Manassas Journal Messenger | Candidates focus on Route 1 plans

Cleaning up junk cars and making sure properties are kept up to code and looking respectable are what Woodbridge residents want, said the district’s two candidates competing in the Nov. 4 election.

Democrat Hilda Barg, 70, and Republican Ron Robinson, 37, are vying for the Prince William County Supervisor position, an elected job that lasts for the next four years.

Barg has been representing Woodbridge for the past 16 years and Robinson says it’s time for a change. She’s been approving too many developments, her opponent said.

But according to Barg, she’s been working hard during her tenure and the fruits of her long-term labor are now starting to appear.

The revitalization of U.S. 1 is something she said she’s excited about, but Robinson said he doubts money will be available in the short term.

“What they don’t follow up with is that there is not one dime” to revitalize the highway that bisects Woodbridge, said Robinson. “I don’t think most people are happy with the [face] of Woodbridge.”

It’s a string of strip malls and – during rush hour – a line of traffic.

Barg said she’s excited that something will happen, soon, though.

“I’ve done very well and I’m very proud of my accomplishments on Route 1,” she said. “We’ve been working together as a team. One person doesn’t get anything done alone.”

Now she’s ready for funding and said she’s been talking to people in Richmond about it.

The county has $12 million set aside for widening preparations, but the Virginia Department of Transportation has pulled millions from other state road projects and won’t commit to firm figures to fix the busy thoroughfare.

Traffic and overcrowded schools are results of mismanaged growth, said Robinson. He said he wants to change the way the county approves developments to make sure developers pay for these impacts, not taxpayers. “Sometimes its as simple as telling people ‘no.’ You have to say no to developers with inadequate proffers,” he said.

Barg disagreed.

“A lot of this talk sounds nice, but the truth of the matter is you cannot refuse them the right to develop their property as long as they comply with all the federal, state and local guidelines,” she said. “I wish we could.”

“In many cases people use supposed legal actions as barriers,” said Robinson who, as an attorney, said he has read up on land use laws.

“You could just say no, but you’ll go to court and you’ll lose,” said Barg.

But Robinson thinks “people use that excuse too much.”

As for proffers, Robinson said they’re inadequate.

Proffers are monetary or in-kind contributions developers make and the county agrees upon to offset the costs of development.

Robinson said roads are jammed and so are schools – and it’s up to county supervisors to get more proffers from developers so taxpayers aren’t subsidizing new developments.

And the county should be using more tools to control growth, such as purchasing development rights, he said.

“I have an open mind to looking at any laws or legislation that would protect open space,” said Barg. “And I would like to see the county and federal governments put more in it, but we can’t do it on our own.”

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