Board nearly triples allowed density for Gainesville subdivision

The Dominion Valley subdivision in Gainesville will be allowed to expand, increasing residential densities in a continuing debate about whether too many new homes are being allowed in Prince William County.

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted 5-3 Tuesday to amend the county’s 1998 comprehensive plan — its blueprint for long range development — to allow Dominion Valley to grow from 58 homes to 175.

The issue is important to advocates of the Rural Crescent who said the transition from low-density there to higher-density housing in the development area should be more gradual.

The Rural Crescent is an 80,000-acre preserve in the northern and western end of the county set aside for large agricultural estates.

Originally the 145 acres on the north side of Lightner Road were zoned semi-rural residential, which allows for one home on each one- to five-acre lot, with an average of one home per two and a half acres. The new zoning allows for more homes — one to four homes on each one-acre lot. The board added a special condition this time of no more than 1.2 homes per acre.

Opponents see the higher densities as another attack on preservation of the Rural Crescent.

“Semi-rural residential zoning is the endangered species of the comp plan,” said Marth Hendley, a Gainesville resident. Although the board has maintained low density housing in the Rural Crescent, the densities around it are creeping up, she said.

“What you do with this will speak for what you consider an appropriate buffer to be,” Hendley told the board Tuesday.

Three supervisors voted against the higher densities: Republican at large board chairman Sean Connaughton, supervisor Maureen Caddigan, R-Dumfries and Supervisor Ruth Griggs, R-Occoquan.

On the other side of the argument is Mike Lubeley, Dominion Valley’s attorney. “What you’re talking about is a reasonable transition,” he said. “It is in line with density in that whole Catharpin area.”

Catharpin Creek is the border that separates Dominion Valley from the Rural Crescent. Lubeley pointed out that 66 acres of the land will be donated to the county park authority for development of a park. The area is surrounded by water and sewer hook-ups and includes schools which he said is the right place for housing to occur.

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