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Over the Fencepost Newsletter

Community Focus

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Press Releases

County Offers Service to Help Small Businesses with the Building Process

The Prince William Board of County Supervisor recently saw a presentation on the progress of the Small Business Project Management Program, which seeks to help small businesses navigate the county permitting, occupancy and building processes.

At the beginning of Fiscal 2019, the board adopted and funded the program to authorize the Department of Development Services to hire three project managers to work on the program. Since most small business owners are moving into existing tenant spaces, the county hired two Building Development Project Managers to assist the owners with these projects. A Land Development Project Manager was hired to assist small business owners with new commercial construction projects and the review and permitting of business signage.
Wade Hugh, the director of development services, said the small business program expands on the already successful, existing Commercial Project Management Program, which works with larger commercial developers to help them get through the process of getting projects off the ground and completed.
For the purposes of the Small Business Project Management Program, the county is defining a small business as one that employees 35 or fewer employees. “The county chose this threshold based on our experience with assisting business owners. We find that many small business owners who are just starting their business or expanding for the first time will try to manage their own construction projects,” said Hugh. “Commercial construction can be far more challenging than residential construction, so an owner who dabbled in residential construction — decks, porches, finished basements, etc. — can quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the commercial construction codes. For the county to successfully assist small business owners, we needed to modify our Commercial Project Management Program to be more proactive.”
With the program in place, small business representatives or owners can come into Development Services, meet a project manager who will be dedicated to their project and begin the process.
Getting the small business owner into the new program to talk with project manager serves another purpose as well, Hugh said. “While we have them there, let’s explain some of the processes. Let’s make sure we exchange business cards so that when they’re ready to take that next step they know exactly who to call, and we can help them even before they get their plans ready to submit.”
Development Services already has a customer interview process in place where a panel, comprised of industry members and county staff, asks small business owners, contractors, architects and engineers how the process worked out for them. Hugh said the interviews conducted so far have been positive and helped identify areas for continued improvement.
For more information about Development Services and the Small Business Project Management Program, visit pwcgov.org/dds.

It is Now Easier to Find Out Status of Development Projects in the County

​The Prince William County Planning Office has made it easier for people to find out the status of development projects across the county. The Development Application Processing Schedule, or DAPS, has been around since the early 2000s, but it’s recently been improved.

“It was 70 pages before,” said David McGettigan, the county’s long-range planning manager. “It was a little complicated to read through. We’ve gotten it down to 24 pages; and it’s much more concise and easier to read.”
While shorter and more concise, the schedule still shows whether projects are pending, under review, deferred, suspended, approved, withdrawn or dismissed. It also still contains a listing of all the rezonings, special-use permits and comprehensive plan amendments scheduled to come before the county’s Planning Commission and the Board of County Supervisors.
In addition, the new DAPS includes the following improvements:

  • Cases are not duplicated in different sections of the report.
  • Cases are now sorted by status to easily discern where the case is in the process and all cases have the same columns of information.
  • Only the primary GPIN is shown to reduce the report size by not listing every parcel in the application.
  • All case types will remain on the report for 90 days after the final action before no longer being displayed.
  • There are more embedded links to find out more about each project, as well as contact information for project managers for people interested in commenting on a given case.

DAPS allows people to see the status of a project from the time it is received by the Planning Office and then keep track of those projects as they proceed through the system, McGettigan said. “It’s very up-to-date. It’s automatically updated every night. They can see the application material and the plans that are being proposed. Agency comments on the case will also be available.”

The schedule also shows a description of all the listed projects “They can go there and see the description of the case, how many units it is, when it’s scheduled for a hearing or what the status of it is and find out more about it,” McGettigan said.
The DAPS supplements postcards residents who live near a proposed project receive in the mail, as well as information on the white signs with red and black print posted at the site of proposed projects, McGettigan said.
The schedule is available on the department’s webpage at pwcgov.org/DAPS.

Animal Shelter Design Phase Nears Completion

​Everything is on track for the new $15.1-million animal shelter to be completed on schedule in early 2021. The design for the shelter is set to be finished in January with plan review to follow. Permitting and bidding is set to occur between January and May of 2019.

Construction is scheduled to begin in June 2019 with occupancy planned for February 2021, according to Tom Bruun the director of the Prince William County Public Works Department, who recently briefed the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. “We are where we want to be at this point from a schedule perspective.”
In addition to being on schedule, the projected cost for the finished shelter remains the same, Bruun said. “We’ve done several professional estimates on this project and we’re within the budget.”
Prince William County Spokesman Jason Grant said the project is proceeding at a pace consistent with other projects of similar size “The length of time from when the board approved the animal shelter concept to when the contract will be awarded is due to the time necessary to create formal architectural and engineering designs that allow us to bid out the project and award a contract. The design phase for a capital project of this scope is typically 12 to 18 months.”
With designs being completed, the county will soon put the project out to bid. According to Grant, once bids are received the county will have firm costs proposals, and then be able to address whether there will be any necessary changes to the scope of cost of the project. “All of our projects are subject to materials and labor cost increases that are outside of our control, however, as of this time we remain on schedule and within budget to deliver the animal shelter as approved by the board.

Safely Dispose of Medication Through Take-Back Program

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are improperly handled can cause problems in the community, so it’s important to be judicious in their disposal.

Unused medications that are casually thrown away can end up in the wrong hands and lead to accidental poisoning, overdose, abuse and addiction. Flushing unused medication is not a good option either, as it’s possible that they will get into the environment and the water supply.

On Saturday, Oct. 27, the Prince William County Police Department, in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration, will participate in the DEA National Rx Take-Back program between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at several locations across the county.

People who have unused or expired medications can take them to The Charlie T. Deane Central District Police Station at 5036 Davis Ford Road, Novant Health UVA Health System Haymarket Medical Center at 15225 Heathcote Blvd., and Novant Health UVA Health System Prince William Medical Center at 8700 Sudley Road.

Drugs that can be turned in include prescription and over-the-counter medications, tablets and capsules, as well as pet medications, said Prince William Police Sgt. Sarah Rolle.

Drugs that may not be dropped off include injectables, syringes and EpiPens. Contact the Prince William County Solid Waste Management Division for ways to dispose of those items.

Intravenous solutions, hydrogen peroxide, compressed cylinders or aerosols, iodine-containing medications and thermometers will not be accepted. Alcohol and illicit drugs such marijuana, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine and others will not be accepted either.

Medications to be turned in should be sealed in containers such as the original bottle or in sealed zip-lock bags. Liquid medications should remain in their original containers. People should remove personal information from the packaging or mark it out with a permanent marker.

Rolle said the medications will be taken to Virginia State Police Headquarters in Fairfax County where they will be safely incinerated.

Other partners participating in the Take-Back include Manassas City Police, Sentara Healthcare and the Prince William Crime Prevention Council.

For more information, visit pwcgov.org/police.

Updates to Transportation Projects in the County

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors recently heard an update regarding transportation and mobility projects from the county’s Department of Transportation. The update, which is part of the third quarter Joint Mobility Report, included the status of projects run by the county, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Railway Express and Omniride, the local and commuter bus service.

Prince William County projects include:

  • Route 28, Phase II – Construction on the project of widening Route 28 to four lanes between Fitzwater Drive and Vint Hill Road is set to finish in October 2019. Parts of the project have been completed, including the opening of Aden Road, the opening of a majority of the southbound lanes and the bridge over Kettle Run Road.
  • Route 28, Phase III – The construction to widen Route 28 to six lanes from Linton Hall Road to Pennsylvania Avenue is set to begin in the winter of 2019. Prince William County and the Virginia Department of Transportation, or VDOT, are coordinating the final bridge section design to include a multi-use trail.
  • Vint Hill Road Extension – Construction to build a left-turn lane onto Vint Hill Road from Sudley Manor Drive to Garry Glen Road is underway with a completion date set for September 2019.
  • Dumfries Road Sidewalk Project – The design work for the sidewalk between Counselor Road to Tayloe Drive is scheduled to be completed this month, with construction to run from April to October 2019.
  • Minnieville Road – The project to widen Minnieville Road between Spriggs Road and Va. 234 is scheduled to be completed by December.
  • Smoketown Road-Opitz Boulevard Pedestrian Improvements – The construction of ramps and crosswalks are scheduled to be completed by May 2019.
  • Old Bridge Road Sidewalk – Construction of the project to build a sidewalk between Mohican and Antietam roads is complete.
  • Dumfries Road Shared Use Path – Design for the project to build a shared-use path on Dumfries Road between Country Club and Exeter Drive has been recently completed. Construction is scheduled to begin in November.
  • Blackburn Road Pedestrian Improvements – Construction activities on a sidewalk-multi-use trail from U.S. 1 to the rear entrance of Rippon Lodge are underway and is scheduled to be completed by December 2018.
  • Horner Road Sidewalk Project – The project to build a sidewalk on Horner Road between Forest Glen Road to Kilby Elementary School will begin in December and is scheduled to be completed by March 2019.
  • Opitz Boulevard Sidewalk Project – The project to build a sidewalk along Opitz Boulevard between the Potomac Community Library and Potomac Center Boulevard is scheduled to begin in November 2018 and end in August 2019.

VDOT projects include:

  • Route 646 Aden Road Bridge – Construction of the bridge replacement on Aden Road to cross the railroad tracks is underway and scheduled to be completed by February 2019.
  • Route 1 Widening in the Town of Dumfries – A citizens’ information meeting on the project to widen Route 1 (Fraley Boulevard northbound) from two to six lanes to allow for two-way traffic with pedestrian/bike facilities is scheduled for Oct. 18 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Dumfries Elementary School. The project is in the design phase. A construction date is to be determined.
  • I-66 Park and Ride Haymarket – Construction on a 230-space commuter lot at the northeast quadrant of I-66 and Route 15 started in April and is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2019.
  • Transform 66 – Outside the Beltway – Construction continues on two new express lanes in each direction on Interstate 66 from Interstate 495 to University Boulevard in Gainesville.
  • Transform 66 – Outside the Beltway – University Boulevard- Route 29 Park-and-Ride Lot – Construction is underway on the 2,079-space parking lot

VRE projects include:

  • Bull Run Station and Yard Improvements – Preliminary engineering and environmental analysis for the station, parking and train storage are underway. A site on Residency Road has been chosen as the preferred location for additional parking. Coordination with Manassas Regional Airport, the City of Manassas, Norfolk Southern Railroad and the Federal Transit Administration is ongoing. The engineering and environmental analysis are scheduled to be completed in January 2019 with the final design slated to begin in early 2019.
  • Quantico Station Improvements – Design for improvements to the commuter station that is served by VRE were recently completed and construction is expected to begin in early 2019.

Omniride projects include:

  • Omniride Western Maintenance Facility –Funding for the project to build a bus storage yard and maintenance facility is in the state’s budget. The project is awaiting funding decisions from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. Groundbreaking for the project is expected to happen late this fall.
  • Proposed New Commuter Bus Service– Proposed new express bus service to Haymarket would include routes along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and utilize a new 200-space parking lot. This would reduce overcrowding at existing Gainesville lots. A public hearing on the services offered in the Haymarket area is scheduled this fall. The start date of the project is expected to happen at the same time frame as the lot opening in early 2019.

Mobility is a goal of the Prince William County Strategic Plan. The goal states, “The community will have an accessible, comprehensive, multi-modal network of transportation infrastructure that supports local and regional mobility.”

To see a list of all the projects in the Joint Mobility Report, visit pwcgov.org/transportation.

Prince William Recycles Day October 13

For over two decades, Prince William County Solid Waste Division has been hosting Prince William Recycles Day in conjunction with America Recycles Day. This year’s event will be held at the Prince William County Landfill on Saturday, October 13, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and admission is free. County residents and families are encouraged to attend to learn how they can support waste reduction, save landfill space and found out what’s new about recycling.

 

“Managing our waste is something most people probably don’t think much about, but it is a very important part of taking care of our environment and sustaining healthy communities,” says Deborah Campbell, Communications Specialist for the Solid Waste Division. “Recycling can be puzzling and even people that recycle regularly learn something new at our event.”

The annual event has grown to attract over 1,000 residents who come out every year to enjoy entertainment, play recycling themed games, learn more about the environment, and tour the County Landfill. Local high school students will also display their artwork made from recycled products, and numerous county organizations will provide information, share volunteer opportunities and ways to participate in an environmentally friendly activities. New this year, is a recycling magic show, which is sure to amaze and inform children and adults alike.

 

Recycling in Prince William County has had some slight shifts over the years with a rate of 33.7 percent in 2015, 36.8 percent in 2016 and 34.6 percent in 2017.  The national recycle rate, just under 35 percent, has been flat for several years (latest published rate 34.7 percent in 2015).    However, Prince William County residents and indeed all Americans, can still make substantial progress in solid waste management with some actions focused on reduce and reuse aspects.

 

The theme for Prince William Recycles Day 2018, Double Down on Waste, will shine a spotlight on recycling’s often neglected, perhaps less glamorous siblings – reduce, and reuse. While recycling is a wonderful option, all waste reduction alternatives must be utilized for successful landfill conservation and future waste disposal in Prince William County.

 

Strategies to reduce waste include not making waste in the first place. Opt for reusable products instead of disposable ones, reusable shopping bags and water bottles are great examples of this. Also buy products made from recycled material and select products with less packaging, which is a more sustainable practice.

 

Some ideas for reuse include get products repaired, donate items in good condition, or resell them, instead of throwing them away.  Purchase “second-hand” items. Another great reuse alternative, borrow or rent items that are used infrequently.

 

Another less well known waste reduction strategy is “pre-cycling”. Consider how the product and packaging will be disposed before you buy it. This avoids bringing unneeded waste into your home and cuts waste at the source before trash is even created. Buying products in bulk with less packaging, instead of single use items, for example coffee, sugar and condiments.

 

Also, purchasing products that are packaged in materials that are recyclable in your community, such as aluminum beverage containers, steel food cans, cardboard cartons and plastic soda bottles.  An example is buying eggs in a paper carton, which can be placed in the recycling in the Prince William area instead of polystyrene (Styrofoam ®), which should not be placed in the recycling container.

 

Discover more tips for waste reduction and reuse at Prince William Recycles Day in October. For more information about the Recycles Day event or other Prince William County Solid Waste programs, visit www.pwcgov.org/trashandrecycling.