No document in Prince William County has as much influence over land use and development as the county’s comprehensive plan.
The process of updating that document will begin in earnest in September with the naming of a citizens committee.
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors has been busy making appointments to the committee that will review the comprehensive plan. An update is required once every five years under Virginia Code.
A list of 23 issues critical to development of the county will be presented to the committee. Most issues have been described by county planners as fine-tuning because the existing plan is basically sound, they said. The committee must make its recommendations to the Prince William Planning Commission by January 2003.
The last review of the comprehensive plan in 1998 dragged on so long that county officials moved up the start date for the 2002 process to January of this year and mandated that it be completed in 18 months by August 2003.
The board has so far appointed 19 people to the committee, some of whom are well-known for their community involvement. Others are relative newcomers to the area but have professional and civic qualifications that recommend them.
The appointees so far include:
Thomas G. Burrell of Woodbridge, president of the Westridge Homeowners Association and chairman of the Lake Ridge-Occoquan-Coles Civic Association’s Planning, Environment, Land-Use and Transportation Committee (LOCCA/PELT);
James G. Carlton of Dumfries, a consultant with Booz, Allen & Hamilton, where he provides support to the U.S. Navy Training Program;
James G. Connal of Dale City, a 15-year resident of the county who is active in information technology with the business community, including government industry coalitions;
Richard C. Coplen of Woodbridge, with 20 years experience as a tactical and strategic intelligence analyst;
Traci DeGroat of Manassas, owner of KTDiD Marketing and Advertising, and president of the Prince William County-Greater Manassas Chamber of Commerce;
Michelle Flynn of Dale City, a 25-year county resident who says she is interested in land use decisions and wants to help shape the county’s future;
Michael Geers of Woodbridge, who was a member of LOCCA-PELT and worked on a committee studying the feasibility of commuter lot expansion;
Martha Hendley of Manassas, a retired real estate appraiser and community activist who was narrowly defeated for Supervisor Edgar S. Wilbourn III’s Gainesville seat in the 1999 Republican primary;
Geraldine Hince of Dale City, operations manager of SkateQuest, with an extensive military background and involvement in education;
Conrad Holtslag of Manassas, a county Service Authority inspector who has served on the solid waste and zoning ordinance review committees and is a 40-year veteran of the county;
Timothy J. Leuking of Manassas, a commercial loan officer who says he is familiar with zoning issues through his work;
Joseph W. McClellan of Manassas, a civil engineer and vice president of William H. Gordon Associates Inc., who has served on numerous county committees, including as county representative on the citizens advisory committee to the transportation planning board for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments;
Peter McGuire of Woodbridge, with Dominion Insulation Inc., who served on the last county comprehensive plan review committee;
Jewel Miller of Woodbridge, an assistant counsel in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency with knowledge of land use issues;
Nancy Prymak Pratt of Dumfries, Secretary of the county’s Republican Committee and associate Realtor with Better Homes Realty;
George P. Shamer of Woodbridge, a retired Air Force colonel, who has served on numerous county boards, including the county’s Extension Office Leadership Council;
Eileen V. Sheridan of Woodbridge, business development manager with Research Analysis and Maintenance Inc;
Wayne Spencer of Haymarket, who asked to be considered because of his “life experience” as a county resident and “hometown common sense”; and
William Bann of Woodbridge, who provides assistance to the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Technology Security Police and Counterproliferation.
Each supervisor is expected to appoint three members, and three will be appointed at-large for a total of no more than 24 members.
“I would characterize the changes as clean up and refinement of the 1998 plan,” said county Planning Director Rick Lawson. “When the board and Planning Commission looked at it, there was a strong indication it was working and essentially a good foundation.”
The plan looks at existing land use and tries to anticipate future needs such as roads, parks and schools. The comprehensive plan sets up levels of service for each of these areas and grades them.
For the first time since the comprehensive plan was established in 1974, supervisors and the Planning Commission met jointly this year to hammer out the issues that would be covered.
One of those missions will be to figure out what constitutes an “F” a totally unacceptable level of service for each category of service the county provides its residents. The categories are: fire and rescue, libraries, parks and open space, schools and transportation. Transportation is the only category that has an “F” designation now.
“That will be challenging, because the methodology used for transportation doesn’t lend itself to analysis of those other categories,” Lawson said. It is mainly based on mathematical computations for roads and other factors that may not apply to schools or parks.
Another issue for the committee is trying to make properties that don’t coincide with their surrounding zoning because piecemeal rezoning has occurred more homogeneous in the comprehensive plan.
The committee is also charged with defining, for the record, the often-used amendment process; reviewing and rewriting the public facilities review process (which recently plagued the Planning Commission and supervisors over where to put water storage tanks in the west end) and make recommendations on where Metrorail and mass transit should go as well as what type of development should be allowed around it.