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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lakeside Plaza condo owners oppose expansion of townhouse community

The layout of the Ambrose Hills community. Lakeside Plaza is at the end of the cul de sac on Powell Lane. [Stanley Martin]
The development of the Ambrose Hills townhouse community on Columbia Pike is causing some headaches for residents of the high-rise Lakeside Plaza Condominium.

Marty Bernstein and Janice Siegel of the Lakeside Plaza HOA urged the Mason District Land Use Committee (MDLUC) March 28 to reject a proposal by Stanley Martin Cos., the developer of Ambrose Hills, to add five additional homes on a property in the middle of the site.

While the Ambrose Hills community isn’t completed yet, three new access points on Powell Lane is already leading to traffic backups as drivers try to enter or exit Columbia Pike.

That’s especially difficult for Lakeside Plaza residents, as the condo is at the end of Powell Lane and that street is the only way to access their building. “We’re completely landlocked,” Siegel said.

Also, the tight turning radius at the intersection is hazardous when Powell Lane is lined with parked cars, the HOA states. And that’s a safety issue, as emergency vehicles will have a hard time reaching Lakeside Plaza.

The MDLUC had already agreed to support Stanley Martin’s rezoning request at its last meeting, but at that time didn’t know about Lakeside’s concerns.

Stanley Martin had to seek a rezoning to build five additional townhouses – for a total of 85 – on a third of an acre it acquired in 2014 long after the rest of the property had already been rezoned. The company’s rezoning application calls for that property to be changed from R-3 to PH-16. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the rezoning application on April 20.

The Lakeside Plaza HOA is requesting that parking be prohibited on Powell Lane to allow for four lanes of traffic, that restriping be done on Powell Lane and the Columbia Pike intersection, and that Powell Lane be repaved.

Robert Brant, an attorney with Walsh Colluci who represents Stanley Martin, said the Virginia Department of Transportation isn’t likely to approve a no-parking rule on Powell Lane. The street is too narrow for four lanes anyway, as it’s only 36 feet wide and VDOT requires lanes to be at least 10 feet wide.

As an alternative, he proposed asking VDOT to ban street parking along one side of Powell, install a sign saying “do not block the intersection,” and repave the street.

The conflict highlights the increasing scarcity of parking in new developments. When there are aren’t enough guest spots, spillover parking crowds neighborhood streets, leading to the creation of more restricted parking zones.

The MDLUC decided not to reverse its decision to endorse the rezoning, which is contingent on a favorable report from Planning and Zoning Department staff. That report is expected to be published April 5.

The Powell Lane issue will likely be addressed in the staff report, as well as at the public hearing. That report is also expected to spell out proffers from the developer to support schools, parks, and affordable housing. 


  1. Haven't they jammed enough town homes down there? Sheesh.

    The only viable place that I see for spillover parking is in Lake Barcroft, across Columbia Pike from where Ambrose is situated. Otherwise, they are surrounded by entities that only allow for private parking - Lakeside Plaza, and other various apartment and townhome complexes. Great planning there!

    Powell Lane used to be completely overgrown and full of parked boats and trailers. I'd say its aesthetics have improved now, but not at a steep price to the residents of Lakeside Plaza.

  2. So I once toured Lakeside Plaza looking to buy a condo. I hated the layout of the building, very cumbersome. However, I also got the feel that it was a hotel. Does anyone know if in fact Lakeside Plaza was once a hotel?

  3. No. Never a hotel. It is however a great home with great amenities and if you like a great view of either the Lake or wish to see way above the trees over the park behind us. The unit spaces will never be described as "micro" either!
    It is also currently undergoing a makeover - paint, carpet, etc., to make it all shiny again!

    1. I just saw one unit. Supposedly two bedrooms. One bedroom was okay size the other was the size of a large closet.

  4. Maybe instead of more townhouses they could accommodate some convenient, useful retail for the community.

  5. They need to put community parking spaces in the new development. There is literally NO parking in it. They just jammed as many places as they could in there. They need to put more SFH in these spaces and less cramped communities or a mix.