Supervisor Principi has created a list of FAQ regarding Proffer 8(b) granting vehicle access from Railroad Avenue. He will continue to share updates as they become available, and to seek community dialogue in mitigating any potential impacts. Please submit any additional questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, so that this list may reflect the most current questions of area residents.
Where is Railroad Avenue?
Railroad Avenue is located between Route 1 and Belmont Bay community. The 15 parcels located on Railroad Avenue boarder the CSX railroad tracks and homes on Colchester Ferry Place.
What is Proffer 8(b)?
Proffer 8(b) was a condition of the rezoning application for Belmont Bay. Prior to 2015, residents of Railroad Avenue accessed their homes from Route 1 using a bridge that went over the railroad tracks and connected directly to Railroad Avenue. With the implementation of the CSX National Gateway Project, the bridge had to be demolished to allow double-stack trains to pass through. Prince William County approved the development of Belmont Bay with the condition, Proffer 8(b), that Belmont Bay provide an alternative access route through their community. Belmont Bay provided an access route to Railroad Avenue from Dogue’s Terrace which connects to Heron’s View Way and Express Drive. The Prince William County Zoning Administrator determined at the time that this satisfied the proffer and the Belmont Bay development permits were approved.
If residents have access, why are they challenging the Zoning Administrator’s Determination?
Residents of Railroad Avenue have physical access but not legal access. There is no legal easement from Belmont Bay to privately owned property on Railroad Avenue which creates legal problems for the property owners; such as the ability to obtain certain forms of insurance. The residents maintain that the intent of the proffer, and responsibility of the county, is to provide legal access.
How has the proffer determination been challenged?
A resident of Railroad Avenue appealed to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and the Board voted on March 8, 2018. Four Supervisors voted to uphold the Zoning Administrator’s determination that the proffer had been satisfied and four Supervisors voted against. Supervisor Principi voted to uphold. Since it was a tie vote, no action was taken by the county. The resident next filed a lawsuit against the county in court. On January 7, 2019 a judge ordered that the Prince William Board of County Supervisors decide “as expeditiously as possible, to either uphold or overturn” the proffer determination. On February 5, 2019 a motion was made to overturn the determination and the motion passed with 4 Supervisors in support and 3 opposed. Supervisor Principi voted against the motion.
What does overturning the Zoning Administrator’s determination mean?
This means that Proffer 8(b) has not been satisfied and the county must now work with Belmont Bay to determine how to do so. Supervisor Principi has brought the stakeholders of this issue together in the past to discuss potential solutions. Barring any additional legal action, Supervisor Principi hopes that discussions can continue once again to identify the solution that meets the need to provide legal access while mitigating the impact to the Belmont Bay community.
What are the possible solutions?
It is not possible to provide legal access from the Railroad Avenue roadway because it is owned by CSX, which has plans to add a third track to support high speed passenger rail service from Washington D.C. to Richmond. The Prince William Board of County Supervisors owns “paper alley” between the homes on Railroad Avenue and Colchester Ferry (depicted in red in the map below). It is referred to as a paper alley because it is depicted on deeds and plats but it is not developed. A possible option is for this alley to be turned into a proper road and Belmont Bay provide a legal easement to the county to access the road way (two possible routes to connect to the alley are shown in the map).
Is it true that there are plans to build new homes on Railroad Avenue?
Residents of Railroad Avenue have entered into a conditional sales agreement with a developer that would like to build new homes on the properties if a rezoning application is approved. Preliminary plans have been made but an application has not yet been filed with the county. This rezoning application would require a public hearing and Board of County Supervisors vote to be approved.
What can be done about potential impacts to Belmont Bay?
Supervisor Principi is in dialogue with members of Belmont Bay, and is aware of community concerns about potential impacts. He will continue to work with the county and all stakeholders to address issues pertaining to buffering, landscaping, traffic and road maintenance, to mitigate any impacts to Belmont Bay. Belmont Bay residents, Railroad Avenue property owners and all other stakeholders will continue to have a seat at the table in the decision making whenever possible, as Supervisor Principi advocates for a solution that satisfies the proffer with the least impact to the community. Community members are encourage to engage other Supervisors as well. You may email the full Board at BOCS@pwcgov.org.