Provided by Supervisor Kenny Boddye’s Office
Greenlight for PDRs and Whole-County Approach To Preservation
For the first time in over 20 years, Prince William County has meaningfully added to its land preservation toolbox, with the unanimous adoption of a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program. This popular measure been in a holding pattern, with previous Boards taking an “all or nothing” approach to rural land policies.
“Inaction over the decades has cost us thousands of acres of rural land, and we will continue to lose upwards of 1,000 acres per year under current land use policies. We must do something to protect our remaining open space, even as we continue to finetune other preservation tools,” said Supervisor Kenny Boddye.
Planning staff reported that nearly 14,000 acres of rural land had been carved into 10-acre residential lots between 2009 and 2019. Meanwhile, the amount of acreage being actively farmed in the County dropped by 70% since 2002, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Some local farmers cite the large-lot, residential encroachment as a factor, as reported by Prince William Times..
“A PDR program is an important first step to being better stewards of the land,” said Boddye. “The next, as we adopt more preservation tools, is to acknowledge that there are green spaces and rural areas all throughout the county that are just as worthy of protecting. It is time to stop pitting west against east, working together to holistically protect our County’s natural resources.”
The Board was also unanimous in deciding that the Rural Preservation Study commissioned in 2014 was outdated. Boddye issued a series of directives without objection (see video) giving staff guidance on elements of the study that Supervisors would like to revisit soon—such as adopting a set of “Rural Character” design standards and creating a staff position to support the new Agriculture & Arts Overlay District—and those that would require more refinement, such as Transfer of Development Rights (TDR). The directives, outlined below, also direct staff to expand the preservation scope to the County as a whole:
- Recommend implementation strategies on the following sections of the Rural Area Plan CPA: Rural Character; Rural Economic Development; Environment, Open Space and Recreation; Rural Infrastructure; and Public Facilities.
- Create an interconnected open space vision for the whole County, to include holistic land preservation, trail development and wildlife corridor planning throughout Prince William. Create synergy with the County’s scenic byway network, culminating in an Open Space Master Plan.
- Identify funding for an agri-business/agritourism staff position within the Economic Development Department and for formulating a Rural Economic Development Plan.
- Ensure that Rural Infrastructure contemplates street lights and pedestrian-friendly shoulders on major rural roadways.
- Identify opportunities to fill gaps in high speed broadband and cellular tower coverage, particularly in underserved rural areas.
- Update the Comprehensive Plan to include consideration of a Metro Stop near Potomac Mills, in light of new density potential from a TDR Program and recent state-level support for studying Metro extension into Prince William. (See the latest on Metro extension.)
- Develop strategies to identify, highlight and preserve burial grounds and cemeteries, to include those of historic African American and Native American communities.
- Evaluate areas beyond the Rural Area as appropriate for PDR Program eligibility.
- Begin immediate research into funding mechanisms for the PDR Program.
- Identify appropriate sending areas for a TDR program.
- Analyze the existing Rural Cluster Ordinance and come back with recommendations to increase flexibility and utility.
“We are finally positioning ourselves to truly embrace smart growth principles, to include protecting contiguous, accessible open space,” said Boddye of Tuesday’s unamimous decision. “I look forward to working with residents, County staff and my colleagues in creating a holistic, sustainable preservation framework for our entire community.”
Renewed Momentum for Blue Line Extension
There is renewed momentum behind the long running effort to extend Metro’s Blue Line into Prince William County. The train service is included in an ongoing Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) feasibility study of enhanced transportation services between Springfield and Quantico.Click here to see findings and discussions to date, and to participate in a public survey open through May 17. Additionally, the state budget currently being considered by Virginia lawmakers includes funding for a Blue Line Extension Feasibility Study, and Supervisor Boddye directed County planning staff to add consideration for a Metro stop near Potomac Mills in the Comprehensive Plan. Take The DRPT Transit Survey.
Community Sessions: New Planning Designations
Join County planning staff to learn about two new land use designations, one meant to spur economic opportunity for rural landowners and the other to encourage walkable smart growth living along transit nodes. Both will be held virtually and require advance registration.
- Agrotourism & Arts Overlay District | Thursday, May 27 6:00 p.m.: Do you want to enhance the community’s rural economy? Have you ever wanted to run an Agricultural or Arts business from home? The County’s new AAOD allows landowners to take advantage of their beautiful agricultural land while pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams.
- Mixed-Use District | Thursday, June 3 6:00 p.m.: Have you ever imagined being able to stroll from home to a café or shop, then hop on the train to work? This new zoning designation is meant to encourage just that type of smart growth right here in Prince William.
Public Service Appreciation Week
While we always appreciate our County, the dedication and innovation shown during the pandemic are particularly inspiring: Librarians at COVID call centers, social services opening socially-distanced homeless services, first responders remaining on the frontlines, facilities staff sanitizing buildings, communications sharing the latest COVID news…the list could go on. Watch the Top 10 staff highlights from 2020 and join in saying “Thank You” this #publicemployeeappreciationweek.