|The proposed shopping center site as seen from Charles Street.|
Staff Report Addendum #3, issued by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning Oct. 8, recommends the Board of Supervisors deny the project, basically for the same reasons it recommended denial in September: The proposed right-of-way dedication along Charles Street would not create a smooth alignment with Glen Forest Drive, and the CVS entrance would still face the interior of the property rather than Route 7 as called for in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider a rezoning proposal to permit development of the shopping center on Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m.
The staff report does acknowledge that Spectrum had made some positive changes to the project since its revised plan submitted Sept. 8. The smallest of the three buildings has been removed, and the larger retail building has been expanded, although there would be a net reduction of 845 square feet in the project. That building would be closer to Washington Drive, however.
Many nearby residents have actively raised objections to the project design for past year and a half. They have spoken at hearings, circulated petitions and emails, and met with Mason Supervisor Penny Gross – and are still not happy with the revisions. Among their complaints: traffic, the possibility of fast food odors and litter, insufficient screening next to single-family homes, and the continued proposal for a drive-through pharmacy which goes against the Comprehensive Plan.
The Xenos family had been particularly concerned with a plan for an entrance to the shopping center on Washington Drive directly in front of the driveway of the family’s matriarch, Concetta Defalco, age 94. The family hired a lawyer, and Spectrum agreed to move the entrance closer to Leesburg Pike.
The Oct. 8 staff report notes, however, that the entrance in the revised plan would be 140 feet from Leesburg Pike, while the Virginia Department of Transportation’s access management standard is 225 feet. If VDOT fails to approve an exception, the plan would be to be revised again.
|Leesburg Pike, with Charles Street on the left and the Glen Forest Drive intersection on the right.|
There are some improvements in the revised plan, the staff report says. For example, at least two of the businesses in the non-CVS building will have entrances on Leesburg Pike and flaws in the configuration of the drive-through for the pharmacy have been fixed. Several problems regarding signage, screening and other issues haven’t been addressed.
The biggest remaining problem, however, deals with the alignment of Charles Street. The developer is only providing enough of a right-of-way to allow for a 67-degree angled approach to meet Glen Forest Drive across from Leesburg Pike. VDOT requires an angle of 75 to 80 degrees.
The alignment is included in VDOT’s long-term plan. If the developer fails to provide enough of an easement along Charles Street, VDOT would have to align Glen Forest through the shopping center parking lot on Leesburg Pike, which would cost taxpayers about $5.5 million.
Despite the improvements in the plan, the report concludes, “staff is unable to reverse our recommendation for denial, based primarily on the need to provide for a safe realignment of Charles Street and to provide building entrances that are visible and accessible from Leesburg Pike, in accordance with the site-specific guidelines of the Comprehensive Plan.”