The Choice for Haymarket

Judge Dillon established a rule that towns, cities, and counties lacked authority to act, unless that authority was clearly granted by the state legislature.  (In his experience, the state legislature was less corrupt that local governments.) 

That’s why local Virginia politicians blame Richmond and the constraints of the Dillon Rule – “hey, I’d solve the problem locally, but we can’t do anything…” 

For transportation in particular, blame allocation includes “the state gets the money for roads, so blame VDOT.  Blame the Commonwealth Transportation Board.  Blame the General Assembly.  Blame anyone but your local official.”

Don’t believe it.

Local officials have clear authority for planning where they want new roads and transit.   The Comprehensive Plan is supposed to shape where development/redevelopment will occur. 

Since funding is so limited now, local oficials have more-than-average influence to shape new transportation projects.  State and Federal agencies will pay attention to local objections to “bad” projects before allocating scarce transportation $$$. 

Prince William County can use the new Transportation/Land Use chapters in the update to the Comp Plan to define where it wants new growth to occur.   

If county officials want new development to be located in Haymarket, then the new Comp Plan chapters should propose new roads, Bus Rapid Transit facilities, and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) stations there. 

New transportation capacity funded by taxes will encourage the private sector to build new housing, retail… maybe even offices nearby.   There’s enough undeveloped acreage near Haymarket to meet the requirements for a “center,” “mixed use designation area,” or whatever terminology the Planning Commission decides to adopt in the update to the Land Use Chapter. 

However, if Haymarket officials disagree with county plans, then the Haymarket Town Council and the Haymarket Planning Commission have the authority to articulate their preferences for local land use. 

Haymarket has no veto power over Prince William decisions – county officials can ignore town officials.  However, Haymarket has officials who understand the link between land use and transportation planning, and a great opportunity to shape development on its border.  

Now is the time for town officials to communicate official opinions, before the Prince William Board of County Supervisors considers the Comp Plan updates of the Planning Commission and before the state adopts its next long-range plan for transportation, VTRANS 2035.

Haymarket has clout.  Maybe the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board or Federal Transit Administration will steer funding to a transportation project where there is official opposition – but when so many other “good” projects are starved for money, little Haymarket might shape its future.

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1 comment so far

  1. Mom on

    Then I would strongly suggest you attend their next council meeting and advise them of their opportunities, maybe that will help overcome the inertia of an object at rest.


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