|This wooded stretch along Gallows Road will remain as is for the time being.|
A report by Fairfax County Planning and Redevelopment staff recommends against an amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Plan to raise the allowable density on the site to five to eight dwelling units per acre, which could permit as many as 76 townhouses. The staff report instead recommends maintaining the status quo for the site, which calls for one to two units per acre.
The staff report concluded that “the proposed residential density would not be in keeping with the predominantly low-density residential character of the surrounding single-family detached neighborhoods.”
As a result, Mason Supervisor Penny Gross asked the Mason District Land Use Committee to remove the proposal from its meeting agenda. “Additionally, the amendment will not go forward to the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors for public hearings,” Gross states in an email to residents. “The individual properties may still redevelop by-right under Fairfax County Code but would not require any community input or review.”
“I originally asked for consideration of a Plan Amendment since there has been increasing interest in redevelopment opportunities for that area, which has not been reviewed since the early 1970s,” Gross states. “A Comprehensive Plan review would consider not only land use and density, but also transportation and environmental issues, among others.”
The Christopher Companies proposed consolidating the properties of 11 homeowners and building 66 townhouses on the triangular-shaped site bordered by Gallows Road, Libeau Lane, and the Raintree community.
When the project was discussed at a community meeting in April, nearby residents raised concerns about traffic congestion, school capacity, overflow parking, and a diminished quality of life in surrounding single-family neighborhoods.
The staff report notes that significantly increasing the density in the affected property “could have a destabilizing effect, creating pressure for adjacent single-family neighborhoods to redevelop in a similar manner.”
That would conflict with the county’s policy guidance for the area “that emphasizes compatibility and appropriate transitions for infill development within stable residential communities,” the report states. “Every effort should be made to ensure that stable residential neighborhoods are protected from the negative aspects of growth and development.”
A transportation analysis found the increased density proposed for the site would generate 290 more vehicles trips a day on Gallows Road. According to the staff report, the increased traffic, along with non-signalized intersections and existing backups “creates immense difficulties for vehicles attempting to exit the neighborhoods onto Gallows Road.”
In addition, the study found the project would lead to overcrowding at Woodburn Elementary, Luther Jackson Middle School, and Falls Church High School.
The staff also pointed out the value of maintaining the trees. “The mature tree canopy within the existing single-family detached neighborhoods provides for a natural, wooded and private character for the area,” the report states. “Many of the trees are in good condition and are highly desirable tree species, and are therefore highly desirable for preservation.”
The report recommends maintaining the current density limit, which would allow the development of up to 19 dwelling units, which would “preserve the area’s character and maintain the stability of adjacent neighborhoods.”