(NOTE: from the November, 2003 Prince William Community Report)
The Prince William County Board of Supervisors holds public hearings right before a vote to approve or deny an application. The result is eleventh-hour input from the community. At South Market, following a last minute request to reschedule the public hearing due to citizen concerns, the developer did talk with several citizen groups and provided a public presentation. This was terrific except . . . it came too late in the process.
KSI's Greater South Market plan was finished before all interested parties had an opportunity to openly share ideas and concerns. The financial investment to develop this plan was significant. Although KSI did respond to citizen concerns for proffers that fell below the current standards, it was too late to make substantive changes to the plan itself. As a result, KSI did not - possibly could not - respond to citizen concerns about increased traffic congestion, high-density development within the Rural Crescent and environmental issues. When the process excludes some of the involved parties at the early stages, outcomes where both developers and citizens feel blindsided often result.
Prince William's Comprehensive Plan includes far more development than current and planned schools, roads or natural resources can accommodate. These same citizen concerns will come up with future development projects. To make the process easier for both the citizens and the developers, we need to deal with these issues ahead of time. Transparent government processes that involve citizens from the beginning would be a step in the right direction.