Civic groups call for sunlight in development process

Trees separate pedestrians from traffic, provide shade and create more attractive communities.What you see at a rezoning can be very different than what you get when the project is built. Civic groups concerned about unexpected and unwelcome changes to development plans have banded together, connecting people countywide and establishing a central point for information sharing.

After much discussion and many meetings, the Federation of Community Associations for Land Use (FOCAL) has published some initial recommendations. These reflect their considerable concern about public notice shortfalls.

To start, people shared their concerns using examples from different development projects. Many were concerned about the loss of trees, especially those that were unexpected. After some investigation, FOCAL learned that 100% of vegetated buffers and landscape strips could be waived by staff… after the rezoning and with no public notice required.

If you don’t know what’s happening, there’s really nothing you can do. Considering first steps first, the FOCAL recommendations focus on improved public access to development plans before they are approved.

The group calls for online access to key site plan components, including the proffers, transportation data, site layout map, landscaping plan, environmental constraints map, and limits of clearing and grading map. Some staff comments are already online here, but these are only marginally useful without access to the maps.

The group also recommends using the County’s e-notification system to alert interested parties when changes are made to site plans. Increased notification for all public hearings is named as a priority, including expanded requirements for direct mail notifications.

An impressive number of civic groups from throughout Prince William have signed on in support of this effort. It’s worth noting that, despite the very large number of people involved, this group was able to discuss options and agree on initial recommendations in well under two months.

That’s an impressive accomplishment by itself. It also demonstrates widespread agreement within Prince William communities on the subject of public input for local decisions.

Supporting organizations include:

Mid County Civic Organization
Occoquan Land Use Committee
Lake Ridge/Occoquan/Coles Civic Organization
Advocates for the Rural Crescent
Bristow Opposition
Dale City Civic Association
Davis Ford Citizens For Quality Of Life
Nokesville Civic Association
Prince William Conservation Alliance
Sudley Springs Catharpin Civic Association
Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association

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1 comment so far

  1. Connie Moser on

    Thank you for sharing FOCAL and adding our web pages!


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