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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Task force to focus on future of Lincolnia

Traffic congestion at the Beauregard Street/Little River Turnpike intersection on a weekday evening. 
The key issue for the newly formed Lincolnia Planning District Study Task Force is to determine whether a “community business center” (CBC) should be established in Lincolnia and, if so, where it should be. In a CBC, the focus is on mixed-use redevelopment and a pedestrian-oriented town center.

The task force, convened by Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, will provide community input as Fairfax County officials develop a plan for guiding future development and transportation improvements in Lincolnia.

Gross told the group at its first meeting Feb. 22 their goal is to determine what Lincolnia should be like in the next decade and beyond.

The work of the task force is focused on the 200 acres around the intersection of Beauregard Street and Little River Turnpike. That is a small part of the Lincolnia Planning District, which comprises 2,000 acres, stretching from Old Columbia Pike almost to the beltway.

The task force is chaired by Daren Shumate, a resident of Parklawn, Other members are:
  • Matt Lyttle, a resident of Seminole Avenue; 
  • Alan Ackerman, member of a HOA board for a community on Beauregard Street; 
  • Rita Zimmerman, a resident of Lincolnia Park and former member of the BRAC task force; 
  • Fred Cornett, a Camelot resident who serves as the assets manager for HHH Properties Corp., the owner of the Plaza at Landmark
  • Debi Gerald, a third-generation Lincolnia resident; 
  • Nazir Baghat, owner of an office building on Cherokee Avenue; and 
  • Kathleen King, a member of the Charleston Square HOA. 
The task force members were appointed by Gross, who said she wanted a mix of longtime and more recent residents, people who live in single-family homes, townhouse residents, and representatives of the business community.

Deborah Fraser, a resident of the Stonegate at Landmark community complained that Gross unfairly rejected her request to join the task force and asked Shumate to add her to the group, or at least someone from Stonegate. “We are ground zero on this,”  she said. “Why can’t we add one more person?”

Fraser believes Gross’ decision is retaliation for her actions to mobilize the community against the county’s plan to temporarily relocate the Bailey’s Crossroads homeless shelter to Lincolnia. [That plan was subsequently dropped.]

Shumate agreed to “take this under advisement” and discuss the matter with Gross, but added, “this is not about having every neighborhood represented.” The meetings are open to the public and anyone can ask questions. Task force members promised to listen to audience members and take their concerns into account.

The task force has been charged with reviewing existing conditions in Lincolnia, developing a vision for the future of the community and a plan for achieving the vision, and serving as a liaison to the community.

The task force will provide input to Fairfax County planning staff as they conduct phase two of the Lincolnia Planning District Study. The first phase, completed over the past year and a half, dealt with editorial changes to Lincolnia section of the county’s comprehensive plan.

Phase two, which will address substantive changes, will probably take a couple of years to complete, said Faheem Darab, a planner with the Department of Planning and Zoning,

Darab urged task force members to be mindful of a state law enacted last summer that restricts the ability of local governments to request or accept “unreasonable” proffers from developers related to new residential projects.

The proffer law, advocated by developers, limits the ability of communities to get developers to pay for amenities like parks and sidewalks. A local government that violates the proffer law could face stiff penalties.

Under the law, “all proffers are deemed unreasonable, unless they address an impact specifically attributable to the proposal,” Darab said. For example, an addition to a school to relieve overcrowding due to new residential development could be reasonable, but a community gathering space would not be.

A small area plan designated as a revitalization area, such as a CBC, however, is exempt from the restrictions on proffers if it allows mass transit, mixed-use development, and a density of at least 3.0 FAR (floor area ratio).

In addition to the CBC issue, the task force meetings will cover such topics as the strengths and weaknesses of Lincolnia, transportation improvements, the City of Alexandria’s plans for Landmark Mall, and the impact of HOV lanes on Interstate 395.

The task force is scheduled to meet twice a month, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 p.m., at the Lincolnia Senior Center, through July 18. The next meeting is March 7.

Meanwhile, the Washington chapter of the Urban Land Institute will independently convene experts to conduct a mini-technical assistance panel and submit its own recommendations for improving Lincolnia on May 18.

The task force’s recommendations will be incorporated into a report on the Lincolnia Planning District Study by county staff, which will be presented to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings on the study recommendations, and a final decision will be made by the BoS,

18 comments:

  1. Hard to grasp that they are really interested in community input since they would not even consider rescheduling their meetings to nights that do not conflict with the Community Advisory Council that support the Mason County Police and the Bailey's Crossroads/Seven Corners Revitalization meetings. And that it's not about representing neighborhoods.

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    1. Kathy -
      Thank you for your participation last night. As I understand it, every effort was made to make sure that the meetings worked for the majority of the stakeholders. Unfortunately, it would be impossible to accommodate EVERY stakeholder or individual that wanted to attend.

      The Task Force appreciates your understanding.

      Daren Shumate

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    2. Sorry that the community is not one of the stakeholders.

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  2. There is an old adage that relates the different perspectives of a chicken and a pig regarding a ham and egg breakfast. Both the chicken and the pig are both engaged in the activity but their perspectives are vastly different. Whereas the chicken is "involved" the pig is "fully committed." Thus, in the matter of a ham and egg breakfast, the pig would argue for a direct voice in the decision-making process since it is a fully committed stakeholder.

    Such is the case with the Stonegate community. The maps show we are fully encompassed by the proposed 200 acre CBC in Lincolnia. We are at ground zero and are, thus, a fully committed stakeholder. However, we have been denied representation despite numerous petitions to Supervisor Gross.

    Fair representation is crucial to transparency and a fair outcome for all Lincolnia stakeholders. Select or exclusionary representation is equivalent no representation at all.

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  3. more task forces is all we need. waste peoples time and then Gross will just do what she wants anyway

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    1. That is exactly how it goes every single time. It does not matter what the community wants it only matters what Gross wants.

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  4. Thank you for posting, Ellie.

    The Task Force and staff look forward to the dialogue that the Annandale Blog will facilitate. To be sure, we encourage active participation in person at the twice-a-month Task Force meetings.

    Additionally please keep abreast of developments at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/lincolnia/ which will be kept up to date by County staff. There is a listserv for those that would like to receive e-mail updates. (At the time of this writing, I do not know the mechanism to be added to the listserv outside of sharing your e-mail with staff at the next meeting.)

    The goal of the Lincolnia Planning District Study as conceived by County Leadership and Staff is to explore growth and development opportunities for the long term future of the Lincolnia Planning District with a focus on the immediate neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Beauregards and Little River Turnpike. The chief role of the Task Force is to serve as "ambassadors to the community" and the chief vehicle for that is the meetings on the first and third Tuesdays of the month.

    Because the Annandale Blog has become an effective vehicle to communicate, I encourage thoughtful and polite comments. Because the Task Force will be honest and forthright, I also encourage posting openly in lieu of anonymously.

    I would like to take the opportunity to clarify my quote regarding representation on the Task Force from neighborhoods. All neighborhoods are indeed represented by participation in the Task Force meetings even as they are not all represented directly on the Task Force. For those that came last night, the Task Force openly and constructively engaged the community and I, as Chair, will ensure that a productive dialogue is encouraged and maintained through all of the meeting.

    We look forward to future productive meetings and dialogue.

    Best regards,


    Daren Shumate

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    1. Is there a good reason why Stonegate should not participate on the Task Force?

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    2. There are only 7 members on the task force. There are more than 7 neighborhoods and stakeholders in the Lincolnia planning district. Simple math, for one reason.

      Not a member or representative of the task force, and I don't live in a neighborhood represented by the task force, but I live within the Lincolnia planning district. I suppose I could have volunteered, but I didn't. Probably wouldn't have been chosen, anyhow.

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    3. Man oh man Daren, you've jumped into a bee's nest of negativity. Thank you for your dedication to our community and your willingness to spend your free time identifying problems and working with other members of the community to solve them. It's easy to complain but it's much harder to do what you're attempting to do.

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  5. Fairfax's old neighborhoods haven't seen any improvement in decades. Pathetic for one of the wealthiest counties in the country.

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  6. There will be another four years of talk and nothing will happen. That has been the Mason District story.

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  7. Darcy Franz2/23/17, 5:08 PM

    Daren, thank you for your volunteer service on this task force and for engaging with neighbors in this forum. I’d assert it’s important to have a Stonegate at Landmark resident on the task force, given how disproportionately affected they will be by any development in this area. While meetings are open to the public, a seat at the actual table is an important engagement tool for a highly impacted stakeholder. If the task force organizers sought specific expertise and/or length of residency and did not find that among volunteers, perhaps those needs could be made transparent and specifically sought in that neighborhood?

    Personally, I volunteered to serve on the task force and was told it had already been formed. My fault for being late to the party, but I had difficulty finding any information about preferred qualifications, time commitment, etc. Comprehensive identification and engagement of key stakeholders is critical to a process like this, and it we’re off to a rocky start if even the composition of the volunteer task force seems unrepresentative and murky.

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  8. Shear Shack is closing at PineCrest moving into the City of Alexandria. Another business out of that shopping center, another service not available to our community. What is going on, why are businesses leaving our community? Why are developers not rebuilding in Mason. In my networking group I overheard the developer at Carlin Springs and Columbia Pike note that doing development in Mason is next to impossible. Every obstacle is put up. Is the County on a suicide mission for its older neighborhoods?

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  9. Dear Community of Stonegate at Landmark,

    Mason District has enjoyed the enlightened leadership of its county Supervisor for 22 years now and you can rest assured your best interests will be kept in mind by the task force. In fact, this Supervisor happens to be the 2016 Prince Livable Communities Leadership Award winner. This distinction was earned as she is “a champion for the revitalization of Fairfax’s older neighborhoods, leading community planning initiatives in Seven Corners, Baileys Crossroads, and other commercial centers in her district.” If you have had the pleasure of traversing any of the aforementioned areas, you will be sure to notice that they have improved mightily since 1995.

    In presenting this award, the Coalition for Smarter Growth noted that: “Despite outcry from neighboring civic associations in an election year, she stood by the Seven Corners Plan, making the case that redevelopment at higher densities is critical to bringing back investment, modernizing infrastructure, and providing community amenities.”

    In regards to that 'Seven Corners Plan', the co-chair of that Seven Corners Land Use Task Force wasn’t even a local resident of Seven Corners or the Supervisor’s district. He was however an expert in land use issues and a donor 15 times over for her campaign at the time he was appointed ($3300). Interestingly enough, the Task Force co-chair was a Principal of Landmark Atlantic Holdings which owned a building the County negotiated to purchase for $6.35 million as part of a deal to revitalize Baileys Crossroads. This property was assessed by the county to be taxed at $4,875,790 at the time of the deal. The 52 year old building, which the County intended to tear down, made up $3,745,950 of that total assessed value. County tax assessments are sometimes hard to explain, but that is some shrewd negotiation in the name of revitalization.

    If you weren’t lucky to play the long game and get a representative on the Task Force, don’t worry Stonegate. Just relax, have a drink and celebrate the 50 years that have passed since 5 Fairfax County Supervisors were federally indicted on bribery charges. Great progress has been made since those dark days.

    Good luck.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds like you don't want development in Mason District. As a former resident of Mason district who moved to the City of Alexandria, I look forward to that development coming our way instead.

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  10. Total waste of time, sympathies for the Chair. This will end up like BCR and Seven Corners - nowhere. Until Fairfax commits to real mass transit initiatives and economic development you will all be climbing up a tree. This is sort of like "FAKE" planning.

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