The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted 6-2 on Tuesday to allow landscaping company Rock Water Farm to operate in an agriculturally zoned area on U.S. 15 outside Haymarket, despite concerns expressed by some residents and supervisors about traffic crashes along the rural roadway.
Rock Water Farms Landscapes and Hardscapes is headquartered in Loudoun County. The company helps design landscapes, patios, and pools for homes. The business’s future Prince William County operation is slated east of the intersection of the James Madison Highway—also known as U.S. 15—and Loudoun Drive. The 44-acre site is inside the area formerly known as the “rural crescent” and zoned for agricultural uses. Some commercial uses are allowed but require a special-use permit from the county board.
Rock Water Farm plans to build an 18,400-square-foot equipment and material storage building and an 8,000-square-foot office as well as a product display area and storage bins, according to county documents.
The area along U.S. 15 where the site is located is known for traffic crashes, especially rear-end collisions.
Supervisors Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, and Bob Weir, R-Gainesville, voted against the special use permit because of concerns that the business would draw traffic to the area, possibly resulting in more crashes. Both also said there was not enough information provided by the applicant to determine whether siting the business there will exacerbate the traffic problem.
“This is a land use case, we have to look at it from many angles,” Lawson said. “And safety is a big one for us.”
Board Chair Ann Wheeler, D-At Large, said the business should not be penalized for traffic conditions along the road.
“If we have issues along the Route 15 corridor, I’m not going to pin them on this business,” Wheeler said.
The 44-acre site was once used as a state prison camp and includes several abandoned structures. It has sat vacant in recent years. Some residents who spoke during the public hearing called the site an “eyesore” and said they would be glad to have anything else in the space.
“I live next door to this site,” said area resident Elise Horwath, who spoke at the meeting. “It’s a sin that when the state owns it, all this junk is laying there, and I can see it. (Rock Water Farms) cannot be anything but an improvement.”
Other area residents were concerned about how the Rock Water Farms office building would impact traffic.
“They should have to invest in an appropriate left-hand turn lane into their personal property,” said Elena Schlossberg, a local resident who often speaks about environmental issues at board meetings. “It’s not okay that other people should have to be at risk of accidents because this applicant does not want to pay for the appropriate left-turn lane in to their business.”
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