Letter from Elena Schlossberg, Advocates for the Rural Crescent:
During negotiations, citizens proposed developing around the
wetlands, and locating their density of houses in other locations on
the South Market site. KSI Services owns over 600 acres that
certainly could have accommodated a wonderful development that did
not envelope the wetlands. We believe they have not taken steps to
avoid or minimize impact to wetlands.
Citizens of Prince William County are very concerned over the state of our wetlands and our environment. As a representative of the Advocates for the Rural Crescent, with almost 100 members, we ask you to seriously consider denying this application based on the facts I have enumerated in my letter. If you have any question or I
can clarify any point, please do not hesitate to contact me. I appreciate your time in reading my comments.
Elena L. Schlossberg-Kunkel
Letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from the Prince William Conservation Alliance
January 14, 2004
Ms. Teresita Crockett-Augustine
Army Corp of Engineers, Norfolk District
Northern Virginia Field Office
18139 Triangle Plaza, #213
Dumfries, VA 22026
Re: Joint Permit Application # 04-V2586, South Market
Dear Ms. Crockett-Augustine:
A review of the Public Notice for Permit Application # 04-V2586, South Market , raises concerns about the proposed work and resulting impacts. This project proposes to fill nearly 15 acres of forested wetlands and 1,800 linear feet of stream, causing damage to the Waters of the United States in the headwaters area of two public drinking water supplies.
This plan proposes the largest amount of permanent impacts to wetlands I can recall in Prince William. Most of the losses would affect nontidal forested wetlands. According to the National Wetlands Inventory, long-term trends show that nontidal emergent wetlands have declined by the greatest percentage of all wetland types, with nontidal forested wetlands sustaining the greatest overall loss.
Urbanization, including increased wetland conversion to make way for development, has long lasting influences on the nature and quality of wetlands and waterways within the watershed area. Has a quality assessment been completed to determine the functions and values of the wetlands proposed for elimination? Also, because the proposed impacts are large, has an economic impact assessment been completed to assess costs to offset environmental losses? Has the applicant proposed a monitoring program to ensure that permit conditions are met?
During the Prince William County process for plan approval, citizens and Planning Commissioners expressed concern that this proposal did not comply with Virginia's Chesapeake Bay regulations. Since that time, the Chesapeake Local Assistance Department has confirmed that a Perennial Flow Determination and Water Quality Impact Assessment must be completed for this project to meet Virginia's minimum standards. These studies should be completed before permits to impact wetlands and waterways are considered.
When the water regime is disrupted, even minor loss of wetland acreage can result in major losses through secondary impacts. The proposed plan submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not provide a complete picture of stormwater management techniques proposed for this site. Some low impact development (LID) techniques are included, but information on stormwater management for the site appears incompete. How are these LID techniques are integrated into the larger stormwater management plan for this site?
In addition, the site plan submitted to Prince William County shows a stormwater pipe along the length of Market Ridge Blvd. that dumps directly into the wetland area along Route 15. This pipe does not appear on the plan I reviewed at your office, which shows little information on stormwater generally and especially for the eastern portion of the property. Poorly managed stormwater has a significant affect on wetlands and waterways. Information verifying adequate stormwater management for this site should be required before permits to impact wetlands and waterways are considered.
The proposed plan shows connections to 'sewer lines by others' that will run along North Fork. Is there adequate line capacity to serve this development without modifying this or an existing permit?
The developer, KSI LLC, has sought approval for more than one plan for this development site. The original proposal, covering the entire approximate 660 acres, met significant opposition from Prince William residents. The Prince William Conservation Alliance initiated a series of meetings between community members and the developer. Citizens consistently conveyed their support for a conservation-friendly development plan with reduced residential densities and no golf course. In the end, the final development proposal showed only a superficial response to community input and was subsequently denied by the Board of Supervisors.
After this, community members again stepped forward in support of efforts to achieve a mutually beneficial development plan. Board of Supervisors Chairman Sean Connaughton supported these efforts and outlined his guidelines, including an environmentally sensitive design to save conservation features, such as wetlands, and a conservation easement to protect green open space.
Residents largely agreed with the Chairman's recommendations and expressed support for a plan that consolidated development away from wetlands and streams, increased connectivity between preservation areas and resulted in no net loss to rural crescent acres.
KSI did not respond to residents' February 21, 2004, letter and instead submitted a site plan to Prince William County based on a previous rezoning, the by-right development plan currently under discussion. The Planning Commission approved the plan in February 2004 and, at that time, conveyed their support for changes to the plan in order to avoid impacts to wetlands and streams.
The Clean Water Act allows the issuance of permits for only the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative. To gain approval, permit applications must verify that no practicable alternative exists and avoidance is not possible.
The issuance at this time of Permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Virginia Water Protection Permit by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality would be in clear violation of the Clean Water Act. The applicants have not avoided and minimized impacts to jurisdictional wetlands and Waters of the United States to the maximum extent possible.
In addition, additional information is needed to comprehensively assess environmental and economic impacts. This includes a value assessment, economic evaluation, stormwater management information and verification that the proposal complies with the Chesapeake Bay goals, as supported by the EPA.
We plan to supplement our comments upon receipt and review of additional information, as required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality.
We register our opposition to the issuance of Permits for Application # 04-V2586. We request that an Environmental Impact Statement, including the information listed above, be required pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, and that a public hearing be held to consider this request by the applicants and to receive public comment.Thank you for the opportunity to provide our comments.
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