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Monday, May 5, 2014

Planning Commission defers action on Pinecrest School expansion

The Pinecrest School building slated to be replaced.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission is expected to approve a zoning amendment May 7 to allow the expansion of Pinecrest School in Annandale.

Janet Hall, the planning commissioner representing Mason District, was prepared to recommend approval at the last meeting, May 1, but at the last minute moved for a one-week deferral to give staff in the Department of Planning and Zoning time to incorporate several conditions into the staff report.

Those conditions mainly deal with traffic management aimed at preventing back-ups on Annandale Road when parents drop off and pick up their children.

Pinecrest School occupies two acres on Quiet Cove. School officials want to replace one of its two buildings, a former house built in 1960 that lacks central heating, with a new structure better suited to education. They also want to add before and afterschool care, increase the number of grades served from K-6 to K-8, increase maximum enrollment allowed from 120 to 180, and host more special events.

The school needs to increase enrollment to offset the construction costs for the new building.

The major concerns with the project, raised by nearby residents at the Planning Commission’s public hearing May 1 and at previous meetings, deal with traffic on Annandale Road and Quiet Cove and spillover parking on neighborhood streets during special events.

A traffic management plan prepared for Pinecrest by Wells & Associates calls for a detailed procedure for monitoring traffic on Annandale Road.

A checkpoint of 155 students would be set, and if monitoring shows a certain level of traffic problems, enrollment could not be increased further. If enrollment is increased to the maximum180 and backups on Annandale Road reach a certain threshold, the school has to reduce enrollment to 155 or implement mandatory busing. At the request of the commission, the plan will also monitor vehicles waiting to turn into Quiet Cove.

Pinecrest School’s proposal also attempts to mitigate traffic problems by increasing the number of parking spaces and adding a pickup/drop-off lane to improve circulation.

Lots of supporters of the expansion project attended the May 1 Planning Commission hearing, including parents, teachers, and nearby residents.

Two people who live nearby expressed concerns about traffic and parking. One of them also urged the school to avoid early-morning construction noise.

At Hall’s recommendation, the Planning Commission deferred a decision until May 7. “I would rather send the board [of Supervisors] a clean package” that includes the revised language on the traffic plan, she said. “I just want to make sure we get the paperwork right.”

UPDATED May 8, 2014: The Planning Commission approved this proposal at its May 7 meeting.

1 comment:

  1. Ridiculous. They have no evidence of how traffic operates in Quiet Cove. If Pinecrest worked with FFX County to remove the street parking recently allowed at the entrance to Quiet Cove, then they could have a better system in place for pickup/dropoff. But with the parked cars, people traveling in and out of the school, and residents of Quiet Cove trying to get in and out, it is an absolute nightmare.