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Friday, July 18, 2014

Planning Commission defers vote on Bailey's Crossroads shopping center

Washington Drive, looking toward Leesburg Pike. The shopping center would be at the left.  [Google Maps]
The Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred a decision on a shopping center proposal for Leesburg Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads until July 30, primarily because commissioners felt there was not enough information on a plan to align Charles Street with Glen Forest Drive.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation hasn’t developed a detailed plan on realigning those two roads as they cross Leesburg Pike, said Janet Hall, the planning commissioner representing the Mason District, during a public hearing July 17. The road realignment is driving the entire plan amendment language and rezoning request for the proposed retail center between Charles Street and Washington Drive, Murphy said. “I’m not clear how this would work. . . .  Clearly we are not ready to move forward on this.”

Several residents of the Courtland Park neighborhood spoke at the hearing, primarily about their concerns with traffic and the need for a more extensive buffer between the shopping center and their homes. Hall  urged local residents to bring their issues to a meeting of the Mason District Land Use Committee July 22, 7:30 p.m., at the Mason Government Center.

Courtland Park doesn’t have an active community association, but Wayne Valis, a resident of Washington Drive spearheaded an effort to draft a letter to Mason Supervisor Penny Gross outlining residents’ concerns and got 37 people to sign it. In response, Gross invited residents to meet with her on July 22 at 6 p.m. immediately before the MDLUC meeting. [That’s a change from July 21.] 

At the hearing, Gwen Doddy Lowit, a resident of Washington Drive, urged the commissioners to not allow restaurants or a drive-through at the proposed shopping center. Spectrum Development has already signed up Smashburger, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, and a CVS with a drive-through pharmacy.

Restaurants will lead to more litter, noise, smells, and cut-through traffic, said Lowit, who notes that an earlier county planning document “strongly discouraged” restaurants on that site. The planning staff now believes restaurants should be permitted, because the developer has since acquired additional properties, allowing for a larger buffer zone.

Lowit also complained that it’s already impossible to make a left turn from Washington to Leesburg Pike, and that more people would cut through the neighborhood to get to Columbia Pike.

“If the proposed project is supposed to be pedestrian friendly, why have a drive-through?” Lowit asked.

A representative for Spectrum, William Lawson Jr., said the CVS drive-through would only be for prescriptions and would only be used about seven times an hour, which is a lot less than fast food or bank drive-throughs. Murphy said if people are sick, it’s better that they pick up prescriptions in their car rather than walk through the store.

Commissioner Janyce Hedetniemi (at large) said the proposal doesn’t adequately support pedestrians and bicyclists. “This is not well thought out and seems kind of haphazard,” she said. “We need to be more creative to get people out of cars.”

Nicholas Ferk, whose house on 3427 Charles Street would be next-door to the new development, urged the commissioners to extend the buffer zone. He said the wall proposed by the developers at the rear of the site would be just one foot away from his house and that someone could climb the wall and break into his bedroom window. Lawson said if the community prefers, the wall could be moved closer to the shopping center.

Irene Xenos, whose grandmother’s house on Washington Drive would be close to the shopping center entrance, expressed concerns about more traffic, more illegal parking on the street, and property values. These are valid concerns, Murphy said, but “these are public roads; people can use them.”


  1. Is the Bailey's/Culmore/Seven Corners area ever gonna improve or is the run down look here to stay. While other surronding areas continue to build and improve all you get around here is delay after delay. Why is that? While I have given up on hoping to see Culmore transformed into a Clarendon type atmoshpere, there at least should be some improvement... and not the" we added a lamp post" and call it improvement". Why can these surrounding neighborhoods move forward with projects (Rosslyn, Clarendon, Ballston, Court House, further down leesburg pike towards Tysons, Mosaic etc..) while all you get around here is delay after delay and reasons why we can't move forward with a project...and then you read where P. Gross is waiting with open arms to welcome illegal immigrants coming over the border. Maybe there is more to the initial story above than just the whopping 37 signatures. I fear the only building happening around here in the future will be more apartments crammed with multi-families.

    1. Every single one of those places you listed is on the Metro line and geared toward rail and walkability.
      Cars and traffic will always be legitimate concerns in the single family neighborhoods of Bailey's and Seven Corners which must constantly fight the increasing intrusion of urbanization on their quiet communities.

  2. In response to the comment above; Fairfax has no vision and lacks the vigor and savvy that the Arlington Board continues to demonstrate. Their Board Chairman is athletic, progressive and forward thinking. Fairfax is stuck somewhere in the 70's show and going backwards. It has all the ingredients for becoming the next PG County without National Harbor.

    FFX return yourself to sender.

    1. I beg to differ, living here is more like a bad episode re-run of the "70's show".

      For the first time yesterday I drove through those Culmore section 8 apartment houses, its like Marion Barry's Ward 8 latino style.