Zoning plants seeds for office, apartments

Triangle residents can expect new office buildings in their neighborhood while two more developments will be cropping up in Brentsville.

Prince William County Supervisors approved three rezoning changes with plans for an office and apartments at Quantico Gateway in Triangle and houses in Haymarket Overlook and Hopewell’s Landing in Brentsville. The approvals came after the County Planning Commission recommended approval for all three.

The Hopewell’s Landing development passed in a 6-2 vote with Supervisors Sean T. Connaughton, R- at large, and Ruth T. Griggs, R- Occoquan, voting no. The issue uncovered differences that surfaced last year when supervisors were almost split on how to plan the Gainesville Sector.

With a 5-3 vote, supervisors last fall changed the zoning plan from agricultural to residential for an area bound by U.S. 15, U.S. 29 and Interstate 66.

The Gainesville Sector was incorporated into the county’s 1998 comprehensive plan, which guides the planning process.

The 82 acres at Hopewell’s Landing, at the intersection of Carver Road and U.S. 29, had been zoned agricultural and could now see up to 233 single-family homes with the July 22 vote.

The suburban residential zoning matches the Gainesville Sector plan.

Supervisor Mary Hill, R-Coles, said she based her yes vote on that plan.

Griggs said the county just isn’t ready to implement that plan without improved roads.

“The Gainesville Sector plan turned that area from two-and-a-half-acre lots to four per acre, which is ridiculous from a transportation point of view,” she said. “It signed the death warrant on that land.”

Developer DR Horton, Inc. promised the county $5,264 per house for transportation improvements.

Connaughton said that wouldn’t put a dent in the estimated $90 million to $110 million needed to upgrade surrounding highways.

“The traffic problems we are experiencing in that area are so dramatic that we cannot continue to put higher density in that area until you make improvements to that road,” Connaughton said.

The U.S. 29 and U.S. 15 would need widening before he’d approve more developments in that area, he said.

“The biggest thing is to actually reconstruct the 29 and [Interstate] 66 interchange,” a $90 million project, he said.

But Hill said the county has to put the horse before the cart — in this case, the house before the road.

“If they want more roads, then the comprehensive plan needs to change to say that more roads need to be built before developments,” Hill said.

With developments come proffers for road improvements, she added.

She voted for the Hopewell’s Landing development because its staff analysis showed “absolutely no weaknesses.”

“I was not aware that there was a weakness in the transportation element,” she said.

County planning staff analyze each proposal that comes before the board and makes recommendations based on transportation, cultural resources, environment, fire and rescue resources and potable water, to name a few.

All of Hopewell’s Landing development’s various considerations received favorable recommendations.

Hill said it is the county supervisors’ jobs to make sure proposals are aligned with the comprehensive plan before they approve them.

“Too often you will hear people say you don’t want something because it’s not keeping with the comprehensive plan,” Hill said. “Then you have professional staff saying that it is.”

The Hopewell’s Landing development revitalized a tiff between those supervisors who opposed the Gainesville Sector and those who didn’t, but other rezoning issues weren’t as controversial.

The Quantico Gateway and Haymarket Overlook rezoning applications passed unanimously at the supervisor’s July 22 meeting.

Haymarket Overlook’s 2.5-acre residential lots are located at Old Carolina Road and Carver Road in Brentsville.

Supervisors rezoned 45 acres from agricultural to semi-rural residential, with little discord.

Connaughton and Griggs agreed they approved the application because Haymarket Overlook’s 2.5-acre lots were consistent with the pre-Gainesville Sector comprehensive plan.

Quantico Gateway’s approval in Triangle came with an overall thumbs-up from the board, too.

Supervisors agreed that the office space and apartments on U.S. 1 would provide an aesthetically-pleasing entrance to the county.

Plus, it could attract some businesses, one official said.

“It will be very, very nice and well kept,” said Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan, R- Dumfries, who said the Marines at Quantico Marine Corps Base would need living quarters as they tear down their existing barracks on the base.

“That will be the first thing people see in Triangle,” she added, since Quantico Gateway is consistent with the board’s plan to revitalize the U.S. 1 corridor.

Hill said perhaps the offices would attract defense contractors that require close proximity to the base.

Redeveloping that area is “going to take a long time, but these are the kinds of projects that help that,” said Hill. “It’s kind of like breaking the ice.”