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Thursday, September 24, 2015

County staff urges BoS to reject shopping center in Bailey's Crossroads

A section of the revised plan showing the pharmacy drive-through in the middle of the retail center.
More than six months after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to “defer indefinitely” a rezoning proposal from Spectrum Development for a shopping center on Leesburg Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads, the BoS will hold a public hearing on a revised plan for the project Oct. 6.

Despite some “significant improvements,” a staff report issued by the county’s Zoning Evaluation Division Sept. 22 still recommends the BoS deny the application. The primary objections have to do with the failure to provide an acceptable realignment of Charles Street with Glen Forest Drive and the failure to provide building entrances that are accessible from Leesburg Pike.

Spectrum is seeking 2.7 acre property between Charles Street and Washington Drive be rezoned from C-2 and R-3 to allow development of a shopping center, a special exception to permit a drive-through pharmacy and fast food restaurant, and a waiver to permit a 20 percent reduction in the number of parking spaces (108 instead of 135 spaces).

The zoning staff had issued a report last January recommending denial, citing the proposed retail center’s inconsistency with the redevelopment plan for Bailey’s Crossroads. Many residents of the surrounding streets testified at a public hearing Jan. 14 urging the Planning Commission to deny the application, citing concerns with the proposed layout, potential increases in traffic, noise, trash, and other quality-of-life issues.

The Planning Commission deferred a decision and asked Spectrum to make changes in its application. The staff again urged the project be denied, but the Planning Commission recommended approval on Feb. 12. Residents continued to oppose the project at a BoS hearing March 3, and on March 24, the BoS deferred a decision indefinitely until further changes could be made.

The revised plan for “the Shops at Bailey’s Crossroads” still includes a drive-through pharmacy even though that goes against language in the Bailey’s Crossroads plan calling for pedestrian-friendly development. The revised plan, however, moves the drive-through from the side of the building facing Charles Street to the center of the shopping center.

In other changes spelled out in the revised application:

The central plaza area has been expanded and redesigned to provide additional seating.
  • The monument sign has been relocated from the central plaza to the Charles Street side of the pharmacy.
  • The pharmacy entrance has been shifted, making it more visible from Leesburg Pike.
  • The loading space and dumpsters have been relocated to a central place in the parking lot.
  • The total number of trees has been increased from 82 to 84.
  • The number of parking spaces has been increased from 108 to 114.
Spectrum also revised proffers. A number of prohibited uses is listed, including alternative lending institutions, non-therapeutic massage parlors, shops selling pornographic materials or fireworks, gun shops, pawnbrokers, and tattoo parlors.

The proffers also state the pharmacy drive-through will be closed from midnight to 6 a.m. and other businesses will be closed from midnight to 6 a.m. or 11 p.m.-5 a.m. Residents had opposed the possibility of shops and restaurants open all night.

The Sept. 22 staff report recommends the plan be rejected primarily because of the following problems: 
  • The proposed right-of-way dedication along Charles Street does not provide for a safe realignment of Charles Street with Glen Forest Drive on the other side of Route 7. The realignment would result in a 67-degree angled approach, while the maximum recommendation by the Fairfax Department of Transportation is 75 to 80 degrees.
  • The orientation of the pharmacy toward the parking lot conflicts with the recommendation in the Bailey’s Crossroads section of the county Comprehensive Plan calling for primary pedestrian entrances to be accessible and visible from Leesburg Pike. Under the revised proposal, none of the business would have entrances on Leesburg Pike.
The staff report also cites additional concerns with the proposed streetscape and landscaping. 


  1. Thank you Ellie for this update.

    When you have an opportunity please report on the response of the neighbors to this revised plan.

    Of particular interest is which of the revisions in this new plan appear to address the neighbors' concerns (you specifically note in this post the proffer promising the pharmacy/shops will be closed at night addresses residents' concerns, but I believe there are other revisions that do as well - such as relocating the loading spaces and dumpsters to a central place); and which, if any, of the neighbors' concerns remain unaddressed in this revised plan.

    Thank you again for your continuing reporting on this proposed project.

  2. i don't think anyone would consider this going back to the drawing board as Supervisor Gross asked them to do if you A/B this and the previous plan. also amazing they can't figure out how to get a positive staff review after 18 months when the staff told them how to get one. return to sender!

  3. > shifted
    > relocated
    > increased

    The developers can juggle all the minutiae they want in order to make this bad idea seem not bad, but that won't magically make it so. Whatever rinky-dink strip-mall retail that gets stuck there will just be one more block of blight going forward, an open sore of abandoned glass + aluminum fast casual lifestyle solutions, difficult or impossible to remove or otherwise do anything actually useful with for the next half century.

  4. anyone know of anything the staff has given multiple negative reviews and Supervisor Gross pushed to pass? seems like there is no way she could go against multiple bad reviews the county spent a lot of money and time on but then again, I guess it wouldn't surprise me.