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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A shopping center construction project is causing problems for a next-door neighbor

Water runoff from a shopping center under construction on Leesburg Pike toward Washington Drive during last week's rainstorm. [Irene Xenos]
Abdul Bunyas, a resident of 3412 Washington Drive in Bailey’s Crossroads for the past 19 years, says construction of a shopping center next door has caused flooding in his yard and a wall at the rear of the center is encroaching on his property.

The retail center, which is being built by Spectrum Development, will have a CVS, a Sardi’s Peruvian chicken restaurant, Pita Pouch, Burger7 (B7), and a T-Mobile store. It is expected to open by the end of the year, although the CVS could open earlier.

The Shops at Bailey's Crossroads will have a CVS, three restaurants, and a cell phone store.
Nearby residents have repeatedly complained about problems during the construction, including trucks on residential streets, the blocking of a sidewalk along Leesburg Pike, and squatters in vacant houses that were later torn down to make way for the shopping center.

Bunyas and his neighbors feel county officials and the developer are slow to respond to their complaints. Bunyas even hired an attorney to address his concerns, but he believes he is being ignored because he is an immigrant. “We are Indian, so they don’t care. If we were American, it would be different,” he says.

The Bunyas house is on the left. The shopping center parking lot is on the other side of the wall.
According to Bunyas, the builders didn’t install a drainage system in the wall as promised. As a result the heavy rains last week caused his backyard to flood. Another neighbor, Dan Rosenstein, said the builders took out a culvert, so the new wall acts like a dam.

Bunyas put up a temporary fence and a “no trespassing” sign to clearly mark his property line, because he says the wall is supposed to be 10 feet from his property line, while it’s closer than one foot in some places.

He also says a rod sticking out of the ground, which was supposed to be buried, injured his cat. Mimi is recovering after emergency veterinary treatment.

Carl Perdue, a senior engineering inspector with the Fairfax County Site Development and Inspections Division, said on July 30 that additional weep holes will be cut into the wall next to Bunyas’ property. That can’t be done until the ground is graded and stabilized, he says.

Abdul Bunyas is putting up a temporary fence on his property line.
In addition, there are plans for “rip rap energy dissipation,” consisting of stones covered in erosion netting, and new grass to reduce the flow of water from the parking lot and direct it into the street.
To do that, Perdue says, the builder needs to get a wheelbarrow into Bunyas’ side yard but the temporary fence is blocking the contractor’s access. After the drainage issue is addressed, Spectrum is supposed to install new grass and landscaping outside the wall.

Perdue acknowledges the width of the buffer between the wall and the two houses closest to the shopping center property ranges from two to seven feet, but says, “surveyors went with what’s on the approved development plans. There could be a difference between the proposed plan versus what was actually approved.”

Bunyas says he was pushed to sign an easement before the wall was built but refused to sign it, and the wall was built anyway. “They keep damaging my property without asking me,” he says. According to Perdue, the easement allows the developer to landscape and maintain the property between the wall and Bunyas’ backyard.

Most of the exterior work on the shopping center has been done. 
Another resident says the shopping center parking lot, which is asphalt, was supposed to be permeable, which would have controlled runoff better. A permeable parking lot could have been in the conceptual plan for the project, Perdue says, but might not have been in the final plan if it was later determined that the ground wasn’t suitable for porous pavers.

There is a stormwater facility under the shopping center parking lot, but it won’t be fully operational until the project is completed, Perdue says. It should control runoff and prevent flooding “unless there’s a 100-year storm.”


Jameson said...

Mr. Bunyas is incorrect. County officials and developers ignore Americans just as readily. Welcome to the USA, my friend.

Anonymous said...

this Rosenstein guy and the Bunyas guy should have thought about all of this before buying next to a commercial strip.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please! Where is the evidence that he is being ignored because of his race. That comment is exactly why we have a race issue in this country.
County officials are slow to respond to the issue because it is the county.

Anonymous said...

This commercial property developer has been a bad neighbor on a number of issues, including forcing pedestrians to walk in an active traffic lane of Leesburg Pike. I have decided to boycott the businesses at this property to show my displeasure, and send a signal to future development in the area. I hope others will consider doing so as well.

Anonymous said...

The county is slow to respond to everything -- or if they can get out of doing anything at all they will do that. It has nothing to do with race.

Mason Mom said...

He did not buy next to a commercial strip. He bought next to houses the County allowed the commercial property to buy homes and tear them down and rezoned to commercial.

Mason Mom said...

Bunyas you had my sympathy but lost it when you added race into it. Penny supports developers more than residents no matter what race you are.

Anonymous said...

Not true, there was a Geico service center there. Look at the condition of Buyas property, not exactly in pristine condition. Stop all the wining or move. Construction is a messy business and not everything is always as we want it.

We need progress in Baileys. Everytime the suggestion of a project is noted, every NIMBY comes out of the closet and screams. This may not be the answer or the finest development but it is better than what was there before...........a vacant lot with vagrants and a vehicle service center. BTW Route 7 is a commercial strip and needs development badly. The fact that the developer built a masonry screen wall is a sincere attempt to buffer the property from adjoining residents. Other developers would have put a wood fence or just plants.

Jeffrey Longo said...

A couple of points.

I don't think this particular issue has anything to do with race. As I think one commentator was trying to get at, these developers have been ignoring everyone, even supposedly the county. If I were the county, I'd be watching how this development is progressing and put MUCH more stringent development conditions - and consequences for breaking the conditions - on any future proposals by spectrum.

That being said, its so sad to see such knee-jerk reactions to the guy expressing his feelings that he is getting singled out because of his race. Racism and prejudice are back in style like its the 1960s. Local churches are being torn up with swastikas painted on them. white nationalists are parading around streets and emboldened by a president that refuses to whole-heartedly condemn them. This administration's policy for ICE has been to round up pretty much anyone who looks like they don't belong and kick them out without due process, meanwhile drastically limiting the means for legal immigration. That's institutional racism folks.

Maybe Spectrum didn't single him out because his race, but maybe we can afford people of color a little bit of slack if they are feeling a bit picked on because of their race.

Jeffrey Longo said...

@Anonymous 8/1 12:00pm: This guy is literally complaining about how the construction is negatively affecting the condition of his property, and your response is to say "well, look at the condition of his property..."

do you see how circular your logic is?

If the wall was in fact built in the wrong place, then that is a serious issue. No one should have to put up with that for the sake of progress.

Similarly, no one should have to put up with this runoff issue. This issue is easily preventable with proper construction techniques. Any impermeable wall like this needs to have proper drainage, and it looks like the developer didn't install it.

Now, if the guy isn't letting the construction crews install said drainage because of his fence, then that's on him. He may in fact need to allow the construction crews temporary access to a portion of his property to allow the construction, and if he isn't allowing it, then he's just bringing the issues upon himself.

But still... the way this whole development has gone (its been an absolute mess... lets not get started about how they closed off the sidewalk with no workaround, forcing pedestrians into the road), I tend to believe the homeowners are in the right vs the developer.

Dent said...

Progress must come to the area and the sooner the better as time is not being kind to the Bailey’s/7-corners. The demand for space is increasing and all in the area have to adjust. The improvements have been put off to long and must be allowed to move forward. Change is inevitable life is short.

Anonymous said...

So another pharmacy and strip mall is considered "progress"? With empty retail everywhere? This doesn't feel like progress to me. It feels like more uninspired development for the sake of lining the pockets of the develpers who largely contribute to political campaigns.

Mason Mom said...

@ Anonymous8/1/18, 12:00 PM Look up on Google Map 3412 Washington Drive. You will still see the old house between Bunyas house and the Geico building. Mr. Bunyas house did not use to be right next to a shopping center but a residence. The BOS allowed Spectrum to buy a few houses and rezone them into commercial. At one point homeless people moved into the empty houses because Spectrum did not board them up like they are suppose to.

Adam Goldberg said...

Three restaurants too, not sure if that makes it a “strip mall.” Also, why do people hate pharmacies?

Anonymous said...

I don't hate pharmacies, but there is one on every corner and in every grocery store. And empty commercial space everywhere in Fairfax County. It is madness to keep building more while so many sit empty. It's like an alternative universe where the people making the decisions refuse to see what is right in front of them.

Anonymous said...

Amen to the comment above. No creative vision in Fairfax!

Adam Goldberg said...

I suppose there are a lot of reasons not to use existing vacant storefronts, chief among them probably being that they are sad, dingy, and would need to be torn down anyway.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I agree. So why the focus on new development when there is so much redevelopment that needs to be done? The old buildings don't just go away on their own. There are structural issues in our system that need to be addressed and no one has the courage to address them. But paving over everything that is left won't help solve the existing problem, it will still be there when every available lot is filled and then what. We are still blighted and in time all the newer construction starts to look sad, dingy and will need to be torn down also. Even LEED certified buildings only save 12% in energy and buildings in general are the largest energy users, so we just keep building them because that is what we've always done. Taxpayers will pay a high price for all the storm water issues that are being created not to mention people's relationship to the environment which generally consists of calling their landscaper to spray chemicals on our grass lawns. Our collective failure to recognize this is a very big problem. We have a so called "Comprehensive Plan" that we are supposed to be following, yet "special exceptions" are almost always granted so why the plan to begin with? There is no courage here in our leadership and we are all paying for this haphazard approach to development.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bunyas should hire a real estate attorney, have a new survey of his property done and sue the developer for encroachment. He should have received a survey when he purchased the property and he can compare that one with the new one showing any encroachments or easements.

Adam Goldberg said...

Tearing down and building new stuff = redevelopment, I'm not understanding the distinction you're trying to paint here...

Anonymous said...

There is a huge environmental difference. In redevelopment there is less impact necessary because presumably there is infrastructure already there. We have a history of very high impact development -- meaning high impact on the environment -- vs low impact development which has less of an impact on the environment. So rather than build in our protected areas, if we can redevelop the blighted that everyone recognizes a need for being redeveloped it allows us to preserve what little functioning ecosystems we have left.

Adam Goldberg said...

What "protected areas" ? I still don't understand what low-impact redevelopment you're talking about that solves the dingy and sad buildings which won't involve a decent amount of construction. Are we just yelling about the same things here? I think it's really unfortunate what happened to the dude in this story, it seems like a pile of crap, yet at the same time I'm happy new eateries are getting built.

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