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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Assisted living facility in Annandale means more traffic on Gallows Road

The Brightview facility would be accessed from Gallows Road
People who live near the proposed assisted living facility slated for Gallows Road told the developer they are concerned about increased traffic on an already congested street

The 95-unit facility would be developed by Brightview Senior Living, a division of the Shelter Group, which operates 23 assisted living projects in nine states. The three-story building would have 72 assisted living apartments and another 23 units in a secure wing for Alzheimer’s patients.

The company already has a contract to purchase six and a-half acres of land on Gallows across from the Holmes Run pool. The purchase would be completed as soon as the county approves a permit, Brightview Senior Development Director Andrew Teeters told residents at a community meeting June 13 at Woodburn Elementary School. Five of the six houses on that site would be demolished.

The property is zoned R-2 and doesn’t need to be rezoned, but the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors would have to approve a special exception to allow the project to go forward.

Teeters said Brightview hopes to file for a special exception within the next month. The planning and approval process would take two years, and construction would take another 14 months, so the facility could open in fall 2015.

Just about everybody who spoke at the meeting complained about the prospect of increased traffic—and safety issues—on Gallows Road. Several people mentioned the need for a traffic light on Gallows and Aston Street.

“Traffic on Gallows Road is a disaster. I don’t feel they studied it enough in advance,” said a resident of Holmes Run Acres. One resident noted there would probably be frequent ambulances at the building, although Teeters said Brightview facilities generally have to call for an ambulance “several times a month,  not every day.”

Several people also expressed concerns that a three-story building would not be compatible with the character of the neighborhood.  It will be an “eyesore, towering above the trees,” one resident said. “We need something like this, but Gallows Road is not the right place,” said another resident.

Another issue is the location of the facility in the middle of a suburb. There aren’t any stores within walking distance, so the residents would be isolated. Wouldn’t it work better if it were part of the revitalization of central Annandale or located somewhere close to shops and restaurants?

People who live on Gallows Road or in Holmes Run Acres were adamantly opposed to having the project’s entrance on Gallows. People who live behind the proposed facility were equally opposed to having it accessible from Aston Street. Teeters says there are no plans to have an entrance on Aston.

According to Teeters, Annandale has an aging population and needs an assisted living facility. He says the typical resident of a Brightview project is over 80 years old, lives within eight miles of the facility, has lived in the area for 30 to 40 years, has lost a spouse, and can no longer drive.

Apartments would have a kitchenette, although meals would be served in a communal dining room. There would be a nurse on staff and a dedicated van to take residents to places like grocery stores and doctor appointments.

Residents would pay anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 a month, depending on the amount of care they need. The rent would include three meals a day, housekeeping, transportation, social activities, and other services.

The facility would have  60 parking spaces, to be used primarily by staff and visitors. There would be 28 employees during the busiest shift.

Teeters says Brightview developments are designed to be compatible with the local community, which, in this case, means it could be similar to the contemporary designs of the houses in Holmes Run Acres.


  1. A traffic light at Gallows and Aston would make sense for kids walking to Woodburn Elementary. How do children make it across Gallows Road before and after school? Is there a crossing guard?

  2. Did anyone look into the space that the Mormon Church has? Is that a viable site? It is much closer to "downtown Annandale" and its shops.

  3. Knowing how our leader is going with all the infill, this will pass without a problem. I agree with a three story building not going along with the neighborhood. Annandale needs to be revitalized and there is plenty of space downtown. I do not understand why business are not encouraged to move in. This would be a great project for downtown Annandale and the residents could walk to shops.

  4. Nice idea, wrong location6/15/12, 3:51 PM

    Brightview is obviously attempting to run this through the system with as little notice and opposition as possible. This is evident by choosing a site zoned R-2, where there is apparently no re-zoning required for an assisted living facility.

    Brightview reps met with several of the local association boards after they had the property Under Contract, who in turn put out the word to the neighbors and called the meeting on June 13th. But Brightview did nothing to notify neighbors of their impending plans.

    Their attitude at the June 13th presentation, which was only attended by around 50 people and lasted less than 30 minutes, was pompous and as if the project is a done deal. They failed miserably at answering many direct questions, such as "Why was this site chosen over any others that may be available?" and "In choosing a site, do you not consider the safety and risk associated with the ingress & egress of the residents, visitors, and employees first and foremost?" One local resident spoke from personal experience about a Brightview Rhode Island facility. Several local residents expressed concern over such a project at the speed crest of Gallows Rd., but would favor this project in a safer location. Several local residents expressed concern over the obvious elevation of Emergency Services calls to such a facility, which would increase siren noise to even greater levels than already exists on the path to Fairfax Hospital. One local resident spoke from experience regarding the wandering and safety issue associated with a 23 bed Alzheimer's Care Unit on Gallows Rd.

    Brightview reps seemed unfazed about local residents objections. The land assemblage Brightview has Under Contract is 6-1/2 acres. When questioned, they claim the water, sewer, and other utilities are adequate to serve their proposed 3-story, 100+ unit facility. One local resident expressed concern about storm water runoff that would absolutely be created by the land disturbance, tree removal, building footprint, and parking lot pavement. It was pointed out this has been a problem on the north side of Gallows Rd. with the Capitol Baptist Church curb cut, driveway, parking lot, and building footprint. Brightview reps said they will look into it. A local resident compared this facility to Aarondale in Springfield. This location was described as being accessible from Backlick Rd. via an intersection with a red light and dedicated turn lane, something Gallows Rd. cannot offer.

    Brightview reps indicate they have hired a traffic engineer and have already completed their traffic study, and don't see it as an issue. They expressed surprise at the number of comments, concerns, and complaints regarding the traffic and ingress/egress onto Gallows Rd.

    This site will affect residents in both Providence District (Linda Smyth) on the north side of Gallows Rd. and Mason District (Penelope Gross) on the south side of Gallows Rd. Getting these neighborhood groups together create their own set of obstacles. Several people asked "What next?", which was answered by Brightview reps "In the coming months, we will file our special exception permit." Sounds like end of discussion. Several local residents vowed to fight this project to the bitter end.

  5. What is the best next step for those of us who agree with the concerns that this facility will bring to the neighborhood? Contact Ms. Smyth and Ms. Gross directly? Should we lobby them for another public meeting on the issue so they can hear directly from the residents of the area?

    1. Definitely follow up with the supervisors, along with the Mason District Land Use Committee, Mason District Council, Annandale revitalization committee, etc. It may well be a done deal, but you might as well go all out.

  6. I have children that go to Woodburn and there is not a crossing guard. I have heard talk of a light being installed there in the near future.

  7. Thanks. I hate the thought of another traffic light, but I hate the thought of an accident much, much more.

  8. If it is a "done deal" then the community can still push for things that lessen the impact - such as parking that mitigates stormwater problems, minimal paving, rain gardens, improved sidewalks in the area, etc. If it's going to happen, let them provide something other than problems.

  9. Nice idea, wrong location6/15/12, 9:26 PM

    I live in Holmes Run Acres but do not have children at Woodburn ES. Our Civic Association has tried numerous times over many, many years to have a traffic light installed at Hemlock & Gallows Rd. Our committee's pleas have been unsuccessful, even though VDOT has apparently undertaken traffic studies along that corridor. I do not believe a traffic light is going in there in the near future. When Brightview reps were asked at the June 13th meeting about any plans for a traffic light in conjunction with their project, they indicated there is nothing in their proposal for one.

    Several years ago there was an individual who was struck and killed by an automobile while crossing Gallows Rd. near Thor Dr., where there is a crosswalk. There are crosswalk signs in each direction on Gallows Rd. There is a bus stop on the south side of Gallows Rd., where people in Holmes Run Acres must cross Gallows Rd. There is a group in Holmes Run Acres who have been working with VDOT to have a superior style crosswalk & indicator placed in this area, as there are sidewalks and bus stops on both sides of Gallows Rd. Their push continues for improved pedestrian safety, but VDOT has agreed to nothing yet.

    There were local residents @ the June 13th Brightview meeting from the neighborhoods on the south side of Gallows Rd. Several indicated that their pleas to VDOT for a light @ Aston St. have gone unheeded also. ALL the commuters from the south side of Gallows must turn left across 2 oncoming lanes of traffic + blend into 2 lanes of west bound traffic to access the Beltway.

    We keep hearing that VDOT does not want a traffic light along Gallows Rd. for any reason.

    Now we have the HUGE lighted highway-style signage which has been installed in the right-of-way along Gallows Rd. @ Hemlock Dr. This sign will be used to announce the rolling HOT lane pricing in lighted digital format. As a driver is cruising West on Gallows Rd. in a 35 mph zone, dodging Metro buses stopped to pick up and drop off passengers, watching for vehicles entering and exiting neighborhoods to the left and right, watching for kids entering & exiting Holmes Run Pool, slowing to 25 mph in the school zone where cars & buses are coming & going, and trying to make a spending & lane decision as they approach I-495 .... these same drivers will be faced with visitors, employees, and emergency vehicles entering and exiting the Brightview campus, where there are no turn or deceleration lanes and no red lights to break the flow of traffic.

    Again I say, this proposed project is a nice idea, but in the wrong location.

  10. I think the fix is already in and we all have to come to terms with the upcoming years of construction and traffic bringing about the ruination of the existing neighborhoods and disruption of our lives. We have been through the construction of the Fast Lanes and now they want us to deal with even more. Next thing you know, our front yards will be taken for street widening. With the Fast Lanes in action, we won't be able to get out of our homes! This "exception" (which can only involve big money to the County) should never be made in an R-2 zoned area. It won't matter what style they build the thing. It's still going to be 3 stories, many trees lost, lots of digging everywhere and traffic, traffic, traffic. The zoning exception should wait until they see what Gallows Rd looks like once the Fast Lanes are in place.
    The DC area is full of assisted living places. Once you can't drive, who cares where it is? They have picked this spot in order to be close to the Hospital and close to the medical facilities on the other side of Rt. 50. Think it's hard to get an appt. now? Just wait!
    This is truly a lousy idea and not much we can do about it! A sad thing for us all.

  11. Nice idea, wrong location6/19/12, 10:54 PM

    One of the sellers owns two of the large parcels that Brightview would be purchasing. This same individual owns two other properties just across Gallows Rd., between Holmes Run Recreation Association pool and Woodburn Elementary School. These are older homes that are rental properties, just like what will be torn down by Brightview to build their facility on the opposite side of the road. If this person is selling out on the south side of Gallows Rd. (zoned R-2, Mason District), the future on the north side of Gallows Rd. (zoned R-3, Providence District) may be changing too. Let's keep a close watch on this group. We must put pressure on the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to NOT APPROVE any special exception or rezoning in our area.

  12. Mason District Land Use Committee agenda

    Mason District Governmental Center
    6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA 22003
    Tuesday, August 28, 2012
    Executive Meeting begins at 7:00 PM
    Public Meeting begins at 7:30 PM

    Information Item
    Shelter Development, LLC
    Special Exception proposal for Medical Care Facility (assisted living facility)
    3440, 3444, 3450, and 3454 Gallows Road
    6.36 Acres zoned R-2

    Planning Commission – TBD
    Board of Supervisors – TBD

    Hopefully you will want to take the time to attend this meeting tonight.

    Some of you may have attended the presentation by Brightview Assisted Living back on June 13th given to the communities on either side of Gallows Road. Since that time, Brightview has moved ahead by filing their Special Exception request to Fairfax County on August 1st. It is listed under the name Shelter Development, LLC. Here’s the link to the application:

    Of note, Brightview (Shelter Development, LLC) went through a similar process in Great Falls last year. Here are some articles/comments for that site along Colvin Run Road: P&seq=4162318

    For those unfamiliar with Brightview Senior Living, here’s the link to their locations in Virginia and Maryland:

    Hope this info is helpful to you.

  13. I have children that go to Woodburn and there is not a crossing guard. I have heard talk of a light being installed there in the near future.