Busting the Rural Area through parks and churches

The game continues. At the September 24 Gainesville town hall discussion of the proposed Comprehensive Plan transportation and land use chapters, a crowd appeared to advocate adding lights to Long Park.

Long ago, the Park Authority promised to build a swimming pool and equestrian facility at Long Park.  Today, those are broken promises.  Long Park is an active recreation site now, with heavily-used ballfields.  (The horse people have been promised that the county will build an equestrian center at Silver Lake.)

As the population of the Gainesville area has mushroomed, demand for recreation (passive and active) has increased.  Catharpin Park provides additional ballfields now.  The Park Authority installed lights there in 2009, after the Board of County Supervisors overruled a rejection by the Planning Commission.

Catharpin is located in the Rural Area, with 10-acre lots nearby.  Most people live in the Development Area.  Naturally, people want to recreate nearby, not drive extra distances on congested roads to a park in the Rural Area.

That’s why we need recreation facilities in the area zoned for development, near where people live.  We need parks within walking distance of houses.  So why are county officials pushing for a soccer complex on the Wiita tract (near Lake Manassas, and nowhere close to public transportation) and pushing for lights at Long Park?  What’s behind this new “develop new active-recreation parks away from  where people live” effort?

Sewers.  County zoning authorizes extending sewers to public facilities in the Rural Area.  Talk “green park” at the beginning, but then add lights, add traffic, add sewers… and poof, holes are poked in the boundary line separating the Development Area and Rural Area.

County government, through the Park Authority, is sticking it to the neighbors adjacent to Rural Area parks.  “Parks” with bright lights on 50-foot high poles and parking lots for 500 cars resemble shopping centers.  Neighbors who relied upon county zoning to protect their property rights are getting screwed.

That ain’t “rural.”  That ain’t “green.”  That ain’t “right.”

At the first Silver Lake Master Plan meeting on October 6,  advocates for an equestrian center requested bright overhead lights.  The game continues.  Every park in the Rural Area is being treated as a wedge to extend development, outside the Development Area.

Some supervisors even talk about churches being “public facilities.”  County officials justify extending sewers into the Rural Area to service churches that buy cheap land, then help get county requirements changed so urban-scale facilities can be developed in the supposedly Rural Area.  Over time, with enough “exceptions” for sewers, those county officials are trying to move the boundary, break the zoning that neighbors relied upon, and bust the Rural Area.

Then some landowners could get windfall profits, selling land to developers for subdivisions.  That’s the not-so-hidden motivation for supporting sewers for churches, and lights for “rural” parks.

Understand the game: lighting up Long Park is part of the plan for pushing Prince William deeper and deeper into our current nightmare of high property taxes and congested traffic.  Decisions of the Board of County Supervisors to locate new houses on Linton Hall and Route 15, far from jobs and government services, has created the congestion on I-66 and the requirement for new fire stations, new parks, new libraries, and of course new/expanded roads.

How many slivers of the Rural Area can be developed before it ain’t rural anymore?  Where do you draw the line and stop more-of-the-same dumb growth?  Hmmm… why not draw the line at the current Rural Area boundary, and stop the stick-it-to-the-neighbors plans of the Park Authority?


2 comments so far

  1. Marian Hamamo on

    Beautifully said Charlie.

  2. dad on

    You should add schools to that list!

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