OPINION / The Derecho: Stone Haven – A Comprehensive Litmus Test for Change/No Change
by The Derecho
Stone Haven, Brentswood Lite, by whatever name you wish to refer to the development package currently pending before Prince William County it is clear that it will serve as a comprehensive litmus test that will reveal what changes (if any) have occurred at both the staff and elected official levels.
First lets recap where we stand. On March 20, voted to not initiate CPA PLN2012-000224. As a result, the CPA as proposed is dead and likely beyond resurrection. That being said, the BOCS did throw the developer a lifeline by issuing a directive to initiate a study of the larger Stone Haven area with the Planning Office to deliver alternatives to the BOCS, ostensibly at the October 9 meeting. Thus in order for any CPA to legally proceed, under County Rules a new CPA application must be forwarded to the BOCS for initiation. If the initiated, the CPA would then be referred to the Planning Commission for public hearings and consideration, then forwarded, with the Planning Commission’s recommendation, to the BOCS and another round of public hearings prior to final action.
In prior years, one could count on the Planning Office and the BOCS playing fast and loose with the rules by simply approving some bastardized and likely more deleterious version of the CPA but given the current level of public scrutiny I suspect that even they realize that such a violation statute and county rules would not pass the smell test and likely result in a public come to Jesus moment that most would rather avoid. Thus, lets anticipate the tests they will face and the likely results.
Surprisingly, given the manner in which the Stone Haven study has progressed so far, it would appear that the Planning Office or at least Chris Pierce (Planning Office Director) is passing the test, a circumstance unlikely under his predecessor. Despite a working group loaded with the applicant’s representatives and conflicted developers the public worksessions have been surprisingly open to resident input and the Planning Office (not so much the working group or the applicant) willing to entertain discussion and consideration of questions and concerns. Given the number of issues raised Mr. Pierce has committed to disregarding the BOCS October 9 deadline in order to solicit more input prior to drafting a recommendation. Despite concerns regarding the format of the first public worksession, I would have to give Mr. Price an A on the first portion of the test.
Other County Staff
Unlike the performance of Mr. Pierce, the remainder of County Staff continue to disappoint. Whereas the Planning Office has been open to considering many different viewpoints and options, the Transportation Office and School Administration representations have engaging in their typical disingenuous and smug behavior. Beyond some slide presentations with questionable data and assertions, they done little more than joke with the development representatives and deliver condescending looks to residents who questioned their data or assertions, business as usual, grade F.
Despite initiating a study of something they could have killed out of hand, it is still too early to hand out any grades as they haven’t had the opportunity to take any further action. That being said, unless they skirt the rules and initiate a CPA in October (resulting in an immediate collective F and likely a lawsuit) we will have to look at how they individually handle the Planning Office recommendations.
Likely in a position of having everything or nothing to lose. His Lt. Gov. campaign is likely dead and his chance of another term as chair diminishing daily. With nothing to lose he may simply support his contributors or he may attempt to rehabilitate his image. With Corey one never knows, might as well flip a coin as try to make an educated guess.
Unlike Corey, Pete has everything to lose and everything gain. Talking time is over, its walk the walk time for Pete. This issue has the capacity to define him and his suitability for public office. He gets the newbie Mulligan for Tall Oaks III, there are no Mulligans available for this.
Despite his opposition to Tall Oaks III, Mike has taken some hits recently as result of Candland’s disclosure motions. May’s vote on this matter will either restore the trust some have lost or confirm that he has decided that since he can’t beat them he’ll join them. I have faith that Mike will make the right decision for if he doesn’t he may have a ticket on the Corey Express out of Dodge.
This may ultimately make or break Marty’s political future. His vote will afford him the opportunity to shed or cement his crown as the king of the Bobbleheads.
She potentially has as much to lose as Marty presuming she still has a shot at retaining her seat without a primary. Usually she wets her finger to test the wind of public opinion but given her recent actions at the VRE meetings, I have not idea what the peripatetic Queen has in mind. This time around will probably hinge on whatever personal grudges she’s bearing at the time or what Corey offers her.
Curiously he may be the only Supervisor with no particular dog in the fight and the least to gain or lose by his vote, thus, potentially assuming the role of spoiler. His comments could be fun to watch.
Covington and Jenkins
Why waste the ink to write anything about them, we know what they’re going to do and why, no test necessary, grade F.
by The Derecho