The latest residential development issue in Prince William County doesn't concern building houses on agricultural land but instead is focused on north Woodbridge, and a key 164 acres that would be the gateway into the redeveloped area and into the county.
On Tuesday, Potomac Communities Revitalization Plan planner Pat Thomas, along with consultants who worked on the project, presented to the Board of County Supervisors an outline for redevelopment to lure new residents to work, walk, shop and dine in the neighborhood, which is bounded roughly by Route 1, Interstate 95, the Occoquan River and Occoquan Road, and bisected by Route 123.
Several supervisors expressed concerns that the redevelopment plan would lure residential development but not necessarily the other proposed components, further clogging already congested roads with additional commuters without a nearby employment center.
Because of its visibility and access to major thoroughfares, along with its proximity to Fairfax County to the north and a Virginia Railway Express station to the south, the area has high potential for growth, said Marc McCauley, a redevelopment consultant.
North Woodbridge includes a concrete plant, motels and lower-end stores with a high turnover. It also has a bowling alley and a marina, and planners said they would like to expand the recreational opportunities in the neighborhood by attracting facilities such as a fitness center.
"It creates a stage for people where they really want to live, work and shop," McCauley said.
The team also advocated taking better advantage of the Occoquan River by extending Horner Road to Marina Drive, giving nearby residential communities easier access to the waterway, and encouraging more development along the waterfront.
By 2025, the 164 acres could also boast high-end office space, retail boutiques and a quality grocery store, the planners said.
"We've got to be very careful about adding all these residential units before all these other improvements happen," Supervisor Corey A. Stewart (R-Occoquan) said. "How do you plan to get these people to work?"
Thomas said the initial focus on new houses could be necessary to attract shops and businesses to the area.
"The residential is probably going to be one of the first components," she said. "That's where the market is now."
In addition, Thomas pointed to preliminary studies that indicate that once planned road improvements -- such as widening Route 1 to six lanes, adding turn lanes and upgrading its intersection with Route 123 -- have been completed, the traffic levels after redevelopment would be comparable to today's.
Supervisor Hilda M. Barg (D-Woodbridge) said her constituents want more diverse and upscale dining options in the area.
"Every day people ask me, 'Hilda, make sure we don't get the same old fast-food restaurant,' " she said.
"We want a real community where people can work and live and not be driving to Tysons to go to a nice restaurant, because they can walk to it right here," she added.
To achieve the redevelopment plan, zoning in the area -- which consists of industrial, commercial and multifamily residential uses -- must be changed into "planned mixed residential" to allow for the multiple uses. Supervisors could opt to rezone the entire parcel or instead create a "floating zone" to encourage, but not require, desired redevelopment to take place.
Planning officials have held three meetings with north Woodbridge property owners to discuss the redevelopment, and another is planned for Nov. 9. Thomas said she hopes the supervisors will take action to begin pursuing one of the two procedures for redevelopment at their Nov. 22 meeting.