While this issue doesn't necessarily immediately read as "Preservation", do not write it off. Prince George County, Virginia rests along the southside of the James River just east of Hopewell. Prince George saw quite a bit of Civil War activity and also includes several sites on the National Register. It is going to be heavily impacted by the closure of Fort Monroe in Hampton Roads and the relocation of those military personnel and their families to Fort Lee in Petersburg, Virginia.
Prince George's comprehensive plan needs to be amended
To the Editor:
After considering the debate over the Comprehensive Plan in recent months, I wish to add to it. I personally attended three of the public input meetings. I enjoyed this very much. I found most people had the same intention of primarily saving the rural character of Prince George as best we can. They came as I did to share ideas and while I do feel much of the intent of the citizens is reflected in this new Comprehensive Plan, much is adjusted to fit the desires of staff, not the citizens.
First the citizens overwhelmingly supported pressing the majority of the growth into the Planning District. The interesting part of this is that is exactly what our current Comprehensive Plan calls for. Unfortunately past Boards of Supervisors made it a death march simply to get approval for sub-division in the Planning District. When we created the Current Plan, we the citizens understood then as we do now it is better to grow from the center out. Infrastructure, Policing, School Busing, and so much more can be much more effectively handled in doing so. However, I truly believe past Boards thought they could stop growth and therefore failed to properly control it. By not meeting the housing needs within the Planning District, sprawl development in the rural parts of our County was forced to meet those needs. Now the answer of our new Comprehensive Plan is what truly amounts to the elimination of Sub-division By Right. For the purposes of controlling development this sounds good, but for the values of land owners in the rural parts of the County this is horrible. Why not allow land owners perhaps five lots the first year and two each year following provided they can meet the criteria of our zoning ordinances. This would encourage developers to stay close in and still allow those owning property to have a managed income from that property. I recently met a gentleman that owns 67 acres. He is not old, but like many of us is looking at the what ifs and wants to pay off his home by selling a portion of his land. Due to circumstances of location and zoning the options available were to sell 57 of his acres and keep his house or sell his house and 10 acres and keep the 57 acres. Why should he not be allowed to sell a small portion of land and keep his house and the majority of his property? Does this not preserve our rural character?
Second there is much debate about what is meant by cluster development. In truth it is defined in many ways. During the citizen input meetings it was proposed if a person owned one hundred acres and could divide it into twenty five acre lots why not allow them to divide it into two acre lots and put the remaining sixty acres into some type of conservation easement. Once again I ask does this not protect the rural character of the County? I believe it does and it further protects the value of our neighbor's properties.
Third due to misrepresentation the proposed Comprehensive Plan calls for the elimination of Parent Tract development within the Planning District. The reason according to the Consultant and our Planning Department is the majority of the development in the Planning District in recent years has taken place on Parent Tracts. I ask you to consider the limited number of approved subdivisions as mentioned above. Further reason given by the Consultant is Parent Tracts were a precursor to Family Divisions. I have asked for the reason for this thought process and have yet to receive an answer. Family divisions are allowed on any tract of land in the County and are allowed only for immediate Family members. This is by far the most heavily abused form of development in the County. They have created gravel roads that far exceed the three house to one gravel road rule, with controversial maintenance agreements. Parent Tracts are land within the Planning District last divided prior to March of 1973. If you own one of these and meet certain other criteria you can divide three parcels and a residual, thus creating four lots. I venture to say most of the owners of these lots are older, either on or approaching the years of a fixed income. Allowing them to sell one large lot as opposed to four smaller lots will cut there land by half too one third of its current value. Before we approve the new Comprehensive Plan, we should ask just how many of these lots actually exist and thus just how much impact will they have on our County.
I truly believe if we work to focus development within the Planning District, the majority of what will be a required housing supply can be met. Many of you like me prefer to live in the rural parts of the County, so we must not take away the rights of others to do so. Many currently living in the rural parts of the County would not have chosen to build there if there had been an option for them close in. My experience shows many of those that have come to our County in recent years wanted a large home on a small lot. They lead busy lives and do not wish to maintain five acres. But as mentioned before due to past administrations ignoring the current Comprehensive Plan and developers still trying to catch up on recently approved development within the Planning District, they were force to our rural areas.
So I urge all involved to amend the Proposed Comprehensive Plan before it is approved. I further urge who ever gets elected to follow it. If we do these things we can control the growth, protect the rural integrity of the County, and at the same time protect the value of all of our property.
Richard L. Tetterton Jr.
Candidate for 1st District Supervisor
Prince George County
©The Progress-Index 2007
Online at: http://www.progress-index.com/site/n...d=462943&rfi=6