Staff Stands Firm; Supervisors Waffle

It was December 7 (Pearl Harbor day), so a last-minute surprise proposal to alter the Environment Chapter should have been expected after 18 months of public debate.

However, four county supervisors questioned the legitimacy of voting on a back room “compromise” that had been crafted in secret with just the developers.

The proposed changes to the draft chapter were revealed only after the public hearing was closed, ensuring no public review or comment – except the developers were given a special opportunity to speak after the public hearing was closed.  That’s fair and balanced, right?

The Board ended up deferring action on the last-minute changes, including the definition of significant non-RPA streams and the identification of areas with steep slopes, until December 14.

Do a little math in advance of that meeting:

  • Prince William needs to reduce existing stormwater pollution to meet the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standards for sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorous
  • Prince William’s population is projected to grow by 33% over the next 20 years, adding even more pollution
  • a Federal judge is requiring EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act standards (27 years after Virginia committed to Save the Bay)

And we should do… nothing?

The county staff has finally stated publicly that Prince William must modify its current blast-the-landscape approach to development.  In order to meet the Clean Water Act standards, we need to reduce pollution in stormwater rather than increase it.

In years past, staff has been unprofessional, listing all the flaws in proposals but then claiming that “on balance” the developments were appropriate.  It is refreshing to see them express their professional judgment openly now, despite a politically-charged environment.

Local developers and top county officials claim that we can continue business as usual and ignore the environmental damage as we pave our creeks and clear our forests.  The county can add 33% more people… and somehow new pollution will not happen?

Get real – there’s no effort to find “compromise” with the Environment Chapter by December 14.  The last-minute changes, if adopted, will offer a few more months of unfettered anything, anywhere development.  As the state implements the TMDL for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup, Prince William faces an inevitable confrontation with state/Federal authorities who will enforce the Clean Water Act.

Passive resistance followed by state/Federal enforcement actions will get some politicians on TV, just like George Wallace milked publicity by his resistance to civil rights.  The supervisors can listen to staff and manage land use in a proffessional way, or create a confrontation and drag the county into expensive lawsuits that we will lose.

1 comment so far

  1. Christine Learman on

    Perhaps PWC just wants to stay on the list of the “Dirtiest/Worst Counties”. I am not against development, just against irresponsible development. What a shame.

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