Prince William Conservation Alliance

Community Report, August 16 2019

Read online here

Common Buckeye

Planning Staff Proposes Major Changes to Rural Crescent Policies


Nokesville FarmThe uniqueness of Prince William County's rural area needs to be celebrated, not castigated. It should not be a second class citizen in the County’s planning process. --Dr. Jack Kooyoomjian, President, Lake Ridge, Occoquan, Coles Civic Association. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that Prince William County is at a crossroads. What happens in the coming months will determine the fate of our growth boundary, the Rural Crescent, as well as the mid-county semi-rural area, and whether we will protect our natural assets or open all the county to largely unrestrained sprawl.

County staff, large landowners, and the development community are proposing changes to the Comprehensive Plan that would add many more residential units in the Rural Crescent and parts of the semi-rural area, in some cases basically proposing mini-towns where there is open space now.

A better plan would be to protect the assets that bring folks to our county and incentivize development in targeted areas, such as North Woodbridge and Innovation.

Proposing plans that feature thousands of new housing units despite the fact that there are tens of thousands already approved and waiting to be built would damage our natural assets while eliminating any hope of ever diversifying our tax base.

We recommend the county drop the current proposals that undermine local efforts to achieve smart growth and reduce the residential taxpayer’s financial burden. These include the proposed “Transitional Ribbon,” which would remove 13,800 acres from the Rural Crescent, as well as density bonuses for rural cluster development, Transfer of Development Rights within the Rural Crescent, and the extreme housing density in some “Small Area Plans” such as Independent Hill and Dale City.

We propose a new plan that targets development in areas that have the capacity to handle it and at the same time protects the uniqueness and diversity of our natural landscape. Please share your views with the Board of County Supervisors and the Planning Commission, here!

Read more…

The Reserve at Long Forest

Scheduled for a vote at the Board of County Supervisors Tuesday September 17, 2019 

This proposed development covers approximately 131 acres along Birmingham Drive, east of Signal Hill Elementary School. It is located within the Suburban Rural Residential (SRR) district, a low-density long-range land use category intended to buffer the Rural Area and protect the Occoquan Reservoir. 

Over the past four years, the applicant’s representative has worked with the community, through conversations with MidCounty Civic Association and Prince William Conservation Alliance. The development proposal has changed significantly as a result of this positive process.

The current plan, scheduled for a Board of County Supervisor vote on September 17, is very close to the recommended Semi-Rural Residential (SRR) average density of 2.5 acres per home, which matches the majority of the surrounding community.

In addition, approximately 60 acres of green open space will be placed into conservation easement and opened to public use, via a natural surface trail system. Preservation of the 60 acres protects important wildlife habitat as well as a natural drainage corridor to Bull Run, which flows into the Occoquan Reservoir. The Applicant has already met with a land trust to ensure the environmental values of this property qualify for perpetual protection in a conservation easement.

According to staff comments, this development “proposal now represents in large measure what a true Semi-rural Cluster development should achieve.” It also serves as a model of how the community, landowners, and applicant representatives can work together to permanently protect open space while providing a new neighborhood that everyone can be proud of.

Independent Hill Small Area Plan 

Independent Hill Small Area Plan

The Independent Hill Small Area Plan (SAP) covers an approximate 564-acre area that is surrounded by the Kelly Leadership Center, Hellwig Park, the PWC Landfill, Marine Corps Base Quantico, and Prince WilliamForest [National] Park. 

It also covers a portion of the Rural Crescent, on the southern side of Route 234, which the Planning Office's 102 page report fails to mention. 

Planning staff is proposing to revise the Comprehensive Plan to allow up to 800 additional residential units, including 5 story apartment buildings along the border of the Rural Crescent. 

One targeted area covers the headwaters of Quantico Creek and lies within the legislative boundaries of Prince William Forest [National] Park, which abuts this site on three sides. A portion of this property, which is currently part of the Rural Crescent, is now proposed for development of Offices or Public Facilities.

Prince William Forest [National] Park protects the largest piedmont forest in the National Park Service. It is the largest greenspace in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. The Park greatly enhances both the watershed and public values of a very special landscape.

Prince William Forest [National] Park also protects 80% of the Quantico Creek watershed, which flows to the Potomac River and is commonly used as a reference stream in Northern Virginia.

Adding additional development to a property that is surrounded by Prince William Forest [National] Park on three sides would challenge the integrity of both the Park and Quantico Creek. The area covered by this SAP is currently approximately 14% impervious surface. According to the Center for Watershed Protection, at 12% imperviousness, trout and other sensitive species can no longer survive in the stream.  

At the August 7 Planning Commission Work Session, many citizens from the surrounding area expressed strong concerns about the proposed density increases and said the plan being presented did not match community input at any of the charettes hosted by the Planning Office. 

The Independent Hill SAP is slated for a Planning Commission vote on September 18. You can read the full proposal here. And please share your views with the Board of County Supervisors and the Planning Commission, here!

2019 Butterfy Survey, Manassas Count Circle

Carolina SatyrOn July 20, 20 people formed teams to survey natural areas and backyard gardens for butterflies. Our territory is a circle with a 7.5 mile radius centered on Manassas Airport. 

Together we observed 44 species of butterflies and 1001 individuals. Our 2018 count recorded 44 species with 683 individuals.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were abundant, with 177 seen that day. Other top butterflies included Silvery Checkerspots and Eastern-tailed Blues. Other butterflies of note included nine Monarchs, two Juniper Hairstreaks, two American Snouts, and three Northern Pearly-eyes.

This count is part of a national program led by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), which collects information from butterfly counts nationwide to learn more about butterfly populations, the distribution of species, and the effects of climate and habitat change on North American butterflies.

Volunteer! Merrimac Farm Wildlife Garden

Saturday, September 7, 9 am to 12 pm. Meet at the Merrimac Farm Stone House, 15014 Deepwood Lane. RSVP appreciated to, 703.490.5200

Thanks to volunteer support, we created an area at Merrimac Farm WMA where people and the environment can come together as one. It's a great area to watch wildlife, learn about native plants and pollinators, and get ideas for your own backyard. We need help to keep nonnative invasive in check to maintain high quality habitat. Even if you can come just once, your help makes a big difference! Wear long pants, sturdy shoes, and long socks.

Please consider supporting PWCA today!

Your tax deductible donation helps protect green open spaces and healthy communities close to home, from the Potomac River shoreline to Silver Lake. For more information, please email or call 703.490.5200.

Occoquan Reservoir