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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

HOA files suit to block relocation of homeless shelter to Lincolnia

The entrance to Stonegate at Landmark on N. Chambliss Street.
The Stonegate at Landmark Homeowners Association filed a lawsuit July 12 against the Fairfax
County Board of Supervisors in an attempt to halt the county’s plan to temporarily relocate the Bailey’s Crossroads homeless shelter to the backyard of the Lincolnia Senior Center.

The suit, filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court, charges that the placement of the shelter on a 2.5-acre field currently used by residents of the senior center and nearby residential communities will result in “the irreversible loss of green space.”

“The green space behind the Lincolnia Senior Center is an essential community recreational resource,” and it must be protected as specified in the county’s Comprehensive Plan, said  Deborah Fraser, president of the Stonegate at Landmark HOA. Stonegate, a community of 45 townhomes, is adjacent to the senior center and the field.

An informal soccer game on the field behind the senior center.
“We were pleased that the Mason District Land Use Committee agreed with us on June 28 when they voted against the proposed relocation,” Fraser said. The Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the shelter proposal for July 20.

The property was identified as essential to the health and welfare of the elderly when the senior center was first established, the suit charges. It has been protected as a “community recreational resource” for more than 30 years, and the Stonegate developer constructed a walking trail around the field in 2001.

The green space is the only open space available for recreation in the area, is enjoyed by neighborhood residents, their children, and patrons of the senior center, the HOA charges.

The suit was filed on behalf of the Stonegate HOA by attorneys Kathleen McDermott and Craig Blakeley of the Alliance Law Group in Tysons Corner.

“By proposing to construct a shelter in the field behind the Lincolnia Senior Center, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is threatening to interfere with (and perhaps completely destroy) the long-established rights of the members of the Stonegate at Landmark community to use that field and the trail around it,” Blakeley said. “We think there is a serious question whether the board has the legal right and authority to proceed with the proposed shelter.”

Deborah Fraser and her husband Mark are also spearheading the “Stop the Shelter” campaign, which they stress is separate from the lawsuit. As part of that effort, they and other Lincolnia  residents have been reaching out to individual supervisors and are preparing to testify against  the proposed shelter relocation at the Planning Commission hearing.

Fairfax County wants to move the homeless shelter temporarily to Lincolnia because AvalonBay plans to put up an apartment building on Moncure Avenue in Bailey’s Crossroads where the shelter is currently located.

45 comments:

  1. It's time for the people start holding their elected officials accountable for their actions.

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  2. Comprehensive plans are just guides. But I'm glad they are pushing forth with this. I hope the county sees that there is firepower and motivation in Mason District to improve and move onward and upward, and not just be a dumping ground and holding place for aging apartments, homeless shelters, senior centers, county service buildings, and the like. I hope they win. It is unfathomable that the county is doing this so that there can be yet another monolithic apartment complex building in Mason District. This is not revitalization.

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    1. The proposed project by Avalon Bay in Baileys Crossroads would be an improvement and revitalize the area.

      Also - sorry to hear that you have such a grudge against senior citizen centers. I hope that when you get old and can't care for yourself that you find a suitable 'dumping ground.'

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    2. It is irrelevant whether AvalonBay would be an improvement and revitalize the area. The issue is whether relocating the homeless shelter to the recreational area behind the senior center is in substantial accord with the comprehensive plan. Anyone who has read the cp knows the relocation definitely does not meet this standard. So it will just be interesting to see if the Planning Commissioners are honest actors, or just proxies of the Board of Supervisors.

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    3. Comprehensive plans are not codified law, and I have been assured this by several county staff and elected officials. They are guides. Zoning ordinance is law, and even that is granted variances and such frequently. What is this plot of land zoned as currently?

      Common sense and community desires and needs are not always considered in land usage issues.

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  3. So just to be clear - the Stonegate HOA does not even own this field - they have just been given the privilege to use it over the years, correct? Now they are suing so they can keep their exclusive privilege (at the cost of the homeless)?

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    1. I don't "own" the park next to my home, but I use and enjoy it extensively, and if the county said that they would be turning it into the next Mason District Homeless Village because they "own" it, and they decided that a homeless village was the best usage of that space - you could bet your behind that me, and my neighbors, would be up in arms.

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    2. Ha! Remember, the homeless shelter is being evicted from its location of 30 years because the County is cutting a deal with a developer that wants to construct lavish new apartments where the shelter currently is (at the cost of the homeless).

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    3. That's really getting things twisted, Anonymous 12:15. Stonegate at Landmark's desire to maintain their privileged use of the ball field does not cost the homeless anything. The homeless are not now using that ball field. It is exclusively the FFX Co Board of Supervisors that wants to remove the long-established homeless shelter from Baileys Crossroads at the cost of the homeless. There is no community-driven effort in Baileys asking for the shelter to me removed, and there is no community-driven effort in Lincolnia asking for it to be brought there. Furthermore, the developer that the Board of Supervisors says wants to build on the current Baileys shelter site is indifferent to the whole thing. As for privilege, you have the privilege of using the space you live in, correct? How would you feel if the County decided to take part of it away from you? The residents at Stonegate at Landmark purchased their properties with the understanding that that ball field would always be available to them and their families. And just to be clear, their use of it is not "exclusive;" people from all over the area use it, including the seniors at the Senior Center. Young men from the Arbor Park apartments regularly play soccer games on it, families from surrounding communities regularly picnic and enjoy outdoor time on it, and people regularly walk their dogs on it. That ball field should remain available in its entirety for all residents of the Lincolnia Planning District. The Mason District Land Use Committee was right for recognizing that. It is ill-informed, cynical, and small-minded to characterize Stonegate at Landmark as anti-homeless. Rather, they are pro-community and they have a right to protect their privilege to use that ball field in its entirety. There is no pressing public need to move the Baileys shelter, and there are certainly many other, more appropriate locations where the County could put it.

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    4. Well said anon 1:44. Anon 12:15 has obviously not looked into this issue, otherwise he would understand that even if the county owns a piece of property it cannot do whatever it likes with it. The whole purpose of a comprehensive plan is to prevent rash and unsound decisions like this relocation proposal from happening. Further, it was the county who prematurely entered a land deal to displace the homeless, without any consideration as to where those homeless should be relocated. It is the county's actions that have been "at the cost of the homeless" (and the senior center residents and the surrounding community).

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    5. "The residents at Stonegate at Landmark purchased their properties with the understanding that that ball field would always be available to them and their families" Unlikely. I doubt if the county made any such representation either to the developer or to the residents. This isn't even a park. It's just an empty field.

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    6. Some years ago an empty field in Culmore, used by local immigrants to play soccer, was redeveloped as a drug store. I doubt anyone here was then advancing the theory that the previous recreational use established a property right.

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  4. these people are crybabies

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    1. Love a troll. You really should look into the issue. If the county can get away with relocating this shelter to this recreational area, then the entire comprehensive plan is meaningless. The actual evidence overwhelmingly shows that this relocation is not in substantial accord with the comprehensive plan. If the planning commission approves it, it will only show how corrupt the county actually is. The very fact that this ridiculous proposal has gotten this far should put all residents on notice that the Board of Supervisors does not have their best interest at heart. The BoS cannot be trusted, and sadly we must now babysit them to prevent them from harming our community.

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    2. @3:40 Do you have kids? Would you want a homeless shelter in your backyard. Be honest!

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  5. The longer this process takes, the more the community becomes aware of the high cost each of us would have to pay for the County's Faustian bargain. The negative consequences from the proposed relocation are so bad that they must have been realized even before the plan was made public. We can only hope that the Planning Commissioners have taken notice and will do the right thing at the July 20th meeting.

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  6. Wow -what a news flash. Intolerant, upper middle class haters go all out to stop people who have nothing from 'being in their neighborhood". Haven`t seen this script before...

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    1. And I am sure that if upper middle class people wanted to build houses on a County recreational field, people like you would be screaming about that.

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    2. Anon at 6:29. I don't want facts to get in the way of your trolling, and I hate to get into divisive identity politics--But that area of Lincolnia is by no means upper middle class. The Lincolnia Senior citizen residents are low income. Stonegate homes sell in the 500's. That is solid middle class in NoVa. The other townhomes sell in the 300's--lower middle-class in NoVa. And if you were remotely educated on the issue you would be aware there are two main distinct issues: 1) should the only public recreational greenspace in the entire area be developed--one that has been there for 30 years, and up until this February was never contemplated for use as anything other than a recreational greenspace, and 2) is a homeless shelter a compatible use and in keeping of the character of the surrounding neighborhood? On its face mixing two vulnerable populations--the elderly (many of whom are ill, disabled or otherwise infirmed) and the homeless (42% of whom suffer from substance abuse or mental illness or both--FFX County stat.) appears to be a very bad idea. Upon further research and reviewing the county's own inept and conclusory staff report, you realize it is a terrible idea.

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  7. How sad that residents have to sue the County because their Supervisor misrepresents them and the interests of her constituents.

    I hope you Penny lovers who kept her in office are loving the continuing mess she makes of Mason District.

    Recall anyone???

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    1. There's no recall in the Commonwealth.

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    2. No, no recall, thank you very much. We just had an election less than a year ago. Penny won. Get over it. We have elections for a reasons.

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    3. Penny only received the vote of 15% of registered voters. That is not a win, that is a stinking democratic failure. She outspent her first-time opponent 6 to 1, mostly financed by bankers, developers, law firms and land use professionals. Penny did not win the election, corruption won the election.

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  8. this is all about race

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    1. Really? I think its about unicorns.

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    2. Great Idea Guy7/14/16, 2:26 PM

      What about the Pinecrest Golf Course. We could put the homeless shelter there, there is lots and lots of open space: http://annandaleva.blogspot.com/2014/11/neighborhood-spotlight-pinecrest.html . When it becomes over-crowded we could just knock another hole off the golf course for expansion. The Pinecrest Homeowner Association should immediately contact the Board of Supervisors and request that this be the new permanent site of the shelter. It is convenient to transportation, shopping, jobs and the Home Depot day labor pick up and drop off. Now why didn't someone on the Planning Commission think of that. Hurry Pinecrest before you miss this fantastic opportunity to do your share for the community.

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    3. There are actually a good percentage of white homeless individuals at this shelter. Your comment is ignorant and inherently racist.

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    4. a good percentage? get me an accurate number on that. i'm black so i doubt i'm racist

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    5. I see people with my eyeballs. I'm sure the shelter has the exact information. You can be black and racist. Dallas definitely proved that. When everything is racist nothing is racist.

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    6. your eyeballs? if you are going to say a good %, you are reasonable to back it up with the numbers. you sound like Donald Trump.

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  9. Let's be real here, the community simply doesn't want the shelter to be there even if it is temporary. They don't want to give up their recreational area, even if it is TEMPORARY. The real issue is they don't want "THOSE" people in basically their backyard. The lawsuit with the claim the county is in violation of the comprehensive plan and stating the suit is about only the recreational area, is simply covering up the true motive. Motive? "Not in my neighborhood", "Not those people" ... or easier said.. bigotry, racism and classism ... As most may understand that the community doesn't want to give up the recreational area they have not paid for nor is considered park land, even temporarily.. I don't see the sympathy for people that are in need of a temporary roof over their heads. I am sure it was frustrating to the community and maybe communication wasn't as timely as it should have been from the County but the temporary mission of this placement of the homeless shelter seems to be to assure a very vulnerable population has a place to go until a new permanent shelter can be identified and prepared for shelter use. Maybe the community should try working with the county or the county should work with the community to figure out how to make this work on a temporary basis... I see a lot of complaining and critical comments but haven't seen anyone offer another solution.. BE PART OF THE SOLUTION NOT THE PROBLEM.

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    1. Why do we never see these social responsibilities shared by Lake Barcroft, The Pinecrest and other up scale HOAs? Why do the same neighborhoods get hammered over and over again with the shared burdens of community, with 12 child day care centers in residential basements, "affordable housing" McMansion bunk houses, construction businesses, sex and labor trafficking motels in residential neighborhoods. Why are Planning Commissioners only chosen from the exempt communities and never from the working class communities, unrepresented neighborhoods? It is not about not in my back yard, or "those people", it is about why it is always in my back yard and never in yours. I think the ridiculously inappropriate site was chosen because you and the other NIMBY callers don't want it in your back yard. If I am wrong, start a petition to request that your neighborhood be considered as a possible site. Not gonna happen is it NIMBY.

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    2. Anon 5:05. First, the County entered an agreement with terms it was not prepared to honor (relocate the homeless shelter in 13 months although the County had no temporary or permanent shelter lined up). Second, the County did not communicate at all with Lincolnia residents before announcing that Lincolnoa Senior Center's backyard would be the site for the "temporary" homeless shelter. Third, residents believe the homeless should be helped, but the shelter should be in an appropriate location. It has no more business being placed in the recreational greenspace behind a senior center than it would in a soccer field next to a school. Fourth, the fact it is not parkland under the FCPA just makes it a more expedient location for purposes of relocation. It does not mean it is any less valuable as a greenspace or community recreational resource. Fifth, while we have to go with the County's claim that five years is temporary and the shelter will be gone thereafter, common sense and past experience teach us that once a property is developed even "temporarily" for five years, there is virtually no chance it will revert to its pre-existing undeveloped condition. Sixth, relating to my first point the County showed no sympathy or compassion for the homeless when they entered the land deal with AvalonBay. Now they want an equally vulnerable population (low-income seniors) to bear the burden of the County's short-sightedness/selfishness.

      As far as solutions--here are three:1) the County can actually find an appropriate location for the "temporary" homeless shelter--check out the lot for sale just off Seminary/Rte. 7 ramp. 2) the County can renegotiate its contract with AvalonBay so it has an adequate timeframe to relocate the homeless shelter, keeping Bailey's open in the meantime 3) the County can default/breach on the contract and live with the
      consequences of making a bad bargain--one with terms it was not prepared to fulfill. This is my favorite as I think it would be refreshing for our political leaders--in this instance the Board of Supervisors--to explain to its constituents why they the taxpayers are paying millions of dollars in damages for a land deal that they--the BoS--voluntarily entered. I realize elections have consequences and "these people" were elected to represent us but since they're not representing our actual interests anyway, I look forward to hearing them lecture me about compassion.
      Got to mention how I love that the County is reaching out to religious leaders to support this relocation proposal. Let's hope these leaders 1) realize they are being used and 2) become educated on the issue and understand how compassion for one group at the expense of an equally vulnerable group is not compassion at all.

      We want to help the homeless but let's do what is best for everyone not what is most expedient and easiest for the County.

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    3. @5:05 - Penny - You must have read Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals". RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon."

      We are not falling for it anymore. We do not believe in "bigotry, racism and classism" we believe in having a safe place for all people.

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  10. The solution would be to kick Penny Gross out of office! She is the reason we're all in this mess! If she were SOOOO concerned about the homeless, why didn't she tag a PERMANENT location for the shelter BEFORE she did the land deal?? She's corrupt, crabby old woman who needs to resign. I wish we had a video of her RUNNING out of her office the evening of the Land Use Commission meeting! COWARD!! She doesn't even have the guts to face her constituents.

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    1. Anon 12:51. Sadly Penny will continue to be reelected until her hand-picked successor is elected. That is the nature of this uber-liberal area. Put a "D" behind your name and you are almost guaranteed victory. Combine that with incumbency, and you become as emboldened as Penny to propose an outrageous plan to place a "temporary" $2.1 million homeless shelter for single people (70% men/30 %women) in the 30-year old recreational greenspace that serves low-income senior residents, and is the only public recreational greenspace in the area. For those of us who did not vote for Penny, it was little consolation to see the long sad faces of those who voted for her now having to fight against her stupid proposal. Perhaps in the future, voters will become informed of the issues and not vote reflexively. And, if you like or prefer what Penny is doing to an alternative candidate that is your choice. A very poor and stupid one IMHO, but nonetheless one that is guaranteed under the law (at least until a panel of unelected lawyers decides to arbitrarily read the Constitution some other way).

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  11. The County is displacing homeless people with no permanent plan for sheltering them - all so they can build luxury apartments and nice new government offices. Why are the folks opposing this ill-advised move called racist NIMBY crybabies? That's just about the dumbest thing. Rather, they're citizens asking for accountability of their elected officials.

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  12. The County is buying a property for a new, permanent shelter - http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/2016/fairfax-to-buy-permanent-baileys-shelter-location.htm

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    1. Yes and that property, the old vet building on Seminary, is considerably smaller than the lot for the proposed TEMPORARY SHELTER--the recreational field behind the Lincolnia Senior Center. Remember everything the BoS/County has said regarding the temporary shelter site is premised on it being temporary because it is too small to be a permanent site so you need not worry that it will become a permanent shelter. Well how do you reconcile that with the fact that the permeate site under contract is even smaller than the LSC site/temporary site.

      Let's speculate shall we. Either this purchase of the vet building is a ruse to give the Planning Commission cover to approve the completely flawed relocation plan of Bailey's shelter to the LSC greenspace site, or it's indicative that the permanent site lot size requirement is arbitrary--which is equally worrisome. Or perhaps our oh so very honest and transparent County officials really intend the greenspace to be returned to its pristine condition by 2021and put the permanent site at the vet bldg. location.

      I'm sure all of us can recount the many times a greenspace has been developed "temporarily" for five years and then reverted back to being greenspace.

      And if you have any examples of such a reversion please post the details here as I cannot think of a single situation in which this has occurred.

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  13. That is big news. The HOA should drop their suit as it is moot. This is truly temporary now. Board was very short sighted and incompetent in negotiating the terms of the avalon bay swap.

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    1. Anon at 11:50. Are you joking? See my earlier respnse above. The County has claimed over and over again the LSC rec field had to be temporary bc it was too small to be a permanent site. But now they have purchased a much smaller site and claim that will be the permanent site. That just doesn't make any sense at all.

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    2. How much space is really needed for a homeless shelter? The BOS absolutely should be striving to reduce the physical footprint of gov't service buildings like the shelter. They have chosen a fine, suitable site. They patently do not need 2.5 acres or more for a shelter, that is nonsense.

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  14. That location is smaller than the existing shelter. It's not going to happen - just watch. Lies upon more lies.

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  15. The residents should also be outraged bc the BoS is paying $1.4 million for the site that sold for $900k just two years ago. Agin bc the BoS entered a land deal with deadlines they had no business agreeing to, they had no bargaining power when it came to allegedly purchasing a permanent site. Not to mention the BoS and Planning Commission has exposed themselves as a bunch of hacks who do not have respect for their community's interests or the rule of law.

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