Earlier this fall, Supervisor Frank Principi announced the last town halls for 2017, a three-part series that focuses on how to manage the continued growth challenges we are experiencing in Eastern Prince William County. An expanding population together, with the construction of new homes and businesses, have resulted in an infrastructure deficit (traffic congestion, overcrowded classrooms, inadequate sports fields), service impacts (increased 911 police/fire response times, Medicaid application processing times) and environmental degradation (air and water pollution, loss of wildlife habitat). State legislation restricting developer proffers compounds these challenges, preventing localities from requiring developers to offset their impact.
Session I, Transit & Land Use:
At the first town hall, more than 75 community members discussed the value of interlocking our land use and transportation/transit planning. Panelists discussed the current planning approach that Principi has championed – focusing residential, commercial and retail development in five town centers in Eastern Prince William.
“So long as we are following the national smart growth principles and designing a mix of uses in close proximity and areas that are walkable and bicycle-friendly, we can prevent urban sprawl and the negative consequences of poor community planning,” said Paul DesJardin with Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. He added that every local jurisdiction in the National Capital Region is now planning development around these principles, and that competition is fierce for local office space, jobs, and state/federal highway dollars.
Session II, Design Guidelines & Smart Development:
Next, more than 50 participants gathered to discuss the progress being made on implementation of the Woodbridge Civic Association’s Potomac Communities Design Guidelines – technical standards for the new development that is occurring on the Route 1 corridor. The voluntary guidelines address materials of construction, elevations, setbacks and the general “look and feel” of new buildings on the corridor.
Ryan Foster, Prince William County Department of Planning, provided participants with a first-hand update on the various projects currently making their way through the entitlement process. He noted that the County has received applications for new construction at Potomac Town Center, North Woodbridge, Marumsco Assemblage (across from Marumsco Plaza), the Horner Road Cul-de-Sac (Ray’s Regarde) and Belmont Bay, among others.
Attendees were invited to provide input on the types of development that they would like to see, and to share their vision for the future of New Woodbridge.
Session III, Classroom Overcrowding (Dec. 8; RSVP online):
The final town hall in the series will occur December 8 and focus on schools. Following an extensive assessment last summer, Supervisor Principi realized that the Route 1 corridor has no more 20-acre parcels of land to build schools (the required space per current guidelines) to accommodate the increasing number of students moving into the district. Community members are invited to address the challenges of building schools vertically (multi-stories), the impact of not having recreation fields for these types of schools and how to accommodate parking and school bus turn-arounds. Supervisor Principi will host County and school planners, along with a developer that has a different approach to building schools in increasingly urban, mixed-use settings. All of Supervisor Principi’s town halls are free and open to the public.