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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Community group recommends revisions to Seven Corners plan

The Seven Corners Ad Hoc Community Working Group is finalizing its work on drafting a revised redevelopment plan for Seven Corners and will submit its recommendations to Mason Supervisor Penny Gross and Mason Planning Commissioner Julie Strandlie on June 23.

The ad hoc group consists of representatives of community associations in the Seven Corners area. Their recommendations are based on the plan approved by the Seven Corners Task Force and Special Working Group on Area C (the Sears site). The Planning Commission is expected to consider their recommendations before voting on a Seven Corners amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.

Here’s preliminary summary of the Ad Hoc Community Working Group’s recommendations:
  • Density – The total floor area should be reduced by 20 percent with all of the reduction taken from residential floor areas in Land Units A and B [the Willston shopping and residential areas and the Seven Corners Shopping Center]. The scale of the redevelopment then would be more compatible with the community’s vision for the future of Seven Corners.
  • Schools – The Willston Multicultural Center site should be redeveloped by the school board as a school to serve current and future needs of Seven Corners and neighboring communities. Ownership of the site should be transferred from the Board of Supervisors to the school board.
  • Parks and open space – Seventeen acres of parkland appears to be appropriate for the Seven Corners redevelopment in lieu of the 14 acres described in the current plan.
  • Seven Corners Working Group – Representatives of two neighborhood associations should be added to the Seven Corners Working Group on a rotating basis to serve as direct links to local communities.
  • Transportation – An additional follow-on motion is recommended to provide assurance that the roadway improvements described in the plan amendment are feasible financially and could be implemented in phases paced with the redevelopment of the land units.
  • Area C screening – Staff added text regarding barriers and screening for Area C [the Sears site] in what was understood as an effort to reassure the community that such would be provided. The text should be deleted in order to avoid any implication that the text is intended to modify zoning ordinance requirements for barriers and screening.
  • Affordable housing – The 589 affordable housing units in Areas A-1 and A-2 that would be displaced by the planned redevelopment should be replaced within Areas A, B, and C by units providing the same number of bedrooms and affordable at the same income levels as the current units (60 percent of area median income).
The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Seven Corners amendment on May 7, and at that time, deferred a decision until July 8.

The Ad Hoc Community Working Group, which includes several people who were on the Area C working group, was formed after the hearing, with support from Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, to consider alternative proposals for less density in Areas A and B.  

The group asked Strandlie to recommend the Planning Commission hold another hearing to consider its recommendations.

Strandlie denied the group’s request to reopen the hearing, but did agree to defer a decision from July 8 to July 15. Another hearing “would require unnecessary delay and additional taxpayer expense in staff and advertising costs,” Strandlie wrote in a June 19 email to the group.

The one-week delay “will give the ad hoc group more time to rally community support,” says member Marty Machowsky, a Seven Corners resident who serves on the group.

The hearing record will remain open until the Planning Commission makes a decision, which means the commission will consider additional comments submitted after the hearing. To facilitate the process, Strandlie says, county staff will post written comments to the Planning Commission and additional background materials on a dedicated Seven Corners webpage.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Seven Corners on July 28.


  1. "with support from Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, to consider alternative proposals for less density in Areas A and B." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Gross and Strandlie had to be wrestled into acquiescing to community members' demands for a "do over" of the County's abomination of a "plan"

  2. This is a victory for the community! The thoughtful and reasoned plan that the ad hoc working group has developed is terrific. We are pleased that Supervisor Gross supports their work and their input for the redevelopment of Seven Corners.

    Nice work!

  3. A. Will the lower density combined with more AH be financially feasible for developers?
    B. IF the Rte 7 transitway happens, will this really be optimal density?
    C. What happens to the social services uses in the school building?
    D Do the neighborhood associations adequately represent all interests and not just homeowners?

    1. "D Do the neighborhood associations adequately represent all interests and not just homeowners?"
      Not to worry. The original Task Force plan was carefully designed by a group of selfless developers and land owners (sprinkled with a few local residents) known for their steadfast loyalty to the greater Mason District community. Supervisor Gross, concerned that this Task Force might be biased in favor of the community selected a non resident chairman from the development community to ensure objectivity.
      Why, with Penny and the developers and commercial land owners working for us, would we even need the distraction of neighborhood association involvement? As Supervisor Gross and Commissioner Strandlie say these groups are a waste of time and money serving only to delay the immediate adoption of this 20 to 40 year process. Density is our salvation. That is all we need to know. Trust Penny. Has she ever failed Mason District?

    2. If this were Arlington County the developers would have to fit in with the County's plans, not the other way around. Is this financially feasible for a developer? Ever see a developer turn away money?

      As for the programs at Willston...all are educational and children related. They nicely fit into the scenario of a community school. No worries.

      There is no optimal density for 7 Corners traffic. Its a nightmare. VDOT has its work cut out for itself.

      Does this represent just the homeowners? No. This group went out of its way to save 589 affordable dwelling units for the lowest income group. Penny's task force decided to replace only 145.

      This is a thoughtful plan delivered by citizens who want to see a healthy 7 Corners that provides opportunity to all income levels.

  4. What transitways are you referring to, another bad metrobus line with broken down FFX bus shelters and litter?

    Lets get these meeting over with and build something before I retire to goodness, I have never seen a community so deliberately obsess over a potential great future. They must love those Section 8 apartments.