The Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved a development Tuesday that could bring 475 homes, upscale shops, restaurants, a new middle school and a soccer stadium to a 153-acre site between Linton Hall and Wellington roads near Gainesville.
Supervisors voted 6-2 to approve Wentworth Green at Virginia Gateway, emphasizing the need for the 39-acre middle school site that was promised along with the development.
Supervisors Corey A. Stewart, R-Occoquan, and John T. Stirrup, R-Gainesville, voted against the plan.
The board’s vote did not come until well after midnight, but several residents stayed until then to speak in support of the development.
“I am stunned and gratified to see that people stayed to talk about it,” said Supervisor W.S. “Wally” Covington III, R-Brentsville, adding that many residents in his district like the possibility of upscale shops and restaurants in the area.
Representatives of The Peterson Companies — which is developing Wentworth Green — said the area would be similar to Fairfax Corner in Fairfax, which has shops, restaurants and a movie theater in a pedestrian-friendly street.
Yet for county supervisors, the school site was key — especially since Prince William Public School officials have been frantically trying to keep up with the surge in school-age children.
“We are bursting at the seams with very limited options,” said school board member Milton C. Johns, who represents the Brentsville District and attended the meeting to speak in favor of Wentworth Green.
“They need this site. They need it desperately,” said Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan, R-Dumfries.
Construction of the middle school could begin in six weeks and be completed by the start of the 2007 school year, according to George Pincince, supervisor of facilities and real property for Prince William County Public Schools.
Space for a soccer stadium is included with the school site, but if the stadium can’t fit there the developer would pay $1.8 million to help build one somewhere else, according to development plans.
In other business Tuesday, supervisors endorsed plans for two housing developments in Woodbridge — Potomac Club II and Potomac Heights — that would add 942 multi-family units and build a new section of road.
Stewart voted against both Woodbridge development plans and Stirrup voted against the Potomac Heights plan.
Potomac Club II and Potomac Heights are part of a “Road Club” of three new developments that would help build an extension of Neabsco Mills Road from Dale to Opitz boulevards to create a “ring road” system with Reddy and Blackburn roads.
Once completed, the “ring road” would pull traffic off U.S. 1, despite the added houses in the plans, county officials say.
Also on Tuesday, supervisors voted 7-1 to approve an expansion of the Holy Family Academy near Pineview Road and Moore Drive in Buckhall.
Supervisor John D. Jenkins, D-Neabsco, voted against the expansion, saying that the school promised not to build again when it was originally approved in 1996.
County supervisors rejected a similar expansion in 2002, and last month the county planning commission advised supervisors to reject this expansion. Planning commissioners worried that the school’s plan for parking, water and sewer was inadequate.
Yet after nearly two hours of testimony from almost 30 speakers Tuesday, supervisors backed the school’s plans.
“I do believe that it is important that local government not be in the business of regulating how large God grows in communities,” said Covington.
The school is now free to grow from 175 to 330 students and build a chapel, classroom building and a gymnasium in addition to baseball fields.