Opinion, Letter to the Editor

OPINION: Stanley Martin Misleads Residents with Bias Survey on Devlin Tech Park

It is not only the images used but the survey's leading questions


Stanley Martin has been widely criticized for its Devlin Park Tech flyer sent to Bristow neighbors last week. It has been widely publicized that the flyer featured a photo that one would naturally assume depicts a data center campus, but is actually an unauthorized photo of a university campus. 

Stanley Martin mailer directing residents to fill out a survey regarding the proposed Devlin Technology Park.
Stanley Martin mailer directing residents to fill out a survey regarding the proposed Devlin Technology Park.
But residents are further concerned that the survey's language is intended to encourage neighbors to support the Devlin Technology Park. To do so, Stanley Martin even disparages the housing development it proposed several years ago, recycling language residents once used to argue against the residential development. That development is not actually "high density" in that has proposed single-family homes, albeit situated closely near one another. 

Gainesville residents and rural crescent advocate Bill Wright feels that is misleading, and sent this letter to Bristow Beat for publication, to make residents aware of the rhetoric Stanley Martin is employing. 

Stanley Martin Team,

My neighbors in Bristow have related to me how they have been deluged with phone calls, text messages and flyers from Stanley Martin asking them to take a survey about the proposed Devlin Technology Park. They expressed concern over your misleading information and deceptive tactics.  I can see what they mean.

For example, your flyer’s statement: “There is still an opportunity to impact the design of the final project” creates the false impression that this project is already approved and neighborhood residents are just helping to select the window treatments. 

The truth is that this project has had public hearings deferred because of the passionate community opposition to it.  Your flyer should have read: “There is still an opportunity to advise your elected representatives if you don’t want a 270-acre industrial development adjacent to your homes and schools”.

Your first survey question, “Would you prefer either high-density housing or a technology campus”?) suggests Stanley Martin is empowered to deliver an ultimatum of limited choices to area residents. 

Is Stanley Martin now running Prince William County? Don’t you have to submit an application for a proposed development which is then reviewed by county staff and elected representatives? Shouldn’t those elected representatives support a project that is in the best interest of its constituents?

Your second survey question exposes Stanley Martin’s preference for data centers. 

I thought Stanley Martin was in the housing business.

Your third question only offers Stanley Martin’s choices of acceptable mitigation measures for data center development. 

Again, a limited menu.  Why is there no choice for “Don’t build any technology campus”?

As I recall, Stanley Martin already got some rather strong negative feedback when it hosted three community outreach meetings in January. Do you think the public attitude has changed since then, or are you just determined to keep pushing for what you want until you get your way?  I can’t imagine you selling very many houses like this.

If Stanley Martin is even thinking about trying to slip this proposal through during the “lame duck” period between Election Day and the end of the year – DON’T.  You are being forewarned. 

A recent Inside NOVA editorial (on the timing of the Prince William Digital Gateway vote) perfectly captured public sentiment about such underhanded tactics.  Is Stanley Martin looking to poison the well for its future business prospects?  If so, that’s one sure way to start burning your bridges in Prince William County. 

I suggest Stanley Martin stick to its core business and build housing that satisfies valid local needs.  Do that and you will be viewed as a valuable community partner.  Go down the road you’re pursuing to squeeze some extra profit out of an unwelcome project that antagonizes your customers and you will soon be a community pariah. That’s a heck of a business model. 

Devlin Tech Park, Devlin Technology Park, Stanley Martin, data centers, Bristow, Prince William County, Devlin Road, mailer, survey, flyer, Bill Wright, Bristow data centers, opinion