Independent Hill, a sleepy area off Dumfries Road, appears ripe for future development, and county planners are trying to get ahead of development to shape a unique vision for the area that would set it up for success.
Planners pitched a draft proposal for the Independent Hill Small Area Plan to the planning commission and community stakeholders this summer — a plan for a pedestrian-friendly village and an employment center with neighborhood businesses and a variety of housing.
They’ll be taking another look at the proposal to address input from the public and the planning commission, said Rebecca Horner, the county’s planning director.
The commission had planned to review a draft of the proposal in November, but Horner said staff will be requesting a deferral to a later date to incorporate more stakeholder input.
After the planning commission considers the proposal, it will move on to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to consider. There is no tentative date for when the proposal will head to county supervisors, Horner said.
“The small area plan is an opportunity to build a community that promotes economic development while creating a dynamic multi-faceted home for the residents of Independent Hill,” according to a staff presentation.
The county began initiating several small area plans at the direction of the Board of County Supervisors in 2016, including North Woodbridge, the Parkway Employment Center, U.S. Route 29, Innovation Park, Triangle, Yorkshire, the county fairgrounds and Dale City.
Independent Hill includes 564 acres of land in the Coles and Potomac districts. Dumfries Road cuts through the area, which is south of Colgan High, south of the Prince William County Landfill, and north of Prince William Forest Park and Marine Corps Base Quantico.
Currently, Independent Hill is defined as a flexible use employment center in the comprehensive plan, Horner said.
A flexible use employment center aims to create campus-style parks where businesses can set up shop. The classification’s primary uses include light manufacturing, start-up businesses, small assembly businesses and office uses, including Prince William County agency buildings, while retail businesses would comprise no more than 25%.
Warehousing, wholesale, storage, distribution and outdoor storage could also be allowed in limited amounts.
Horner said the peak hour trip generation from the flexible use employment center is greater than planning staff’s proposal for Independent Hill’s small area plan.
The draft plan for the area would create a mixed-use “village center” in the area near the school division’s Kelly Leadership Center. A building could be built up to 5 stories with retail on the ground floor.
The area would also be an option for more public facilities and offices.
Planning staff held public meetings on the proposal in May and the planning commission discussed the proposal at its Aug. 7 meeting.
Some planning commission members said the proposal is too dense in terms of development. One member noted that the village proposal was a cool concept, but wondered if this was the right location.
The draft plan also envisioned technology land uses north of Dumfries Road, where developers are eyeing a business park development.
The entire area would also see a series of parks and environmental assets.