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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Neighbors raise concerns about Brightview senior housing project

The conceptual plan for Brightview. The main road to the left is Gallows.
At an Aug. 28 meeting of the Mason District Land Use Committee (MDLUC), several people who live near a proposed assisted living facility planned for Gallows Road raised concerns about increased traffic on an already-busy thoroughfare. Other issues brought by residents include the loss of trees and the negative impact of a three-story complex towering over single-family homes.

The Shelter Group, a Baltimore-based company, submitted an application to Fairfax County in July to build a Brightview living facility for seniors across the street from Holmes Run Acres. The property is zoned R-2, but special exceptions are allowed for medical care facilities, which includes assisted living.

The last week of August isn’t the best time for a meeting—only three members of the MDLUC were there—but Chair Roy Lounsbury said he called the special meeting because the committee will have “a full plate next month,” with half a dozen applications to consider.

The MDLUC didn’t take a position on the Brightview proposal and will consider it again in September, Lounsbury suggested leaders of nearby citizens associations bring official position statements on the project.

Shelter Development operates 23 Brightview facilities, most of them on the East Coast, and this would be the second one in Fairfax County. The first one, in Great Falls, was approved by the county despite strong opposition from nearby residents.

The Brightview project proposed for Gallows Road would have 95 units in an L-shaped building. It would have a dining room for communal meals, a library, fitness room, and media center. 

Twenty-six of the units would be in a “Memory Care” wing for Alzheimer’s patients, Brightview Senior Development Director Andrew Teeters said. Those residents would have access to a rooftop garden terrace with trellises providing shade.

According to Teeters, every Brightview facility is different and is designed to blend in with the community. This one would have a mid-century contemporary style similar to the houses of Holmes Run Acres on the other side of Gallows.

The company already made plans to purchase four parcels of land along Gallows Road and demolish the six houses on that site. 

The only access to the facility would be from Gallows Road. Teeters says that’s because people who live next to the property opposed having access from Aston Street.

That didn’t sit well with Wanda Cole Evans, a resident of Holmes Run Acres who lives on Gallows and says another intersection on Gallows would exacerbate the traffic problems. She questioned why the company is paying more attention to the people who live on Aston than Gallows.

She also complained that “a commercial enterprise” should not be allowed in what should remain a residential neighborhood.

Peggy Daley, secretary of the Holmes Run Acres Civic Association, raised objections about the “domino effect” that could occur if this special exception is approved, leading to pressure for more commercial development in the area.

Several neighbors expressed concerns about traffic, noting there will be visitors, staff, and deliveries continuously at Brightview while there are no traffic lights along Gallows between the beltway and Annandale Road.

Gallows Road already is a “race track,” added  Daley, and the traffic will be even worse when the beltway express lanes open.

Most of the traffic generated by Brightview would occur at “off peak” times, Teeters said. During the busiest shift, the facility would have 28 employees. They would work 7 a.m.-3 p.m., so they would be in and out before rush hour, and residents wouldn’t be healthy enough to drive.

Noting that the facility is close to Woodburn Elementary School and Holmes Run Pool, Teeters he hopes the residents will be able to interact with the students and go to the pool for water aerobics. He conceded, however, that neither the residents nor schoolchildren will be able to cross Gallows Road safely, so any interaction would require travel by van or bus.

David Holland, president of the Broyhill Crest Community Association, raised concerns about the loss of trees, which he called “key to our quality of life.” Teeters promised the company will save as many trees as possible and preserve the tree buffer along Gallows Road.

Another issue is the isolation of future residents. There would be nowhere, like stores or parks, for them to walk to, so they will be mostly stuck on the property, unless they could get staff or family to take them on an outing.


  1. Please see the thoughtful comments re the relocation of the main access to Inova Fairfax Hospital a mile away and its impact on Gallows Rd traffic and backups due to the reduced turn lanes caused by the not so "hot" lanes on the beltway. All of this development, construction, intersections, more traffic, are without thought or foresight. And mostly decided with no consideration of quality of life for the existing or new residents. More pockets being lined with silver.

  2. Mr. Teeters of Brightwood sounds so caring and loving, NOT! According to him all the traffic generated by the facility will be in the off hours, right. I can hardly wait for the other half dozen other development projects coming before the MDLUC in September. I'm sure they'll be as thoughtful of Mason District residents as this one.

  3. What off hours are there in this area?

  4. Did anyone make it to the meeting at Govt Ctr last night where this was discussed? Looking forward to updated info