In north Woodbridge, a legal battle has broken out between residents of a waterfront community and the companies working to develop the same area — with road access to a popular wedding venue hanging in the balance.
The area in question, Belmont Bay, is a 170-acre parcel of land along the Occoquan River, next to George Mason University’s Potomac Science Center and containing The Osprey’s at Belmont Bay wedding venue. The Caruthers Companies submitted plans to develop the area last year, with the intent to rezone the area to increase available housing and create a public waterfront near the Marina District.
Currently, the land is zoned for 411 age-restricted homes, 1.42 million square feet of commercial space, and 505 hotel rooms. Caruthers would rezone that area of land to allow for 1,390 total homes. Their proposed plan accounted for a $550 million redevelopment process.
The plans have met resistance along the way from current Belmont Bay residents, headed by the Belmont Bay Homeowners Association (HOA), who expressed concerns that the development would create too much density in the area. One item in the plan in particular, a road diet on Belmont Bay Drive, sparked controversy in the planning process.
The original plan proposed to reduce traffic to only one lane per way (down from two) and create 130 spaces for parallel parking on a section of the road. After residents expressed concern over this, Caruthers presented a revised plan to the Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association on May 19, which reduced the number of street parking spaces to 73.
Following the meeting, the HOA released a “Message from the President” expressing their disapproval of the proposed changes.
“The main take away is that not much of substances have been changed. The bottom line is that the density remains the same with 1390 new homes and the road diet still exists albeit modified slightly,” the HOA said. “The Caruthers essentially ignores the PWC Planning Department staff report on almost all of the 86 critical issues and fails to acknowledge nor to address any of Belmont Bay residents’ major concerns on environment.”
The conflict between the two groups came to a head in October, when the HOA reportedly threatened to block public access to Belmont Bay Drive leading to The Osprey’s, according to a statement from Belmont Bay:
“The Belmont Bay Homeowners Association has threatened to deny access to The Ospreys via Belmont Bay Drive as of October 24, 2022. The owner of The Ospreys has had access over Belmont Bay Drive for more than 17 years pursuant to easements recorded in the Prince William County land records.”
While Belmont Bay claims that they have easement rights necessary to access Belmont Bay Drive and the nearby Harbor Side Street, the HOA asserts that only HOA members and emergency services have access rights, InsideNoVA reports. If access were denied to those two roads, there would be no remaining exterior access points to The Osprey’s.
The Caruthers Companies, affiliated with both Belmont Bay and The Osprey’s, filed a lawsuit against the HOA on October 24 in Prince William County Circuit Court to determine who actually has the rights to access those roads.
While the trial has been delayed from its original November 4 hearing, the court has granted an injunction that allows for continued access to the venue until the case is finalized. The hearing is now tentatively scheduled for December 16.
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