Prince William County and the City of Manassas ended an eight-year annexation fight yesterday with an agreement that gives the city about 1,500 acres of county land and the county a share in the city's airport and reservoir along with guarantees against future annexations.
The settlement, signed in a ceremony on the county courthouse lawn in Manassas with local officials and two high school bands in attendance, is subject to approval by the Prince William Circuit Court and the Virginia state Attorney General Gerald L. Baliles. It cannot go into effect until July 1, when legislation allowing the agreement becomes effective.
"Hopefully this is the last nail in the coffin of the fight" between city and county, said County Supervisor G. Richard Pfitzner, who helped negotiate the agreement.
Under the pact, which has been under discussion since February last year, Manassas will annex the Manassas Municipal Air Park, and a 240-acre tract between it and the city's current limits. The city will also take over other land around its boundaries as part of a "readjustment" to make the new boundary conform to existing street and property lines.
The county will pay Manassas about $1 million and get a 20 percent interest in the busy airport, where about 600 takeoffs and landings occur daily, and a 20 percent interest in the Lake Manassas reservoir with rights to 2.5 million gallons of its water per day.
The city also agreed not to try to annex land in the county's industrial corridor, which is roughly bounded by Interstate 66, Virginia Rtes. 28 and 234, for 25 years and not to attempt to annex any other county land for 10 years.
"We can sort of live in peace now and go about our planning with some assurance the boundary is going to stay the way it is," said Prince William planning director Roger Snyder.
The dispute dates to 1975, when the Town of Manassas was reincorporated as a city, gaining powers to annex adjoining land if it could demonstrate in court it needed the land and could do a better job of providing services to residents and businesses there.
At the time, the county lost the right to tax a large International Business Machines Corp. facility located within Manassas. County officials feared the city would try to take over the industrial zone, where the county has worked to attract industry for the past 10 years.
County officials said they think the airport will grow rapidly as private planes are denied access to National and Dulles International airports. Currently, one of its runways is being extended to 5,700 feet to accommodate corporate jets. The agreement also helps solve the county's long-term need for water for the industrial park.
The agreement also calls for the county and city to build a senior citizens' center jointly and to cooperate more closely on emergency services.