|Malbrook residents are fighting Evergreene's plan to develop on this site.|
An article published in the Annandale Blog Aug. 18 describes how residents of the Malbrook subdivision are fighting a developer’s plans to built eight houses on a small lot in defiance of the community’s legal covenants.
If this project goes forward, the developer, Evergreene Homes, is likely to pursue the development of an adjacent 10-acre plot. As the amount of undeveloped land in Mason District continues to shrink, other homeowner groups can expect to face similar battles with developers. Let’s hope they have either covenants or good standing with the county.
While the previous article covered the complicated Malbrook situation in depth, I would like to add a few clarifications:
(1) Flooding was terrible – even during normal rains – even before Evergreene clear cut the four-acre Woo property at the end of Brooks Place. During the rain shower on the fourth of July, water rushed down Malbrook Drive and Crosswoods Drive [as shown in the video below]. What will it be like when the entire area is developed?
(2) The road disruption will also continue. VDOT mandated 30-foot-wide roads with sidewalks for Brooks Place due to the projected increase in traffic volume of 390 trips a day. The only question is when Glavis Road, Malbrook Drive, Crossroads Drive, and Dearborn Drive will be widened to carry the new loads. All those additional vehicles have to go somewhere, so Lake Barcroft as well as Malbrook residents can expect a lot of road projects on their streets.
(3) The Malbrook residents are just defending their contractually protected neighborhood. Malbrook is one of the last places where you can find one-acre lots with mature trees inside the beltway. Make no mistake, the narrow streets and mature trees are only there because, for the past 70 years, the covenants have prevented the kind of rampant development that happens when developers are allowed to do whatever they feel will make them the most money. We cannot subdivide and sell off our land. We need approval if we want to put up a fence, and we can’t build up to the setback limits. Most important, we cannot do anything that “may become a nuisance or annoyance to the neighborhood.”
What we can do is limit access to our subdivision by preventing Malbrook homeowners from granting easements or using property for roads. We won’t let Evergreene ruin the neighborhood just because the company sees more profit by following outdated environmental standards and doesn’t want to pay more to create an additional access point.
Evergreene knew full well what it was getting into – and engineered the whole thing. The Woo family, the former owners of the four-acre property on Brooks Place, couldn’t find a way around the covenants even though they had 20 years of experience in real estate development. It was Evergreene’s attorneys who worked a scheme to provide Fairfax County with both a self-generated legal opinion “validating” the construction plan and protection under Evergreene’s insurance policies in the event there was a lawsuit. What is the definition of “conflict of interest”?
Evergreene then bought the property under a “special warranty deed” that allows them to pursue the old plan under grandfathered 2008 environmental standards that would never pass today. If the properties can’t handle the water today, what will 2008 standards do? What possible public good comes from letting a developer build under obsolete standards that were in place six years before they bought a property?
|Evergeene's construction crew crashed into Gen. Smith's mailbox. [Photo by Darren Gruendel]|
Gen. Smith, who has walked his quiet street in Malbrook since 1968 with a cane after losing a portion of his leg in Korea, has two Marines and a whole team of outraged residents on his side in this fight. Evergreene picked the wrong neighborhood to try and bulldoze.
Darren Gruendel is a resident of the Malbrook community.