On the evening of Wednesday, July 10, the Prince William County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing for a new proposal to develop the 92-acre Kline farm property at the southeast intersection of Prince William Parkway and Liberia Avenue.
If approved, this project will further damage our quality of life by adding more of the suburban sprawl that’s already brought us the most overcrowded classrooms in all of Virginia and some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation.
According to the planning office’s latest countywide build-out analysis, we already have a “pipeline” inventory of more than 15,000 new homes – in almost 200 developments – that are and ready to be built whenever the developers decide to do so.
The Kline property is in the Coles District, where 2,277 of those new homes (in 48 developments) are already approved to be built.
Parents of the county’s more than 90,000 students (and their 5,500-plus teachers) may decide the outcome of this November’s election when all eight county supervisors and all eight school board members are on the ballot. So it’s important they are aware that the school board’s “impact statement” for the proposed Kline property development includes five excellent reasons why it should not be approved and concludes, “For these reasons, the school board is opposed to the subject application [for development of the Kline property].”
While the school board’s reaction to the Kline property proposal reflects the concerns that parents and teachers expect, the same cannot be said for school division management under Superintendent Steven Walts. Once again, the school division touts schools and classroom additions planned for the future as a solution for the increased school overcrowding it admits the Kline development would cause.
For years, this school division tactic has helped developers get their projects approved and helped county officials avoid accountability for approving those that worsen school overcrowding (and traffic congestion).
In reality, the school division has not been able to keep up with new home development, as evidenced by the fact that so many of our schools remain overcrowded and more than 200 trailers are being used to house students.
For example, the 12th high school, Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School, opened in 2016 and in only its third year of operation is already at 124 percent of its student capacity. Shamefully, five trailers will be installed there for student use this coming school year. Our calculations indicate that the 13th high school will also be overcrowded soon after it opens in 2021.
As usual, there are also many problems with the documentation provided by the developer and the county planning office for the proposed Kline property development. Those problems include a wildly speculative fiscal impact analysis as well as planning office staff reports that ignore comprehensive plan guidelines for “timing of development” and are otherwise heavily biased toward project approval, etc. This is a “business as usual” practice that we’ve repeatedly documented and exposed. We’re hopeful the November elections will help bring this practice – and the resulting enrichment of developers at the expense of county citizens’ quality of life – to an end.
The writer, a Gainesville resident, is president of the Citizens Alliance of Prince William, whose motto is: “Putting children and families first.”