewart, who’s won three races for chairman and one for supervisor, leverage in the electability debate.

” ‘I would say in recent (years), over the course of the last 10 to 15 years, you cannot win statewide and lose Prince William and Loudoun counties. You cannot do it,’ said Stewart of Republicans. ‘You have got to win (them). These are two key battlefield localities. You’ve got to juice up your margins in Prince William in particular to (stem) off your losses in Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria.’

“2013

“By process of elimination, lieutenant governor is the only statewide office viable for Stewart in 2013.

“Stewart acknowledged there are already hard-line conservative candidates, much like himself, running for governor and attorney general.

” ‘Well, I’m not going to endorse anybody in the governor’s race or the attorney general’s race,’ said Stewart. ‘I’m going to have my own race on my hands.’

“Stewart expressed interest in the office during the 2009 campaign cycle and even formed an exploratory committee when Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) was rumored to be considering a run for governor.

” ‘That’s exactly right. The only reason I pulled out then was because Bolling ran for re-election,’ said Stewart.

“Meanwhile, Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) both announced last week that they would be running for governor.

“Cuccinelli, who lives with his family in Nokesville, notably irked Bolling by announcing his intent to seek higher office after previously saying that he was likely to run for re-election.

“He even said as much when interviewed by this paper in 2009 that he could see himself ultimately seeking re-election.

“Cuccinelli and Bolling are major statewide figures and are likely to wage a bitter race over the next 1.5 years for the nomination unless one of them ultimately backs down and runs for re-election.

“Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) endorsed Bolling and said he would ‘strongly’ support him for governor.

“Cuccinelli once clashed with Stewart over the necessity and legality of a proposal by Stewart, who recommended that statewide law enforcement officials should check the immigration status of everyone they arrest, like local officials do in Prince William.

” ‘As far as that’s concerned, I get along with Cuccinelli just fine. I think a lot of him. I think a lot of Bolling as well,’ said Stewart on Sunday, noting that he has had ‘differences at times with Cuccinelli.’

“Stewart is also an ally of attorney general candidate state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R), a conservative stalwart who represents Harrisonburg in the General Assembly. Obenshain announced his formation of an exploratory committee to succeed Cuccinelli after the incumbent confirmed his interest for governor.

“If Cuccinelli, Stewart and Obenshain all won in the Republican primary, that would set up a Tea Party dream ticket of sorts for 2013. Cuccinelli and Obenshain were part of the most conservative faction of the state Senate when they served in that body together. Stewart has made a career out of enraging liberals and moderates of both parties, particularly over illegal immigration.

“In late 2010 through most of 2011, Stewart even considered running as a more conservative alternative to former Sen. George Allen (R) in the U.S. Senate GOP primary. He spoke negatively about Allen’s term as a senator though he praised his work as governor.

“Then, in October, just as Stewart came under fire in the general election for chairman for having his eye on higher office instead of the county, Stewart endorsed Allen.

“Stewart went on crush the well-funded Democratic nominee, Babur Lateef, 58-27 percent on Election Day. Independent candidate John Gray claimed 14 percent of the vote.

” ‘I’ve proven three times on a countywide basis in Prince William, with increasing margins in every election, that I win here. In a statewide election, I will win Prince William County by a very large margin and that margin would help me offset any losses I would incur in Fairfax as well as Arlington and Alexandria,’ said Stewart.

” ‘I’ll probably win Loudoun and I would expect to win (the general election), even if the Republicans do not win the governorship,’ he added.”

Prince William’s Stewart eyes U.S. Senate bid

by Wesley P. Hester, Richmond Times-Dispatch

21 April 2011

Corey Stewart, Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors (Republican, former Occoquan Supervisor)

Summary: Stewart considers U.S. Senate bid; his role in county illegal immigration debate viewed; Democratic Supervisor Principi says Stewart used illegation immigration issue for political gain, “neglecting” his constituents to run for higher office

(“Prince William’s Stewart eyes U.S. Senate bid” by Wesley P. Hester, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 21 April 2011)

“Woodbridge — On a recent Tuesday afternoon in the lobbby of Prince William County’s administration building, Corey Stewart succinctly summarized his statewide profile to a small gaggle of reporters.

” ‘I’ve been a very controversial figure, and people either love me or hate me,’ said Stewart, 42.

“The moment of blithe self-awareness followed a ceremonial announcement of his bid for re-election as at-large chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. Elected countywide, the position answers to more than 400,000 constituents.

“But with political ambition to spare, Stewart, an affable international trade attorney and spirited conservative, has designs on higher office — a seat in the U.S. Senate.

” ‘I might do it,’ the Republican said of the 2012 bid he has been not-so-subtly hinting at for months.

“And if he does, it won’t be quietly.

“After four years on the county board and shortly after being elected chairman, Stewart in 2007 found himself launched onto the national stage as a central figure in an intensely emotional debate.

“Championing what briefly would become the toughest illegal immigration law in the country, Stewart was vilified and lionized for pushing the county policy on his way to re-election.

“The policy — nearly identical to the one later considered in Arizona — required police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they had “probable cause” to believe was in the country illegally.

“Cries of discrimination ignited and divided the community, launching impassioned protests and seething rage.

” ‘It was a very scary situation,’ said Stewart’s wife, Maria, ‘very hateful, just awful.’

” ‘They hanged me in effigy,’ Stewart said casually, brewing a cup of tea in their two-story brick home in Woodbridge. ‘There were threats. But in some ways, that kind of fortified me. I knew I was making a difference because of the controversy.’

“The furor followed decades of booming residential growth that led to huge demographic shifts in what is now the state’s second-largest county.

“Minorities now outnumber whites in the once-rural locality after its Hispanic and Asian populations nearly tripled over the past decade, according to new census data.

“The idea to tighten controls on illegal immigration didn’t come from Stewart.

“It was introduced by fellow board member John T. Strirrup Jr. on behalf of a group called Help Save Manassas, led by Greg Letiecq, whose blog played a central role in the debate.

” ‘We just had a huge number of problems,’ Letiecq said. ‘It got to where you either had to pick up and leave or stand and fight. We decided to stand and fight, and it exploded. It got uglier than anyone could imagine.’

“Despite the looming hailstorm, Stewart was quick to adopt the issue as his own, moved, he said, by the frustrations of the residents he heard from and the problems they highlighted.

“Overcrowded homes were popping up everywhere, crime was becoming an issue, and hospitals were overrun with illegal immigrants seeking primary-care treatment in emergency rooms, Letiecq said.

“Stewart added that teachers bogged down with students who didn’t speak English, and police frustrated they couldn’t report offenders they suspected of being illegal immigrants, also began complaining.

” ‘As soon as he realized the scope of the problem, he stepped up,’ Letiecq said. ‘His attitude was, “I don’t care what rocks people throw at me, we’re going to fix this problem.” It was fearless.’

“Ultimately, the policy passed in 2008, but the county board significantly altered it eight weeks later because of concerns that it would open the county to racial-profiling allegations.

“The revised version remains in effect in the county, requiring immigration checks of everyone arrested, regardless of appearance. Under the previous version, officers could check a person’s status at any time, even during routine traffic stops.

“A report released last year by the University of Virginia concluded that the number of illegal immigrants in the county had declined because of the policy and that it had some impact in reducing certain types of crime.

” ‘They found that the rhetoric surrounding the policy probably had more to do with the departure of the illegal immigrants than the policy itself, and I completely agree,’ Stewart said. ‘That’s fine with me. However it worked, it did work.’

* * * * *

“Eric Byler and Annabel Park documented the immigration debate in a series of YouTube videos that they later made into the documentary film ‘9500 Liberty.’

“A constituent of Stewart’s, Byler describes the period of several months that he documented as a culture war that Stewart believed in and knew could benefit him politically.

” ‘He’s a sensitive man, and what’s important to his constituents is important to him,’ Byler said. But he added that the issue presented a well-timed tool to help with Stewart’s re-election bid.

“Byler, whose documentary paints Stewart’s effort as misguided, said there seemed to be little factual basis for the policy.

” ‘To Corey, politics is about perceptions — what people believe — not necessarily about the facts,’ he said.

“Byler said he was not surprised when Stewart launched his Virginia Rule of Law campaign to spread Prince William’s policy across the state after the Arizona immigration debate.

” ‘Corey knows that he has to be where the conversation is,’ Byler said. ‘I think he feels most at home in a big angry circus, and he knows immigration will create that.’

“The Rule of Law campaign has failed to gain much political traction. A bill sponsored by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, that would have taken the Prince William policy statewide was defeated at this year’s General Assembly session.

“Nonetheless, the message has endeared Stewart to tea-party and other conservative groups that could help him in 2012.

* * * * *

“The son of a Minnesota longshoreman who belonged to a union, Stewart is an unlikely right-wing conservative.

” ‘I was one of the few Republicans in my family, the black sheep,’ he said. ‘I used to argue with my dad a lot. He hated Reagan, and I loved him.’

“After graduating from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Stewart served a brief stint on Capitol Hill working for then-Sen. David Durenberger, R-Minn., before heading to Japan to teach English.

“It was there that he met his Swedish wife, Maria, whom he brought home to Minnesota in 1994, attending the William Mitchell College of Law before taking a job with a law firm in Fairfax County in 1998 and moving to Prince William in 2001.

“After being elected to the board in 2003, Stewart won the chairmanship in a special election the same day in 2006 that former Gov. George Allen lost his U.S. Senate seat to Jim Webb.

” ‘He lost Prince William County by about 6,000 votes, and I won it by about 6,000 votes,’ Stewart said of Allen.

“That’s one of the reasons Stewart thinks he could defeat Allen for the Republican nomination in the 2012 Senate race and win the election.

” ‘If I’m on the ballot’ in the general election, ‘I’ll win Prince William County, I may win Loudoun County, I won’t do badly in Fairfax, and even if I just come close to breaking even in Northern Virginia … I’ll win,’ he said.

* * * * *

“If Stewart does run, he’ll bring the illegal immigration debate with him.

“It’s what he knows, what he’s known for and, as Byler points out, ‘unlike health care, he can create distance from himself and George Allen on immigration.’

” ‘The race is going to be about George Allen,’ Stewart acknowledged. ‘But he’s got no headroom; he’s a known quantity. People have already judged him, and the support he can gain on top of what he’s already got is very limited.’

“The problem, he said, is that if too many others jump in, and stay in, they’ll split the vote and hand the nomination to Allen, which is why Stewart is hedging his bets.

” ‘I’m not going to enter a race I’m going to lose,’ he said. ‘I’m not a kamikaze.’

“The tally on the GOP side is already at five.

“Jamie Radtke, a Richmond tea-party activist, was the first in the door, followed by Allen, Hampton Roads attorney David McCormick, Chesapeake minister and tea-party activist E.W. Jackson Sr., and most recently Northern Virginia businessman Tim Donner.

” ‘If the George Allen nonsupporters are divided among three or four of us, he wins without a majority; he wins with a plurality,’ Stewart said.

“As for the Democrats, Stewart is less concerned.

“:Timothy M. Kaine, a former Democratic National Committee chairman and a former governor, announced his run this month.

” ‘I don’t think he’s all that strong,’ Stewart said. ‘People don’t think about him much at all. You’re hard-pressed to think of an accomplishment.’

“Stewart said Kaine will be haunted by his role as DNC chairman, inextricably linking him to the Obama administration and its policies.

“Beyond Kaine, he said, ‘the Democrats have no bench.’

* * * * *

“Of the leap from local government to the U.S. Senate, Stewart touts spending cuts and infrastructure built during his tenure as chairman.

“He points out proudly that Prince William’s tax bills are significantly lower than those in Northern Virginia localities with Democratic-controlled governments such as Arlington County and Alexandria, which he describes as ‘practically socialist.’

” ‘I’ve been forced to learn how to get things accomplished within a limited budget,’ he said, calling the at-large chairmanship ‘essentially being the governor of 400,000 people.’

“Not all his colleagues agree that Stewart is suited for higher office.

” ‘I don’t think he’s qualified for chairman, let alone the United States Senate,’ said Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank J. Principi, a Democrat who led the effort to repeal the county’s original immigration policy.

“He claims Stewart used the issue for political gain and gave the county a black eye in the process.

” ‘His political rhetoric has branded Prince William County and given it a bad reputation, particularly among a very diverse community,’ he said, also criticizing him for running for chairman while contemplating a Senate run.

” ‘I believe he’s truly neglecting his 400,000 constituents by trying to be the master of the universe,’ he said.

“Stewart said his interest in higher office is about making a difference on a larger level and bringing a ground-level approach to addressing the nation’s problems.

” ‘Local leaders are forced to deal with the real world each day. That’s why we’re more accountable as organizations than state or federal government,’ he said.

“Stewart says the same issues that have defined his tenure in Prince William would become his platform for a Senate run: fiscal responsibility and immigration.

” ‘I truly think that the country could be headed into a hellhole economically unless we have some very drastic spending reductions of the kind that no one alive today has seen,’ he said. ‘And at the end of the day, the only way to truly fix the illegal immigration problem is on the federal level.’

“Maria said she’s bracing herself already.

” ‘I think that he really wants to do it, and I think that he can do it,’ she said, adding that naysayers would only encourage him.

” ‘So many times people have told him, “Don’t do it, don’t do it, you’ll destroy your career,” and he’s like, “I don’t care, it’s what I believe. ” ‘ ”

“Wellington, Yorkshire areas to be studied under comp plan changes adopted Feb. 2”

by Rose Murphy,Bull Run Observer

12 February 2010, pp. 47-48

“Amid a confusing flurry of last-minute changes, Prince William Board of County Supervisors Feb. 2 voted to approve the land use chapter of the county’s comprehensive plan.

“Mike May, who represents, Occoquan District on the panel, cast the only nay vote. He said he favored a vote on each of the alterations, adding he couldn’t back some of the amendments, so he would vote against the proposal.

“The update to the transportation chapter received unanimous board approval. The panel agreed to May’s change, limiting Old Bridge Road to four lanes from Colby Drive to Prince William County Parkway. The county’s department of transportation wanted it six lanes.

“Corey Stewart, board chairman, commented, ‘Old Bridge is a residential road. If it were expanded to six lanes, it would become a highway. Traffic should be on Prince William Parkway.’

“The chairman noted work on the land use and transportation chapters has been going on since Feb. 7, 2007. Virginia code requires the comprehensive plan be reviewed every five years to see if updating is needed. The county met the deadline for a technical update two years ago.

“During the past three years, the Land Use Advisory Committee (LUAC), a citizen group appointed by supervisors, presented its version of the land use chapter. This was followed by separate versions of the chapter from the county’s planning commission and planning staff.

“LUAC recommended setting up 19 centers of community and six centers of commerce throughout the county. The change accepted by supervisors Feb. 2 has three centers of commerce and one center of community, according to David McGettigan of the planning department. Centers of Commerce will be at Innovation, north Woodridge and Potomac Town Center. The center of community will be in Triangle.

“The board also agreed to two study areas, Yorkshire and the Wellington Road area.  The Wellington Road area, zoned heavy industry, could become a town center.

“The new changes to the land use chapter provide for lighted ballfields throughout the county without a public facilities review (PFR). Lights will have to be turned off within a half hour of the end of a game, McGettigan explained.

“At the February 2 meeting, supervisors approved unanimously a resolution that no property in the Linton Hall area may be rezoned for residential uses until two new elementary schools and a high school are built and open for use, and sites for another elementary school and another middle school have been acquired.

“Stewart’s land use amendments approved by the board say that buffers and setbacks along the parkway from Hoadly Road to Liberia Avenue and along Davis Ford Road must be established as part of any rezoning or special use permit (SUP) in order to protect the semirural appearance of both corridors.

“Marty Nohe, Coles District representative, was not successful with his amendments altering the semirural residential (SRR) classification in the land use chapter. He represents Coles District, home of most of the county’s SRR land.

“Supervisors voted to keep requirements for SRR the same as the 2008 comprehensive plan, which dictates one home per 2.5 acres. The SRR classification is meant to provide areas of large lot development as transition between the rural crescent and the development area.

“Nohe’s changes, first introduced at the January 19 board meeting, included single-family homes with individual single lots of a gross acre or greater. If more than one home were constructed, the average density would not exceed one unit per 2.5 acres, less the ER areas, unless the homes were clustered. With clustered homes, density would be calculated on the gross density of the project.

“Clustered development would result in density of one dwelling per 2.5 acres, and minimum lot sizes of one acre, but lots could range from a half acre to one acre to allow public natural resource facilities, Nohe contended.

“Stewart said February 3 he did not want to alter the existing SRR rules because he didn’t know how Nohe’s changes ‘would be interpreted in the future.’  He added, “the concepts of clustering could mean cut-and-fill” construction in the SRR, which the county has been able to avoid thus far.

” ‘With clustering, someone has sold the county a bill of goods,’ Steward opined.

“Nohe also wanted to see lot sizes limited to a minimum of five acres within 500 feet of the Occoquan Reservoir. His proposal for an Occoquan Reservoir protection area is better suited for inclusion in the comp plan’s environmental chapter, Stewart contended. The environmental chapter will be considered next by the board.

“The board also decided to approve out-of-turn comprehensive plan amendments (CPA) with concurrent rezoning applications. Existing policy provided that CPAs could be submitted only once a year in January.

“The chairman also had changes approved for the community employment center (CEC), regional employment center (REC), and regional commercial center (RCC) classifications. He added to each classification, ‘development shall also occur according to a phasing plan that must ensure that office, employment and lodging uses are always the primary uses within the area rezoned.’  In each category, drive-in and drive-through uses are discouraged, and residential uses are limited to no more than 25 percent of the total gross floor area of the project.

“Purpose of the CEC classification is to provide areas of low- to mid-rise offices, including government offices and especially county offices, ‘research and development, lodging and mixed use projects planned and developed in a comprehensive and coordinated way.’

“CEC projects would be at or near intersections of principal arterials or major collector roads or commercial rail stations. Residential uses will be secondary uses.

“In CEC areas, single-family attached or multi-family housing, including housing for the elderly, is allowed. Density will be six to 12 units a gross acre, minus any environmental resource (ER) areas.

“REC areas will be near and have good access to interstate highways. Main REC uses are mid-rise and/or high-rise office, including government and county offices, research and development uses and lodging or mixed-use projects.

“In REC areas, there will be multi-family housing at a density of 16 to 30 dwelling units per acre, less the ER.

“RCC areas will be near interstate highways and will be large-scale retail projects serving regional rather than a local market. Included will be regional malls, mixed-use projects and large single-user retail buildings.

“In RCC, shared or structured parking is encouraged. Housing will be multifamily with a density of 16 to 30 units per gross acre, less ER.

“Stewart explained February 3 that in mixed-use areas, the development community wanted the mix to change from 75 percent commercial and 25 percent residential to 60 percent commercial and 40 percent residential. That proposal did not pass.

“The chairman said the comp plan revisions encourage more development like Stonebridge, where Wegmans is in eastern Prince William County.

” ‘This is a mixture of retail, office and residential, and we want more of that,’ Stewart indicated.

“The developmental community also failed to get its proposal for no phasing, which would mean that, in a mixed-use project, all the residential or retail could be built first. With phasing, commercial must be the dominant use, Stewart remarked.

“The chairman added the land use chapter revisions ‘do not increase the number of residences by one house, maintain the SRR, add buffers along the parkway and Davis Ford Road and keep the Rural Crescent. We’ve made some good changes, and limited residential density.’ “

E-mail exchanges between PWCBG, Chairman Stewart, Chairman Stewart’s Chief of Staff, and Planning Commission Chairman

Ralph Stephenson of Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Corey Stewart, BOCS Chairman

Laurie Cronin, Chief of Staff to Chairman Stewart

Gary Friedman, Planning Commission Chairman

29 Jan-2 Feb 2010

(E-mails read from top to bottom in reverse chronological order)
Subject: Re: CPA Land Use & Transportation Updates
Date: Tue, 02 Feb 2010 00:18:34 -0500
From: Ralph Stephenson <stephenrk1@comcast.net>
To: Cronin, Laurie A. <lcronin@pwcgov.org>, Friedman, Gary <garycf1@netzero.net>, Stewart, Corey <cstewart@pwcgov.org>, Pugh, Bob <bob@insightwealth.com>

Tks, Laurie, for the statements below from county Planning Staff.  Appreciate you taking the time to ask them to respond and sharing their response with me.

It’s interesting to see Planning Staff repeating almost verbatim the same mantras that I’ve heard over and over again from developers.  That only helps confirm my worst fears.  It’s also interesting how transparent many of the Planning Staff rebuttals below are; very obviously leaving out important information and in some cases making blatant distortions — either unintentionally out of ignorance or intentionally to obfuscate.  (Neither possibility is very comforting.)   For example: “The [Planning Staff’s plan] does not increase the number of new homes planned for Prince William County.”  OR  “The BOCS is considering the staff version of the Land Use chapter that proposes 2 Centers of Commerce, 2 Centers of Community, and 2 study areas for future centers.  The 4 centers reflect planning already approved by the Board and would result in no additional residential development in these areas.”  Say what?   If this is true, if there will indeed be no additional residential development in Planning Staff’s overall plan, then why is it proposing centers of community (the old LUAC euphemism for high-density housing)?  If there will be no new residential development in the centers of community, then why are they being proposed as development areas?  Development of what?  And NO ADDITIONAL residential development means what exactly:  in addition to what?

But it’s most interesting of all to see the Planning Staff directly rebutting Chairman Stewart’s own Planning Commission Chairman Gary Friedman.  (All four points below are his, not mine.)   Do you remember the following e-mail you sent me below in Dec 2008 [see passage between line of asterisks immediately below] in which you said Chairman Stewart strongly supported Chairman Friedman’s plan (which is represented in the four points rebutted by Planning Staff below)?  Your e-mail from today has a very different tone and apparent direction than that one from 14 months ago.  I’m getting the eerie feeling that Chairman Stewart has changed his mind and decided to no longer support his own Planning Commission Chairman, and instead support (or at least move much, much closer to) Planning Staff parotting the developer party line?  Is that true?  If so, why?   Please say it ain’t so.  Ralph Stephenson


Mr. Stephenson [summary of message from Stewart Chief of Staff Laurie Cronin to Ralph Stephenson 20 Dec 2008]:

Thank you for your e-mail I wanted to send you an article that recaps what Chairman Stewart’s Planning Commissioner, Gary Friedman has implemented, Chairman Stewart is supportive of the changes.

Prince William land use changes in the works

By Cheryl Chumley
Published: December 10, 2008 http://www.insidenova.com/isn/news/local/article/prince_william_land_use_changes_in_the_works/26050/


Cronin, Laurie A. wrote:

Ralph,

Thank you for including me in your e-mail, I did want you to be aware of a response that I got from PWC Planning:

 

County’s future:

1.     Provides no incentives for focused, major development in the two areas of the county identified by the Planning Commission as most in need of redevelopment and revitalization, which already have the basic public infrastructure in place and are the most likely locations for future metro rail expansion from Fairfax into Prince William County:  North Woodbridge and Yorkshire.

Staff has proposed designating North Woodbridge a “Center of Commerce,” giving that area the highest level of focus and attention for redevelopment and revitalization.  This is on top of the fact that North Woodbridge has already been the focus of planning as part of the Potomac Communities effort.  Yorkshire has also been recommended by staff to be studied for consideration as a “Center of Community,” recognizing that it is in need of redevelopment and revitalization and has existing infrastructure.

2.     The “centers”, as proposed by staff, have been best described by a fellow planning commissioner as allowing “anything, anywhere, anytime”.   There is no limit on the number of these centers that could be advanced and the Land Use Advisory Committee (LUAC) located a large portion of them in the Brentsville District.  Planning staff proposes these “centers” comp plan amendment initiations be allowed without form, format, or defined content, other than a vague “mixed use” requirement, and without any major investment in the county or the process by the applicant, whenever a proposal is submitted.  It would then be left to staff to work out the details along the way, thus allowing unprecedented “flexibility”.  In this scenario I am sure staff would do the best job possible to “work out the details”.  But any such effort will, of necessity, be constrained by resources and staff availability.  Due to budget restraints and numerous department vacancies, planning staff is already stretched to its limits.  Does it make any sense to add what would surely become dramatic new burdens on an already overburdened department?  And if so, what would be the likely result?

The BOCS is considering the staff version of the Land Use chapter that proposes 2 Centers of Commerce, 2 Centers of Community, and 2 study areas for future centers.  The 4 centers reflect planning already approved by the Board and would result in no additional residential development in these areas.  Any request for an additional center would, if initiated by the BOCS, have to go through a planning process that engages the community in development of a “Centers Plan” that would define the unique characteristics of the area and would prescribe the limits on the appropriate amount of development in the Center.  You are correct that such a Centers Plan would require significant resources.

3.     Provides no phasing structure on mixed use projects.  We’ve been down this road before.  How many times have mixed use projects been approved in the past, the residential component installed, then the commercial component left waiting for “the market to catch up”?  This scenario always results in more rooftops, more congested roads, more overcrowded schools, and less revenue for the county to meet its obligations because the commercial component either never happens or happens to such a minimal level as to fail to offset the budget burdens the new homes create.

The proposal includes a requirement to phase the infrastructure of a project rather than the timing of the various uses.

4.     Fails to include the Planning Commission safeguards designed to protect the rural areas from encroachment.  Anyone who cares about advancing smarter growth principles knows encouraging and concentrating growth in the development area, and protecting rural areas from sprawl development, are key features.  While the planning staff text mentions smart growth principles, and makes plentiful use of smart growth language, the proposed details tell a very different story.

The proposal does not propose any changes to the protections currently afforded the rural area.  The rural area continues to be a critical element in the county’s efforts to concentrate growth and development in the development areas of the county, and to preserve the rural character of the rural area.

We do not need 50,000 new homes in our community.  We do not need supervisors who are allied with builders running the county government.  We already have a glut of homes, overcrowded schools and overcrowded roads.  Do not add to this by ignoring the residents who vote for you and lining your pockets with big builders bribes.  Please do the right thing for us, our children and all the people of Prince William County.

The proposal does not increase the number of new homes planned for Prince William County.  Rather, the plan would focus on improving the quality of development by focusing development in high quality mixed-use, walkable centers with access to transit and trails.

I hope this is helpful.

Laurie

 

Laurie A. Cronin

Chief of Staff

Chairman Corey A. Stewart

Prince William County Board of Supervisors

(703) 792-5626 / (703) 792-4640

lcronin@pwcgov.org

From: Ralph Stephenson [mailto:stephenrk1@comcast.net] Sent: Sunday, January 31, 2010 6:47 PM
To: Stewart, Corey A.
Cc: Cronin, Laurie A.; Friedman, Gary
Subject: Re: CPA Land Use & Transportation Updates

 

Corey:

Thanks for getting back to me.  Appreciate all that you do to serve the county.  Per your request below for ideas for the comp plan, numbered below are the things that we would most like to see in it.

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson

  1. No more residential development at all until the county has worked off its current surplus/glut of residential housing.  Why would we build something that we not only don’t need, but that is economically harmful?  A possible rule of thumb might be that until the county’s total of empty/foreclosed houses and approved-but-not-yet-built houses drops below 7,000  or 10,000 at most, no more new houses can be approved.As has been said and proven so many times before, more residential housing over the next few years will further crowd schools and roads, subsidize residential developers yet again with our taxpayer dollars to create unneeded housing in a still-extremely-glutted housing market, and thus further damage the property values and long-term viability of older neighborhoods.  (At last count, there were still 25-30,000 approved, but not-yet-built homes in the county.)  More residential housing will also damage the county tax base, which is currently about 85% residential (higher taxes for all of us) and only 15% commercial.  And It will further harm the environment of beautiful (?? or soon-to-be-formerly-beautiful) western Prince William County.It’s ironic that the county is considering making it even easier to build residential housing at the very time that the U.S. is trying to recover from its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, a crisis brought on by, among other things: massive housing industry overcapacity and oversupply (probably the single biggest cause); political shenanigans by local and federal government officials allied to the housing industry, trying to keep demand artificially high to match the artificially high housing supply; dishonest and predatory lending practices by many mortgage lenders to people who couldn’t afford the homes they were being sold; and the financially toxic effect of these millions of now-non-performing (or bad) loans on the books of banks and other investors.
  2. Please stress commercial development, not residential development — especially focused commercial development:  i.e., the Centers of Commerce concept, EXCEPT totally or mostly without residential housing.  The 85: 15 residential-to-commercial tax ratio is untenable, shows very poor and/or improper past planning by the county, and needs to be greatly improved.  Other than extreme cases like the Vulcan Quarry in Nokesville and the asphalt plants right next to housing, schools, GMU, and the county’s new arts center, when have citizens strongly protested commercial development?  Commercial is far, far more likely to receive a receptive audience — especially if it doesn’t severely impact traffic congestion or the environment — than residential development, which always has all the negative impacts discussed above and should only be built when it is actually needed.  Building housing only when we need it:  Isn’t that simply a matter of the most basic economic common sense?  Otherwise, the immutable laws of supply and demand will have their revenge on the county’s economy.  (I’m forwarding separately to you an economic analysis of the housing market, in line with other analyses I’ve seen and heard recently, that argues convincingly that housing demand is about to drop further in the coming months — upon expiration of a number of temporary federal government economic stimulae that have artificially propped it up for awhile.)
  3. I urge you to reject the Planning Staff and Land Use Advisory Committee, or LUAC, recommendations on the Land Use Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan. As you may recall, the LUAC recommendations are outrageous, proposing 19 Centers of Community — 11 in the Haymarket, Gainesville, Bristow, Manassas area. If each of these 19 centers builds 3,000 homes, which is about the same density level as the infamous 2005-06 Brentswood Project, and assuming the county’s average of three people per house, that would total 171,000 more people, a 50% increase in the population of the entire county.Since the Planning Staff recommendations on residential housing, on closer examination, apparently set no real limits on housing and instead seem to allow “anything, anywhere, anytime” — and thus are not really a plan at all — I see no reason to believe that they will not ultimately move strongly in the direction of, even converge with the outrageous LUAC recommendations. On the other hand, the Planning Commission recommendations actually would noticeably plan and channel residential growth in more reasonable ways — and primarily in two areas.
  4. The following, on schools, we quote from Michelle Trenum because we agree completely:Please put some teeth in the school policy.  Although it is lovely to see the BOCS discuss the issue of school overcrowding, the proposed school policy with the way it currently is written doesn’t really do anything to address the real issues.  It is an empty box that is just wrapped in pretty paper with a nice bow.  That doesn’t change the fact that inside the box is NOTHING.   When I spoke before the board I showed a colored map of which schools would be overcrowded IF Avendale was approved….this policy, even if approved, does not change that colored map one bit.  All the same schools would still be overcrowded.

My concerns with the policy is that nothing is different from now but it gives the public the false illusion that the board is addressing the problem.  I also have issues that it only affects Linton Hall when there are other parts of the county with overcrowding as well.

It is the policy of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors that, before any new residential rezoning in the Linton Hall Geographic District is approved, the developer shall commit that no new building or occupancy permits shall be issued unless and until

(i) two new elementary schools IN THE LINTON HALL AREA are fully constructed and opened to new students;

Those schools were already on the schedule and will be completed, one by 2011 and the other by 2012 or it could be moved up to 2011 as well.  So nothing is different because any rezoning approved now would not have people moving in until 2011 or 2012 anyway. 

(ii) a new high school IN THE LINTON HALL AREA (at Kettle Run) is fully constructed and opened to new students;

Also, it is on the schedule to be opened in 2011 so nothing would change there

(iii) the sites for an additional elementary school and new middle school be acquired and located IN THE LINTON HALL AREA.

In an amazing coincidence, Avendale offered a middle school and elementary school site (although both are badly located) so golly gee, if Avendale was approved, then all the pieces would fall in place and anything could now be approved.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that the school policy was actually put into effect last December 2009.  Then Avendale came up for a vote in January.

Could Avendale be approved with this policy in effect?  YES

Would the homes be built and occupied on the same timeline as without this policy?  YES

Could 10 more developments be approved with this policy as long as the homes weren’t occupied until 2012 which would have happened anyway due to the length of time it takes to go from approval to people moving in?  YES

Would our schools be equally as overcrowded with this policy as without this policy ?  YES, THERE WILL BE NO CHANGE.

So the policy does NOTHING until it deals with the capacity issue and school locations.
Stewart, Corey A. wrote:

Ralph, It really depends on how many people show up. If it is lighter than we expect, then I can allow for 5.  In any case, please feel free to send me any specific changes you would like us to consider. I, for one, am not hard set on any portion of the comp plan an am open to suggestions.

Corey
————————–
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

—– Original Message —–
From: Ralph Stephenson <stephenrk1@comcast.net>
To: Stewart, Corey A.; Cronin, Laurie A.
Sent: Sat Jan 30 07:11:20 2010
Subject: Re: CPA Land Use & Transportation Updates

Thanks for letting me know.  Ralph

Stewart, Corey A. wrote:

Mr. Stephenson, I spoke to Chairman Stewart and due to the sheer volume of citizens expected at the meeting Chairman Stewart requested I advise you that you will have 3 minutes to speak.

Thank you,

Laurie

 

Laurie Anne Cronin

Senior Aide

Chairman Corey A. Stewart

Prince William County Board of Supervisors

(703) 792- 5626 / (703) 792 – 4640

lcronin@pwcgov.org / cstewart@pwcgov.org

—–Original Message—–

From: Ralph Stephenson [mailto:stephenrk1@comcast.net]

Sent: Friday, January 29, 2010 1:33 AM

To: Stewart, Corey A.

Cc: Pugh, Bob

Subject: Re: CPA Land Use & Transportation Updates

Chairman Stewart:  Please advise whether I’ll have five minutes to speak Tuesday 2 Feb during citizens time at 7:30 pm (as a representative of Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth), or just three minutes.  Thanks for all you do to serve the county.  Ralph Stephenson

 


 

For Chairman Stewart’s original positions on land use, see: E-mail exchanges between Ralph Stephenson, BOCS, and Stewart’s Chief of Staff Laurie Cronin 12/20/2008

E-mail exchanges between Ralph Stephenson, BOCS, and Stewart’s Chief of Staff Laurie Cronin

14-20 December 2008

(E-mails read from top to bottom in reverse chronological order)

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: BOB, FYI — Re: We Strongly Oppose the CoC Proposal
Date: Sat, 20 Dec 2008 22:02:04 -0500
From: Ralph Stephenson <stephenrk1@comcast.net>
To: Pugh, Bob <bob@insightwealth.com>

Stewart, Corey A. wrote:

Mr. Stephenson,

 

Thank you for your e-mail I wanted to send you an article that recaps what Chairman Stewart’s Planning Commissioner, Gary Friedman has implemented, Chairman Stewart is supportive of the changes.

 

Prince William land use changes in the works

By Cheryl Chumley

 

Published: December 10, 2008 http://www.insidenova.com/isn/news/local/article/prince_william_land_use_changes_in_the_works/26050/

 

Planning Commission members are drafting what one member characterizes as the most significant land use proposal in Prince William in years.

 

Under this latest Comprehensive Plan recommendation, supervisors would name certain areas of the county Urban Mixed Use or Village Mixed Use zones with the emphasis on rehabilitation and commercial development.

 

The proposal brought forth at the Planning Commission last week specifies two such areas: Yorkshire, located between Manassas Park and Fairfax County along the Va. 28 path, and the entire U.S. 1 corridor, from Belmont Bay to Quantico. Supervisors would still hold final authority on which sites are zoned UMU and VMU.

 

But for builders who meet certain criteria, these Comp Plan changes could bring significant benefits: They would not have to make proffers part of their application package for these sites.

 

“This absolutely revolutionizes how the county will grow,” said Gary Friedman, the Planning Commission’s at-large member responsible for bringing forth the idea at last week’s meeting.

 

In short, the plan requires a “concurrent percentage phasing” of the residential and commercial components of mixed-use developments, according to a fact sheet for the Planning Commission. That is, the sheet reads, “if Phase One of a project calls for 20 percent of the residential component it must also require at least 20 percent of the non-residential component.”

 

The intent, Friedman said, is to ensure developments in these zoned areas don’t slow or stop with housing, but rather bring forth the revenue-producing side of mixed-use projects — the commercial — in rapid fashion.

 

Other specifics of the recommendations: Development proposals must all focus on rehabilitation. They must span at least 100 acres. And they must not exceed the cap for residential. Only 25 percent of the development plan can include housing, according to the Comp Plan recommendations.

 

“These projects that come in under the first two conditions … will be considered by the county to be in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan and will be proffer-free,” Friedman said.

 

The proposal, he said, is win-win, as it protects the Rural Crescent, cleans up blighted areas of the county, and brings commercial development to areas of the county where some infrastructure already exists.

 

“This will have a major impact on the tax structure of the county,” he added.

 

Another plus is the Planning Commission’s latest recommendations bypass the politics and ethics complaints that undercut an earlier proposal. That plan from Land Use Advisory Committee members identified overlay areas on a map as Centers of Commerce and Centers of Community that were characterized by high-density, mixed uses that furthered “smart growth” principles.

 

One version of that proposal also recommended supervisors pursue a Transfer of Development Right program giving developers the ability to trade building rights for higher densities.

 

Two of the LUAC members were developers; some in the community complained these developers purposely pushed through a land use policy for Planning Commission and Board of Supervisor consideration that would impact their private properties and lead to personal financial gain. In response, one developer, as well as a couple of his committee colleagues, said all LUAC discussions were open and above board, and the locations of the builders’ properties were common knowledge.

 

John Stirrup, R-Gainesville and vice chair of the supervisors, ultimately sought investigation of the issue by the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Manassas and the attorney general’s office in Richmond.

 

“One big thing with this plan,” said Friedman, about his current proposal, “is that … it removes the problems associated with the LUAC from the [Comp Plan] discussions and just concentrates on the policy implications. All the Centers’ language is gone. There’re no Centers of Community, no Centers of Commerce, all the dots are gone from the map … and the TDRs are gone.”

 

Friedman’s proposal instructing staff to change and refine the language of the Comp Plan land-use chapter passed the Planning Commission with a 7-1 vote. Both boards — planning as well as supervisors — still have to consider and approve the final text.

 

Staff writer Cheryl Chumley can be reached at 703-670-1907.

 

I hope you find this information helpful.

 

Thank you,

 

Laurie

 

Laurie Anne Cronin

Senior Aide

Chairman Corey A. Stewart

Prince William County Board of Supervisors

(703) 792- 5626 / (703) 792 – 4640

lcronin@pwcgov.org / cstewart@pwcgov.org

 

 

—–Original Message—–
From: Ralph Stephenson [mailto:stephenrk1@comcast.net] Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 9:37 AM
To: Caddigan, Maureen S.; Covington, W. S. Wally; Nohe, Marty E.; Stewart, Corey A.; Gainesville District; Jenkins, John D.; May, Michael C.; Principi, Frank J.
Cc: Stephenson, Kathy; Stephenson, Kate; Stephenson, Daniel; Stephenson, Benjamin
Subject: We Strongly Oppose the CoC Proposal

 

Members of the Board of County Supervisors:  Thank you for all you do to serve the county, and Happy Holidays to all of you.

 

We’d like to share with you excerpts from an e-mail exchange in late November 2008 with a friend regarding the Centers of Community/Centers of Commerce proposal put forward by the Land Use Advisory Commission.

 

We had e-mailed to him the following information:  …”An advisory body to the county — following behind-the-scenes lobbying by local residential developers for many months, with virtually no effort to keep citizens informed or to receive broad-based input from them — is proposing that at least 30-35,000 homes (likely to accommodate about 100,000 people) be built in the Haymarket-Gainesville-Bristow-Manassas area in the coming years.  If this does not sound to you like a good idea, I strongly urge you to get involved…”

 

He responded:  “…Thanks for keeping me in the loop on these issues. Unfortunately, I am out of town this week and will be unable to attend the [3 December Planning Commission] meeting.  As usual, hard working citizens will be under-represented due to our efforts to make a living and grow the economy…”

 

We in turn responded to him that we shared his frustration that ordinary citizens have to so frequently defend themselves against outrageous proposals like this one and the infamous Brentswood plan.

 

We the undersigned …  strongly recommend that AT MOST only one or two Centers of Commerce be added to the CompPlan now, IF AND WHERE THE EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE CAN SUPPORT THEM, and that no Centers of Community be added. With 20-30,000 homes approved but not yet built and thousands of homes in foreclosure in the county, only a fool or someone who stands to gain personally, to the detriment of the county as a whole, would suggest that we should now fast-track approval for 75,000 new homes (meaning ~225,000 people) by putting this in the CompPlan. Yet that is what this plan for 19 Centers of Community and 6 Centers ofCommerce indeed proposes.

 

Taxpayers will pay through the nose for this plan.  How will they pay?  Through:  1) ever-worsening traffic congestion (note recent Forbes article on Linton Hall having the worst commute in the country:
http://www.forbes.com/vehicles/2008/12/09/commute-traffic-town-forbeslife-cx_jb_1209commute.html);  2) increasingly overcrowded public schools; 3) declining property values in existing neighborhoods (oversupply drives down the value of your home and can eventually lead to older neighborhoods becoming blighted unnecessarily); 4) further damage to the county tax base (commercial  development subsidizes the tax base, while almost all residential development results in higher taxes for all of us); and 5) further adverse effects on quality-of-life issues, including the environment.

 

Again, we strongly recommend that AT MOST only one or two Centers of Commerce be added to the CompPlan now, IF AND WHERE THE EXISTINGINFRASTRUCTURE CAN SUPPORT THEM, and that no Centers of Community be added.

Ralph Stephenson

Kathy Stephenson

(etc.)

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