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Friday, May 27, 2016

Planning Commission approves townhouses at Heritage Mall

The site of a future townhouse development.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved a Comprehensive Plan amendment May 26 to facilitate a redevelopment project behind the Heritage Mall shopping center on Heritage Road in Annandale.

The project, to be developed by the Webb Cos. and Madison Homes, calls for 68 single-family attached homes, a community center incorporated into the existing retail center, pedestrian connections, and exterior improvements at the shopping center.

The 11-acre site, bordered by Commons Drive, Rectory Lane, and the rear of the retail center, consists of a vacant grassy lot, parking lot, and a convenience store that would be demolished.

A previous proposal for 200 apartments on that site was approved about 10 years ago but fell through and is no longer under consideration.

Mike Van Atta, a planner with the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, told the Planning Commission the 68 housing units won’t lead to school overcrowding because the schools in the area – Braddock Elementary, Poe Middle, and Annandale High School – are under capacity.

Regarding the impact on traffic, he said the additional units would add an average of 322 vehicles a day, which is a lot less than if the 200 apartments were built, which could be done as a by-right project.

In response to a question from a commissioner, Van Atta said plans to reconfigure the parking lot in front of the shopping center would be taken up during the rezoning phase.

During a community meeting on the project in March, several local residents had issues with traffic, pedestrian safety, parking, and drainage. Only one member of the community spoke during the Planning Commission hearing. Jon Clark, a member of the board of the Mason District Council, expressed concerns about the increased density in the area. The density will probably be greater than what is proposed, he said, because families will double up in the new units and county code inspectors won’t enforce occupancy limits.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal June 21.


  1. I'm wondering how Van Atta can say schools in the area are under capacity. Braddock Elementary had more than 800 students in a building made for 500. There are several trailers in use.

    1. I'm baffled by that assessment too. It's just not true! He's got some 'splainin' to do, but I'm sure he won't because accountability isn't a "thing" anymore.

      And to say that an additional 332 vehicles in that corner of the district is insignificant because it could have been more is ludicrous! (That's like saying that losing one leg is not a problem because you didn't lose two.) Obviously, he's never been in that area during rush hour.

      I might just attend that meeting on the 21rst.

  2. The 68 planned townhouse units will affect traffic significantly less than the 200 apartment units that could be built on the site by right (assuming you believe in private property rights). And think about this: Anyone interested in buying or moving up to a townhouse that is less than 30 years old has to move to some community other than Annandale. It's about time this area saw some redevelopment.