Years of planning; days of public notice: who protects property rights in Prince William?

The Wiita tract Master Plan meeting this week revealed the fatal flaw in the planning process for parks in Prince William: the key decisions are made in secret.

The Prince William County Park Authority made clear at the Master Plan input session on Tuesday night for the Wiita parcel that they’re going to build soccer fields there.  The only choice in the Master Plan process was deciding how many fields to build; no alternatives were going to be considered now.

The Park Authority and the Virginia Soccer Association revealed that the Wiita tract had been planned for a soccer complex for years, perhaps even before the county negotiated in 2005 and accepted in early 2006 the proffer for the Wellington Glen development.  Though there’s no mention in the proffer about soccer fields, the county agency has claimed “This parcel has been proffered to the county for the primary purpose of developing a soccer complex.”

The revelation of the soccer complex plans stunned the adjacent property owners.  The Park Authority’s Strategic Plan, the Park Authority’s own Comprehensive Plan, and publicly-available site plans had provided no information about the Wiita tract.  There was no way for the neighbors to know what was coming.  All the planning was done by the county Park Authority behind closed doors.

One neighbor said she’d been scanning the web for months for information… and the first she knew of these plans was a notice she received by mail over the weekend.   These property owners bought land in the Rural Crescent, on the opposite side of Broad Run from the Development Area (and what became Wellington Glen) for a reason.

Now they’re discovering that for years, the county has been planning to build next door to their property “public facilities” that are suitable for the Development Area: a soccer complex costing $2.5-$3.5 million, with a Wal*Mart-equivalent parking lot.  After years of county planning, the neighbors got 2-3 days warning.

They learned on Tuesday that the county is planning to build up to 7 soccer fields, a soccer stadium, parking lots for 60 cars/field, plus bright lights on poles 50 feet high at Wiita.  Neighbors should expect activity comparable to Long Park, where 1,000 people at a time crowd the site.  No fences are planned to keep people from trespassing onto the adjacent private property.

Construction could start this Fall.  The hillsides need to be cut down and the land made flat, so fill dirt could arrive any day now.  Oh yes – all traffic will enter/exit on two-lane Glenkirk Road, until someday there’s funding to build Rollins Ford Road.

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11 comments so far

  1. Marian Hamamo on

    Thanks Charlie for publishing the rest of the details of this blatant disregard for peoples rights and the real public planning process.

    I am getting sick and tired of being lied to by the Park Authority about the Master Planning Process. It is a joke. They decide what they are going to do behind closed doors and then ram it down peoples throats.

    I sure hope the Planning Commission will put a stop to it.

    We don’t need any more Soccer Fields in the Rural Crescent. Put them where the users are in the high density developments.

  2. Mom on

    Ms. Hamamo:

    With all due respect, good luck with that. At present, the Planning Commission’s decision is little more than a box to be filled in prior to consideration by the BOCS. Should the PC decide at the public facilities review that the use is not compatible, the Planning Office will draft a report in opposition, reccomend approval and, after some hand-wringing and some token votes in opposition, the BOCS will ultimately approve it. Just another day in PWC.

    • Marian Hamamo on

      Yes that does seem to be the history of things. But who knows, maybe we will get lucky this time.

  3. Mom on

    Luck has precious little to do with it. If you are serious in wanting to fight this it will take a lot of time, organization and effort (and likely will engender a fair amount of ill will). The only way to effectively fight the Park Authority and BOCS (and its no guarantee) is through numbers. You will have to organize a significant number of people who are not only willing to support your position but also actually show up and speak at the hearings. Bear in mind that given the number the soccer people will whip up, it likely will be a long meeting, a lengthy meeting your supporters will have to willing to endure. Letters to the various media outlets, a comprehensive review of the rezoning application and a detailed review of the tape of the meeting at which it was approved aren’t merely helpful but likely mandatory. You have to foist the BOCS on their own Pitard. If I were to suggest a starting point, look at the hearings for the Brentswood rezoning, that is where the real debate and promises with regard to the “Connaughton Soccer Complex” were made. I suspect a little “transference” by the Park Authority from one application to this.

  4. Marian Hamamo on

    I would be very much interested in tapping into your expertise to stop this. Could you please email me directly at hamamomr22@yahoo.com.
    thanks,

  5. county resident on

    It’s pretty easy to win when you keep your opponent in the dark! I really expected that Prince William Parks would play by the rules. The decent thing to do would be inform neighboring land owners by certified mail well in advance of any possible planning that would effect them. Then, work together and make it a possitive thing. Most residents are busy working and raising their children, not searching county websites daily to keep abreast of county calendars. Just another day in Prince William County!

  6. soccer parents on

    Why aren’t the existing soccer fields in Braemar Park and local area schools being used at night? Wouldn’t it be beneficial to add lights to those fields before investing in new sites? We could extend usage on already existing fields and keep our kids close to home.

  7. M, Schaal on

    I have been making phone calls and doing research. We do need to organize to slow this down. Please contact me to coordinate our efforts. I live 50 ft from the proposed site. Gymom3x@msn.com

  8. LakeGirl on

    I placed a notice of the meeting and a link to this blog on the Meadows at Morris Farm Facebook site. I will strongly encourage my neighbors to get educated and get involved in this issue.
    It affects us most with the issue of traffic when Rollins Ford is used as a through-way to the fields. Especially if the county doesn’t pony up and finish Rollins Ford as a 4 lane road, like they were supposed to…and installing a stoplight at Rollings Ford and Linton Hall. I want to see money put into the supporting area BEFORE any thoughts of putting in fields.
    The Installation of lighting and use of elementary and middle schools is a practical and workable idea. I wonder why that was not an option?

  9. LakeGirl on

    Is there an update from the meeting last night? I would appreciate a recap. Thanks!

  10. zach on

    quit bickering. its a soccer field complex not a hazardous waste site..WTF is wrong with yall


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