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Cherry Hill Peninsula
Cherry Hill Peninsula Potomac River shoreline area planned for a "town center." Photo taken from Bushy Point at Leesylvania State Park, October 2004.

Development of the Cherry Hill Peninsula

The radio news report broadcast remarks by Mike Anderson, vice president of Legend Properties, who said Southbridge at Cherry Hill is an example of "smart growth." My hands tightened on the steering wheel and I shook my head. How "smart" is it, I asked myself, to destroy the ecology of one of the few wild places left in Northern Virginia to create a development that could be built somewhere already zoned for residential and commercial uses?   -- Larry Evans, Fredericksburg Free Lance Star Columnist, January 2001

May 13, 2009 -- The Cherry Hill Peninsula was nearly 2,000 acres of high quality hardwood forest overlooking the Potomac River, with a network of wetlands and streams that meandered through a rugged landscape. It was our Mason Neck Peninsula, our Crow’s Nest.

But conservation is a hard sale in Prince William County. Despite opposition from hundreds of people, Supervisors rezoned Cherry Hill in January 2001 for high-density-mixed-use development and a golf course.

The recent announcement that the Cherry Hill/Harbor Station development project has gone bankrupt and is being foreclosed comes as no surprise to many – but don’t blame it on the recession. This development has struggled from the beginning. In 2002 the property was sold to Lee Carolina LLC. (KSI/Kettler, Sandler & Sons). Over the next several years, Kettler made a series of changes to the development plan that increased residential densities, relocated residential areas, changed the road network and modified proffered open space. Keep reading...

Cherry Hill Peninsula & the Southbridge/Harbor Station Development Plan:


National Geographic map
showing landslide susceptability.
Red = High Risk
Click on map for large view.

More Maps:

 

   

Why is the Cherry Hill Peninsula Environmentally Significant?

Powell's Creek
Powell's Creek taken from the railroad bridge crossing Leesylvania State Park, showing the Cherry Hill Peninsula to the left
The Cherry Hill Peninsula is one the few remaining forested tracts of significant size in eastern Prince William County. This 1,800-acre forest is also the last unprotected large riparian forest along Northern Virginia's Potomac River shoreline. As Northern Virginia's population increases, Cherry Hill's environmental and economic values become increasingly significant.

Populations of many forest avian species, such as vireos, warblers, and wild turkeys, have declined due to increased fragmentation. As many as 35 species of warblers, 25 species of ducks, geese, and swans, 24 species of raptors, 15 species of sparrows and many other avian species use the area during migration and nesting. Currently an pair of endangered bald eagles nest in the northern section of this peninsula.

The site provides habitat for a wide variety of native plant species, including the endangered small whorled pogonia ( Isotria medeoloides ). All of the mammal species native to Virginia's coastal plain may be found on the Cherry Hill Peninsula. The Powell's Creek and Quantico Creek estuaries provide nurseries for aquatic organisms and make a significant contribution to the health of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. Prince William's rampant development has resulted in small remaining pieces of ecosystems so isolated that some plant and animal populations can no longer survive.

Regionally, Cherry Hill provides a critically important link in the chain of threatened ecological communities along the tidal Potomac. The loss of this area to development is likely to have a cumulative negative impact on the viability of natural systems well beyond the peninsula itself. The undeveloped Cherry Hill Peninsula significantly enhances the value of the use another word. of the Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Leesylvania State Park, relatively small areas that are becoming increasingly isolated by development.

The Original Rezoning for the Southbridge/Harbor Station Project at Cherry Hill

In January 2001 the Prince William County Board of Supervisors approved two rezonings and one special use permit for 1740-acres located on the Cherry Hill Peninsula (adjacent to the Potomac River between Powells and Quantico Creeks).

Voting to Deny: Connaughton (At Large), Caddigan (Dumfries), Griggs (Occoquan).
Voting to Approve: Barg (Woodbridge), Jenkins (Neabsco), Hill (Coles), Wilbourn (Gainesville), Thompson (Brentsville).

The approved development package included:

  • 2,600 homes
  • 3.7 million sq. feet of office and retail
  • 18-hole golf course
  • 40% of site committed to 'undisturbed space' (includes power line easements, school and library grounds, other common space)
  • Elementary school
  • Community fitness facilities (with related retail)
  • Public library
  • Cultural arts center
  • Equestrian center
  • Extensive proffer packages included phasing for development over 20-year period.