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Board of Supervisors Resolution Accepting the Saratoga Hunt Settlement Agreement

August 3, 2004: Regular Meeting

Res. No. 04-840

MOTION: NOHE August 3, 2004

SECOND: BARG Res. No. 04-840



WHEREAS, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, pursuant to authority conferred by Title 15.2 of the Virginia Code, has enacted its County Zoning Ordinance, which is contained in Chapter 32 of the Prince William County Code; and

WHEREAS, property known as Saratoga Hunt is being developed by Richmond American Homes of Virginia, Inc., and Washington Homes of Virginia, Inc., and that development proceeded in violation of proffered conditions accepted as part of the above-referenced rezoning actions, and in violation of other law, as set forth in a suit styled Board of County Supervisors and Sherman Patrick v. Richmond American Homes of Virginia and Washington Homes of Virginia , Ch. No. 54563, filed in the Circuit Court of Prince William County; and

WHEREAS , the most significant of these violations included:

•  disturbance and clearing of mature forest over approximately one acre, which constitutes 9.2 percent of area set aside by applicable proffers to remain undisturbed;

•  failing to provide a courtesy consultation meeting required by the proffers with representatives of the Lake Ridge, Occoquan, Coles Civic Association (LOCCA), the County Arborist, and interested citizens prior to commencing disturbing activities;

•  failing to give the Historical Commission notice and an opportunity to monitor proffered archeological investigation; and

WHEREAS , Richmond American Homes of Virginia, Inc., and Washington Homes of Virginia, Inc., have, in response to violation notices issued by the Zoning Administrator, filed a revised subdivision plan for Saratoga Hunt which has been reviewed by the County staff and, in the opinion of the Planning Director, complies with the requirements of proffers made in connection with the development of that property and with all other applicable development Ordinances of the County; and

WHEREAS , under this revised subdivision plan, Richmond American and Washington Homes will perform additional work, which not only meets, but far exceeds compliance with the applicable proffers, the value of which work exceeds $700,000, and includes, but is not limited to, installation of additional landscaping and fencing for the benefit of adjacent owners, many improvements to the gravesite on the property, landscaping and other improvements to beautify the regional storm water management pond, funding of historical markers and signs for the property, the installation of retaining walls and the restoration of disturbed areas to original grades, and significant archeological work not currently required by the proffers; and

WHEREAS , Richmond American Homes of Virginia, Inc. and Washington Homes of Virginia, Inc. have also tendered a document entitled “Settlement Agreement,” referring to the revised subdivision plan and containing additional commitments, to be enforceable by the Circuit Court, to address all cited violations of the proffers; and

WHEREAS , the total value of the settlement proposed by Richmond American and Washington Homes exceeds one million dollars ($1,000,000); and

WHEREAS , in addition to assuring immediate and future compliance with the proffers, the settlement agreement requires the payment of $100,000 for environmental purposes and projects in the County and $250,000 for historic preservation purposes and projects in the County; and

WHEREAS , the proposed settlement agreement provides that none of the costs of constructing new features, planting replacement trees, performing other additional work depicted on the site plan, or making the cash payments under the revised subdivision plan and/or settlement agreement will be charged to the homeowners' association established for Saratoga Hunt; and

WHEREAS , the Zoning Ordinance, the Zoning Map, and all development Ordinances are adopted by the Board to protect and further the public health, safety and welfare and pursuant to good zoning practice, and proffered conditions are accepted by them to mitigate the impacts of development on neighboring properties and on resources belonging to the public; and

WHEREAS , it is incumbent upon landowners and developers, having made promises to the Board and to the public in seeking permission to develop property to fulfill those promises, and it is their duty to comply with all laws applicable to the use and development of their property; and

WHEREAS, notwithstanding their violations of the proffers, the highest corporate levels of Richmond American and Washington Homes have demonstrated a good faith effort to rectify these violations, demonstrate their regret for the violations and engage in future compliance; and

WHEREAS, it is also the duty of the County to effectively monitor compliance with development Ordinances and the fulfillment of promises made by landowners/developers; and

WHEREAS, since the situation with Saratoga Hunt arose, the Planning Director and Public Works Director have implemented procedures for their staff which are designed to ensure better review of plats and plans for compliance with proffers and County regulations; and

WHEREAS, the update of the Zoning Ordinance and the future update of the Design and Construction Standards Manual will also include language which should assist in better monitoring of developer compliance with proffers and County regulations in plat and plan submission; and

WHEREAS,the County Attorney's Office has given detailed review to the settlement agreement, evaluated the merits of pursuing further litigation and recommends that the Board approve the proposed settlement; and

WHEREAS, the Board finds that the proposed settlement offered by Richmond American Homes of Virginia, Inc. and Washington Homes of Virginia, Inc., when considered along with the revised subdivision plan, and in light of the totality of the proffer violations, represents a fair and equitable resolution of those violations and appropriate assurances for future compliance; and

WHEREAS, the Board believes acceptance of the settlement agreement serves the public health, safety and welfare and is consistent with good zoning practice;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Prince William Board of County Supervisors does hereby approve the settlement agreement and authorizes its Chairman to endorse it on behalf of the Board. The County Attorney is hereby authorized to take all steps necessary to formalize the settlement through the Circuit Court and seek dismissal of the previously filed suit, without prejudice, as settled;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board directs County staff to initiate actions to implement higher standards for County review of development applications through the update of the Zoning Ordinance, the Design and Construction Standards Manual, and any other available and appropriate means;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Executive is hereby directed to finalize cost estimates and formulate a plan to create a new position of County Archeologist and present that information to the Board;

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Department of Public Works is directed to recommend programs to the Board, including suitable adult education programs, to address and help prevent environmental damage in development areas.


Ayes: Barg, Caddigan, Connaughton, Covington, Jenkins, Nohe, Stirrup

Nays: None

Absent from Vote: None

Absent from Meeting: Stewart


For Information:

County Executive
County Attorney
Director of Planning
Director of Public Works
Zoning Administrator
Property Code Enforcement Group Manager

CERTIFIED COPY___________________________________________________________

Clerk to the Board

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