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Viewpoints/Is the Fredericksburg area now in Northern Virginia?

Date published: 5/11/2008

WHILE MANY who fight their way up and down Interstate 95, or who look with trepidation at the rate of development in our region, may feel like they have already entered the 10th circle of Hell, we are not in--and are doing what we can to avoid becoming part of-- Northern Virginia.

Unlike Northern Virginia, development has not yet destroyed the rural settings and the small-town charm and Virginia hospitality that we enjoy in our region. It is no coincidence that the first Welcome Center in Virginia, heading south, is here.

Unlike Northern Virginia, we have decided that protecting our heritage and natural resources is of primary importance. The Rappahannock River Easement, Crow's Nest, and the acreage of Civil War sites saved from development are testimony to that commitment.

Unlike Northern Virginia we have an opportunity to better plan for the future. We see that we can't meet infrastructure demands based on the current rate and pattern of development. We recognize that current zoning has resulted in sprawl and we are now looking at alternatives. We are beginning to look at the regional impact of development.

While we have a chance to avoid the fate of Northern Virginia, time is not an ally. It is likely that the 2010 census will show the Washington Urbanized Area meeting Fredericksburg's. We are doing what we can to ensure that we maintain our identity so we can determine our fate. If we fail, we will be part of Northern Virginia.

Matthew Kelly is a member of the Fredericksburg City Council.