A controversial plan to build houses on the site of a neighborhood park was approved last night by the Prince William Board of Supervisors.
The park on Sudley Manor Drive, which has two baseball diamonds and a soccer field, is owned by the Ridge Development Corp., which gave the county permission to use the land for recreation five years ago.
Supervisors called their decision the lesser of two evils. They told the 50 residents who attended last night's public hearing that the 10.9-acre parcel is zoned for commercial use and could be the site of a convenience store or an amusement arcade.
"They're taking away a valuable community resource," said Sudley resident Wayne Gorsuch. "I used to fly kites on that land. I had no idea it was zoned for development. We just assumed it was ours."
The site is adjacent to the county-owned 112-acre Ben Lomond Park, which has a pool and tennis court but is otherwise largely undeveloped. Recreation official Steve Griffin said the county built the diamonds on the Ridge land because most of Lomond Park is wetlands and unusable.
The supervisors also approved plans by Ridge to build high density housing on a 20.8-acre parcel and a 6.8-acre parcel, both on Sudley Manor Drive, which is in the community of Sudley in the county's westernmost Gainesville District.
The developments that Ridge plans, totaling an estimated 360 units, would increase the community's population by as much as 32 percent, according to residents of the area.
The approved plan will allow single-family detached homes on the property now used as a park and 10 to 13 units an acre on the other two properties.
The County Planning Commission voted 6 to 1 against the three proposals Jan. 5. The supervisors' vote in favor of the proposals was unanimous.