Citizens for Balanced Growth

Category: Brentswood (Page 1 of 2)

10 Mar Devlin Vote Tests Inclusivity of New Dem-Majority BOCS; 24 Feb Devlin Rd Town Hall

[Mass e-mail by Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth]

Fellow citizens:

Devlin Road Returns — Prince William County residential developers are trying yet again to revive an already-thrice-failed effort to put hundreds of new houses (over 500 this time) on a portion of Devlin Rd.  The previous efforts — Brentswood (2005-06), Stone Haven (2012-15), and Devlin I (Dec 2019) — failed when citizens in surrounding neighborhoods and elsewhere in the county got wise to how these projects would further overcrowd their already overstretched roads and schools, raise their taxes, lower property values, and further damage the environment.

New BOCS Chairman Wheeler Stresses Inclusivity — New Democratic Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) Chair Ann Wheeler has promised a new, fully-inclusive PW County for all citizens and improved, more functional, less overcrowded, more effective schools and transportation/ roads.  At least some of the incoming new Democratic supervisors have expressed a desire to shift at least some renewal/redevelopment to underserved areas in east county, rather than the old pro-developer policy of building more and more high-density houses in west county (where certain politically-connected residential developers own a lot of land) at such a rate that roads and schools — already way overcapacity — can never catch up.  Here’s one of Chair Wheeler’s latest speeches on more inclusivity in PW County: https://pwcbg.org/2020/03/bocs-chair-wheelers-7-jan-2020-state-of-the-county-address/

The Previous Pro-Developer Pattern of Stewart, Nohe — So will Chair Wheeler pursue policies that are truly inclusive and bring the greatest good to the greatest number?  Or will she instead, despite her rhetoric, simply ape the all-residential-development-is-good policies of the previous aggressively pro-residential-development leaders of the BOCS, Republicans Corey Stewart and Marty Nohe? This, despite the demonstrable harm that such policies have done to county schoolchildren, commuters, taxpayers, and all who wish to preserve at least some of our county’s natural beauty before it’s all gone.

How Wheeler Is Already Aping Republicans Stewart, Nohe — Initial indications are not good and suggest that Chairman Wheeler is precisely in the mold of Republicans Stewart and Nohe when it comes to the BOCS’ main area of responsibility, land use.  Stewart and Nohe supported the developers’ Bi-County Parkway (BCP) road-to-developer-heaven, which would break open the green Rural Crescent to high-density housing and thousands of new homes.  Wheeler, too, supports the BCP. Stewart and Nohe tried repeatedly to develop the extremely unpopular Devlin Rd. and Kline Farm projects.  Wheeler has to date clearly demonstrated and/or voiced support for these two projects.  Just like Republicans Stewart and Nohe, Wheeler still refuses to specifically support the very popular Rural Crescent from residential developer encroachment and from developer-inspired county plans that encourage this encroachment.  Apparently, Chair Wheeler’s version of “inclusivity,” as it pertains to land use, is already excluding the repeatedly-expressed will of citizens of western and central Prince William County — over half the county.

24 Feb Town Hall on Devlin — Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson’s office is hosting a 24 Feb 7-9 pm town hall meeting at Chris Yung Elementary School 12612 Fog Light Way, off Devlin Rd. in Bristow to discuss the Devlin Road project and its impact on local citizens. Please join us.

Here’s an aerial view/map of the proposed Devlin Rd. development area: 
https://www.princewilliamtimes.com/devlin-road-community-aerial/image_9e50eede-bff3-11e8-9105-132a715e4be1.html

Please contact the BOCS and voice your concern:  BOCS@pwcgov.org   See you on 24 Feb and 10 Mar.

Sincerely,

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
While in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.

URGENT: Stop Stewart’s Sneaky Scheme To Add 516 More Houses on Devlin Road Now, Before Term Ends

[Mass e-mail by Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth]

All: Please note that Prince William Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) Chairman Corey Stewart, who leaves office at the end of December 2019, is making a last-ditch effort to get approval over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays for 516 more houses on Devlin Road. Cynically, he thinks no one will notice or have time over the holidays to stop him, especially since he’s trying at the 19 November BOCS meeting to get the final vote scheduled to come up after midnight on 3 December.

For more info, see: https://thederecho.blogspot.com/2019/11/its-lame-duck-christmas.html

(This proposal resurrects a part of the very unpopular and previously-defeated Brentswood and Stone Haven proposals for Devlin Road. Ironically, Stewart, then Occoquan Supervisor, played a key role in defeating Brentswood, which helped propel him a year later (2007) to election as the BOCS chairman.)

Stewart-ordered advertisement of still-not-BOCS-approved 3 December public hearing.

So, once again, Chairman Stewart is putting the interests of his residential developer cronies — who’ve now given him almost $1.5M (see http://vpap.org) — above the need to reduce school and road overcrowding and keep our taxes low (by avoiding tax-negative residential development.) He clearly has no qualms about disturbing the peace of your Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with his personal need to pay off old political debts. Furthermore, by doing all this, he is yet again showing his enmity and vindictiveness toward the very people who elected him to office to serve the county and the greater public good, but who never saw fit to help him realize his fondest dream of statewide elected office.

Stewart’s two-step plan is to pass a resolution at the 19 November BOCS meeting to hold an evening meeting on 3 December (currently no such meeting is planned) to approve the 516 houses on Devlin. Despite Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson’s, citizens’, and reportedly even county Planning Staff’s objections — unmistakably strong, and growing, public opposition — to his hasty, ill-advised, and desperate last-minute attempt, Stewart has persisted. He has persisted in abusing his authority as BOCS chairman and disrespected the other BOCS members — as well as established county procedure — by already placing the obligatory, advance-notice 3 December public hearing signs on Devlin Road, before the public hearing has even been approved by the full BOCS. (See photo above.)

Please let the BOCS know, before it’s too late, that you oppose this sneaky, cynical, and entirely self-serving effort by lame-duck Chairman Stewart that harms all county citizens, especially those who live in the Brentsville and Gainesville districts. ACTION REQUESTED: Forward this message, or your own message, asking the BOCS to reject on 19 November a special meeting on 3 December regarding Devlin Road that will harm you, the county’s schoolchildren, taxpayers, commuters. Here’s the collective BOCS email address: BOCS@pwcgov.org

Yours truly,

Ralph & Kathy Stephenson
Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.

E-mail exchange between PWCBG co-founders and Gainesville Times reporter Tara Slate-Donaldson

PWCBG co-founders Ralph Stephenson and Bob Pugh

Gainesville Times reporter Tara Slate-Donaldson

7-8 April 2013

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Brentswood and CDAs
Date: Mon, 08 Apr 2013 10:03:30 -0400
From: Bob Pugh [e-mail address withheld]
To: <tdonaldson@timespapers.com>, <droem@timespapers.com>
CC: ‘Ralph Stephenson’ [e-mail address withheld]

 

Tara:

Ralph is absolutely correct in his assessment of the “proffers” and the Community Development Authority (CDA) relating to Brentswood in 2006.  As a senior financial analyst with the Prince William County government from 1998 to 2003, CDAs were one of my primary areas of responsibility.  Giff Hampshire (County Attorney’s Office) and I jointly did all of the staff work on CDAs at that time.  Brookfield Homes would have paid zero of the costs of the improvements to which Ralph referred.  In fact, at a town hall meeting at the time John Stirrup organized Lacey Compton (one of Brookfield’s land use attorneys) acknowledged that fact when asked directly.  All of those expenses would have fallen on taxpayers as special assessments to pay debt service on the CDA bonds.

Moreover, despite that fact that Chairman Stewart and CXO Peacor deny that CDA and IDA debt have no impact on the County’s creditworthiness, I know as a long-time practitioner in the investments profession that they do.  They are not direct obligations of the County but investors consider jurisdictions that approve CDAs, IDAs, and any debt associated with them to have a “moral obligation” to pay the debt if the issuing CDA or IDA defaults.  Board approval is required to create an IDA or CDA, and for each and every debt issuance they do.  Thus, Brookfield Homes would not only have paid none of the funds that it was proffering, it would have piggy-backed on the County’s credit-worthiness and left County taxpayers holding the bag if the CDA had been unable to pay its debt service.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Bob

Bob Pugh, CFA, CFP®
NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor
President, Insight Wealth Management, Inc.
7250 Heritage Village Plaza, Suite 101
Gainesville, Virginia  20155
Office (703) 753-6082
www.insightwealth.com

 

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Re: Inaccuracy in 20-26 Mar GT Article on Stone Haven
Date: Mon, 08 Apr 2013 08:07:52 -0400
From: Ralph Stephenson [e-mail address withheld]
To: Tara Donaldson <tdonaldson@timespapers.com>
CC: droem@timespapers.com

 

Thanks, Tara.  Bottom line is that since no one (neither state nor county) would’ve accepted responsibility for the CDA, Brookfield would’ve walked away scot-free, cost-free, with no new road capacity whatsoever created, but still able to claim credit for something it never did.

At the time, county planning staff saw this for what it was, a phony offer by Brookfield that really just shifted all financial responsibility onto homeowners and taxpayers while at the same time giving Brookfield political cover, allowing it to appear generous.  (And how could anyone in his right mind not accept such a generous offer from Brookfield? : )  I assure you, that when the story is presented that way, those who are uninitiated in the ways of local residential developers will fall for it almost every time.  Please note the following excerpts from the attached county Planning Staff documents:

“The applicant has submitted an application to establish a CDA to fund off-site infrastructure improvements. A staff analysis of the CDA application is contained in Attachment B of the rezoning report under ‘Materially Relevant Issues.’  Regarding the use of a Community Development Authority to obtain construction of I-66/Route 29/Linton Hall interchanges, VDOT representatives have indicated VDOT will not enter into an agreement with the Brentswood Community Development Authority. VDOT suggested an alternative whereby the County would enter into an agreement with VDOT to administer the project. In this alternative, the County would then enter into an agreement with the Brentswood CDA. Staff does not recommend this alternative due to the scale and complexity of the I/66/Route 29/Linton Hall interchange. The County is not positioned to administer a large federally funded interstate highway project.

“Community Development Authority – Denial of the CPA [Comprehensive Plan amendment] would be appropriate because the applicant proposes, with approval of the Board of County Supervisors, to establish a Community Development Authority (CDA) to fund proffered off-site road and recreation facility improvements. If the CDA is not established, the applicant has no obligation to make the proffered improvements. The CDA application is not consistent with the Board’s policy for establishing a CDA.”  Ralph

On 4/7/2013 9:43 PM, Tara Donaldson wrote:

You raise an interesting point. I understand what you’re saying but I want to get an expert opinion on whether my (admittedly extremely simplified) paraphrase was inaccurate or just extremely simplified. I feel it goes without saying that “proffer” always implies that the cost is passed onto the future buyers.

But adding in the CDA thing, you have a point there. I’ve asked the planners to give me a definitive on whether it’s wrong to say that Brookfield “offered to pay” for the road project, taking into account the CDA.

As soon as I get an outside answer on that, I’ll run either a correction or a clarification.

Thank you for being so attentive! I appreciate the food for thought and I’m on it.

Tara

———- Forwarded message ———-
> From: Ralph Stephenson  [e-mail address withheld]
Date: Sun, Apr 7, 2013 at 9:15 PM
Subject: Inaccuracy in 20-26 Mar GT Article on Stone Haven
To: GT_Dan Roem <droem@timespapers.com>, GT_Tara Slate Donaldson
<tdonaldson@timespapers.com>

Tara (info Dan): In your 20-26 March 2013 Gainesville Times front-page article on Stone Haven, there was a very important misstatement of fact. I’m referring to the front-page article titled “Board moves forward with Stone Haven,” the eight and ninth paragraphs, which state: “In 2004, Brookfield Homes proposed a 6,800-home community on the [current Stone Haven] site. In exchange, the developer offered to pay to rebuild the Gainesville Interchange — a $180 million project. It was a huge proposal, but it went nowhere.”

Brookfield Homes did not really offer to pay to rebuild the Gainesville Interchange as part of the Brentswood project. They instead offered to set up a Community Development Authority (CDA) that would have passed the costs of building the $180M in road improvements on to Brentswood residents. The proffers would have been paid through CDA bonds, and the debt service on the CDA bonds would have been paid by a special assessment on (Brentswood) residents, not the applicant. If Brentswood residents could not afford the entire cost, the remaining bill would’ve been passed on to county taxpayers.  The developer (Brookfield) was, in fact, proffering the money of other people — future Brentswood residents and probably county taxpayers as well.

Furthermore, the county advised the Board of County Supervisors that the Brentswood proposal did not meet the requirements for a CDA and that even if it had, the county could not legally accept responsibility for certain aspects of the CDA/road building proposal.

Please search on the term “CDA” in the two attachments — the county’s versions of the actual Brentswood proposal — for more info on the CDA.   Here’s a background article that may be helpful as well:

Experts: Brentswood Proffers, Promises Do Not Withstand Scrutiny; Project Would Impose “Huge Financial Burden” on County

I enjoy reading your newspaper and am sure that you want at least as much as I do for your articles to be as accurate and truthful as is humanly possible, so I respectfully request that you issue a correction advising readers of this rather important error in the article in question.

Thank you for your consideration.

Ralph Stephenson, Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

 

“Letter”: “Board is Wrong To Defer Developers”

by Michael Ragland, The Gainesville Times

15 Sep 2006, p. A4

“I recently learned from the Prince William Conservation.Alliance [that] the Board of County Supervisors, within the two months between May 16 and July 17, approved last-minute requests for deferrals submitted by the applicant for [the] Brentswood proposal, Vulcan Quarry and Davis Ford Middle School.

“The Brentswood proposal, led by Compton and Duling, is for 6,800 homes between Linton Hall Road and the Nissan Pavilion.

“The Vulcan quarry is in the Rural Crescent.

“According to the Prince William Conservation Alliance, these proposals have elicited significant community opposition, recommendations of denial from the Planning Commission, and were deferred by the Board of County Supervisors at the last-minute request of the applicants and without a public vote.

“In addition, proposals for Brentswood and the Davis Ford Road school were deferred after the public hearing was advertised. Brentswood was deferred only hours before the advertised public hearing was scheduled to open and the school proposal was deferred one day before the advertised public hearing.

“As the Prince William Conservation Alliance states, ‘As a result, there has been considerable confusion regarding the public hearing process, citizen participation in development proposals and the transparency of government processes.’

“It’s politics as usual. The typical supervisor is beholden more to developers than to his or her actual constituents. There is no recourse to this unethical behavior of the Board of County Supervisors.

“No matter what development proposals are rejected by the Planning Commission, what proposals are deferred at the last minute without a public hearing, etc., they’ll always find a way to appease the developer.

“With the developmental proposals deferred, the developer gets time to make changes or think through plans so that when he resubmits there is greater chance of the proposal being passed by the Board of County Supervisors.

“In addition, it prevents the Board of County Supervisors from looking as bad to the electorate …”

“Opinion”

by Ralph Stephenson, Gainesville Times

26 May 2006, p. A4

“It is a great relief to learn from Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Sean Connaughton that he was just bluffing about his support for the proposed 6,800-home Brentswood development in Gainesville by Brookfield Homes, from whom he has received campaign contributions.

“He says now that his pro-Brentswood stand was just an elaborate ruse to pressure VDOT and the feds to send more highway dollars our way.

“Luckily, he finally revealed his intentions just before the May 16 public hearing. That allowed the many citizens who were about to testify against Brentswood to go home without being heard, and cleared the way for Brookfield to resubmit its proposal in a few months, rather than be rejected and thus have to wait much longer before petitioning again.

“I congratulate Sean on his clever deception of both political parties and several citizens groups, all of which had banded together in the last two or three weeks before the hearing to make the truth about Brentswood known to thousands of citizens, particularly in Brentsville District.

“We had all assumed that months of shameless shilling by him on Brookfield’s behalf at venue after venue was sincere.

“We welcome Sean to the fight for balanced growth.

“Ralph Stephenson, PW Citizens for Balanced Growth”

“Brentswood Plan Hearing Delayed; Changes in Works”

 by Rose Murphy, Bull Run Observer

19 May 2006, p 1

“Brookfield Washington, LLC, the applicant, postponed a public hearing at Prince William Board of County Supervisors May 16 on the Brentswood development of 6800 homes around Nissan Pavilion.

“At the end of the board’s afternoon session, Sean Connaughton, chairman and at-large member, told the audience that Brookfield wanted to make a number of changes to its plans and had pulled the proposal from the evening’s agenda. Since the changes will be significant, the matter will have to return to the planning commission for a hearing before coming back for a board of supervisors’ public hearing, Connaughton explained.

“Connaughton told his audience, ‘It could be several months before (the Brentswood project) comes back to the board of supervisors.’

“Prince William County’s Democratic Committee at its April 27 meeting passed a resolution asking the board of supervisors to turn down the Brentswood proposal.  [Note: A similar resolution was passed by the Prince William County Republican Committee on April 1.]

“At back-to-back press conferences May 12 in Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department, both theDemocrats and the Republicans pointed out what they perceive to be significant problems with the Brentswood applications.

“At a public hearing April 12, the county’s planning commission voted against the Brookfield plan for homes, retail and office space, a commuter rail station, and two new interchanges on Linton Hall Road.

“Brookfield wants to change the land use from industrial and employment center to business and residential uses. It also wants a re-zoning of the acreage and special use permits (SUP) for Brentswsood Village Center and Prince William Station at Brentswood, two town centers.  The applicant wants an amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan to change the area’s Thoroughfare Plan and the long-range land use plan.

“The Thoroughfare Plan includes two roads planned on the site.  One is University Boulevard, or the East-West connector, which goes through the property south and west of Nissan Pavilion and connects with the University Boulevard ramp over I-66 and up to Rt. 29. The second road is an extension of realigned Glenkirk Road (Rollins Ford Road). Rollins Ford Road would join the East/West connector with a T-intersection south of Nissan Pavilion.

“The applicant seeks to realign University Boulevard from Devlin Road to join with Wellington Road, and to realign Rollins Ford Road westward to connect with the University Boulevard ramp over I-66 and to replace its planned realignment with Brentswood Parkway.

“Plans also call for extending what is planned as Rollins Ford Road to I-66, including an interchange.  Brookfield also wants to realign Wellington Road northward to become New Wellington Road.

“Changes to the long-range land use plan include dropping 606.3 acres of flexible use employment center to 34 acres, removing 376.3 acres of industrial employment, making 278 acres of regional employment center, and changing the environmental resource area from 184.1 acres to 116.5 acres.

“The rezoning proposal would remove 999.2 acres of agncultural land, 9.7 acres of light industrial property, 448.7 acres of heavy industrial land, and 42.3 acres of industrial land from the county.  It would be replaced by 34 acres of planned mixed use district, 1146.1 acres of planned mixed residential.

“The county’s planning department recommended the planning commission deny the applications at the April meeting because of the demand for high-tech flex-type office space which would be cut and the fact the applicant proposes five times the maximum number of homes intended in the comprehensive plan.  Planning staff also said there is a more than adequate supply of retail uses planned elsewhere in the county.

“Brentswood Village Center would be a 43-acre town center with up to 500,000 square feet of non-residential development and up to 312 homes. Prince William Station at Brentswood would be a 52-acre town center with up to 1.45 million square feet of non-residential development and up to 275 homes.

“Brookfield also wants to set up a Community Development Authority (CDA) to fund off-site infrastructure improvements.”

 

Three-part county planning staff report on original Brentswood proposal (2005-06)

PWC Planning Staff Report on original Brentswood Land Use Proposal:   Part 1      Part 2      Part 3


 

Note the following excerpts from the three-part county Planning Staff documents above:

“The applicant has submitted an application to establish a CDA to fund off-site infrastructure improvements. A staff analysis of the CDA application is contained in Attachment B of the rezoning report under ‘Materially Relevant Issues.’  Regarding the use of a Community Development Authority to obtain construction of I-66/Route 29/Linton Hall interchanges, VDOT representatives have indicated VDOT will not enter into an agreement with the Brentswood Community Development Authority. VDOT suggested an alternative whereby the County would enter into an agreement with VDOT to administer the project. In this alternative, the County would then enter into an agreement with the Brentswood CDA. Staff does not recommend this alternative due to the scale and complexity of the I/66/Route 29/Linton Hall interchange. The County is not positioned to administer a large federally funded interstate highway project.”

“Community Development Authority — Denial of the CPA [Comprehensive Plan ameendment] would be appropriate because the applicant proposes, with approval of the Board of County Supervisors, to establish a Community Development Authority (CDA) to fund proffered off-site road and recreation facility improvements. If the CDA is not established, the applicant has no obligation to make the proffered improvements. The CDA application is not consistent with the Board’s policy for establishing a CDA.”

Organizations Opposed to Brentswood

County Planning Commission: Planning Staff Report Recommending Denial of Brentswood 10 May 2006

Planning Staff Report on Brentswood Proposal part 1

County Democratic Party Committee Resolution Opposing Brentswood adopted by the 27 April 2006 “Prince William County Democratic Committee (PWCDC) General Membership meeting”

Resolution of the Prince William County Democratic Committee

County Republican Party Committee Resolution Opposing Brentswood adopted by the 1 April 2006 county Republican Party convention

Prince William County Republican Committee Resolution

PWCBG Flier Opposing Brentswood distributed April-May 2006 to Brentsville & Gainesville Residents

PWCBG Anti-Brentswood Flier


Facts About the Proposed Brentswood Development (from PWCBG flier noted immediately above)
1. INCREASED TRAFFIC CONGESTION – Brentswood includes 5,000-6,800 mostly high-density homes and 876,000 square feet of retail space.  This is four times the maximum number of dwellings currently intended in the County’s Comprehensive Plan — any number over approximately 1,400 units is excessive, and would add to the County’s existing 30 to 50 year supply of housing opportunities on undeveloped land.  It will bring 20-30,000 more people and will put at least 15,000 more cars on Devlin and Linton Hall roads, Lee Highway, Rt. 28 and I-66 — roads that already back up for miles during rush hour.

Brookfield Homes, the developer, claims it will offset traffic impacts by accelerating completion of road projects such as the I-66/Rt. 29 interchange.  According to Brentsville Supervisor Wally Covington, “the only reason we’re looking at this proposal now is that it offered the transportation improvements.”  (Washington Post April 2, 2006)  However, Gainesville Supervisor John Stirrup says that given the need to acquire nearly 100 businesses, identify and relocate utilities, and comply with Federal environmental requirements, Brookfield will be unable to commence construction of the projects any sooner than could the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

Moreover, the proffers include no timetable for starting any of the road projects outside Brentswood.

2. BROOKFIELD PROFFERS PAID WITH $170 MILLION OF TAXPAYERS’ MONEY – If a financial offer sounds too good to be true, it inevitably is.  Brookfield’s offer of millions of dollars in proffers to Prince William taxpayers is no exception.  According to the proffers, Brookfield will receive reimbursement for most of the cost of the off-site transportation improvements from already appropriated Federal and state funds.  Furthermore, the proposed off-site transportation improvements depend on Prince William County (PWC) approval of a Community Development Authority (CDA) to issue bonds to finance those improvements.  The bonds would be repaid through special assessments on residents and the reimbursement from VDOT.  However, the PWC government has stated that the Brentswood CDA application is not consistent with County policy.  If the CDA is not established, Brookfield has no obligation to make any off-site road improvements.

3. CROWDED SCHOOLS WITH CONSTANTLY CHANGING BOUNDARIES – Over the past decade, uncontrolled growth has required the construction of numerous schools, causing our children to be shuffled frequently from school to school.  This project would add children from 5,000 to 6,800 new residences to already overcrowded schools.  Brookfield has offered to address this problem by donating two vacant lots for elementary schools and one for a high school, for which it would receive a credit against the monetary proffers it would otherwise owe.

4. HUGE UNFUNDED TAX LIABILITIES ON PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY CITIZENS – Based on Prince William County’s proposed FY2007 fiscal plan and tax rate, the resulting annual shortfall in real estate tax revenue for 6,800 units (subsidy required to maintain current levels of service) would be $18,800,000, which would increase with inflation over time.  The likely result to Prince William County citizens will be a combination of reduced services (schools, police, fire, transportation, etc.) and higher tax bills to subsidize new development.  The long-run value of the Brentswood subsidy from Prince William County citizens is $2.5 billion.

5. WORSENING OF THE ALREADY WEAK RATIO OF COMMERCIAL TO RESIDENTIAL LAND IN PWC’S TAX BASE — Communities maintain high levels of public services and hold the line on taxes for citizens by pursuing economic development that produces a balanced mix of commercial and residential development.  Our county’s ratio has been deteriorating and Brentswood would accelerate that negative trend.  Approval of the rezoning would cause Prince William County to forfeit the potential to create large numbers of high-paying jobs on approximately 671 acres of prime commercial/industrial land.  Moreover, the commercial development Brookfield proposes is unlikely to materialize.  The independent analysts hired by the County conclude that Brookfield has planned more offices and stores than the market can support and this could cause Brookfield to come back later with a request to change the plan to add even more houses, as other developers have done in the past.

“Supervisors Urged To Reject Brentswood”, Letter to Editor

by Ralph & Kathy Stephenson, Potomac News

4 May 2006

“When a financial offer sounds too good to be true, it inevitably is.  Brookfield Homes’ proposed Brentswood Development along Devlin and Wellington near Gainesville is no exception.

“The apparently good things about it are illusory and could easily be changed, reduced, withdrawn or denied in the future after the project began. For example: 1) County transportation division representatives point out that most likely no new road building can be done around Brentswood before VDOT begins it, which contradicts a key Brentswood selling point; 2) Brookfield’s supposedly generous road proffers will be mostly or wholly paid for by VDOT, i.e. taxpayers.

“On the other hand, the bad things about Brentswood are certain, and — if the rezoning is approved on 16 May — we’ll be permanently stuck with them: more traffic congestion than ever from 20-30,000 more people (from 6,800 mostly high-density homes and commercial properties); unfunded tax liabilities (from a significantly worsened residential-to-commercial tax base); etc.

“Last year Chairman Connaughton reported $863,000 in campaign contributions from Brookfield and other big developers, at least some of whom may well participate in Brentswood.

“Receiving money from any contractor over whom you have decision-making authority is illegal for federal employees.

“We urge the chairman and any other county supervisors who have received Brentswood-linked money to take the high road and recuse themselves from consideration of this case, thus avoiding the appearance of a serious conflict of interest.

“We urge the Board of Supervisors as a whole to follow the advice of the county Planning Commission and Republican Party, and reject Brentswood.”

“Costs, Amenities, Proffers of Brentswood Analyzed at Gainesville Town Meeting”

by Rose Murphy, Bull Run Observer

21 April 2006, p 7

“John Stirrup told an audience of about 90 people who attended his town hall meeting March 30 in J.W. Alvey Elementary School that the Brentswood project ‘is not a done deal.’

“Stirrup, who represents Gainesville District on Prince William Board of County Supervisors, said the proposal still had to go to the county’s planning commission and then come up for a vote May 16 before supervisors. The planning commission recommended denial of the plan at its April 12 meeting.

“Brookfield.Washington, LLC, wants to build 6800 homes, 2.788 million square feet of non-retail commercial space, and 8.75 thousand square feet of non-retail space on 1500 acres of land surrounding Nissan Pavilion. The plan also includes a VRE rail station, two town centers, and a sports complex.

“Ray Utz, chief of the long-range planning division of the county, explained that supervisors decided at a March 15 meeting to have the planning staff study the Brentswood plan.  ‘The board, asked that the number of residential units be reduced, that traffic impacts be mitigated, that rail improvements be integrated, that employment opportunities be expanded, and that a balance of retail and residential uses be included,’ Utz noted.

“He said the land intended for flexible employment would be reduced from 606 to 34 acres. ‘We would lose 949 acres of industrial and employment, but add 278 acres of residential employment center, a net loss of 671 acres of non-residential,’ he added.  He said the county would lose agricultural land, industrial land, and some light industrial land but pick up mixed use and residential land.

“A VRE station with 350 parking spaces would be included in the northern section of the project. The planner explained a time frame for the station is not included in the proposal.  The applicant also proffers two elementary school sites and a high school site, Utz said.

“Utz said off-site road construction would include widening of I-66 from Prince William Parkway to Catharpin Road, building the Rt. 29/Linton Hall Road interchange, building the interchange at I-66 and Prince William Parkway and constructing Rollins Ford Road from land bay E in the project to Wellington Road.

“The Brentswood project also includes a 100-acre park with a lake and active recreation facilities, picnic facilities, another seven-acre park next to an elementary school and a 4000 to 5000-seat sports complex.

“Utz noted the plan does not include a time frame for construction of the non-residential uses and the town centers.  ‘There’s no commitment to build office buildings concurrent with the houses,’ he explained.

“The planner also said there are concerns that the off-site improvements can be done faster by the applicant than by Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).  ‘Can they (the applicant) do it faster?  They don’t say so,’ Utz observed.

“Dave Beavers of Prince William County School District told the audience Brentswood would add 1390 elementary students, 657 middle school pupils, and 626 high school students to the district.

“Bob Pugh, a certified financial analyst, said Brentswood ‘would impose a huge financial burden on the citizens,’ and that the cost of the proffers would be passed onto Brentswood residents through a proposed Community Development Authority (CDA).  Pugh said the county has a population of 364,211, or 2.94 persons per household.  He said it takes $2874 per person to provide services to citizens.

“‘How much per person do we need in real estate tax to keep current on the level of services?  Six thousand, nine hundred and forty two dollars. At a tax rate of $0.767 per $100 (of assessed value) a home must have an assessed value of $905,062 to pay its own way. But Brookfield says $545,000 is the average price of its homes,’ Pugh contended. He added the tax shortfall for 6800 units would be ‘$18.8 million at buildout …an annual amount from the county to keep current services.’

“Pugh asserted the ‘long-term cost to citizens of the Brentswood subsidy is $2.5 billion perpetually.’  Another option would be to reduce services, he added. The financial planner explained, ‘The applicant offers about $125 million for transportation and parks improvements and a contribution to VRE. The proffers will be paid through CDA bonds, and the debt service on the CDA bonds will be paid by a special assessment on (Brentswood) residents, not the applicant. The developer is proffering other peoples’ money.’

“The main advantage of a CDA is that ‘it allows private groups to issue bonds with the taxes deferred,’ Pugh remarked. He said the Brentswood proposal also does not meet the requirements for a CDA.

“He noted ‘residential development rarely pays for itself,’ and that to hold the line on taxes the county should seek economic development that produces a balanced mix of residential and commercial in the real estate tax base.

“Environmental quality would be hurt, and Brentswood would ‘be a huge financial burden for the county,’ Pugh explained.  ‘We want balanced growth.’

“Stirrup, who said he is against the project, explained in response to a question that each single family home in the county generates an estimated ten vehicle trips per day. ‘It’s lower in age-restricted areas and for townhouses and multi-family units,’ he added.

“The audience listened attentively to the presentations, but very few questions were asked.”

 

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