What’s Next, After Board Adopted “Anything, Anywhere, at Anytime” Approach to Development?

The current Board of County Supervisors established on February 2, with its adoption of a new Land Use Chapter in the Long Range Comprehensive Plan, that Prince William officials will consider any development proposal, at any time, at any location.

There’s no long-range commitment to where growth should occur.  The Board will now consider Comprehensive Plan Amendments whenever a developer requests a change, rather than just at the start of each year.  No community, no neighborhood, no homeowners association can rely upon the Comprehensive Plan or the current zoning status of any parcel.

Based on this Board’s unrealistic and reckless approach to growth, residents should recognize what developers know: every parcel planned/zoned for residential development could be flip-flopped into a commercial project, while every parcel planned/zoned for commercial development could be flip-flopped into a residential project.

In just one meeting of the Board, a Comprehensive Plan Amendment and a rezoning could be approved by the Board of County Supervisors, despite opposition from the Planning Commission.  Developers can’t assure their clients that a project will be surrounded by compatible projects, and neighbors can’t rely upon current zoning.  A parcel designated “residential” on the map (or even a county park) could become a shopping center.

Sound unrealistic?  Based on the efforts of some supervisors to get the Avendale project approved, residents of Prince William should prepare for two more years of game-playing by this Board.   Elected supervisors claimed that moving the boundary of the Rural Area at Avendale was… well, not moving the boundary.  The Planning Department staff suggested that a potential bus stop somehow would be sufficient to meet the objectives of transit-oriented development at Avendale, “on balance.”

With this sort of double-speak, a few well-connected developers can see the opportunity in the new flexibility.  The big question is when they will choose to strike.  How many projects like Avendale will come forward before the next election for Board of County Supervisors in November, 2011?

If the well-connected developers are confident that the current incumbents will be re-elected, or replaced by equally-compliant supervisors in 2011, then expect the surge of incompatible-but-profitable rezonings to wait until after the election (and perhaps an economic recovery in 2012).  On the other hand, if the well-connected developers want to strike while the iron is hot and the supervisors are “flexible,” then look for new rezoning proposals very soon.

Overblown fears?  Unrealistic concerns?  Well, we’ve already seen what county officials can do with “flexibility” in development.

At the Wiita tract, we have seen the county’s own Park Authority is willing to stick it to the neighbors and dramatically change land use, with minimal notice.  Look for lighted ballfields at Valley View as soon as the Park Authority can assemble the proffer dollars to build those tall poles and hang bright lights on them.  No Public Facility Review by the Planning Commission will be required, so the nearby neighbors may first discover the plans to light ballfields when construction crews arrive.

Don’t think Avendale was a fluke.  Once the economy recovers and current economic constraints are lifted, this Board could approve any development at any location at any time in Prince William County.


1 comment so far

  1. Silent Knight on

    Mr. Grymes – As usual, you are right on target with your analysis and commentary.

    Unfortunately, no one is really paying attention to what this board is doing to the county because those who care about growth thought that by electing Corey Stewart they would have it under control. What they didn’t count on was Stewart’s inevitable betrayal of those who elected him by putting his own political ambitions ahead of what’s good for the county. Case in point: Avendale. Stewart’s so called “saving” the Linton Hall corridor from new rezonings being allowed to issue occupancy permits before the two elementary schools are built, and the one high school, is nothing more than a total capitulation to Brookfield Homes, (the same developer who tried to push through Brentswood), and their attorney. An empty shell of an action designed to fool sincere parents into thinking he is actually doing something substantive to help when the reality is with his resolution he practically guarantees Avendale will be built. In the rural crescent – an area he promised to protect. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve had more than enough of his antics. Time to find a good replacement.

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