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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Task Force begins work on planning future of Seven Corners

County planner Bernie Suchicital (left) addresses the Seven Corners Task Force.

Twelve local residents and business people selected for the Seven Corners Land Use and Transportation Task Force met for the first time Sept. 11 to figure out how they will operate over the next few months as they develop recommendations on how the area should be redeveloped.

Mason Supervisor Penny Gross appointed the members and announced that there will be two co-chairs: Evelyn Haught, of Skyline Center, and Patrick Hoar, a resident of Ravenwood Park.

“I want this group to be deliberative. I want this group to be thoughtful in looking at all the possibilities and prioritizing them,” Gross said. She told the group to “try and help us figure out what to do with the Seven Corners/Willston area in the next 10 years, 20 years, and maybe the next 40 years.”

Seven Corners, the site of the first shopping mall in Northern Virginia, has become choked with traffic and is impossible to negotiate on foot. Many other complaints emerged at two public meetings last spring in which community members talked about their vision for the aging commercial center.

The Task Force, overseen by the Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization (OCR), was formed to continue the discussions started at those visioning workshops. Two working groups were also formed to consider shorter-term issues and solutions—one on quality of life concerns, like litter and illegal signs, the other on pedestrian, bicycle, and transit connectivity.  

Matt Flis, a planner with the OCR, told the task force members their role is to review the county’s Comprehensive Plan for Seven Corners, recommend changes if needed, and provide input on a forthcoming transportation study. He said the group can consider all physical aspects of the area, including retail use, land use, affordable housing, and the arts.

The staff  “doesn’t have a preconceived notion,” Flis said. “We want to hear your ideas. You are driving this bus.”

At their first meeting, the task force mostly concentrated on procedural issues, but they also briefly discussed their perspectives on Seven Corners.

“I hope we can embrace the diversity in the Seven Corners community,” said Haught. That’s a strength that can be used to attract visitors, she said. “We should capitalize on that instead of seeing it as a problem to solve.”

Task Force member Jim Edmonson expressed the view that gentrification of the area should be avoided. If “we let the economy run its course,” rents would rise, forcing many shop owners to leave, he said.

The task force will meet on the second Tuesday of the month, at 7 p.m., in the Mason Government Center. The public can observe the meetings, and although the group discussed the need for public input, a decision hasn’t been made on how that will occur.

At the next meeting, Oct. 9, officials from the Department of Planning and Zoning will give a presentation on “Planning 101,” and representatives from the Transportation Department will discuss the Seven Corners transportation study, for which the county has recently approved funding.  At the Nov. 13 meeting, OCR will present a report on existing conditions in Seven Corners.


  1. Judging from the picture above, there's a fairly sizeable population in Seven Corners that's not being represented in this group. What efforts have been made to bring in Latinos and Vietnamese? (And, for that matter, people under the age of 50?)

  2. Mason District Resident9/12/12, 8:09 PM

    The problem is that many of the Latinos in that community do not speak English and there would be many communication problems in trying to get things done.

    That being said, efforts HAVE been made to include both the Latino and Vietnamese, as well as other communities. There was even an entire Spanish language meeting to recruit Latinos, but I heard that it was poorly attended.

    As for young people. Hmmm, it seems that most of the home owners in that area are over 50

  3. At another meeting held by the revitalization folks - we were asked to submit our names for consideration for the committee..... and "Penny Gross" would have the final say on who was in. In other words - The usual road block to progress was involved in the process.

  4. To the above commentor - what exactly do you mean?? How was Penny Gross a 'roadblock to progress in process'? It seems the process is moving along just fine - the group is formed, they are meeting, etc. Are you upset because you were not appointed to the group? Do you not like one the persons who was appointed to the group? Or are you just being political?