|4026 Arcadia Road|
Allowing an unfinished construction project to languish for five years is ludicrous, he said. “It’s more than an eyesore. It devalues the value of all the properties around it.”
One example cited by Zambito is a house at 4026 Arcadia Road, which he says “has been clad in torn and flying Tyvek for the past five years with a blue tarp as a roof.”
An email from Susan Epstein, a code compliance supervisor in Fairfax County’s Department of Code Compliance, in response to a complaint from Zambito, says there is an active building permit for 4026 Arcadia—so the county can’t do much about it.
Zambito has also complained about 4002 Arcadia, a teardown that has been under construction since 2007, with outside storage, a huge satellite dish in the front yard, and possible multiple occupancy.
In addition, he notes that the houses on Braddock Road that had been cited for having frequent yard sales with used cars and large appliance seem to be still at it.
According to Epstein, the yard sales at 4058 Braddock Road were found to be in violation of county laws, and the issue was referred to the county attorney’s office in April.
|4002 Arcadia Road|
A notice of violation was sent to the owner of 3908 Braddock Road for operating a retail sales establishment in a residence and cars parked on the grass. The owner refused to let code inspectors inside the house on May 29, so the case is being referred to the county attorney, Epstein says.
Zambito had seen a large Budget rental truck loading and unloading merchandise at the house the week before, and there had been biweekly deliveries at the property for several years.
In another house on that street, 4125 Braddock, the county has requested that a case be opened for illegal vehicle sales.
Zambito notes that some of these property owners are continuing to have sales, but have switched to weekends and weekday evenings, when county inspectors are not working.
According to Epstein, “there is a good chance the owners will continue to violate the zoning ordinance until they are ordered to stop by a judge.”
“Those of us who work hard and pay taxes are frustrated by the lack of initiative by those in power,” Zambito says, although he concedes that the Fairfax County supervisors have limited power in dealing with these situations.
The economic downturn is also partly to blame. Homeowners who lost jobs or who got loans they shouldn’t have qualified for may have trouble completing a remodeling project. In other cases, contractors may have abandoned a project or homeowners have gotten contractor licenses they shouldn’t have qualified for, he says. He also blames lax regulations and a “squatter mentality.”
The county can only do so much, in terms of inspecting properties and citing violators, as the uniform building code is the responsibility of the state. Taking away a permit for an unfinished home remodeling project twouldn’t be that helpful either, as the project might never be completed.
Del. Mark Keam (35th District) introduced legislation during the recently concluded session to require a two-year time limit—the current limit is three years—on the duration of building permits for new or single-family houses. That measure didn’t get anywhere, but Keam says he plans to bring it up again next year.