|A dump truck on Washington Drive. [Dan Rosenstein]|
Under those proffers, outdoor construction is not permitted on Sundays or holidays, construction vehicles are not allowed to park on Washington Drive or Charles Street or use those streets south of the construction site to access the property.
Neighborhood residents have complained repeatedly over the past months that those rules are being violated and sent photos and videos documenting violations to county supervisors, other county officials, and Spectrum.
Dan Rosenstein, whose home on Washington Drive is just two houses away from the future shopping center, has taken pictures of large dump trucks parked in front of his neighbor’s house and has seen construction trucks coming down his street every day. The trucks don’t slow down for speed bumps, rattling his house.
About three weeks ago, he called the police after hearing beeping from a construction vehicle early on a Sunday morning. The police came right away but told Rosenstein that proffer violations are a civil matter that needs to be addressed in court.
Lt. Michael Tucker, the assistant commander of the Mason Police Station, told the Annandale Blog on May 22 that the police doesn’t have the authority to enforce proffers unless there is a law on the books that is being violated. If there aren’t official signs banning trucks, the police can’t give them tickets.
There have been complaints about the unsafe conditions along Route 7 where the developer has put up a fence blocking the sidewalk and pedestrians are walking in the street. [Lt. Tucker noted May 23 that clearly visible signs are now posted, in English and Spanish, warning pedestrians that the sidewalk is closed.]
“The violations have been going on for a year,” says Washington Drive resident Brian Lowit. “The supervisors have stopped responding to our emails. Why do we even have proffers if the county has no interest in actually enforcing them?”
“No one expected the developer would respond. But we expected the county would have our backs,” he said.
In fact, Peter Batten, managing partner at Spectrum Development, told neighbors in an email that construction work on a Sunday was done by a subcontractor and that it won’t happen again. Alan Walstrom, project executive with Balfour Beatty, told residents, “We have made it clear to our contractors that any of their delivery trucks that do not follow the rules will not be allowed back onto our site. We are working hard to make sure that all the proffers are adhered to.”
Fairfax County finally took some action this week. A “notice of deficiency” was sent to Spectrum May 21 advising the company that it is not in compliance with the proffers, said Ed Ballard, a supervising engineering inspector with Land Development Services.
The notice warns the company that if it doesn’t comply within a set time period, a “notice of violation” will be issued, charging an initial fine of about $335, with steeper fines imposed if the problem is not fixed.
It doesn’t matter if the trucks parked on the street belong to a subcontractor; the land owner is ultimately responsible, Ballard said. The notice was filed after he saw photos of trucks parked on Washington Drive.
The Department of Planning and Zoning has additional remedies to deal with proffer violations, such as putting a hold on the construction and not releasing the construction bond, said Kelly Atkinson of the Zoning Evaluation Division.
Steeper fines, beginning at $1,000 and going up from there, could be imposed if the matter goes to court.