PWCAPrince William Conservation Alliance

Community Report, December 7, 2020

Newsletter archive

Prince William Forest [National] Park

Protect Prince William Forest [National!] Park
Independent Hill Small Area Plan (SAP) proposes industrial development inside the legislative border of National Park as well as the Rural Crescent

Your support can make a difference!

Planning Commission Vote: December 9, 2020, 7pm 
Action: Click here to email 
Planning Commissioners and Supervisors to share your views. Attend the meeting at McCoart Government Center or speak online, register here by 5pm on Tuesday December 8. Read the staff report here.

Independent Hill SAPWhat's the Problem?

The Independent Hill SAP is located on both sides of Route 234 in the vicinity of the Prince William County landfill. This area is mostly undeveloped, with significant environmental and cultural resources that offer an opportunity to create a sense of place in keeping with the character of the surrounding area. 

But the staff proposal overlooks the value of existing resources and instead proposes a dense community in a semi-rural area with overcrowded schools and no hopes for public transit in the foreseeable future. The surrounding homes are mostly on 1-5 acre lots but the plan also includes up to 200 homes on ¼ acre-or-less lots and up to 2.25 million square feet of non-residential space.

This Small Area Plan also includes 160+ acres that are in (1) the Rural Crescent, (2) within the legislative border of Prince William Forest [National] Park, AND (3) cover the headwaters of Quantico Creek. 

These 160+ acres protect PWFP, Quantico Creek, and the Rural Crescent. They are environmentally significant and would be best protected as part of Prince William Forest Park(PWFP). Instead County staff wants Supervisors to re-plan them for industrial uses, such as a data center. 

Quantico Creek in PWFPProtect Prince William Forest [National!] Park

The permanent conservation of the 160+ acres would expand protection for Prince William Forest Park (PWFP) is a worthy priority and urgently needed. 

PWFP protects the largest piedmont forest in the National Park Service and the largest green space in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. It captures the transition from Coastal Plain to Piedmont ecosystems; its value to current and future research is significant and will continue to grow over time.

Every year 350,000 visit PWFP. In 2018, park visitors spent an estimated $17.9 million in local gateway communities. These expenditures supported 219 jobs and $23.8 million in economic output in the local area. 

Protect Quantico Creek

PWFP also protects nearly 80% of the Quantico Creek watershed, which flows directly into the Potomac River. Quantico Creek has been classified by several studies as one of the highest quality and most biologically diverse streams in the northern Virginia area. The stream's water quality is used as a baseline for the study of other streams in the region under development pressure.

The preservation of properties within the legislative boundaries of Prince William Forest Park (PWFP) would enhance and protect both the watershed and public values of this very special landscape. 

Protect the Rural Crescent

The Rural Crescent is a smart growth tool that helps the County minimize the negative financial impacts of sprawl development. Rural Crescent land drains into the Occoquan Reservoir. The rural landscape, open fields and forests, helps recharge wells. No information on costs to the public to provide services and mitigate impacts is included in the staff report.  

Countless government-led roundtables and community-led forums demonstrate that the majority of residents understand these benefits and support the growth boundary that allows the County to invest in the development area.

Data Centers 

To put a data center campus in the Rural Crescent, requiring the razing of a mature landscape and in direct proximity to the Prince William Forest Park forests and headwater streams, is the antithesis of good planning practice. Prince William County should be leading the charge to ensure data center placement is an asset to the community and in the right location. 

Destroying green open space to allow for an intensive industrial use, the fastest growing consumer of energy, is not forward thinking. Data Centers belong in the data center overlay district, such as right across the street at the landfill (see map above). They do not belong in national parks or rural areas where the sole attraction to the developer is cheap price of agriculturally zoned green field land.

Planning Commission Vote: December 9, 2020, 7pm
Action ... You can make a difference! Click here to email 
Planning Commissioners and Supervisors to share your views. Attend the meeting at McCoart Government Center or speak online, register here by 5pm on Tuesday December 8. Read the staff report here.

Prince William Forest [National!] Park