Prince William County has hired a new Planning Director to replace our previous Director, Rebecca Horner, who was elevated to Deputy County Executive earlier this year.
Mr. Parag Agrawal comes to us after a brief stint as the Community Development Director in Milton, Georgia, a fast growing suburb of Metro Atlanta, where he has served since 2018.
Prior to that he served in densely populated pockets of the Country as Director of Planning for the state of Rhode Island from 2015 to 2018 and as Planning Director for the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut from 2012 to 2015.
Prior to accepting the position of Planning Director in Prince William County, Mr. Agrawal accepted a similar offer to serve as the Director of Neighborhood Services in the City of Charlottesville on November 4th of this year.
Mr. Agrawal earned his degree in Architecture from Aligarh Muslim University in India and received his master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University.
Just last month, the County released the results of its Countywide resident survey of, among other things, what the top priority of the new planning director should be. Resident priorities that received 5% or more included:
1.) Slow Down Growth/Development – 19%
2.) Protect the Rural Crescent – 16%
3.) Address Traffic Issues – 13%
4.) Repair and Maintain Roads – 13%
5.) Enhance Communication/Engagement – 13%
6.) Enhance Infrastructure – 11%
7.) Less Dense Development – 9%
8.) Protect the Environment – 9%
9.) Attract/Develop Business – 8%
10.) Preserve Green Space – 8%
11.) Ensure Schools are Not Overcrowded – 7%
12.) Smart Growth Strategy – 7%
13.) Enhance Parks and Trails – 6%
Items that scored low included: Enhancing Public Transit at 3%, Evaluate the Best Options for Route 28 (3%), Provide Additional Housing (2%), Support Growth and Development (2%), Plan to Enhance Equity (2%).
“Respondents have concerns that the next Director will be pressured by developers. When asked what challenges the next Director will face, the most common response was that the Director will be required to stand up to developers, who they fear may be applying undue pressure on the County to continue to develop. Many specifically expressed the hope that the next Director will put the needs of residents first and consider quality of life before economic development.”
It’s important to note, this survey was taken prior to Mr. Agrawal’s hiring.
When the residents were asked what advice they would have for the next planning director, the most common responses were 1.) Listen to the Community, 2.) Slow Down Growth and Development, and 3.) Focus on Residents.
Judging by the survey results, I don’t think you can draw from it that our residents want less economic development. After all, who wouldn’t want shorter commute times and less time in traffic getting to and from work? What they do clearly want is less residential development. It is my hope that the Board of County Supervisors, in addition to our new Planning Director, Mr. Agrawal, will listen to those we serve (you) and make your priorities, our priorities.
Supervisor Yesli Vega