The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted early Wednesday to approve a rezoning allowing 516 new homes to be built near Devlin and Linton Hall roads in Bristow.
The board approved the rezoning in a 5-2 vote near the end of a marathon meeting that ended after 1 a.m.
All five Democratic supervisors voted in favor of the rezoning, while Supervisors Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, and Peter Candland, R-Gainesville, voted against it. Supervisor Yesli Vega, R-Coles, abstained from voting on the rezoning approval.
Prior to that vote, Lawson asked the board to vote to deny the rezoning. The board voted 3-5 along party lines with all three Republicans voting to deny the rezoning, and all five Democrats voting in favor of the rezoning.
It was the first major land-use case to come before the board since its five new members were elected last November.
The project, called "the Devlin Community," is proposed by developer Stanley Martin. It will add 516 single-family homes on 270 undeveloped acres within the county’s "development area," meaning it is outside the rural crescent. The average lot size for the new homes is between 7,100 and 7,800 square feet. The homes are expected to be priced at more than $600,000.
The Prince William County Planning Commission recommended approval of the project in September 2018. Prince William County’s professional planning staff also recommended that supervisors approve the rezoning at Tuesday’s meeting.
Lawson voted against the rezoning over concerns about the impact the development will have on school overcrowding and traffic congestion in her district.
“Students, commuters and teachers have been waiting for years for school and road improvements,” Lawson said.
Lawson said she would be in favor of the project if Stanley Martin would reduce the number of planned homes, but the developer declined to do so.
“I really would like to make this a win-win for everybody, but that doesn’t seem like something the applicant is willing to do,” Lawson said.
The new development is the latest iteration of what once was called the “Stone Haven” project. That now-defunct development at one time proposed more than 1,800 homes on about 700 acres in the same area.
Lawson’s opposition to original Stone Haven project led to the landowners withdrawing their rezoning application in 2015.
Supervisor Victor Angry, D-Neabsco, said he is concerned about the potential for increased traffic congestion on Devlin Road, which already experiences heavy traffic during rush hour. But he ultimately voted to approve the project.
“Regardless of what happens on that property, you’ve got bad traffic on that road,” Angry said. “If we have an opportunity to fix that road first, then I would definitely want to entertain that on this board.”
Peter Dolan, an attorney who represents Stanley Martin, said the development will begin construction in 2022 and will be completed by 2032. Dolan said additional roads and schools in the area will be completed before the full buildout in 2032.
Additionally, because the rezoning application was submitted prior to July 1, 2016, when the state’s new law limiting proffers went into effect, it offers a total of $27.7 million to the county to offset the impact of the new residents.
The proffer package includes $13 million for transportation improvements and $10.7 million for county schools.
At-large Chair Ann Wheeler (D) voted in favor of the development. Wheeler said road improvements for Devlin Road could be completed before the full buildout in 2032.
“I don’t see Devlin Road as a major issue,” Wheeler said.
Prince William County voters approved a road bond referendum in November 2019 that includes $50 million to widen Devlin Road. The money for construction of that project was not included in the proposed 2021 county budget, however.
About 30 county residents came to the meeting to speak against the rezoning and the new homes that will accompany it. Most expressed concerns about school overcrowding and traffic congestion in the surrounding areas. A handful of residents spoke in favor of the proposal.
John Zuck, a Brentsville resident, said he is concerned the new development will lead to more classroom trailers outside area schools.
“The newest county high school already has five trailers. If you’re in favor of keeping trailers at schools, go ahead and approve it,” Zuck said. “I’m asking you to please vote no.”
David Geiger, a Brentsville resident who recently moved to the area, said school overcrowding is a major concern. Geiger said his children attend Prince William County schools.
“The idea that we’re proposing 516 homes when there is already overcrowding in schools is discouraging,” Geiger said.
Mansimran Singh Kahlon, a Brentsville resident and one of the county’s elected Soil and Water Conservation District directors, said the development would worsen traffic congestion.
“We’re just talking about what’s best for our community,” Kahlon said. “Let’s just wait for the new traffic improvements are finished to see what we can do.”
Sameer Patel, the developer of the nearby Bristow Commons shopping center, spoke in favor of the new development. Patel said the added population would help fill vacancies in the shopping center.
“We’ve had trouble leasing out our spaces,” Patel said. “You have to have houses to bring retailers ... Hopefully this is the next step to bring more people to the area.”
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