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Back to South Market and the Wetland Permit Process
Mr. Rick Hausler, President
KSI Services, Inc.
8081 Wolftrap Road, Suite 300
Vienna, VA 22182
Re: Greater South Market
The authors of this letter are part of a small group of citizens that have met with you, over the past several months, concerning this KSI project. Our group, Elena Schlossberg-Kunkel, Ray Roberson, and others – is taking an active leadership role on behalf of and in concert with the community. We are writing on the community’s behalf and in response to KSI’s proposal to us of January 28, the date we last met with KSI.
The subject is a 663-acre tract located just south and west of the Routes 15 & 55 intersection, near Haymarket. KSI assembled the property from parcels of various land use classifications, including agricultural, residential, office, industrial, commercial and environmental uses.
On July 1, the Board of Supervisors denied KSI’s application for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA) that would have cleared the way for KSI to develop a 1,250-home golf course community on this tract. The denial followed broad community resistance that is based upon several beliefs:
The community realizes that the denial of KSI’s CPA preserves the status quo of by-right land use classifications. While the community prefers this result to the original CPA, it will best serve neither KSI nor the community. Thus, our group and KSI began conversations with the mutual goal of finding a compromise – a plan that would improve upon the status quo, in the eyes of all stakeholders.
The Chairman’s Guidelines
Several conversations between KSI and our group yielded minimal progress. We asked Chairman Connaughton to convene the principal stakeholders, including the political leadership, the planning office, the community and KSI.
The meeting occurred on January 14, in the Chairman’s office. It included the Chairman, Director of Planning Steve Griffin, KSI representatives (Rick Hausler, Ed Byrne, and KSI’s attorney) and community representatives (Kim Hosen of Prince William Conservation Alliance, Elena Schlossberg-Kunkel of Prince William Conservation Alliance, and independent community members Gary Friedman and Ray Roberson).
The Chairman listened to KSI’s and the community’s respective positions. He then provided guidelines for a plan that he believes government would support (below). At his request, you agreed to return to the table with a new proposal.
|Maximum number of residential units = 800.|
|No net loss to acreage planned and zoned agricultural (“Rural Crescent”).|
|More “active adult” units is better – less impact on schools.|
|No industrial development and reduced commercial/retail development.|
|Increased buffer along Thoroughfare Road.|
|Open space areas placed into conservation easement.|
|Environmentally sensitive design saves conservation features, such as wetlands.|
|Proffer commitments for level-of-service (LOS) requirements, especially transportation improvements.|
|Garners support from the community.|
The return engagement occurred on January 28, at the McCoart Building. Those present included the January 14 group, less the Chairman and Gary Friedman.
KSI presented a proposal (Map 1) that includes the following features:
· Approximately 950 residential units, 400 of which would be age-restricted.
· Parcels D and F developed for residential uses, as currently zoned.
· Agricultural parcels A and B (approximately 90 acres) converted to residential use.
· No residential development in other agricultural parcels, or in a 150-foot buffer along Thoroughfare Road. Up to 22 units moved out of environmental areas of parcel D.
· Undeveloped agricultural parcels to be placed in a conservation easement.
· Commercial and office uses of up to 200,000 ft2 each (400,000 ft2 total). Other by-right industrial and commercial/retail uses given up.
Our group agreed to consider and respond to the proposal. In the interim, KSI submitted site plans for parcels C, D and F of Map A, the parcels that have by-right uses for the most intensive residential development.
During January and February, our group talked with a cross-section of community members. We described the all-stakeholder meetings and KSI’s positions. Most importantly, we sought community input.
As you know, community opinion is complex. Behind its resistance to GSM is an outrage that has grown from several factors, including those mentioned in the Background section, above. Moreover, some in the community want to turn back the clock and honor commitments they believe government made and failed to implement, such as the elimination of “stale zoning.” Fundamentally, the community wants nothing more intense than agricultural (10-acre) development in the area that we are discussing.
Nonetheless, most in the community are realists. They know the law’s requirements and understand KSI’s rightful intentions. Further, they know that compromise means yielding some ground to their wants in order to find a solution that all can support. It is in this spirit that we have tried to lead community conversations.
We acknowledge that KSI’s proposal represents a step forward in the negotiations because, a) it is a retreat from previous plans to build 1,250 homes, and b) it describes a quality residential development rather than the by-right industrial and commercial uses.
Yet, the community has critical parameters that KSI’s proposal fails to meet. These include the preservation of all rural acreage, the conservation of environmental and water resources, and the limitation of home building to less than the 800 units in the Chairman’s guidelines. Essentially, the community supports the Chairman’s guidelines, with the sole exception of the 800-unit parameter.
Our proposal (Map 2) is based upon one fundamental difference from KSI’s proposal. It asks KSI and the County to re-draw the land use classifications and boundaries within the property. Key features include the following:
· Agricultural and critical environmental acreage are consolidated on the western side of the property, creating true preservation and allowing for better management. This area includes most of those parcels with current (by-right) residential zoning.
· Residential uses are consolidated on the northeastern portion of the property and commercial/office uses are located on the southeastern portion, creating a symbiosis of home, office and village center. We believe that this approach will support 725 homes. The concept envisions most of the residences reserved for an age-restricted community.
· There is no net loss to agricultural acreage.
· Limit retail to 350,000 square feet with no single use over 80,000 square feet.
Yes, this ignores KSI’s insistence upon building on the parcels currently zoned for residential development. We believe, and we want to convince KSI, that this is the best solution for all stakeholders, including KSI.
This Benefits All Stakeholders
Please consider how and why this approach is good for all concerned with it.
Benefits to KSI
Reputation – KSI holds strong values for quality and a reputation for building quality communities. In accepting the Citizens’ Proposal, KSI will deeply honor those values. It will honor its values by respecting community needs and wants. It will honor its values by practicing good conservation. It will honor its values by entering into a collaborative relationship with the community and putting down roots as a community stakeholder. We encourage you to take a place of honor as a contributor to the community.
Profit – We know that KSI’s profit is important to both KSI and the community. Profit underpins the community’s ability to attract a developer of KSI’s reputation. It also underpins KSI’s motivation to deliver the quality it values. There are three reasons why we are convinced that the above proposal will be profitable for KSI:
1) The new GSM, with its attention to conservation and open space and its integrated design, is going to be very, very attractive to home buyers. Prices will be strong.
2) Development expense is concentrated in a relatively small (thus less expensive) footprint.
3) 725 homes represent an ultimate market value in the range of $300 million. According to public records, KSI’s land acquisition costs for the non-agricultural parcels are approximately 10 million. There is plenty of room for profit.
Risk Management – Apart from the normal financial and management risks inherent to business, KSI has two other risks that threaten profitable development if not mitigated:
1) There are state and Federal regulations concerning the treatment and preservation of wetlands. Because of extensive wetlands in the main residential-zoned parcel (Parcel D of Map 1), the actual build-out could be reduced or denied. Our plan mitigates the risk by relocating development to an area that is without such risk.
2) Without the new CPA that is inherent to our proposal, KSI must contend with industrial and commercial zoning that is of no use in KSI’s best vision for the property. Further, we believe that the zoning is of limited market value. Our plan mitigates this risk by helping KSI focus on its strength – residential and mixed use – and avoid market considerations for those large parcels.
Progress – We are confident that our concept will be acceptable to government and the community. As a result, KSI’s vision for a quality project can go forward.
Benefits to the Community
Our proposal meets the Chairman’s guidelines, which the community values and supports.
· Creates a contiguous conservation area
· Preserves “no net loss” to the Rural Crescent
· Consolidates and minimizes the development footprint
· Creates an integrated community of residences, offices and local commerce that promotes employment in the community.
This proposal has less total residential, industrial and commercial content than either the original or the current KSI plans. Common sense tells us that it will cost the County less in infrastructure, and thus it will cost citizens less in taxes. Further, it will have a lesser impact on roads, schools and other infrastructure capacities. These are benefits that the community is actively seeking.
Benefits to Government
Our proposal exemplifies the smart-growth approach that was the election platform of many public servants.
It responds directly to the latest community survey with its approach to quality of life, managed development, infrastructure and transportation.
It puts government back in the business of representing citizen concerns and thus garnering their support.
Good Approach for All
All stakeholders win. KSI moves ahead with a profitable venture that will uphold its reputation for quality. The community honors its deep values in conservation, quality of life and intelligent growth. Government serves its citizens. None gets all wants, but all receive the value of cooperation and, hopefully, establish a new standard for business, community and government working together.
Please contact Ray Roberson or Elena Schlossberg-Kunkel in response to this proposal. We look forward to bringing South Market to a reasonable conclusion.
s/ Ray Roberson s/ Elena Schlossberg-Kunkel
Honorable Sean Connaughton, Chairman, Prince William County Board of Supervisors
Honorable Wally Covington, Supervisor, Brentsville District
Honorable John Stirrup, Supervisor, Gainesville District
Martha Hendley, Planning Commissioner, Gainesville District
Ron Burgess, Planning Commissioner, Brentsville District
Ed Byrne, Vice President, KSI Services
Steven Griffin, Director, Prince William County Planning Department
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