“Board looks at new ways to preserve Rural Crescent” by Hillary Chester, Prince William Times, 30
“Board looks at new ways to preserve Rural Crescent” by Hillary Chester, Prince William Times, 30
“Prince William Board of County Supervisors decided at its Dec. 3 meeting to initiate a full study of its road network instead of just removing the controversial bi-county parkway from its system. Wally Covington, (R-Brentsville), cast the only nay vote.
“The bi-county parkway, which would run from the end of VA 234 for ten miles to Loudoun County near Dulles International Airport, has met with significant opposition from some state representatives and affected property owners. The roadway was called the tri-county parkway until Fairfax County opted out. It also is known as Rt. 234 Bypass North.
“In October, Mike May (R-Occoquan), made a motion to initiate a comprehensive plan amendment (CPA) to take the bi-county parkway out of the county’s Thoroughfare Plan. County staff then researched the proposal, and on Dec. 3, recommended the comp plan amendment not be initiated.
“Ray Canizales of the transportation department explained analysis showed removing the by-pass would have major impacts on the transportation system across the county. He added the comp plan designates VA 234 North between I-66 and Loudoun Copunty as a four-lane roadway.
“Deleting the by-pass would increase traffic on Pageland lane by 950 percent by 2030, on Gum Springs Road by 64 percent, on Catharpin Raod by 19.1 percent and on Joplin Road by 9.4 percent, Canizales pointed out. US 15 would see a 69.1 percent hike in traffic, while traffic would go up 14.2 percent on Rt. 55, 5.5 percent on VA 28 and 9.7 percent on I-66 by 2030. He noted he was using the latest travel demand software, which came out in 2010. He said the numbers would change if a complete Thoroughfare Plan update were done.
” ‘No road is an island,’ observed Corey Stewart, (R-at large), board chairman.
“Before the vote, Maureen Caddigan, (R-Potomac), reminded the board she had asked for and supervisors approved initiating a CPA keeping VA 234 four lands and not increasing the roadway to six lanes. That CPA is on its way to a planning commission hearing and then to supervisors for a separate vote, the board agreed.
“Caddigan pointed out she ‘worked hard for the initiation,’ adding, ‘something is going on here I’m not comfortable with.’ She said she worried about increased truck traffic on VA 234, calling it ‘intolerable.’ She opined the bi-county parkway would do nothing for Prince William County.
“Canizales noted the figures he was using for traffic analysis had VA 234 as six lanes, since that is what is in the comprehensive plan today. Pete Candland, (R-Gaionesville), said he was ‘caught off guard’ by staff’s using six lanes, not four, in its report.
“Candland said that the problem with the bi-county parkway is that the ‘CTB and VDOT have married the bi-county parkway with the closing of Rt. 234 (through Manassas National Battlefield Park).’ CTB is the [Virginia] Commonwealth Transportation Board, and VDOT is Virginia Department of Transportation. He said the county should let the state bodies know it doesn’t support the plan.
“Later in the discussion Candland asserted ‘it is clear certain individuals don’t want an up or down vote’ on the bi-county parkway. ‘Enough is enough,’ he asserted.
“Marty Nohe, (R-Coles), suggested doing not just any transportation study, but the right one. Candland volunteered he thought the state ‘is trying to ram the road down our throats,’ and that some in the county think the bi-county parkway is a ‘bad idea.’
“Nohe reported ‘better connectivity is needed north of I-66.’ Candland said that closing VA 234 in the national park would shift traffic to I-66.
“Candland contended that doing the Thoroughfare Plan update would not result in much new information.
” ‘It’s just a way of not voting (up or down on the bi-county parkway) and kicking the can down the road,’ he added.”
“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.’ “
Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), Virginia’s authoritative source on the role of money in state politics
“The planned hike in building proffers on residential developments in the county was voted down October 16 by Prince William Board of County Supervisors [BOCS] meeting in McCoart Government Center off Prince William Parkway. Proffers are monies or other items volunteered by developers to mitifate the impact of their projects on county roads, schools, libraries, parks and police and fire and rescue services. [PWCBG note: Although the BOCS meeting began at 2 pm on 16 October, it did not end until early the next morning, 17 October, shortly after the proffer vote.]
“The proposed proffer on single-family homes would have risen from $37,719 to $51,113. Townhouse proffers would have been $43,262, up from $31,927, and multi-family construction would have been upped to $26,545 from $19,526.
“Voting to go ahead with the increases were Corey Stewart (R-at-large and board chairman); John Stirrup, (R-Gainesville); and Mike May, (R-Occoquan). Against were Marty Nohe (R-Coles); Hilda Barg, (D-Woodbridge); John Jenkins, (D-Neabsco); Wally Covington, (R-Brentsville); and Maureen Caddigan, (R-Dumfries).
“Nohe said before the vote he wanted ‘to see what impact fees would look like’ before approving increased proffers.
“Impact fees let counties charge developers for roads. The fees were approved by the General Assembly this year, and could be assessed on all residential developments after August 2008.
“Nohe explained that ‘some members of the General Assembly want to turn back impact fees. They might go after the proffer authority instead.’ He added passing the proffer change ‘may send the message we’re not doing the right thing.’ He said he wants the impact fees, but does not want to lose proffers.
“Jenkins contended the proffer fees are really ‘hidden taxes.’ He said the higher fee on single-family homes would be pased on to homebuyers.
” ‘The $51,000 would come to $305 more per month on a mortgage. In Stafford, the proffer for single-family is $38,151,’ Jenkins added.
“Caddigan said she was in favor of proffer increases, but that the timing was wrong.
“Stewart asserted that the proposed increases represent ‘the true costs to the county to support residential development. If the developer doesn’t pay, the taxpayer and the county pay.’ ”
PW Pulse in a 25 October 2007 article by Keith Walker on p. A5 adds the following:
“County staff recommended that the proffers be increased.
“Planning director Steve Griffin said each year the county analyzes the impact that building will have on the cost of fire and rescue, police, roads and schools.
“He said he thought the increase was justified.
” ‘Based on the expensive buildings and land purchases, they needed to be adjusted to this amount,’ Griffin said. ‘It was all about construction and the price of land that justified the higher amount.’ ”
See Prince William County Government’s “FY2004 Capital Improvement Program,” “Transportation Strategic Goal” section for official decision to divert funds, which may also be viewed as Adobe *.pdf file here: LintonHallMoneyToSpriggsRdFY04.pdf