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Review of Proffer Violations
Complaint digs up 14 alleged proffer violations" (Potomac News; May 1, 2004)
Original Saratoga Hunt Proffers
Proffer Violation Notice and Stop Work Order
County Lawsuit ("Bill of Complaint")
Historic Commission minutes - special meeting on Saratoga Hunt (January 20, 2004)
County files against land developers
Potomac News; January 24 2004
PWCA Follow Up Letter to Prince William County Zoning Administrator After December 18, 2003 Meeting
Talking Points for the Board of County Supervisors Public Hearing, Tuesday December 5, 2003
Saratoga Hunt: What Happens When No One Is Paying Attention (November 2003 PWCA Community Report)
PWCA November 6, 2003 Letter to County Planning Director
  Saratoga Hunt: A Case Study in Failed Planning

pparently the cost and stress invested in the settlement agreement with Prince William County did not make a big impression on Richmond American and Washington Homes. Just five months later, more trees are accidentally cleared ... Click here to read the Potomac News article.

oard of Supervisors August 3 2004 Resolution Accepting the Saratoga Hunt Settlement Agreement, Click here to read it yourself.

itizens originally spotted the violations and advocated for strong government action, compelling a government response... Click here to read more.

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or see Terraserver)
  The Saga of Saratoga Hunt

The problems at Saratoga Hunt began when Prince William government approved a site plan that violated 14 proffered commitments.

Once the approved site plan showing proffer violations was approved, the dominos began to fall. County field inspectors use the approved site plan to check for violations. If the violations are on the site plan, it is tough to spot problems.

Without citizen involvement, the illegal clearcutting and other violations at Saratoga Hunt would probably never have been identified or addressed. In response to citizen concerns, PWCA sent a letter to Planning Director Steve Griffin on November 6, 2003, requesting a meeting to identify and discuss violations at this development site.

In the end, despite the clearcut nature of the violations, months of citizen outcry were required for Prince William County to initiate credible efforts to resolve problems. Saratoga Hunt is one example where citizen efforts made a difference and helps show why NIMBYs (NotInMyBackYard) are needed to protect important community resources.

Review of Government Actions:

December 8, 2003 - Saratoga Hunt Proffer Violation Notice, Stop Work Order and Correction Order was issued by Prince William County. This document cited 14 proffer violations and provided information on the criteria required for resolution.

January 23, 2004 - Prince William County filed a Bill of Complaint for Injunctive and Other Relief in Circuit Court. Unfortunately, the parties involved -- Richmond American Homes and Washington Homes -- were not served so, although there is the appearance of legal action, none exists. According to information provided by the Circuit Count, the case becomes null and void if the involved parties are not served within one year.

August 3 2004 - Prince William County Board of Supervisors approved a Resolution Accepting the Saratoga Hunt Settlement Agreement, Click here to read it yourself.

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  Review of Proffer Violations:
  1. Remains of creek in natural channel at Saratoga Hunt
    Impacts to the proffered conservation area originally supposed to follow and protect the unnamed tributary that now flows into the constructed stormwater pond have not been resolved. Concerns include:

    The developer claims that filling in the current stream and relocating the channel just upstream from the stormwater pond is required for the stream to flow into the stormwater pond. To date, the stream has not been relocated and a site visit confirms that this stream currently flows into the stormwater pond, photo below. Currently the developer is proposing to move fill down the slope, filling in the creek, in order to create a flat area on which to set four additional houses (lots 103 through 106).

    More than one lot upstream from this area required grading that has destroyed the proffered conservation area. Some of these problems have been resolved, but in the case of former lot #30, all illegal encroachments into the conservation area have not been removed from the plans. Additionally, restoration of the stream and land remains unresolved.

  2. The proffered 50 foot wide conservation area intended to protect the integrity of historic Bel Air Plantation does not accomplish this goal and opens questions regarding long-term maintenance of the conservation area. Currently this 50-foot wide conservation area is unvegetated and lies within individual lots. The developer has made no commitment to revegetate and concerns regarding notification to future homeowners that their yard contains a 50-foot wide conservation area have not been addressed.

  3. Grading leaves 'protected' cemetary at risk from erosion and stormwater impacts.
    Significant grading has created a landscape where one existing cemetery now sits atop a steep hill. The developer has raised questions about the buffer area for this cemetery, saying that the term buffer does not necessarily mean that area will be undisturbed. Requirements that ensure this buffer area is replanted and will remain undisturbed are needed. Additionally, criteria for the retaining wall, needed to stabilize this cemetery due to grading activities, should be clearly established and include provisions for long term maintenance.

  4. The problems at Saratoga Hunt began when Prince William approved a site plan that violated 14 proffered commitments. Government agencies have stated that structural changes to the site plan review process are underway to ensure this does not happen again, but no specifics have been discussed. An additional community meeting specific to these internal changes is needed and should be scheduled as soon as possible.

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