The Board of County Supervisors postponed the original May 12, 2015 date for considering the Blackburn rezoning at the Route 234/I-66 interchange (the interchange with Koons Honda, not the bypass…).
It’s back on the agenda, this time for
September 29 November 17 (yeah, stretched out past the election). The supervisors have another opportunity to reject this bad project.
The Planning Department still recommends denial. As noted in the staff report, the Blackburn proposal still has the same problems – massive amount of residential development, minimal offsetting benefits from commercial development. More congestion on local roads, more-crowded school classrooms, higher taxes to subsidize services to residential development – hey, what’s not to like about this turkey?
Prince William needs to attract jobs to Prince William; that’s why Regional Employment Center makes sense at the I-66 interchange. That land has some of the best potential for commercial development that provides local jobs, assuming the county implemented an economic development strategy other than “ugh, can we build more houses?”
A vote in favor of Blackburn would be a vote in favor of a windfall profit for the landowner selling the parcel. A vote in favor of Blackburn would stick it to local taxpayers, giving them indigestion in the wallet, in the classroom, and in the car for many generations to come. Sure, the next election is 4 years from now – but why would any elected supervisor think residential-heavy development was suitable for that location?
VRE Community Meeting!
Update: at the meeting, VRE displayed but did not highlight its exhibit on the number of trains per day. The exhibit was used to create the inaccurate impression that a Haymarket extension would somehow increase the number of trains using the Manassas Line. If anything, spending money to build new track would reduce the capital funding available to buy new trains.
Tonight… Tuesday, Nov. 10, 6-8 p.m. at Gainesville Middle School, 8001 Limestone Drive.
Bottom Line: VRE appears to be seeking public support for an extension to Gainesville/Haymarket. It’s a bait-and-switch sales pitch – make people think an extension to Haymarket will increase the number of trains per day.
If anything, spending capital funding on new track instead of buying new trainsets would reduce the potential for increasing the number of VRE trains running daily on Manassas Line.
A legitimate alternatives analysis should include:
- not building any extension of track, and instead investing in new trainset.
- not building any station at Haymarket that will induce additional demand from Culpeper, Fauquier, Warren, and Page counties.
- not building a large parking capacity at any new station, but instead building multiple park-and-shuttle lots nearer to subdivisions so commuters in single occupancy vehicles won’t clog local highways at rush hour.
VRE should consider the alternative of building a new spur track into Innovation Town Center or north of current line, where Vulcan quarry is reaching end of its life and will be converted into water storage bank soon. A new end-of-line station at Innovation/Vulcan quarry could incentivize a high-density town center, and increase TOD potential there!
Prince William County has the opportunity to serve as a 21st century role model for smart transit growth, but the current VDOT plan demonstrates we have a long way to go!
Guest Post by Melanie Kaminski
Thank you for the opportunity to share our concerns over the 145 foot, plus 20 extra feet anytime they want it, fake mono-pine that will tower 100 feet plus above the natural tree line at 5513 Catharpin Road, in the Rural Crescent.
Community Wireless Services (CWS) has a 10-year old lease with the landowner and has decided we have poor coverage in the immediate area. Our neighborhood, Oak Valley, is where the majority of those in this so called gap live. We went door to door and a majority of homeowners signed a petition that they did not want the cell tower.
We have service provider maps and our own field testing shows there is good to excellent cell phone coverage. It may not be 5 bars everywhere, but it is fine for us! We chose to live here because of the rural nature of this area and a commitment of the county to preserve this as stated in their comprehensive plan.
The County even has a Telecommunications Chapter in the Comprehensive Plan, which this application by CWS does not line up with! This site is the least favorable, according to that plan due to its agriculture and rural designation. CWS has asked for three waivers for improper set-backs of the tower. It sits in a valley which makes it a poor choice. Read more…
If we zone parcels for offices, recruit businesses to those locations, then Prince William residents can get to jobs without commuting through traffic jams in Fairfax County. 50% of Prince William’s workers drive to jobs outside the county, and 100% of commuters grumble about traffic.
New jobs reduce the residential property tax burden too. In job-rich Arlington County, residents pay only 50% of the property taxes. In Prince William County, residents pay over 80% of property taxes because so little commercial development has occurred here.
So you’d think the Prince William supervisors would be focused on getting commercial development at the I-66/Route 234 interchange. It’s the closest one to Fairfax County, and the place with the highest potential to create a reverse commute. That’s why the area is planned as Regional Employment Center (REC).
So why are the county supervisors planning to rezone the Blackburn property there to build 415 houses and require almost no commercial development? That rezoning would sacrifice a great opportunity to create local jobs and local tax revenue.
The idea of building houses there – well, it stinks. If you want to reduce the burden of taxes on homeowners, if you want to generate more revenue to fund schools and other service, if you want to minimize the commuting nightmare by creating local jobs – you would not use one of the most attractive parcels for economic development at the I-66 interchange for residential development.
Conservation is the wise use of natural resources. Rezoning Blackburn for residential use would qualify as a waste, not as a wise use of land.
The headline is “Bi-County Parkway project is dead.” Maybe, but it’s only in stasis right now. There was a press conference held today at Sudley United Methodist Church to announce that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is no longer pursuing completion of the project – but hey, it was April 1…
Public opposition to the road became clear quickly. State officials took the lead in stopping the road, overcoming support from local supervisors, Loudoun County developers, the National Park Service, and officials at Dulles Airport who speculated that the highway would increase the value of airport land on Route 50 before that property is developed.
VDOT went so far as to run an advertising campaign to build support for the road with messages placed on top of local gas pumps, but that use of public funds backfired. Del. Bob Marshall noted at the press conference that the best way to ensure the project was not restarted was for local officials to remove the Bi-County Parkway from the county’s Comprehensive Plan. Otherwise, like vampires and zombies, the road could be revived later and the approval/funding process re-started.
Pete Candland is expected to propose a Comprehensive Plan Amendment next Tuesday to remove the Bi-County Parkway from the County’s Plan. (You won’t find Bi-County Parkway in The Transportation Chapter of the county’s comprehensive plan refers to the Bi-County Parkway as the Route 234 Bypass – North, PA-13 on page 25.) If a majority of the Board of County Supervisors act to delete the road, then re-starting the project becomes much much harder and the “Bi-County Parkway project is dead” claim is more realistic.
One other stake could be driven through the vampire’s heart. If Prince William County started a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program like Fauquier County, then properties along the route of the proposed Bi-County Parkway could be protected in perpetuity as farmland through conservation easements.
Thanks to hard working volunteers, we’re looking forward to a spring that is bursting with blooms at Merrimac Farm! Join us on 3/14 and more to help keep up the good work … the schedule is online at http://www.pwconserve.org/events/
VDOT held a public meeting last night in Manassas Park to discuss Phase 1 of the Route 28 Corridor Safety and Operations Study, with 100 or so projects that could be implemented without buying land or relocating utilities. These are the quick “band aids” that could be built within 18 months after funding is available. Longer-term fixes, such as widening the 4-lane bridge over Bull Run, won’t be considered until 2016.
Why so long? In 2013, the General Assembly raised taxes and provided substantial new funding for transportation in HB2013 – but in 2014, a new law (HB2) required adoption of new state rules to prioritize large transportation projects. That law was triggered in part by plans to build the Bi-County Parkway, rather than fix Route 28 or I-66.
Two take-aways from last night’s discussion:
1) VDOT will not start to plan for possible transit solutions to reduce congestion on Route 28 until 2016
2) If the Prince William Board of County Supervisors chooses to rezone Cayden Ridge to add 188 more houses, the voters are paying attention to the traffic impacts