Prince William Supervisors Advance Comp Plan Option to Develop Rural Crescent Property

| December 6, 2019 | 0 Comments | News

Map shows location of Mid-County Estates as per Mid-County Estates written narrative (midcopw.net.)

Prince William County Board of County Supervisors voted to initiate the process to amend the comprehensive plan to allow for higher residential density development on one property within the Coles District. It is controversial because that property is located within the county’s Rural Crescent.

The resolution, proposed by outgoing Chairman Corey Stewart (R), was approved 5-3, wherein four of the five votes came from non-returning board members. It would allow staff to investigate the option.

Re-designation & Development

“Mid-County Parks & Estate” would be a single-family development designated Semi-Rural Residential and Parks & Open Space. The amendment is similar to the one proposed by the Rural Preservation Study that recommended a Semi-Rural Transitional area to utilize existing sewer lines.

The property is located west of Classic Springs Drive and Honeysuckle Road, and northwest of Counselor Road in Manassas, Prince William. Much of it is designated Agricultural Estates, which limits development to a minimum one home per every 10 acres. The amendment could permit 108 homes to be built on 326 acres via one acre lots. Homes would be located on 40% of the property. The other 195 acres would be protected as Nature Open Space & Stream Valley. On average, it is one home per three acres.

The property is located near an area that allows development at a density of one home per 2.6 acres. The resolution leaves the door open for the new board to make changes requested by the applicant.

There already was an avenue for the applicant to get the desired development but it was contingent upon the passage of the Rural Preservation Study recommendations. Now, the board has decoupled the two.

 Supervisors Opinions

Opposed was re-elected supervisors Jeanine Lawson (R-Brentsville) and Pete Candland (R-Gainesville) both of whom have large swaths of their district within the Rural Crescent. Frank Principi (D-Woodbridge) also opposed the resolution.

But, nothing is set in stone. Outgoing Coles Supervisor Marty Nohe accused the public of reading too much into the amendment. He said they are not voting to open up the Rural Crescent, not voting to change the comprehensive plan, nor to approve the development. They are just allowing for this to be considered in the future. The applicant would still have to go before the planning commission and the new board for approval.

Occoquan Supervisor Ruth Anderson (R) and Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan (R) agreed. Caddigan said she has always supported the Rural Crescent, but it is time to let the new supervisors make the decisions.

Lawson said everyone knows the real reason the proposal was now coming to the board: “Because (the landowner) Mr. Granville-Smith lobbies the board very hard and certain members in particular.” That is one this one property is being singled out.

She said she will be encouraging newly-elected Coles Supervisor Yeslie Vega (R) not to support this as soon as Vega returns from vacation.

Candland said it is “interesting” that the study was not too long ago, “sacred” to the same people are now so dismissive of it.

Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry (D) said perhaps it is possible for the new board to consider the Rural Preservation Study first before this comp plan amendment.

Landowners Influencing Policy

At her October press conference, Lawson called out Granville-Smith for trying to change land-use in the Rural Crescent for nearly a decade. Through her election she stood with those who wanted to keep land designation as is.

Citizens in-the-know, such as Bob Weir of Haymarket, suspected the study’s recommendations catered to certainly land-owners even though staff denied it.

And at a Planning Commission hearing on the Rural Preservation Study several citizens alleged there was a quid pro quo between some supervisors and Mark Granville-Smith. They said Granville-Smith wanted more land rights and in turn would provide trails.

Lawson often said that the real problem for Rural Crescent would be allowing sewer hookups because developers follow the sewer lines. If that is true, then the one comprehensive plan amendment could have larger implications down the line.

However, there are differing opinions on whether or not the comprehensive plan could protect other Rural Crescent areas should this come to pass, or even if clustering homes is a better way to protect and preserve rural land in the county.

© 2019, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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