Monday, June 23, 2008


Obviously the people in charge know what they're doing.

Klepac and other newcomers to Prince William County were drawn there during the housing boom because they thought it would be a cheaper version of Fairfax County, with its upscale subdivisions, good schools and plentiful shopping. Yet a year after Klepac moved in, the Potomac Club subdivision is still not completely built, and promised amenities have yet to materialize.

As their home values plummet and their taxes go up, some of the new arrivals, many of whom are 30-somethings with families, are beginning to sour on Prince William, which has the highest number of foreclosures in Virginia.

"We're stuck," Klepac said. "I don't think I would have moved to Prince William County. I felt I was getting into a brand-new community with all these luxuries. They haven't delivered."


Even so, Fuller said it's going to be a "slow cure," in part because the county's actions to curb illegal immigration have "damaged its image as a good place to do business."

Katherine M. Gotthardt said she thinks it's a waste of time and money for police to check the legal status of arrested criminal suspects. She would rather see the county invest in fire department staffing, affordable housing and schools.

That's crazy talk from Ms. Gotthardt.

I was struck by this bit, also:

"It was like the land got eaten up by these subdivisions," she said. "They've added to that climate of everyone being divided. There's no town center."

Despite the rapid growth, Prince William is still a bedroom community. Roughly two-thirds of its residents work outside the county. When it's time to shop or go out for an upscale meal, they get in their cars and drive to shopping centers in the region. What new residents want is an urban experience, with shopping and dining within the comforts of their suburban community, developers say.

Is this really what new residents want? If so, there's a giant mismatch between a tremendous amount of exurban development over the past decade and what people want.