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Residents, Chairman at Odds Over Holly Acres Decision

Some residents want Holly Acres to be able to rebuild but Chairman Stewart feels the decision to allow rebuilding is a moral issue.

Update Nov. 29 6 p.m.:

The board did not make a decision on the Holly Acres situation, Stewart said they need more information from the Commonwealth as well as from staff. 

Original Post: 

Residents spoke out at Tuesday’s Board of County Supervisor’s meeting to voice their support of the Zoning Board of Appeal’s unanimous decision to allow the owner of Holly Acres mobile home community to rebuild.

Many members of the faith-based community spoke in support of . Remnants of Tropical Storm Lee caused flooding in Prince William and Fairfax counties on Sept. 8. Holly Acres mobile home park was devastated by the flooding, causing almost

Church, J. Douglas Duty, whose congregation was among those to act quickly with aid for residents ­ – ­– urged the board to uphold the Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision.

Duty asked the board to show that people mattered, not property. 

Father Gerry Creedon from in Dale City also voiced his support for the Zoning Board of Appeals. 

“We need to look at this as the part of broader issue of homeless in our county and our nation,” said Father Creedon.

Matty Lupo, director of social ministry at Holy Family Catholic Church said that she has worked with families from Holly Acres since the flooding began.

“I continue to support them and hear stories of how the children are affected, drawing pictures of what they remember, expressing hope that PWC will do the right thing and let them back to begin again,” said Lupo.   

After citizens’ time was closed, Chairman Corey Stewart addressed those that had spoken, driving home a message that the board was not “uncompassionate." 

Stewart said that the board needed to make a decision regarding Holly Acres Tuesday and that he did not know which way it was going to go, but that the board’s responsibility is to keep residents safe.   

“There were over 20 swift boat rescues in that mobile home park that evening. The park was built in the early 1960s, that’s obviously the reason it was placed there. Back 60 years ago we didn’t have the regulations that were in place to protect these residents,” said Stewart. “Folks, the majority of this area is in a floodway. It means not only does it flood, but the water is moving. Essentially, it means it becomes a river. Many of these trailer homes were pushed up into the trees. The most amazing thing is that not a single person was killed.”  

“It may not flood again this year it may not flood next year or in the next 10 years. But the chances of a significant flood happening in the same place, are very significant,” said Stewart. “In 20 years when another flood comes and if this board does nothing, imagine where the moral culpability lies? It lies with us. For me personally, I don’t want to be morally responsible for having a family wiped out because I didn't have the political courage to say no to the rebuilding of a trailer park in that area.”

Stewart repeated that it would be irresponsible to let people move back into that area, which may also endanger future residents who are not aware of the flood risk. 

Stewart also addressed the issue of the CSX culvert located behind Holly Acres, often blamed for the flooding on Sept. 8. “Some claim replacing the culvert would fix it, but that is not true,” said Stewart. 

Editor’s Note: The board is currently in closed session as of 5 p.m., stay with Patch for further updates. 

Jan Cunard November 29, 2011 at 11:00 PM
The BOCS had no vote on this issue after coming out of Closed Session as they need to get additional information from the state. Your question of rebuilding the trailers is confusing to me -- I think the issue is whether or not they should be parked in a flood plane where they risk life and limb when it floods in the area the next time. Thank God no one was killed this time. But what is the matter with the land owner who would rent out space to people who were most likely unaware that they were in a flood zone? Seems like something a slum landlord would do.
Lauren Jost November 30, 2011 at 03:49 AM
Jan, I posted an update at 6 p.m. once I received additional information that the board made no movement on the issue. County officials had said that once the damage occurred after Sept. 8 that the owner of the park could *not* rebuild once the damage was cleared. The Zoning Board of Appeals reversed that decision, effectively giving the owner the OK to rebuild trailers in the place that is a FEMA-designated floodway. The problem is, rebuilding most of those homes would put them back in that same floodway.
Alice LaBier November 30, 2011 at 01:31 PM
What is the history of flooding in that trailer park? Heck we had part of oour fence collapse with the power of the water that came, but normally we get a trickle in the natural run-off in our back yard. Will this happen again? Why not check the statistics before removing folks from a place they have lived for a long time. I have been in the Woodbridge area since 1965, I may be mistaken but, I can't remember that particular trailer park experiencing in the past, the flooding that took place recently.
Lauren Jost November 30, 2011 at 08:56 PM
A follow up from yesterday's meeting from the county: http://woodbridge-va.patch.com/articles/board-deliberates-appealing-bza-holly-acres-decision

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