Joint Resolution to Suspend Rural Preservation Study Process
On October 8, 2019, Supervisors Candland and Principi and I introduced a joint resolution to suspend the Rural Preservation Study Process:
Resolution to Suspend Rural Preservation Study Process
Joint Resolution: Supervisor Peter Candland, Supervisor Jeanine Lawson and Supervisor Frank Principi
WHEREAS, the Rural Area in Prince William County covers approximately 117,000 acres, including MCB Quantico and two national parks;
WHEREAS, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors created the Rural Area, an Urban Growth Boundary, in 1998 with the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan that established a Rural Area and a Development Area;
WHEREAS, the Rural Area is intended to provide a tool to promote and protect agriculture, woodland, open space, and other rural land, and better control sprawl development;
WHEREAS, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors initiated a Rural Preservation Study in 2012 to review, evaluate, and make recommendations for policy revisions to better meet the County’s objectives;
WHEREAS, public input gathered throughout the study process revealed a strong consensus supporting the importance of maintaining an Urban Growth Boundary, Rural Area, in Prince William County;
WHEREAS, the Board of County Supervisors initiated further study of the options presented in the Rural Preservation Study on September of 2016;
WHEREAS, County Planning staff published draft policy revisions to the Comprehensive Plan regarding the rural area on September 17, 2019;
WHEREAS, the recent report of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) calls for planned housing growth to be located near transit;
WHEREAS, all chapters and recommendations prepared by the Prince William Planning Department for the 2040 Comprehensive Plan must be consistent with implementation of the housing targets adopted by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments on September 11, 2019.
WHEREAS, existing rural area policies have proven to be a successful policy protecting the rural area from suburban sprawl and thereby channeling taxpayer funding for services into the development area;
WHEREAS, the rural area has significant assets including over 40 miles of Virginia Scenic Byways recognizing the value of scenic countryside views;
WHEREAS, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors renews its commitment to smart growth policies and recognizes the need for a comprehensive review of County land use policies;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Prince William County Board of Supervisors directs all County staff to suspend any and all efforts on the Rural Clustering and Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs, including any possible policy changes to the Rural Area/Urban Growth Boundary; removes from the Planning Commission’s work schedule the current Rural Area review work on the Rural Clustering and Transfer of Development Rights programs; and that County staff continues only the review of the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program with a focus on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ adopted goals and recommendations.
Rural Crescent Proposed Changes
On July 30, 2019, the Prince William County Planning Staff presented recommended proposed changes to the rural area. I have strong concerns about the proposals including the removal of over 13,000 acres from the Rural Crescent, the proposed increased density that would occur in the rural area, the lack of infrastructure in this area and the impact to county taxpayers. I urge citizens to carefully look at the proposals and make their voices heard.
As many of you are aware, the public hearing for the All Dulles Area Muslim Society–Greater Gainesville (ADAMs) Special Use Permit (SUP) was held on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. I appreciate the hundreds of citizens who attended that evening to come and participate in the process. Just to recap, our Comprehensive Plan established a policy in 1998 against sewer extensions and connections in the Rural Crescent (RC), including both residential and commercial uses. While there are exceptions to the policy, ADAMS had not demonstrated that any of those exceptions applied in this case. For these reasons, in May of 2015, I encouraged the ADAMS applicant and their attorney to look for a more suitable site in the Brentsville District development area, one with access to proper infrastructure.
After 8 ½ hours of citizen comment time an SUP was approved at 3:30 am. Unfortunately, the voting process was conducted with egregious errors in basic parliamentary procedure leading to a special exception that allows connection to public sewer.
Managing development and protecting the Rural Crescent is one of the primary reasons I ran for office and for that reason I could not support the connection to sewer in the Rural Crescent for any religious institution. Despite my attempts to question the proceedings, Chairman Stewart, Supervisor Nohe (Coles District), and Supervisor Principi (Woodbridge District) openly broke multiple parliamentary rules from Robert’s Rules of Order in an attempt to bully their way to their desired outcome.
Last week I contacted Thomas Balch, an attorney and Registered Parliamentarian Professional to review the proceedings. His report confirmed the parliamentary errors I had questions about as well as finding additional errors. You may view his report on my website at this link: Link to Parliamentarian’s Report
I have also attached a 30 minute You Tube clip of the proceedings so that citizens can be aware of exactly what transpired on June 27th and how the most basic meeting rules and procedures that the BOCS adopts annually were violated several times over. I urge my constituents to watch the full video so they have a complete understanding of the outrageous violations that took place that evening.
For democracy to work we must be able to trust that our public officials are operating within a set of rules for public meetings. To knowingly break those rules to achieve a desired outcome violates what we are elected to do. I will continue to investigate the legality of the proceedings however, I want to manage expectations and let the public know that the outcome is not likely to be overturned. I urge citizens to stay vigilant as we work together to protect the Rural Crescent from intensive uses, high density development and sewer extensions outside the Comprehensive Plan.
A professional parliamentary opinion on the conduct of the meeting of the Prince William County, Board of County Supervisors held on June 27-28, 2017.
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