Contributed by Prince William County
People who attended the recent meeting introducing the “Potomac Communities Design Guidelines” said they liked what they heard. The guidelines are meant to help create a vision of what development along the U.S. 1 Corridor should look like in the future.
Supervisor Frank J. Principi opened the meeting by telling about 35 area residents that he was committed to the plan and to revitalizing the corridor between Woodbridge and Triangle. He also said that he believed revitalization on U.S. 1 depended on smart growth, mixed–use development and the new living together with the old. “We’ve got to make sure the old coexists with the new because the new is coming.”
Smart growth, Principi said, would help people work, shop and play near home. In addition to getting people off the road through smart growth, lobbying for federal, state and local funds to widen Route 1 and bring transit alternatives will help with traffic.
Questions from the audience touched on how long it would take to implement the vision; how would the County meet the hurdles of convincing existing businesses to buy into the plan; how could people come together to figure out what they want; and how to accomplish the goals of the plan.
Steven Hall, the County’s Community Development Manager, said the County could use the plan, being developed with the assistance of urban planning firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, in several ways. “The results of the study will be used by the Planning Office to inform and share our aspirations along the Route 1 corridor for what we, as the public and as the community, envision for the future of Route 1. The document itself will be advisory and will be used internally by the Planning Office as a tool to negotiate what new development should look like.”
Hall said the plan guidelines called for identifying where redevelopment and change is likely to happen and encouraging developers to conform to the plan’s guidelines on building height and bulk, lot layout, signage and landscaping.
The Planning Office is also discussing incorporating some or all of the design guidelines into the Comprehensive Plan as well as exploring other means to put “teeth” behind the effort. The existing Redevelopment Overlay District in the Zoning Ordinance is one example of a regulatory document where many of the design components could be incorporated to incentivize redevelopment along the corridor.
Shay Seaborne said she liked the idea of green spaces and being able to walk, bike and shop near home “It was very encouraging, but also daunting. I really enjoyed finding out about what the plans are and seeing all the different options. I’m very interested in it,” she said of the plan and its guidelines.
Todd Hewitt, a local banker who lives in Occoquan, said he agreed with the concept of bringing the corridor up to the standards of newer developments in the area coinciding with some of the plan’s guidelines. “I think the redevelopment of primarily the North Woodbridge area into something that ties the great development going on in Belmont Bay with what we’re seeing at Stonebridge – tying that together is what I’m really interested in.”
A second public workshop is planned in conjunction with the next Woodbridge Civic Association meeting. The workshop will be the opportunity for the community to share its aspirations and ideas regarding proposed design guidelines. There is an upcoming meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 17 at the Harbour View Events Center 13200 Marina Way Woodbridge, VA 22191. All are welcome to attend.
Please direct all questions and comments to Steven Hall at 703-792-7615 or [email protected].
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