For a Better Commute. For a Better Prince William County.

Moser: ‘Pyramid Project’ at Prince William – Manassas Line Very Tempting

Pyramid Center GDP

I had a pretty amazing experience this week when I attended a MIDCO (Mid-County Civic Association) meeting with about 75 other interested citizens!

Why is that amazing? Well, typically the number of citizens attending a MIDCO, NAA, (Neabsco Action Alliance) OLRCA  (Occoquan Lake Ridge Civic Association) or a LOCCA (Lake Ridge Occoquan Coles Civic Association) is around 25 people. There were so many people in the Occoquan Room at the County Center that we had to move to another, larger meeting room on the other side of the building.

The number of residents seemed appropriate to opine on the Pyramid Project, a huge proposed development at the corner of Liberia and the Prince William Parkway. This development is intended for 101 acres of land at a premium intersection dividing Manassas and Prince William County.

The original proposal has undergone a number of changes since submission in August of 2012, most recently updated on the county web as of March 2013. At the MIDCO meeting, Developer Carlos Montenegro brought an even more recent version of the proposal that further reduced the number of residential units.

The project is very tempting, both for the county and residents because the development will include a change to the Prince William County Parkway that will alleviate congestion at that failing intersection at Liberia and the Parkway.  (If you want to learn how VDOT determines a failing intersection, try pages 24 and 25 of this hefty document! )

I think a few things merit consideration:

  1. If we change the comprehensive plan as requested we will be removing yet another CEC (Community Employment Center) designation and adding more residential.
  2. PWC staff, residents and the developer should also be working in tandem with Manassas because this development will definitely impact the city.
  3. While the realignment of the Parkway will provide relief to residents wishing to turn left to go to Rte. 234, It really does nothing for people travelling into the city or turning right on Rte. 28 toward I-66. (The same is true in reverse if you are leaving the city.)
  4. The development may be alleviating traffic at that intersection, but it is still adding cars from 300 homes and 400 apartments.
  5. While alleviating traffic at that intersection, what about the next intersection or the one after that?

The development promises high end retail, but Virginia Gateway is only 11.3 miles away from the intersection of Liberia and the Parkway. What about the competition to Hastings Marketplace right across the street? What are the impacts on schools? The developer is proffering this massive piece of roadwork…there likely won’t be any school proffers from this deal.

One of the reasons Neabsco Action Alliance was founded is to work collaboratively across districts with residents, business and government. We are part of group called FOCAL (Federation of Civic Associations for Land use). We invite residents to contact us, come to our meetings, attend the planning commission hearings, attend (or watch online) the Board of County Supervisors meetings, sign up for e -notifications, or any other way you choose to become engaged in your community.

You may think this development doesn’t impact you. I assure you it does. We may live in seven different districts in Prince William County, but we are all connected by roads, jobs, schools, healthcare, land use, transportation, and that one indefinable esthetic; community.

There is one thing I want you to remember. If you weren’t one of those 75 people, we don’t know what you think of this proposed development. You can tell me in the comments. I’ll be sure to share them.

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  • Projects like this will probably be used to justify the Bi-County Parkway. Think about It. From a wholistic perspective, incremental review and approval of projects such as this slowly make Prince William County look like Fairfax Founty, and pave the way (pun intended) for decades of choked traffic. Considering the latest preview of our tax rate, it’s a slow slide into protecting our dubious distinction of having the highest tax rate in Northern Virginia.

    We will never get ahead.

    I am not suggesting looking like Fairfax is either good or bad. I am suggesting that we have a choice regarding our future. If we don’t put all projects “in context” (or consider transportation, infrastructure, quality of life) we lose the opportunity to consciously choose.

    Unfortunately, most of those involved in these conversations are not commuters to Tyson’s, Fairfax, The district and other points north. That’s a shame. They miss the opportunity to experience our future (on its current path) first hand.

    • Good points Al. Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts.

  • Anne

    The Parkway would be running straight into my front yard and yet, we were never contacted by the developer.

    • Anne…that is the best reason to get a conversation going! Quite a few people read this column and if there is anything I can do to assist you, I will be happy to do so. I certainly will compile these comments and share with the BOCS and others.

      • Anne

        Thank you! It sucked having to find out these plans via the internet a few months back. We were in complete shock we were never contacted since it impacts Us greatly! But, We have been in contact with our supervisor. I just don’t get why PWC can not have land… I know it brings in $$ but geez. Build more houses people can’t afford and how many nail salons, dry cleaners, and grocery stores does one intersection need.. Just my guess on some stores that would go in. I’ll only be happy if they put a Trader Joes in. 🙂 But, Liberia is already a nightmare and this will just make it even worse.

  • Ralph

    There are no jobs for these people in Prince William County, so they will more than likely be commuting on Route 28 to a job in Fairfax or Reston. Route 28 is a disaster for commuters! Projects such as this shouldn’t even be considered until Route 28 is improved.

    This project is not good news for commuters.

  • Resident

    There was a time when developers actually came to neighborhoods door to door to talk to residents about projects. Now, they expect us to go to meetings we don’t even know about on someone else’s schedule to even know such projects exist in our community.

    Tell these people to start knocking on doors again,

    • Anne

      Thank You!!!! My thought exactly!! Public domain is the way to go, I guess! :/

  • Thank you all for your comments. Please share this article with your neighbors.

    I will say one thing: this week at the same MIDCO meeting, I met a young developer who came to the meeting with hope to build a Montessori School on Evans Ford Road. He came to meet the community where his proposed project was located and he told them, “If the community does not want this school, we will look elsewhere for another location.” It was a stunning statement and made all the difference in the world to the neighbors.

    • Anne

      How is someone that is directly effected by this proposal not even notified of such meetings?! Ahhh! Makes me even more mad!

      • Each developer is supposed to notify citizens directly affected. In the case of the Montessori project, the developer sent regular mail and invited citizens to attend the meeting.

        Most civic associations post current projects on their web page, for example: on the http://neabscoactionalliance page, there is a request for approval for a cell tower. The representative came to NAA, described the project, we shared it and invited the public to comment.

        Unfortunately, not many people respond to such requests and at some point, I have to just say, “It is the responsibility of residents to learn what is going on in your community.” NAA is happy to represent our community, but residents have to let us know what you want.

        Anne, the “early detection system” is to sign up for e-notifications:

        Select the topics you want delivered to your inbox.

        Hope this is helpful.

        • Anne

          Hmmm… Well, considering we were never contacted to begin with (I should point out 6 out of the 8 houses we NOT contacted… We informed the others), doesn’t shock to never receive any information on the meetings. But, I will be signing up. Thank You so much!!

  • Interested

    Good stuff! I’m not familiar with MIDCO or FOCL. Are these PWC committees? When will ihe minutes be published? Video?

    • Hello Interested!

      MIDCO on the web:
      FOCAL is the combined efforts of several civic associations

      NAA (https://neabscoactionalliance) posts minutes of our meetings on the page.
      In addition, NAA hosts events and promotions for other local organizations like the O.W.N. Optimists, Dale City Lions, and many more.

      There are many links on our page to connect you to activities and groups, information about Neighborhood Leaders and Neighborhood Services, links to your local and state officials and much more. NAA meetings require no membership fees and anyone from any district is welcome.

  • Brentsville

    I moved to this area years ago from Silver Spring to get out of all traffic and enjoy the quality of life that comes with more green space. I even quit my job in the rat race of DC and stopped commuting on the VRE. I am disappointed if this project goes through as I don’t see any benefits to current residents of this area. Proposing improvements to the intersection as part of the deal is a necessity when adding 300 new homes and 400 apartment units, but it will not improve traffic flow when the flow has greatly increased at the doorstep. There has been way too much development in this area, I hate seeing all the little boxes tightly squeezed together. If someone wants to move to this area, there are many homes for sale. Buy an existing property and improve that home.

    • Connie Moser

      Agree, Brentsville. I’ve often said we are removing the very thing people moved here to enjoy: green spaces. There are so many ways to reclaim green space, like stacked or underground parking instead of acres of asphalt parking lots. Those methods are more expensive, so not popular with developers.

      Your last line is what I live for! 🙂

  • Rob

    Dear drawbridge pullers.
    Go back home!

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  • Lisa

    What an un-Godly mess this would be. Do we really, really need MORE commercial crap in this area? Do we really need high-density housing when we can’t sell all existing housing now? I moved out of Fairfax County 11 years ago because the feeling of being in a vice-grip of traffic and humanity was excessive. Are we really willing to allow this to happen here? Is it really necessary to destroy every tree, bush, flower, and blade of grass to line the pockets of a small group of people? And I agree with previous folks – thanks for no notification or publicity of a serious event that will extremely negatively impact all of us within 8 miles.

  • Richard Malloch

    This map above is a poor representation of what & where & how all is placed as roads are unclearly marked etc. someone should organize a much clearer layout that we can read & see.

  • PWCGuy

    Is the big store space a Target? Looks like one to me.

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