The Nightmare at Avendale

Tonight (April 21), the School Board agenda says it will “discuss and possibly take action regarding the proposed Avendale School Site.”  Like Freddy Krueger and other horror movie characters, the Avendale proposal won’t die and stay dead.

The chair of the Board of County Supervisors appears to be the champion for this bust-the-Rural-Area proposal, pushing for endorsement of a new school at the site proffered by Brookfield Homes.  Presumably, a School Board statement could justify reconsideration of the rejected Avendale rezoning, allowing Brookfield Homes to build 295 houses on a site currently zoned for 12 houses.

Assuming Brookfield could clear $150,000/house, a rezoning would help the developer make $40 million.  No wonder Avendale keeps rising from the dead.

One problem: Prince William’s Board of County Supervisors did not act on the Comprehensive Planning Amendment for Avendale within the required 90 days after the Planning Commission had rejected the proposal.  Section 15.2-2226 of the Virginia Code says “[i]n acting on the plan or part thereof, or any amendments to the plan, the governing body shall act within ninety days of the local planning commission’s recommending resolution.”   Back in January, the Board could have supported or overruled the Planning Commission’s decision on Avendale – but the Board made no decision after the public hearing.  (A report that the Chair would add the issue onto the Board’s January 19 agenda at the last minute was met by a flurry of public opposition, and Avendale was not considered at that meeting.)

Prince William requires applicants who do not receive an approval for their requested change must propose a substantially different replanning/rezoning for new consideration by the Planning Commission, or wait a year before re-submitting the old proposal again.

(Getting the Planning Commission to voluntarily re-vote on Avendale also would re-start the 90-day clock for a Board of County Supervisors decision, but the Planning Commissioners won’t be willing to give the supervisors a second opportunity to do the wrong thing at Avendale.)

Avendale is a dumb growth proposal that will help one developer get much richer.  What’s wrong with that?  Profit is a good thing in our society – except when private benefit comes at the expense of the taxpayers.

Expanding the Development Area boundaries will force taxpayers to build additional infrastructure in the future to support ever-sprawling development.  Excessive development in the Linton Hall area has already over-crowded the schools, roads, and parks.  Approving Avendale so we repeat the “rezone-build houses-increase congestion-raise taxes for new public facilities” would be shooting ourselves in the foot – again.

The Build Anything, Anywhere, at Any Time crowd won’t change their tune.  Enhancing private economic interests, at the expense of the county taxpayers, is nothing new in Prince William.  So what can we learn from Avendale now?

The latest legal and political gyrations for Avendale will make clear the priorities of eight locally elected officials on the School Board, and eight others on the Board of County Supervisors.   A vote for Avendale is a vote to burden future residents with higher taxes, in exchange for a windfall profit for a developer now. At this point, there’s nothing subtle about Avendale.

A cynic might suggest that our supervisors will find a lawyer who can twist the intent of the Virginia Code like a pretzel, claiming that it is legitimate to vote on Avendale without waiting until 2011 – an election year for the supervisors.  If the Board pretzels the rules and claims it can vote on Avendale, then supervisors who support low taxes should follow Nancy Reagan’s advice: “Just Say No.”


2 comments so far

  1. […] » Yesterday, both the School Board and the Planning Commission discussed the proposed Avendale development. […]

  2. […] the Rural Area to more dumb growth development.  (Think of that project as ”Future Avendale, But Further To The West,” as the developers and their supervisor allies continue to try to […]

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