March 17, 2009 - Here’s our tally on PWC Supervisors decisions on the Comprehensive Plan Amendments (CPAs) requested by developers. Supervisors voted to initiate 12 of the 19 Comprehensive Plan Amendments (CPAs) submitted by developers. All proposals to take land out of the Rural Crescent were rejected.
Semi-Rural Residential properties, intended to buffer the Rural Crescent and protect the Occoquan Reservoir, did not fare as well. Supervisors initiated five of the eight proposals to increase densities in Semi-Rural areas, on properties covering approximately 155 acres.
One 17.7 acre property currently planned for Rural Crescent densities to protect two archaeological sites and buffer agricultural lands from commercial uses will also move forward. This site is located at one intersection of Prince William Parkway and Prince William Parkway (there are three such intersections, this one is near Nokesville Road).
According to the staff report, only three of the 12 CPAs initiated by Supervisors are located near existing public transportation (defined as the VRE, bus service or a commuter parking lot). Together the 12 proposals cover approximately 500 acres and would add a total of 486 new houses for 1,179 new residents and 2,711 new jobs (no info yet on whether these are retail, office or industrial jobs).
It’s worth noting that the County’s most recent Build Out Analysis shows Prince William has currently planned for sufficient housing to accommodate projected population increases to 2025… before adjustments are made to reflect the current economic and housing crisis.
In addition, the ongoing update to the County’s Land Use Chapter of the Comprehensive has not been finalized. Two drafts are under consideration. Both propose adding significant residential densities to the plan and show little if any connection to the proposed revision of the Transportation Chapter.
March 16, 2009 - At their March 17 meeting, the Board of County Supervisors will consider 19 applications for Comprehensive Plan Amendments (CPAs) from developers who are requesting changes to the Prince William Comprehensive Plan.
Together the applications cover approximately 1,140 acres of land. The CPAs include three proposals that would remove approximately 375 acres from the County's "protected" rural area (Rural Crescent) and eight proposals that would convert nearly 300 acres planned for Semi-Rural Residential uses to more intensive uses. Four applications propose changes that would affect approximately 229 acres mapped Environmental Resource areas (streams, wetlands, floodplains, steep slopes, fragile and marine clay soils).
According to the staff report, the applications propose a total of 1,214 new homes that would accommodate an additional 3,013 residents and 3,954 new jobs. No information on the type of employment or the proximity of new jobs to public transportation is provided.
The County's most recent Build Out Analysis shows that the County has currently planned for sufficient housing to accommodate projected population increases to 2025... before adjustments are made to reflect the current economic and housing crisis.
In addition, the ongoing update to the County's Land Use Chapter of the Comprehensive has not been finalized. Two drafts are under consideration. Both propose adding significant residential densities to the plan and show little if any connection to the proposed revision of the Transportation Chapter.
Breaking the Rural Crescent would result in higher taxes on County residents for decentralized infrastructure, especially road expansions. Approving those three proposals would support more-of-the-same dumb growth and reveal a lack of commitment to the “smart growth” focus proposed in the Comprehensive Plan update.
For the other 16 proposals - once again, developers are asking the Supervisors to put the cart before the horse. The Comprehensive Plan update has been underway for two years. Surely the eight Supervisors can make long-range decisions this year.
Making premature land use changes now, before all the facts are available, will result in future Supervisors who wring their hands and say sorry, but their hands are tied.
There’s no urgency for fragmented planning now. Given the uncertainties created by the current economic climate, this seems like a great time to finish the update and have a Comprehensive Plan, one that integrates transportation and land use, before scattering new development across the County.