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Monday, August 8, 2016

County purchases site for permanent homeless shelter

Fairfax County is purchasing this former animal hospital as the site for a new homeless shelter.
Fairfax County is going ahead with plans to relocate the Bailey’s Crossroads homeless shelter to a field behind the Lincolnia Senior Center, even though the county has found a permanent site for the shelter. The Planning Commission approved the shelter relocation plan July 28.

The Board of Supervisors has signed a contract to purchase a property at 5914 Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads for $1.4 million for a permanent shelter. There is a one-story building on the 20,000-square foot property that used to house the Fairfax Animal Hospital. It’s not close to residential neighborhoods and is near the bus routes on Columbia Pike and Route 7.

Deputy County Executive Robert Stalzer told the Planning Commission the new shelter will have 54 beds and 15 units of supportive housing. The building will have four stories, including one story below ground. Although the site is smaller than the current shelter on Moncure Avenue, he said, “we will be able to accommodate what we need plus parking.”

The county expects to use bond money, from an $85 million human services and community development bond referendum what will be on the November 2016 ballot.If the bond isn’t passed by voters, other county funds are expected to be available.

The Bailey’s shelter needs to be relocated to make way for an AvalonBay apartment project approved by the BoS for Moncure Avenue.

According to Stalzer, the county is expected to close with AvalonBay in late 2017, and construction of the new shelter will begin in early 2018. It should be completed and ready to serve the homeless by the end of 2019. Construction of the AvalonBay project is expected to start in early 2018.

Site work on the temporary shelter, consisting of modular units on a field behind the Lincolnia Senior Center, at 4701 N. Chambliss St., should start in February 2017. The shelter should be ready for occupancy in fall 2017. It will be smaller than the existing shelter, Stalzer said; it will have 46 beds rather than 50 and will have less office space.

Once the new shelter is up and running, he said, the temporary shelter will be removed, and the field will be returned to its original condition. That should happen in fall 2019.

Many residents who live near the Lincolnia Senior Center – and people who volunteer there – had strongly opposed the temporary shelter, citing concerns about security, crime, and the loss of green space. Opponents of the temporary shelter testified against it at the Planning Commission hearing July 20, spoke out at numerous community meetings, and showered the commissioners with emails.

Dean Klein, director of the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, told the Planning Commission an advisory group will be formed this fall to address concerns associated with the temporary shelter.

The committee would include presidents of the homeowner associations in contiguous communities and representatives from the Lincolnia Senior Center, Mason Supervisor Penny Gross’ office, Northern Virginia Family Services (the shelter’s operator), Landmark Plaza shopping center, Community Services Board, Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, Consumer Advisory Council, the faith community, and the Housing and Community Development Department. A formerly homeless person would be included, too.

Katayoon Shaya, of the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, said the project will include new fencing between the shelter, neighborhoods, and the senior center. Additional security measures, including controlled access and security staff patrols, will be implemented.

Commissioner Timothy Sargeant (at-large) asked staff whether an email list or other means could be set up to immediately notify nearby residents about any problems at the shelter. Stalzer said that’s the type of issue that would be addressed by the advisory committee and noted that the existing citizen alert network could be used. 

Commissioner Ellen Hurley (Braddock) asked what will happen if a person is refused entry to the shelter, say if they’ve been drinking, for example, but hadn’t committed a crime or didn’t need medical attention.

If the shelter is full or people are turned away for other reasons, they would be encouraged to stay with family or friends or go to another shelter, said Tom Barnett of the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness. “In this case, we will work with on-site security to make sure they are not loitering on the property,” he said.

“We would have a plan of action,” Klein added, “and police would be contacted if they refuse to leave.”

Sargeant called for shelter staff to transport an individual not admitted to another location. “This is not business as usual,” he said, referring to the location of the shelter so close to residential communities and a facility for seniors. The shelter should “do everything possible to address these concerns,”he said.

Hurley remained concerned about what will happen when homeless people are denied access, and for that reason, abstained from voting. All the other commissioners voted to approve the temporary shelter.

Commissioner Julie Strandlie (Mason) said she thought long and hard about which way to vote but in the end said she supported the shelter relocation because many of the concerns raised by the community had been addressed. “Many will disagree but the public process worked. All voices were heard. The county answered all questions raised by the public.”

There have been many developments since the Mason District Land Use Committee voted in June against endorsing the project, Strandlie noted.

The county’s purchase of a new site ensures the temporary shelter won’t become permanent, for example. Homeless people will not be locked out of the shelter during the day, upgraded security measures will be in  place, and the seniors will still have access to part of their field and garden, she said. Remaining concerns from the community will be addressed by the advisory committee.

43 comments:

  1. This looks like a win-win-win. The new shelter will be built close to the old location. The old dilapidated animal hospital gets replaced with a new building, the revitalization project where the old shelter was located moves forward, and the residents near the Lincolnia Senior Center can rest assured that the temporary shelter will be removed by 2019.

    But wait, this is Mason District so someone is sure to assail this...in 3...2...1....

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    1. Stop drinking the Kool Aid that Penny is giving you.

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    2. Yes, I will continue to be a voice of dissent on this issue. It is unfathomable that the county is moving the homeless shelter to a completely inappropriate “temporary” location, and relocating it AGAIN a few years later, all haphazardly sprung from a suspect land swap and purchase, to build a monolithic, single-use apartment building (this is not revitalization or anything we don't already have tenfold) and a new street.

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    3. "(this is not revitalization or anything we don't already have tenfold)"

      So an apartment building is like, say, a specialized restaurant - once you have one, you don't really need a second?

      Pardon, but I don't think it works like that.

      We need more housing, and for Baileys this is certainly revitalization.

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    4. The County is spending $2.1+ million on a temporary shelter that they now claim will only be used for two years. The County is paying $1.4 million for a property that has had no improvements since it was sold two years ago for $900k. So I guess if you don't pay taxes to FFX County or don't mind the County repeatedly acting short-sighted and disregarding the interests of its residents then I guess it's a win-win-win. Yay!

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    5. This whole shelter relocation is a fiasco. Policy-wise the Planning Commission has rewarded the Board of Supervisors for not planning ahead. Would the PC have approved the very same temporary shelter location, if the BoS had made the same request three years out. No way. But bc the BoS imposed a self-inflicted time constraint of just a year, all of a sudden any location will do--even an area that is recognized solely as recreational greenspace in the comprehensive plan and happens to be in the backyard of a senior center.
      Of course, a greenspace by its very nature will be the easiest to develop on short notice bc it is undeveloped. Duh! This signals to other communities you best develop your greenspace to your liking or else it will the dumping ground for the BoS's next ill-advised development scheme. Of course, the PC probably won't allow you to develop the greenspace bc the Comprehensive Plan so strongly favors creating and preserving such spaces.......
      The seniors, the homeless and the Lincolnia community deserve better than the continued stupidity of our political leaders (elected and appointed).

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    6. Don't be so sure about how history will play out, Anonymous 11:44 AM. The potential loss in all this is the potential permanent loss of the recreational space at the Senior Center. No guarantee has been provided by the County to the residents of Lincolnia that the temporary shelter structure will be taken down once the new permanent shelter is operational. Yes, the County will be leasing the modular structures, but they could always extend the lease or buy them outright and re-purpose the structures for something else, making them a permanent feature of the Senior Center property. This would be a tremendous loss for the residents of Lincolnia, especially the residents of the Senior Center. As one who ardently opposes the temporary shelter, I cannot bring myself to simply accept the County's word on this. I am deeply disappointed by the Planning Commission's unwillingness to acknowledge this as a problem and to protect scarce, needed recreational space for County residents.

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    7. The Senior Center is on a County owned site. There has never been nor will there ever be a guarantee that the site would continue to be used as a Senior Center or anything else. Moral of the story? Be careful when purchasing a property next to a publicly owned site.

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  2. Would have been nice to maybe plan this in advance. There is obviously a big trust deficit between Mason citizens and county government

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  3. "The county expects to use bond money, from an $85 million human services and community development bond referendum what will be on the November 2016 ballot.If the bond isn’t passed by voters, other county funds are expected to be available. "

    So what happened to the money they received from selling the property why isn't that money being used and why don't they hold off on moving the shelter and rebuild the new one now. Why will it take till 2019? This whole thing should have been planned before they ever sold the other property.

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  4. As you can guess by the condition of the building it must have only recently become vacant/abandoned/available...
    other wise the gross one would have selected it as an option during her "exhaustive search for alternatives" to the Lincolnia site (MAJOR Snark)

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  5. Nice! $1.4 million for a property that has been vacant for two years, purchased in 2014 for $900K and assessed for $825K in 2016. What a steal! (Sarcasm)

    I support the move to this location but, damn county officials have no concept of money and negotiation. Another poorly executed deal all at the taxpayer's expense.

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    Replies
    1. It's like play Monopoly money to them; they seem to take perverse enjoyment in overpaying for dilapidated properties.

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    2. It'll be like monopoly money until voters stop rubber stamping those multi million dollar bond proposals. The debt service on those bond issues is a major component of the county's budget.

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    3. "damn county officials have no concept of money and negotiation" Sure they do, it's called the gross way: "Screw the Mason district residents/constituents and fairfax residents as well" equal opportunity screwing.

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    4. Agree 100%. This is why all voters should always vote against all bonds. Period. Full stop. Government officials will never be forced to spend responsibly as long as voters keep writing them a blank check. Likewise, you are a fool if you vote in favor of the meals tax this November. Government officials will find a way to take your money, but why embolden them more by consenting to another tax.

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    5. Well the owner of the property no doubt heard about all the hissy fit around the shelter temporarily going in Lincolnia (The travesty!) and found the county scrambling for permanent location in Bailey's. That's what you call leverage.

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    6. When you put your home on the market, you will not ask for more than the assessed value, I am sure.

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    7. Yes, the BoS had no bargaining power bc it voluntarily entered a land deal with a time table it was unprepared to execute.The BoS has been trying to revitalize Bailey's for years, likewise it knew the Bailey's shelter would need either to be renovated or relocated for years. Had the BoS planned ahead (hence Comprehensive PLAN), it would not have had to pay a 50% premium for a lot that at 20,000 sq. ft is substantially smaller than the current lot or temporary lot. Citizens requiring their public officials to act responsibly is not a "hissy fit."

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  6. Commissioner Julie Strandlie's (Mason) comments are disengenuous and self-serving. She was invited to visit the neighboring communities that abut the Lincolnia Senior Center and she refused. If Commissioner Strandlie listened to the people why did she reject her own Land Use Committee recommendation that the proposed 'temporary' shelter did not conform to the comprehensive plan? Why did she also ignore over a thousand signatures gathered on petitions and hundreds of letters sent directly to the Commissioners asking them 'NOT' to take the green space from Lincolnia and to protect our Seniors? It is clear that this process is broken and Commissioners like Julie Strandlie feel they are not accountable to the people.

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  7. You got what you voted for...
    continued corruption and lack of transparency. Did you happen to see the article in WAPO on Sunday re "granny flats" It specifically mentioned fairfax county---and its "newly amended zoning laws" that will allow relaxed building codes to permit similar development. Has anyone else heard of this amendment? Get ready to wake up to 2-4 independent units on your next door neighbor's lot and 4-8 more cars on your street or their lawn. Thank the gross one.

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  8. Wow, the level of discourse by some commenters has hit rock bottom. Calling Penny "the gross one" - really? Incredibly juvenile. You can disagree with a public official without resorting to kindergarten name-calling. Don't you have a Trump rally to attend somewhere?

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    1. Grow up people!

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    2. Did you not just do name calling yourself by saying that those who support Trump are juvenile. Those in glass houses should not throw stones.

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    3. Those who support Trump are juvenile. It is not name-calling, it is a HUGE fact. There is no debate on this.

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    4. Thank you. There is a difference between an observation and name calling.
      And despite attempts to pass off objections to the homeless shelter as almost anything else, it still comes across as NIMBYism.

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    5. I am so happy you can read people's hearts and minds and can say that Trump supports are juvenile. I personally do not see what Trump has anything to do with the homeless shelter but once again you are able to read people minds and hearts.

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  9. Name calling aside, Penny's actions have been disastrous for certain areas of Mason District. With the complicity of the BOS, she has used out of turn plan amendments, relaxed zoning and code enforcement, etc. to promote development with no infrastructure improvements. She has repeatedly ignored the voice of the community and unfortunately, county staff do not have the will to counter any of her proposals. Eventually, the entire house of cards will collapse due to greed,
    mismanagement and an uninformed public.

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  10. "to promote development with no infrastructure improvements. "

    http://www.envisionroute7.com/

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  11. Honestly, this whole issue is no-win for anyone and is a third-rail.

    I'd be happier if I didn't feel like the county wasn't overpaying for the land swap and we were getting what we actually were calling for in the comp plan (mixed use).

    I do feel a lot for those next to the temporary shelter. Those 2 years are going to feel like a long time. But at least now the fears that it would end up being permanent are gone.

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    1. "I do feel a lot for those next to the temporary shelter...".

      Poor souls. I will pray for them. Perhaps they will come out of this unscathed.

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    2. Several churches spoke out against the "temporary" shelter being placed on the Lincolnia Assisted Living and Day Center property. They stressed concern for the safety and well being of the community and members of their congregations -- especially children in schools and daycare nearby.

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    3. Churches are not always bulwarks of compassion for the downtrodden.

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    4. Our faith-based institutions do have compassion and they demonstrate it every day through action in our local communities by direct outreach to the needy, support for local humanitarian charities, and many also become hypothermia shelters that provide for the overflow of homeless during the winter months. Fairfax County has proved they have no compassion whatsoever, not for the homeless, or the seniors, or our children. Let's not forget, Fairfax County is COMMITTED to EVICTING the HOMELESS in 2017 from a fully functional shelter that has been their home for 30 years. Why? To build an apartment building nobody needs and a government building nobody wants with money they don't have. Compassionless is insufficient to describe our County. Words like inhumane, ruthless, and jackbooted are much more appropriate. This system is broken which why WE THE PEOPLE need to act to fix it!!

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  12. re Envision 7 - Not only is there no dedicated right of way for express buses, there are no specified locations for stations and parking.
    No sources of funding for acquisition and construction have been identified as all levels of government are crying poor. A possible solution is to establish special districts and tax those who unfortunately live within them.

    Envision 7 is intended to allay concerns about our transportation quagmire and justify even more development.

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    1. The project will certainly have dedicated ROW, that is the whole point. Obviously that does not exist yet - the first step was choosing a mode (bus over rail) and endpoints (Mark Center) - more detailed design comes later.

      The funding will likely come from the NVTA (which has a dedicated pool of funds for transport infra) plus some from the Commonwealth, the Feds, and from localities. I doubt there will be a special tax district.

      Stations will also be specified later. I doubt there will be park and rides, as this is not designed for people to drive to.

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    2. The envision route 7 plan will only have some dedicated bus lanes.

      ..."Bus lanes wouldn't be everywhere. In some places, like downtown Falls Church, the road is comparatively narrow and hemmed in by buildings, so new lanes wouldn't fit. But bus lanes will go in some of the places where congestion is usually the worst, like at the Seven Corners interchange."...
      http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/30458/brt-on-route-7-is-getting-closer-to-actually-happening/
      AND
      ...“We're trying to be realistic. In the areas where the highway has the capacity, we will do [dedicated lanes]. But in areas like the city of Falls Church and parts of Alexandria, it is just simply not feasible because those roads are already two lanes in each direction,”...

      http://wamu.org/news/16/04/12/dedicated_bus_lanes_planned_for_most_of_route_7_between_tysons_corner_alexandria

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  13. The County leadership is mis-guided in how they handle perception and actions. The public reacts to everything that involves change negatively: one because of poor packaging, perceived cronyism, deceptive information management and more than likely additional unintended consequences.

    The proposed relocation of the DMV and the Shelter are just two examples of cause and affect gone wrong. However, the good news is the DMV died and the shelter may just be temporary......thanks to push back from an active citizenry, and cooperation by the County to go the extra mile when pushed hard enough!

    We desperately need new development in Baileys to catalyze other development and bring health back to this dilapidated and pathetically ignored District. Let's not find ways to constantly say no but to collectively compromise on the many challenging limitations and constraints that plagues this District. The County needs to pony up with being smarter by improving our infrastructure in par with new development and how it sells development to its constituents.

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  14. Follow the 2007 Comprehensive Plan for Bailey's SEQ and use County commerical property for the temporary shelter. Then everybody would be happy.

    Why the continued disregard for the people's voice? It has to be Penny's idea or she won't implement it.

    The former Animal Hospital is a great location for a homeless shelter. The Lincolnia location for a temporary shelter isn't. Keep looking Penny. There are other locations available. We all know it.

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    Replies
    1. They were able to build an Elementary School in a office building in less than a year why can they not do the same for the shelter?

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    2. Anony 10:12: I understand your point, but I hope you realize that there are probably some big differences between your standard public school and a facility where people actually sleep (for longer than, say, 50 minutes).

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  15. Mason District is the dumping grounds of Fairfax County. I don't trust a word they say and I don't believe that they will relocate to the one purchased for years to come. All spins. I am so fed up with Fairfax county, their high taxes and getting little, their bad roads and crumbled sidewalks, overgrown grounds, dead trees, etc. Penny Gross will be retired and a fat cat with their generous retirement and she would care less about the shelter. She is a politicians and in bed with the developers. That is why she kept it away from those that live in the area where the shelter is going. If I had my parent in the Care Center, I would immediately find another Center. Please don't think that if all would leave the Center, that it would become the homeless shelter. Another green spot gone. This would never happen in McLean, Vienna, Great Falls, Reston or Tysons. Only Mason District. This district is the most cluttered, crowded per density than any of Fairfax. Like I said, we are the dumping grounds and it should do show. Just look around with all the trash on the streets and side. Shame on Fairfax County and shame on Penny Gross. She just lined her pocket. Then we ask why we don't believe the Politicians. Because they are all in it for themselves.

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