Share This Issue on Your Social Media
LinkedIn Share This Email
Stay Connected With Chair Wheeler
Twitter  Facebook  Instagram  Youtube  

Issue 187

Friday, November 17, 2023

Prince William County

Dear Neighbors,

Last Wednesday, November 8th, the Planning Commission had their public hearing on the proposed Digital Gateway project in Gainesville on Pageland Lane. While much has been reported in the press, I wanted to cover some of the highlights myself. You can watch the hearing and see the agenda here.

Here are a few facts about the hearing:

  • The public hearing started at an advertised time of 2:00 pm, versus the typical 7:00 pm evening start.
  • The Planning Commission heard three applicant rezoning presentations: Rezoning #REZ2022-00036, Compass Datacenters Prince William County Campus 1, Rezoning #REZ2022-00033, Digital Gateway South, and Rezoning #REZ2022-00032, Digital Gateway North, as well as three staff presentations. These presentations were followed by Commissioner discussion and questions.
  • The presentations and discussion lasted approximately 8 hours, ending around 10:00 pm. 
  • Public Comment time began at 10:00 pm and consisted of both in person and remote speakers. Each speaker was allowed up to 9 continuous minutes to speak on the three rezonings, providing the normal allowance of three minutes for each application. Public Comment lasted approximately 14 hours, ending around 12:30 pm Thursday.
  • There were roughly 190 speakers during the public hearing. Of those, roughly 110 were in favor of the proposal and 80 were against.
  • The vast majority of the opponents of the project chose to use up their entire allowed 9 minutes for their remarks, amounting to approximately 12 of the 14 hours of the Public Comment time.

After Public Comment time, the Planning Commission had brief discussions and motions were made to defer the vote, which failed. The Commission ultimately voted 6-2 to recommend denial of the applications. Some Commissioners stated their denial recommendation was based on either a lack of review of new material by staff (details in next paragraph), a stated desire to move the application onto the BOCS for its December 12th hearing, or a desire to further review the project. To better understand the thoughts behind the various votes for recommending denial, view the meeting video here starting at 22:00 hours.

Important to note, the planning staff received the applicants' 4th submission at the end of August and further adjustments by the applicants were not allowed after this point. The planning staff evaluated this 4th submission and indicated there were still some outstanding issues and missing information, which, in part, led to their recommendation of denial. After receiving planning staff's position, the applicants submitted additional documentation and provisions to address the staff concerns. As is standard, the planning staff did not have time to review this information before the Planning Commission hearing.

As previously stated, the intent of some Commissioners who voted to recommend denial was for the applications to move forward for a final decision to the BOCS, knowing that planning staff would review the applicants new responses to their list of reasons for recommending denial. If you review the Commissioners' comments, you will see that some thought that the applicants' additional responses (which were included as a part of the applicants presentation) were adequate in making the project acceptable to the majority. 

The next step for these rezoning requests is the Public Hearing at the BOCS meeting on December 12th. Information regarding participation in that hearing will be provided in The Wheeler Report before the meeting.

In reflecting upon the extensive proceedings and the very diverse viewpoints, both for and against this project, shared during the Planning Commission's public hearing, it's evident that this project has garnered some community interest and engagement. As we anticipate the upcoming BOCS Public Hearing on December 12th, I encourage active participation as well as thoughtful and meaningful consideration from all concerned neighbors.

Stay tuned for further details on how you can be informed about the facts surrounding this crucial decision-making process. Please know that I sincerely appreciate your engagement, from throughout the county, in this process.

In Service,

Chair Ann Wheeler

Chair's Calendar

Voting Rights

Tuesday, November 14, Chair Wheeler was interviewed by a Northern Virginia Community College student to discuss voting rights. The interview was for the student's project for a political science class.

Non-profit Craft Sale

Tuesday, November 14, Chair Wheeler and her staff attended the Friends of Horticultural Therapy, Inc. (FOH) 22nd annual Craft Sale at the McCoart County Complex. FOH provides volunteer service and financial support to the PWC Community Services Horticultural Therapy Program.

Be sure to read about an exciting update for FOH in County News below!


Wednesday, November 15, Chair Wheeler participated in a meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' Transportation Planning Board. During the meeting, the Board was briefed on the:

Next Meeting

Tuesday, November 28

2:00 pm and 7:30 pm

For Public Comment Time options visit SpeakUp! Prince WilliamRemote speakers must sign up by 5:00 pm on Monday, November 27. In-person speakers can sign up at the meeting.

View the Agenda
Register to Speak Remotely

County News

Holiday Closures

Thursday, November 23, and Friday, November 24, in observance of Thanksgiving:

  • PWC Government offices, including the courts, will be closed.
  • All PWC Public Libraries will be closed.

The County Landfill and Balls Ford Road Compost Facility will be:

  • Closed Thursday, November 23.
  • Open 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, Friday, November 24.

PWC Parks Thanksgiving Holiday Closures

Thursday, November 23

  • OPEN: Parks and Trails
  • CLOSED: All PWC Parks & Recreation buildings

Friday, November 24


  • Chinn Aquatics & Fitness Center | 5am-8pm
  • Sharron Baucom Dale City Recreation Center | 6am-9pm
  • Ben Lomond Historic Site | 11am-4pm
  • Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre | 11am-4pm
  • Rippon Lodge Historic Site | 11am-3pm
  • All Parks and Trails


  • Birchdale Community Center
  • Hellwig Administration Building
  • Pat White Center at Ben Lomond
  • Veterans Memorial Park Community Center

Just in Time for the Holidays

To make Thanksgiving travel more enjoyable and, most importantly, safe, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will be suspending many highway work zones and lifting most lane closures on interstates and other major roads in Virginia from noon on Wednesday, November 22 until noon on Monday, November. 27.  

Additionally, VDOT’s free mobile 511 app offers information about construction, traffic, incidents and congestion as well as access to traffic cameras, weather, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and more. Use 511’s “speak ahead” option for hands-free and eyes-free audible traffic alerts for incidents and construction along your route. Traffic information is also available at or by calling 511 from any phone. 

Important Additional Information

Motorists may encounter semi-permanent work zones that remain in place during this time. Check VDOT’s Weekly Lane Closures and Travel Advisories for the latest travel alerts in your area and around the Commonwealth.

Upcoming Park Ceremony

Thursday, December 7, 11:00 am to 11:30 am, PWC Parks and Recreation is hosting a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Occoquan Greenway Hedges Run Segment 3 Bridge. The new bridge replaces three splash-through creek crossings with a single elevated pedestrian/bicycle route. View a map of the Greenway here and a timelapse video of the bridge being installed below.

Accepting Nominations

The PWC Human Rights Commission is accepting nominations for its 2023 Human Rights Awards. Nominees should be individuals or organizations that have fought for and encouraged equality in significant and substantial ways that have enriched our community. The deadline for submitting is Saturday, December 9. Nominations may be mailed or delivered to the Human Rights Commission, 15941 Donald Curtis Drive, Suite 125 in Woodbridge or electronically by the Human Rights Nomination Form. Learn more here.

The annual Universal Human Rights Day will be held Saturday, January 13, 2024, at 10:00 am, in the Board Chambers of the James J. McCoart Building at 1 County Complex Court in Woodbridge. The celebration includes guest speakers and musical selections preceding presentations honoring award recipients. Read about the 2022 recipients here

Important Program is Seeing Results

Results show that PWC's Fentanyl Exposed Campaign (County News issue 173), launched in July to reach at-risk youth and young adults to teach them of the risk of fentanyl overdose, is having an impact by effectively communicating with teens in the greater Prince William area who are impacted by fentanyl. Teens were most engaged in learning what to do in case of overdose and wanted to learn more. Additionally, it has reached susceptible teens who had not yet tried drugs and early experimenters. 

Check out the video links below to learn more about fentanyl:


The campaign presented an Instagram poll asking teens if they had heard of Naloxone, the life-saving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. Of the 1,323 who responded, 63 percent, or 830, had not heard of naloxone. Once they were aware of Naloxone, 51 percent of teens said they would carry the fentanyl antidote, 12 percent said they might carry Naloxone and 38 percent said they would not. Tracking comment replies, message agreement or disagreement, whether other users were tagged, personal stories and questions, among other metrics, showed that the campaign reached its target audience. 

PWC Helping Those Who Help Others

At its October 24 meeting, the BOSC authorized a Memorandum of Understanding with the Friends of Horticultural Therapy, Inc. (FOH) for the construction, operations, and maintenance of Therapeutic Horticultural Gardens on County-Owned land. It included the transfer, budget, and appropriation of $435,000 in General Use Proffer Funds and acceptance of $90,000 from FOH toward the project. FOH provides volunteer service and financial support to the PWC Community Services Horticultural Therapy Program.

The PWC Community Services Horticultural Therapy participants work together in the community on landscaping and gardening projects, which combined with ongoing educational groups, help participants build independent living and pre-vocational skills. The goal is for them to "graduate" and be successful in meeting their individual goals, such as employment, school or other community-centered activities. 

Environmental News

At its November meeting, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' Board of Directors adopted new regional solar energy goals for 2030 to align with broader climate objectives. The goals include achieving 250,000 solar rooftops by 2030, promoting solar installations on government facilities, exploring renewable energy for 100 percent of government operations, and supporting community-wide solar efforts. Currently, there are around 73,000 solar energy installations in the region. Learn more about residential solar in PWC here.

Winter Preparedness

As we move into colder weather, Dominion Energy offers several ways that help its customers save money and improve the energy efficiency of their homes. To get you started, it suggests these changes:

  • Set the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower during colder months. 
  • Install a smart thermostat that automatically lowers the temperature overnight or while no one is home. 
  • Caulk, seal and weather-strip around all seams, cracks, and openings to protect your home from drafts. Also, check ductwork for leaks and tears.
  • Schedule a virtual home energy audit to find more energy savings.

Dominion Energy also offers several programs that help its customers cover their winter heating costs.

Dominion Energy Virginia's EnergyShare program offers up to $600 in bill payment assistance from October 1 through May 31. The program is not income-based. The program is not income-based. Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Individuals 60 and older, military veterans and people with disabilities may be eligible for additional assistance. For more info go to Virginia 211. Customers who receive EnergyShare bill payment assistance may also be eligible to receive a free home energy assessment and free energy efficiency upgrades to help save on their energy costs.  

Extended Payment Plans help customers who've fallen behind on their electric bills. Eligible customers can make a 50% down payment on their past due bill and spread the remaining balance over 6 months. Customers may sign-in to their account online to see if they qualify.

The Budget Billing program helps customers avoid seasonal fluctuations with their energy bills. Monthly budget bill amounts are based on the average of the customer's previous 12 months of usage. Customers may sign-in to their account online to see if they qualify.

A full list of all Dominion Energy customer assistance options is available here or by calling: 866-366-4357.

County Kudos

A Week of Service

A big thank you goes out to Habitat for Humanity, Keep Prince William Beautiful (KPWB), and a group of dedicated local community business volunteers for a remarkable beautification initiative for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington - Prince William County. Their efforts this past week significantly enhanced the Martin K. Alloy Branch in Manassas, the General Heiser Branch in Dumfries, and the Hylton Branch in Woodbridge.

Interior transformations included drywall repair, priming, and painting in key areas such as the lower-level hallway, snack room, computer lab, library, and conference room. Kitchens and Art rooms received a refreshing upgrade with the replacement of cabinets. Generously donated ceiling tiles, paint, and supplies facilitated the success of these interior improvements.

The exteriors were revitalization through a meticulous painting process. Curb areas, handicap parking signs, benches, and recreational spaces like 4-square and hopscotch, were all given a fresh, vibrant look. Additionally, trash was picked up, gardens were weeded, and the club's buses were power washed.

This impactful beautification project was conceived by Victor S. Angry, Neabsco District Supervisor, PWC Board of County Supervisors.

County Happenings

Work Up Your Thanksgiving Appetite

Thursday, November 23, the annual Prince William Turkey Trot 5k and Mashed Potato Mile will be held at the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center in Manassas. The 5k begins at 8:30 am and the 1-mile at 9:30 am. The 5K is $45.00 and the 1-mile walk/run is $20.00. Learn more and register here.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Hero's Bridge, which serves elderly veterans of the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam wars.

Experience the Outdoors

The trails at Silver Lake Regional Park can lead you along the lake, through the forest, and back again. PWC Department of Parks and Recreation is offering Navigating the Trails at Silver Lake Regional Park Saturday, December 2, 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm, to learn valuable skills and knowledge on navigating the park trails. Participants will build confidence while enjoying their experience in the outdoors. Register to participate here. Note, the $20 program fee is for two people.

Wednesday, December 6, 9:00 am to 11:00 am, PWC Police Department is hosting Coffee with a Cop at the Target located at 13301 Gateway Center Drive in Gainesville. Get to know your local Police Officers, ask questions, tell them about your neighborhood, or share a concern. The coffee is free and the conversation is informal.

'Tis the Season

“Sweat the halls” with stepping and lifting at PWC Parks and Recreation's Holly Jolly Fitness Combo Class on Saturday, December 9, 9:30 am to 11:30 am, at the Sharron Baucom Dale City Recreation Center. Begin with Xtreme Hip Hop Step and finish up with some Total Body Strength. Free for Center Passholders and $12 drop-in fee for non-passholders.

Saturday, December 9, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, PWC Parks and Recreation is hosting Movie in the Park - The Grinch inside the community center at Veterans Memorial Park. Please bring your lawn chairs or blankets for seating. The event is free, but participants must pre-register here for a ticket to the movie. A parent must attend with children under the age of 16.

On the hunt for more ways to get in the holiday spirit? Be on the lookout for our Holiday Guide 2023 issue next week!

Helpful PWC Links

Ann B. Wheeler was elected Chair At-Large of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors during the 2019 General Election and assumed office on January 1, 2020. Prince William County is located 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., and is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s second-most populous county with approximately 482,000 residents. 
Subscribe to The Wheeler Report
Visit Our Website