More than a landfill: Prince William Co. aims to transform Independent Hill

If you’ve ever driven on Virginia Route 234 past the Prince William County landfill, you may not have realized the area surrounding the highway has a name — but a glance at the nearby water tower or public library reads Independent Hill.

A map of the 544 acres of land included in the Independent Hill Small Area Plan and surroundings. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy Prince William Board of County Supervisors)

During a public hearing Tuesday, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors is expected to back a long-term plan to transform the currently nondescript area: A 544-acre plot bisected by Va. 234/Dumfries Road, with Colgan High School, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Prince William Forest Park and the county landfill along its perimeter.

The Board envisions using the land for “a vibrant pedestrian-friendly village and employment center,” to be located near the Edward Kelly Leadership Center, which serves as the administrative headquarters of the Prince William County public school system.

Last year, the county’s planning commission recommended the supervisors reject the plan. Among the concerns were that the development was inconsistent with the semirural character of the surrounding area and that additional housing in an area that lacks sufficient mass transit would increase both vehicle traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, planners said the development would be an environmental impediment to the nearby Prince William Forest Park, Quantico Creek and its tributaries.

But in a staff report to be presented at Tuesday’s public hearing, the board is expected to argue the plan provides an alternative vision of what the area could be, based on “the community-expressed desire for vibrant eating and shopping establishments.”

The report said the project would allow people to live, work and recreate in the Independent Hill area: “The design provides for an increase in the number of internal trips, reduces the number of external trips of the residents and serves the existing 3,300 jobs in the plan area.”

It would include a recreational bicycle and pedestrian loop to connect the business and residential zones with surrounding parks, and include a buffer area along Dumfries Road.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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