Antioch Road

PWCAPrince William Conservation Alliance

Community Report
September 4, 2017
Newsletter Archive

Email Prince William Supervisors

In this Issue

Developers Seek Changes to Green Buffer Rules - No Public Involvement

Lake Ridge Resident Rachel Myer on Buffers

Route 28 Bypass - Fake Public Involvement

Outdoor Programs

Links and Meeting InformationManassas VRERoute 28 Bypass

PWCA Recap on Alternatives

Route 28 Corridor Feasibility Study

Agenda Item 9 at the PWC Board of Supervisor Meeting - September 5 at 2pm, Board Chambers, McCoart Government Center

Public Meeting - September 7 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm (presentation at 7pm) at the Manassas Park Community Center, 99 Adams St, Manassas Park, VA 20111.

Manassas VRE
Green Buffer Rules

Commercial Development Committee Proposed Revisions to Buffer Standards (strike-out-and-underline version)

BOCS Resolution authorizing a Review of Buffer Standards by the Commercial Development Committee

Developer buffer proposal is currently slated for:

Planning Commission vote on September 20, 7pm, Board Chambers at McCoart Government Center.

BOCS vote on October 17, 7:30pm, Board Chambers at McCoart Government Center

Our review covers the current proposal for changes to buffer standards, which is subject to change until it's published for a vote by the Planning Commission.

Fewer buffers means less green open space and more stormwater problems.

Prince William taxpayers recently invested $1 million after stormwater eroded a stream bank in Woodbridge to the point where it was just feet away from the Prince William Senior Center.

Manassas VREWalmart buffers in Hilton Head Island, SC

Manassas VRE
Walmart buffers in Fairfax County

Manassas VRE
Walmart buffers in Prince William County

Buffers enhance community character and appearance, improve property values, reduce land use conflicts, and encourage the preservation of existing trees.

Check our Calendar for fun outdoor activities.

Living Shoreline at Leesylvania State Park
Sun, Sept 10, at 2pm.

Butterfly Walk at Merrimac Farm WMA
Sunday, Sept 17, 1-3pm


What Happens When Government Thinks No One is Paying Attention
Route 28 Bypass - Fake Public Involvement

Route 28It's fake. It's a fraud. It's amazing. And it's local.

On September 5, after a brief one-sided presentation, Prince William County staff wants elected officials to decide how to "fix Route 28" traffic congestion, see Item 9 on the Agenda.

Two days later, on September 7, staff will reveal full informationon the alternatives to the public at a meeting in Manassas Park and ask for public input.

You read that right. After asking the Board of County Supervisors to choose Alternative 2B, two days later the public finally gets to see the other choices and express its opinions at a public information meeting.

Nancy Reagan had good advice for the Board when staff tries to make them look foolish: just say no.

All the alternatives will create major impacts on neighbors. Three of the four "final alternatives" will damage the Bull Run stream corridor.

Traffic is, of course, a huge issue in Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park. You'd think the elected officials would want to hear from the public before making such an important decision.

You will know by the Board's action on September 5 how much they value what the public says, or if they just do what staff tells them to do.
Developers Propose Dramatic Changes to Green Buffer Rules - No Public Involvement

VRE Proposed Extension
Buffers are a width of space filled (from one side to the other) with woody vegetation, landscaping and/or preserved trees. They are an important part of the green open space found in attractive, sustainable communities.

Buffers increase property values, improve our air and drinking water, create wildlife corridors, help keep us healthy and happy, and separate dissimilar uses. Buffers attract home buyers and businesses.

To developers, buffers are “unusable space” that limits the amount of land available for parking lots and buildings. Beware. The current regulations to provide buffers are under attack.

The set-up (described below) is complicated, but the game plan is clear. Supervisors will be asked to change the rules so site plan deals can be cut in the dark.

This story began more than a year ago when the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) approved a resolution authorizing the developer-dominated Commercial Development Committee (CDC) to review the County's buffer standards.

Although the scope was limited to commercial development, the CDC recommendations also cover residential uses. They are calling for a two phased approach.

Phase 1, expected to be up for a Planning Commission vote on September 20, recommends two major changes (read the text):

  1. The transfer of buffer standards from the Zoning Ordinance, where a variance requires a public hearing, to the Design Construction Standards Manual, where waivers are approved by staff with no public notice, and

  2. The transfer of authority to approve waivers from the County’s green infrastructure experts in Public Works to the Development Services Dept.

If the BOCS approves Phase 1, less qualified staff will approve buffer changes to site plans, with no public notice. It will be easy for developers to replace trees and landscaping with stormwater facilities, utilities, sidewalks, retaining walls, and other development infrastructure.

Buffers as we know them would essentially be eliminated. County government and citizens would lose an important tool to protect property values and attract economic development.

Buffer standards are boring, until a shopping center is proposed for the property behind your home. Stormwater management is also boring, until there’s a flood. Consider what’s happening right now in Houston.

Here’s the bottom line. If the BOCS goal is indeed to enhance the County’s capacity to attract high quality commercial development there’s no better tool than an attractive, sustainable community. Buffers are key to achieving this goal.

How Prince William develops is a local choice, governed largely by local rules that carry local benefits and consequences. Your Supervisor is being asked decrease the quality of our communities and increase developer influence.

Holding developers to a high standard can only benefit our community. Email Supervisors today to reject the proposed buffer amendments and advance a healthy, sustainable future for us all.

Read the full article, including information on Phase 2, here.

Lake Ridge Resident Rachel Myer on Buffers

As a resident of Lake Ridge, I really love all of the woods around us. We are blessed to live with a beautiful forest right out back even though we can only fit two trees on our tiny lot.

It seems like leaving so much forest would make it easy to stomach living right behind a shopping center, but its not always that great.

The deciduous forest between my family and the shopping center drops all of its leaves in winter and all of the sound and light blocking protection goes with it.

Transitional screening is really technical, with percentages of evergreen canopy to be provided, as well as numerous shrubs and other picky requirements.

But its so important! The forest between my family and the shopping center is ample, but the winter time is not so great without evergreen trees and shrubs along the edge as should be required between dissimilar uses.

If a toddler or cat moves the curtains at all, a light from the parking lot shines across the head of our bed - all night long! The beeping and banging of trash trucks emptying dumpsters wakes me up very early on many winter days.

As our county becomes more and more developed examples like this will multiply, and the need to require an effective vegetated buffer between developments becomes even more important!