This Fight Is About the Rural Crescent, Not My Back Yard

It would be easy for some to say that this power line fight in Haymarket is all about NIMBY.  But they would be wrong.  This power line fight is about how a County plans its future.  This fight is about how community comes together to protect the vision of why they chose to invest in a certain area in Prince William County.  This is why we have a Comprehensive Plan.   The Comprehensive Plan is the guide for how we see our community now, and in the future.  We have areas that are high density housing, heavy commercial, and walkable communities.

However, in this county, we also have a very unique land use tool, its called the “Rural Crescent” and it is our urban growth boundary. The Rural Crescent is unique, unique in that it serves different purposes.  The Rural Crescent isn’t just intended to preserve open space, it is a financial tool also.  How does it serve as a financial tool?

Well, you see the Rural Crescent does not require infrastructure investment the same as more intensive use areas do.  We don’t have public water or public sewer, we are self sufficient in those ways.  We don’t require new schools to be built to serve the community because there are restrictions on building high density housing.  We don’t require new road infrastructure.

The county Comprehensive Plan balances these different use areas by design.  The Innovation Corridor was designated as our “economic engine” for Prince William County.

The Innovation Sector Plan has been prepared to facilitate and enhance the continued success of the Innovation Business Park in partnership with George Mason University – Prince William Campus. Given that Innovation has developed a successful advanced technology business environment, the Innovation Sector Plan is intended to serve as a tool to bring the Innovation area to the next level of success as a business destination and economic engine.

The reason why Haymarket finds itself in this  predicament of power lines and the need to build a substation for the proposed 500,000 sq ft Amazon data facility is that the most western end of the county is not intended for such intensive industrial use. We simply do not have the infrastructure in place to support such a use.  You don’t build an aircraft carrier in the desert.

PWC and its citizens welcome Amazon and would be none the wiser if the site chosen was not located in the worst possible location for anything much larger than a strip mall.  The power required for this facility is of such magnitude that it was bound to create a cascading string of problems.

The only acceptable options are either the one proposed by Dominion Power, the 5.8 mile I66 hybrid or another similar route that impacts little private property and partially buries the line if necessary.  Even with a small segment partially buried, this I66 route is no more expensive than the two longest routes AND it protects the majority of private property.

This Coalition to Protect Prince William County is dedicated to preserving the integrity of our historical resources, our planned communities, our farms, our very way of life.

We didn’t ask for this challenge, it was forced upon us, and we will not sit idly by while the very  fabric of our community is threatened.   This effort has just begun!

8 Replies to “This Fight Is About the Rural Crescent, Not My Back Yard”

  1. I have to comment that I DID NOT sign up to support or protect the Rural Crescent in its current form.

    I signed up to support my neighbors and my immediate community protesting the use of overhead lines rather than underground lines, as I believe many others did. The Rural Crescent is a fine ‘idea’ but it fails in some aspects, its way to big and needs a lot of adjustment and management to keep it current. I trust in the Board of Supervisors in their ability to review and re-evaluate it.

    There seems little use in over protecting a huge section of land and making commuters drive countless additional miles because job development is crippled locally. Certainly little environmental benefit. Of course for wealthy landowners that’s not a problem, they don’t have to commute and the rural crescent seems to have been developed mainly to preserve the world of segregated bliss for the elite few.

    I do believe we need smaller buffer zones, we need sections of County owned parks and we should protect some of the area for future generations. BUT the pressing need for economic development, local job creation, public facilities, medical facilities and quality of life far exceeds the need for the preservation of the current rural crescent.

    I believe the MAJORITY of people want better quality of life and they want the County to manage the rural crescent in a more proactive way. Building upon the great work that they already do the County should re-examine the comprehensive plan, specifically the rural crescent and allow corridors of development to better support the residents. Greater economic strength and Tax income for the County is what we need and that can only happen if we create welcoming pockets of development for business.

    If all is managed well then we will all have open spaces and parks to enjoy as well as preserved areas around historical landmarks, there will be much more money for roads and public facilities, our firefighters will be paid appropriately for their commitment, everyone will have access to local specialized healthcare, Law enforcement will have the resources they need, business’s will flourish, property prices will benefit, our children will have an unmatched education, and local jobs will be available for them when they graduate.

    The datacenter I think would be the start of a welcomed and needed development for the area, we should be supporting it in every way we can, not pushing it away. In terms of industry its a relatively clean option compared with heavy truck use facilities and similar big business’s.

    or do we want Haymarket to become Middle’of no-where’berg ?

    Dominion is the offender here, they proposed the ridiculous overhead routes and not an underground option which we as residents of the County deserve.

  2. Hi Charlie,

    Survey after survey in PWC, residents from the east and west have overwhelmingly supported the rural crescent. As I stated in my article, the value of the Rural Crescent IS financial in addition to preserving open space. We have a diverse comprehensive plan, it encompasses every type of use in a county.

    Are you aware of the Gainesville Sector Plan? The Gainesville Sector plan allows for enough commercial and retail to fit two Tysons Corner. Where exactly do you think we are lacking in zoning for commercial use? WHY would you recommend rezoning the areas that require the least amount of infrastructure dollars when we already have areas that are NOT being rezoned that are intended for commercial use? Your position makes no sense.

    As far as housing goes, the county has 30,000 homes approved for build out. Why do you think we need more? Where exactly are we lacking in any development needs?

    Haymarket is planned appropriately. There is a reason for a Comprehensive Plan and putting a data center at the edge of a rural area with no supportive infrastructure is stupid and the fall out is what you see occurring right now.

    There IS a solution and it isn’t about suddenly deciding we need to alter our comprehensive plan to fit one outlier use. The power line to feed Amazon’s data center should simply be routed up the ROW on I66. Everyone is happy and from now on the county should follow its development strategy. Period.

    1. Sorry I didn’t say anything about needing more homes Elena, I think if an area (even if at the edge of the rural crescent) is zoned commercial then we should do all we can to support its responsible use with underground power. A datacenter in the middle of a commercial or retail environment like Tysons would not be a great idea in regards to infrastructure security.
      I see no point in discussing this here as the Admin has removed a number of posts from other users as well as myself. It seems obvious now that this site is a front for alternative agendas. I will be at the meeting tomorrow to ensure that this fact is known to everyone.

  3. I think your point is personal to you. Many people who live in the rural crescent DO want to maintain its viability for many different reasons.

    I wasn’t suggesting the Data center be moved to Gainesville, I was responding to your suggestion that we need to rezone the Rural Crescent because we have to grow our commercial and housing base. My point to was that we have areas in the “development area” that are zoned to accept the uses you are suggesting. The reason they are zoned in specific areas has as much to do with current infrastructure as they do with compatible uses.

    You have not provided a legitimate reason why we NEED to alter the Comprehensive Plan or the Rural Crescent. You suggest the Rural Crescent exits to serve the elite. I see many different homes in the rural area, large executive homes, small farms, old homes, and new homes, there is so much diversity.

    I would argue that we do not have to agree on the viability of the Rural Crescent to support the I66 hybrid option. But, moving forward, it IS critical to have a discussion on why we develop in areas intended to receive the more intensive infrastructure needs. Its the fiscally prudent stance to take in my opinion. We are not lacking land that has many opportunities to develop. We do have economic corridors, the revitalization on route 1 is very important as is the continued focus on the Innovation Corridor.

  4. Charlie,
    I do appreciate your differing point of view and I welcome this type of discussion. I am a geek when it comes to land use and planning, most people find it boring, but is dictates the health and well being of a community.

    I am pro growth AND a supporter of the Rural Crescent, those two mind sets are not incongruent. It just means that I also am a firm believer in Planning 🙂

  5. You have me thinking Charlie. You clearly have commented quite a bit so this issue is of concern to you. I do not want to give the impression that ONE issue with this power line is the only issue. There are many diverse reasons for people to be opposed to this power line route. For some it is the very idea that there property can be taken to serve a private need, for others, it is the lack of transparency that clouds this project, for others it is the environment.

    My point is that is that there are many different layers to what is happening in Haymarket and I would suggest no ONE reason is the only reason to oppose the above ground routes through private property.

    We can ALL get behind the I66 hybrid route and still be a community united.

  6. Elena quote: “We can ALL get behind the I66 hybrid route and still be a community united.”
    – I agree with that.

Comments are closed.