Prince William County supervisors approved a redistricting map Tuesday that renames the Dumfries district and answers the outcry from residents to keep certain neighborhoods whole when redrawing district boundaries.
“I came to say ‘thank you’ to everyone,” Prince William resident Connie Moser said at the meeting. “I feel like we were all listened to, and our opinions were taken into consideration.”
The new map outlines the county’s seven magisterial districts for the next 10 years and redistributes the 400,000-plus Prince William residents. Through the redistricting process, supervisors also changed the name of the Dumfries district to Potomac. Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan represents the district.
County officials said the Urban Land Institute recommended renaming the district almost 10 years ago when it conducted a study on how to revitalize the Route 1 corridor. The land institute conducts research on land use trends across the country and also proposes creative solutions to land-use issues, according to its Web site. Urban Land Institute officials had said naming the Dumfries district Potomac would connect the community with its natural resource, the Potomac River.
“The Potomac communities suffer from the lack of a real relationship with the environmentally friendly sensitive areas and water areas on or near the river,” Caddigan said at the meeting. “Today’s actions will correct that shortfall.”
Caddigan said her district has “always been named Dumfries” because it contains the Town of Dumfries — the oldest charted town in the commonwealth. But, she said, the name change will help spur economic development and will allow the town to finally have its own identity.
Dumfries Mayor Fred Yohey said the Town Council passed a resolution opposing the name change. The town is rich in history and is the reason the district got its name, he said. The residents, Yohey said, should also have had more input on whether they wanted to live in a place named Dumfries or Potomac.
“I’ve been out talking to people, and everyone loves the new name,” Caddigan said in response. “I also believe in time, [town members] will realize that the town will become more prominent in its own right and no longer be under the umbrella of the county.”
The unanimously approved map does more than rename a long-standing county district. The map — one of four that county residents and officials deliberated over for the past month — keeps the West Gate, Sudley, County Center, Princedale and Ridgedale communities together. It also reunites the River Oaks community in Woodbridge after residents of the minority-majority community made a last-minute plea to supervisors.
“I’m elated the 72-hour grass-roots campaign resulted in unification of the River Oaks community,” Supervisor Frank J. Principi (D- Woodbridge) said. “It was your voice, working with the [Prince William] Human Rights Commission and the NAACP, that restored a community of interest.”
Some residents, however, were still concerned. Although the map keeps the developed portion of River Oaks together, some question why it moves Harbor Station — a planned, mixed-use town center development — out of Woodbridge and into the new Potomac district.
Caddigan said moving Harbor Station, on the Cherry Hill peninsula, also reiterates the connection between the community and the river.
County officials said the map will be sent to the Justice Department, which has up to 60 days to approve it. Under Virginia law, the new map can take effect as early as May 15 if approved by federal officials. Supervisors will continue to serve their current constituents until November’s election.