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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spectrum shopping center goes back to the drawing board



The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted March 24 to “defer indefinitely” the rezoning application for the proposed Spectrum shopping center on Leesburg Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads.

Following many discussions with the community and the developer, “we asked the developer to go back to the drawing board and rework the plan for the shopping center,” said Mason Supervisor Penny Gross. She doesn’t expect the new plan to be available until later this spring or early summer.

The BoS deferred a decision on the project March 5 following a public hearing in which dozens of residents of the Courtland Park community raised numerous objections to the design of the shopping center.

Their complaints centered around the plans for egress, a drive-through pharmacy, the potential for 24-hour fast food restaurants, incompatibility with Bailey’s Crossroads revitalization efforts, and the negative impact on the neighborhood’s quality of life.

32 comments:

  1. some common sense. the land will still be developed but in a way that makes better sense for the community and meets the county's stated long term planning goals.

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    1. common sense? That left a long time ago. The land will never be developed at this rate. the same NIMBY's will be back when talk surfaces again so who are you kidding about future development. What a dump. MD needs revitalization now, This was at least a step to begin that process and now that is gone. I am sure the development at sears will be gone before too long. Can we get the folks who run Arlington to take over. They get crap done.

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    2. calm down. the same developers are still working on the project. they just have to go back and address the issues the staff had which lead to their denial. the issues are all fixable. things need to be developed but not just in any way the developers want.

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  2. Thank heaven--for once, the citizens' concerns have been heard! I just hope the BOS doesn't try to steamroll their next plan.

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  3. Unbelievable. So, the BOS capitulated to the NIMBYS after all. This is a real tribute to election year politics. It also doesn't bode well for proposed future developments like Moncure. Spectrum acted in good faith throughout this process and made numerous proffers to accommodate the unrealistic demands of the surrounding community. In retrospect, that was an exercise in futility. I would be thrilled to see Spectrum take this matter to court because it's now crystal clear that no plan will suffice to overcome the incessant interference of the NIMBYS in Spectrum's right to develop its shopping center. I'll also be interested to see if the denizens of Courtland Park remember to pay off their obligation to Penny Gross at the voting booth.

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    1. Incredible, that plot of land looks so beautiful why would anyone want to change it. MD just continues to solidify itself as the dumping ground of NoVA.

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    2. how about we build it in YOUR BACKYARD?

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    3. you shouldn't post if you didn't follow what happened. first off, this was deferred which spectrum agreed to so they can't sue as it wasn't denied. second off, the staff denied the project so even if the BOS denied it, they wouldn't have much grounds to sue on as they took their chances going forward on a project that the county staff denied. all they have to do is go back and fix the issues that the staff has been telling them for a year about and get those fixed. Spectrum and developers don't have a right to do what ever they want, there is a process and in this process, they got a negative staff review (which is pretty hard to get as they go out of their way to approve things). the neighborhood is all for those lots to be developed, they were just asking for the same things the paid county experts had been telling them they had to do since day 1.

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    4. "you shouldn't post if you didn't follow what happened..." Condescend much? I have a pretty fair handle on what's happening. Penny's comment that Spectrum was asked to "...go back to the drawing board and rework the plan for the shopping center...." represents a denial of their application. Spectrum is under no obligation to keep resubmitting their proposal interminably. I believe they might try again, but I also suspect they're wasting their time. And, btw, county staffer have no decision making authority. They can only make recommendations and those are frequently disregarded by the BOS. The mix of businesses Spectrum is proposing for this shopping center may not meet the planning staff's idyllic notion of how this area should be developed, but they're highly lucrative and typical of development throughout this area. Moreover, the resident's have no legal standing to micromanage the operation of this shopping center. Spectrum has already made a number of generous proffers to no avail. Fairfax desperately needs revenue from business taxes and this situation clearly represents a disincentive for developers to invest here. So, it's time to end the stalling and permit Spectum to exercise its property rights.

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    5. "how about we build it in YOUR BACKYARD?" My backyard doesn't back to commercial property. Which is an issue the residents of Courtland Park should have considered before settling there. If they wanted a park, they should have chipped in and bought this parcel.

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    6. What are all the generous proffers you refer to?

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    7. Anonymous3/25/15, 12:15 AM -

      Stop the silliness.

      First off, Spectrum has no property rights here as they don't actually own any of the property yet. They have no bought any of that land so far.

      Second, they are asking for a rezoning and a bunch of special exceptions. These are not rights but are things that have to go through a process and be approved. The current properties are not zoned for what they are asking to do and there are also restrictions against some of their proposal which is why they need the exceptions. If these current properties were set up for this, then you are right they could sue and the neighbors would have no complaints. However, they need to get the County to allow them to do what they want .

      They are free to go to a number of other lots and do this project without needing a rezoning and special exceptions and would have no issues. THEY DECIDED TO TRY TO DEVELOP HERE WHICH IS ON THEM! Maybe they should have been smarter and picked a less difficult place to pull off what they wanted and not one that involved this many hurdles they had to go through.

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    8. "Spectrum has no property rights..." Other than an option to develop the property.

      "They are asking for a rezoning and a bunch of special exceptions...." The controversy isn't about variances. Those are granted routinely. It's about residents wanting a 9 to 5 operation on that site.

      "They are free to go to a number of other lots..." The NIMBY anthem. Nuff said.

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    9. you are wrong once again. the neighbors wanted all businesses closed by midnight (10 pm was ideal but would have lived with midnight) and not to open before 6am. they did not want 24 hours businesses but were fine with ones that needed to stay open late.

      and a controversy was about variances as they asked to rezone residential into commercial.

      not in my back yard wasn't the issue. it was not in my front yard and if it was going to be in the front yard, the neighbors got some say about it. if they stuck to the exisiting commercial zone, no issues.

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  4. "incompatibility with Bailey’s Crossroads revitalization efforts"... Is there really such a revitalization effort. Everything gets shot down or drawn out that petitions are willed to the next of kin. "the negative impact on the neighborhood’s quality of life".. Seriously, that piece of land looks and is crap. Any development would have made the area look better and served more people than it affects. Way to go BOS, Thanks for the same BS. I agree with prior poster, can we get on loan county officials from Arlington.

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    1. Arlington would have never allowed this project as it was proposed. They would have had more problems with it than Fairfax did. They don't allow drive thru in areas they are pushing to be pedestrian friendly. See the Walgreens in Clarendon for example.

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    2. The Wendy's in Courthouse (complete with a drive-thru) is being redeveloped as well. They are tearing down drive thru fast food establishments all over Arlington, moving far into the future, while we are still debating whether we need yet another CVS with a drive through.

      So ENOUGH with the WE NEED ARLINGTON SMARTS mentality. Yes, we do, but because they would have the sense to not approve any low-slung suburban-sprawl esque strip mall developments. They need to be left in the 20th century. Let's keep the ones we have, redevelop them sparingly and with good planning - there are certainly some gems in strip malls around the area. But good god, we don't need to multiply the strip malls. Let's leave them in a zero growth mode.

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    3. AMEN to the post above

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  5. The ingress and egress would have been a challenge to the surrounding neighbors. Spectrum needs to be smarter about their tenant selection such as a 24 hr CVS. The problem is the site is small and a drive thru takes up allot of it.

    I hope Spectrum and the neighbors can come to a successful conclusion, because right now that piece of property and the vacant Geico building is an eyesore and invites litter and loitering.

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    1. A drive thru adds significantly to the profitability of any business. The same applies to operating 24/7. So, I doubt if Spectrum is going to let the neighbors dictate which tenants will occupy its shopping center.

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  6. This is a win-win. The developers are not flat out denied, so they have an opportunity to address staff and community concerns as they move forward. They are capable of creating something with community input that still develops the land well.

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  7. To ANON 3/24 8:59

    I recommend you find a new slur. Your pat accusation of NIMBY is getting old and is unjustified in most cases.

    The safety of residents and the value of homeowners land should rightly supersede any developer's plan for profit. Developers are more than capable of building safe projects that even enhance neighborhood land values and they should be encouraged to do so.

    Frankly, I am troubled by the constant patchwork of projects in Mason District that force residents to do their own due diligence on land use issues. One would think our Supervisor would uphold the standards in our Comprehensive Plan from the get go and just say NO. Why allow all this time and money to be spent on a project that is deleterious to a neighborhood in the first place? Both the planning commission AND county staff recommended denial because the plan violated the Comprehensive Plan. Why wasn’t that enough to send the project back to the drawing board?

    I don’t claim to know the county process, but it would seem that this project should not have even gone to the Board of Supervisors.

    I think it past time for Mason District to hire a firm to create a district wide schematic for development that ties together all the individual parcels and fulfills the potential Mason District has to become a destination and location we can all be proud of.

    Look around at what other districts have accomplished in the past 20 years since Supervisor Gross came to office: Reston Town Center, Springfield Town Center, Mosaic, Dulles Town Center, Tysons. Supervisor Gross has had 20 years to make Mason District a destination. She is currently talking about 7 Corners and Bailey's Development being a destination 40 years from now.

    We need new vision and leadership in Mason District. We need a Supervisor who is more interested in Mason District than in her position on the Metro DC Regional Council of Government and her Vice Chair seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. We need a Supervisor who will concentrate solely on the myriad issues in Mason District.

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    1. Attempting to compare a small infill development like Spectrum with a dedicated commercial hub like Tysons is pointless. The so-called "patchwork of projects in Mason District" is the product of decades of haphazard development that cannot be undone with an idealistic and completely unworkable Comprehensive Plan. And, btw, there's no way to "violate" the latter. Comprehensive plans are merely recommendations without the force of law. So, neither the bureaucrats nor the NIMBYS could prevent this proposal from at least being considered by the BOS.

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    2. To ANON 11:34 a.m.

      I am not sure this project even had to go to the Board for a vote. I think with the two recommendations for denial, Supervisor Gross didn't need to take up time at the BOS meeting. She easily could have told the developer NO to a drive-through and saved the residents a lot of trouble. It would also have saved Spectrum time and trouble from the get go. Remember Eckerd's, now Rite Aid on Leesburg Pike? She said no to a drive-through back then.

      I think Arlington planners have done a nice job of providing continuity for their county. It doesn't look patchwork. Arlington has carefully coordinated street lighting, crosswalks, and landscaping. Their planners are impressive. Mason District could stand to hire a firm to take a look at the same and beautify our area. Some decent greenery would hide a lot of flaws.

      A decade is 10 years...so the patchwork "infill" developments you talk about have been taking place for the last 20 years with no creative vision for Mason District. That's a big part of the problem. Lack of creative vision with continuity.

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    3. I believe you need to reconsider your views because you clearly haven't discovered the pertinent facts.

      Penny didn't block that drive thru pharmacy:

      Mason Zoning Approval - 1998: "SE-98-M-022 – ZP NO. 38, LLC – to permit a drive-through pharmacy (Eckerd’s) on 1.45 acres zoned C-6, HC and SC and located at 6053 Leesburg Pike. Map 61-2 ((12)) 4, 4A."

      Spectrum was entitled to a public hearing once their application as completed. The procedure is explained on the county website.

      Arlington is a small affluent jurisdiction with the good fortune to be in close proximity to the District. It was equally fortunate to be able to focus its redevelopment along the route of metrorail. In contrast, most of the recent development in Fairfax has been in less commuter friendly areas outside the Beltway. It's easier to build from scratch out there than attempt to infill. That's especially true in crowded and less desirable areas like Mason.


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    4. Penny has gone on record several times saying she rejected the drive thru during this process and even a few weeks ago said she will never allow Rite Aid to have one in that location. if you don't believe it, just call her office and ask.

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  8. This was the right move. Penny Gross listened and did the right thing . Kinda takes the wind out of the sails of all these NIMBY blowhards who says she doesn't listen.

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    1. She only listens when a huge uproar happens otherwise she still ignores all of us.

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  9. Penny moved it to the BOS just to see if she could sneak it through. She got caught with her hands in the cookie jar. It's always HER way or the highway until the people of Mason District rise up and expose her.

    . . . then she backs off a little until she can sneak it through again.

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    1. This is exactly what she does. She will try to sneak the RSUs in again and has already been heard saying that the RSUs are not off the table.

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  10. Penny listen? Does a tiger change its stripes?

    Penny disregarded two recommended denials from the Planning Commission and staff and went ahead and took this to the BOS. She has the power to say yea or nay. That didn't have to happen.

    Obviously she intended to railroad this project through. Something stopped her.

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    1. Upon submission of a completed application, Spectrum was entitled to a public hearing before the BOS. The Planning Commission's views becomes part of the record considered by the BOS. Penny could not unilaterally stall this project. There's plenty of information about this on the county website.

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