The Prince William Board of County Supervisors is making changes to the Comprehensive Plan. For decades one of the key priorities in the county has been to preserve and protect environmentally sensitive land areas such as the Rural Crescent to preserve the natural beauty, control and balance growth and protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As citizens, we are obligated to these objectives.

The Delaney Tract in mid-county, on both sides of the Prince William Parkway, is one of the county’s most environmentally sensitive parcels of land. Its terrain presents many challenges for development and is close to the Occoquan River. It provides an abundance of water flow into the Occoquan via Champs Creek and other streams.

For this reason this area has been wisely and rightfully designated for larger residential lots with wells and septic systems as opposed to smaller lots, high-density housing and public water lines. This designation has protected the vicinity from over-development.

The Delaney Tract has rightfully been placed within the Occoquan Reservoir Overlay; however, in recent months some strange and surprising decisions have been proposed to remove the Delaney Tract from the Overlay by Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler and Occoquan District Supervisor Kenny Boddye. They want to significantly increase the housing lot size density of the Delaney Tract six-fold for future development, which would pose the greatest threat to the county’s Occoquan Reservoir Overlay in the past 20 years.

They have offered no explanation for proposing such a drastic threat to the Occoquan Reservoir Overlay, and their motivation to do so apparently remains covert without the customary transparency that citizens and residents are entitled to and expect as taxpayers. Chair Wheeler and Supervisor Boddye are proposing density as small as quarter-acre lots when there has been citizen consensus that lot size for the Delaney Tract should be in the 5- to 10-acre range to protect this very environmentally sensitive land and maintain a balanced approach to development and conservation.

What is their motivation to single out one particular tract of land, lift it out of the Occoquan Reservoir Overlay, and suddenly go in the opposite direction of a balanced approach to land development for the Delaney Tract? Given that they have not disclosed their reasons for their anti-balanced approach for development of this land, a fair question is are the other board members asking Chair Wheeler and Supervisor Boddye for their rationale?

We are all aware that the Delaney Tract is now in the Occoquan District; however, leaving such a critical decision to two board members will have a long-lasting negative impact on the entire county. We can and we should do more to protect this environmentally sensitive land by not over-developing it.

– Delton Nichols, Manassas

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