On July 30 2019 the Planning Office Held a Public Meeting on the Rural Crescent. Here's the letter local civic groups - MidCounty Civic Association, Nokesville Civic Association, Coalition to Protect Prince William, and Prince William Conservation Alliance - sent in response.
According to the County website, the Board of County Supervisors directed the Planning Office to "conduct research on appropriate planning tools to help in the preservation of open space in rural areas." Planning Office staff’s response was to commission the Rural Preservation Area Study, and the County has been considering the recommendations from that study since 2014.
Unfortunately, this process is flawed in two ways: (1) the study did not follow the Board’s direction, and (2) the Planning Office’s interaction with the public has been problematic. They have consistently shared little information, including not giving answers to direct questions.
Some information shared at the Planning Office staff’s July 30 2019 public meeting was misleading, incorrect, and/or in conflict with information previously shared with the Board of County Supervisors, such as the location of proposed receiving areas for a TDR program which were said to focus on mixed-use development at transit nodes.
In addition, at the July 30 2019 meeting, Planning Office staff:
- Incorrectly told the public that the County’s current Rural Cluster Ordinance allows access to public sewer for new cluster developments in the Rural Crescent.
- Proposed a TDR program that would move densities from one area of the Rural Crescent to another area of the Rural Crescent, ignoring the opportunity to benefit from transit oriented development. No research was done regarding how increasing the housing density in “Transition Ribbon” areas would affect land use in other nearby areas.
- Proposed to create a transition ribbon that would remove nearly 13,800 acres from the Rural Crescent with no information on how this would improve the County’s ability to preserve open space, address infrastructure shortfalls in the development area, or attract economic investments.
- Was not able to answer a question as to whether land protected through a PDR program would qualify for the County’s land use assessment program.
- Stated that unbuilt acreage in cluster developments as small as 12 acres would be placed into conservation easements held by a third party, with no verification that a land trust would accept properties of this size.
- Consistently includes no information on incentives for agricultural or rural economic development opportunities.
Planning Office staff has not followed the BOCS direction, but instead created a lose-lose situation where large landowners and residents are being pitted against each other. This is unacceptable. There is a growing consensus that this process has become untenable and should just be shut down.
We respectfully request that the Board of County Supervisors act to end this deeply flawed process which is currently in place, and to maintain current densities in the Rural Crescent. We also request Supervisors initiate a PDR program, as called for in the current Comprehensive Plan as well as a review of other rural area incentive opportunities that do not require access to public sewer.