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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Residents come out in force against 55+ housing development on Gallows Road

Residents of Holmes Run Acres and nearby communities oppose a housing development on Gallows Road.
Residents of Holmes Run Acres and nearby communities packed a meeting of the Mason District Land Use Committee Sept. 25 to oppose a plan for a 72-unit housing development on Gallows Road.

The biggest concern is traffic, but neighbors also cited potential problems with parking, stormwater, and the negative impact on the character of surrounding communities.

A layout of the proposed Woodburn Manor development.  
Christopher Land LLC is seeking a zoning special exception to build a condominium restricted to residents age 55 and older on a 9-acre property across from Woodburn Elementary School.

The project would consist of a four-story multifamily building with 48 units, 12 two-story townhouses, and 12 two-story detached single-family homes, said Christopher Land’s representative Lori Greenlief, a senior land use planner with McGuire Woods.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for Dec. 6.

Edith MacArthur, the president of the Holmes Run Acres Civic Association and speaking on behalf of “every nearby neighborhood,” told the MDLUC the project is “wholly out of character” with the surrounding area, which is all single-family homes except for the adjacent Raintree community.

The Raintree homeowners association board also opposes the project, stating on its website that it “will be the most negatively impacted.”

Representatives of Christopher Land present their proposal to the Mason District Land Use Committee.
Many people in the audience held up “R-2” signs in support of keeping the density of that property at two units per acre.

“The scale is huge,” MacArthur said. “A project like this belongs in Ashburn. It does not belong here.” She noted the county’s Comprehensive Plan calls for “stable neighborhoods and a harmonious and attractive environment.”

MacArthur also raised concerns with noise, air, and light pollution; flooding from stormwater; increased traffic on Gallows Road, which is already congested with commuters; cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets; and the loss of trees.

If there is such a great need for 55-plus housing, she suggested, why not repurpose some of the nearby vacant office buildings?

If the project is approved, Christopher Land would purchase and consolidate the 19 properties on the site. All but one homeowner agreed to sell.

Christopher Land had previously proposed building up to 76 townhouses on that property, which also was strongly opposed by nearby residents. The company withdrew that proposal in May 2017 after the Fairfax County Planning and Zoning Department found that level of density incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood. Mason Supervisor Penny Gross asked the company to come up with a more appropriate design.

According to Greenlief, a 55-plus community would not have an impact on local schools and would not cause much of an increase in traffic.

The proposed Woodburn Manor community would be designed so residents could age in place, Greenlief said. The homes would have a master suite and kitchen on the first floor. And because it would be organized as a condo, all outside maintenance and yard work would be done by a contractor, even for the single-family homes. 

There would be just one point of access to the community, on Gallows Road at Hemlock Drive. Nine existing driveways along Gallows would be eliminated. Christopher Land is negotiating with VDOT to try and get a traffic light installed there.

The view from Gallows Road five years after the project is completed.
Five acres – 60 percent of the property – would be green space, Greenlief said. Outdoor amenities would include a fire pit, outside dining area, a community garden, and game area.

The multifamily building would have underground parking. The development would have a total of 181 parking spaces.

At least one person in each home would have to be 55 or older. That rule would be in the deed and enforceable by the condo association. 


  1. Put the units in Baileys, other developers don't want to touch it with a 10' pole.

    1. Great idea and an excellent location for a facility like this.

  2. The developer tried this approach and was soundly rejected. This is just a land grab with a different wrapping and a different approach. If the developer really cared about creating a 55+ community he would have done it in the first place. By all accounts this violates several principles of the FFX Country comprehensive plan. Put this in Baileys, Annandale, Merrifield where large scale planned developments are specified to go in the comprehensive plan

  3. We dont need more traffic on Gallows by the school.
    There are other areas that this can be done in that won't impact this area

  4. And how does this work with the planned Exxon site development? Unless they can solve the traffic issues at Gallows & 495 & 50 I think this is extremely unwise, one more traffic light won't solve the problem. I agree that anywhere would be better than this particular location. It will have a huge impact on everyone else who lives there or who drives to work. This Christopher company seems fixated on this site at all costs to everyone else while they line their pockets. I hope they get over it and move on.

  5. This plan is even worse than the last one. Just what we need, "cut down the trees, put in a parking lot, won't know what you lost till its gone"

  6. Since their last plan was incompatible with the density of the surrounding neighborhoods, what makes them think that this is compatible? That number of units is ridiculous for that plot of land. Requiring one person in the home to be 55+ does not mean there won't be children and an impact on the schools.

  7. Let me get this straight, the neighbors originally opposed a large scale development on R 2 zoned property. So Penny suggests that the company "come up with a more appropriate design". The developer's response is a plan with more units under the guise of a a 55 or older community since one resident per unit must be 55. That's a joke. Real communities for residents 55 or older have strict criteria concerning age, number of residents, income and frequently offer health care options and amenities geared to older adults. Check out Sunrise and Leisure World. This is simply an attempt to make a large development on land zoned for single family homes more palatable. All the density concerns mentioned will not be alleviated by having one resident 55 years or older per unit. And who's going to monitor the age of the "residents'?

    1. There are strict regulations regarding fair housing, therefore, no children will be allowed or anyone under 55. There will be monitoring & over-site of the housing.

  8. Nice idea, wrong location9/26/18, 7:19 PM

    Christopher Land’s representative Lori Greenlief, a senior land use planner with McGuire Woods, is the same representative that herded the Brightview Senior Living project through Special Exception .... even as the same surrounding neighborhoods complained of similar affects.

    The third photo above is hilarious. You can bet - There won't be trees lining Gallows Road. These developers always have some beautiful graphic depicting the area as bucolic and in tune with nature. It won't be farther from the truth.

    Brightview was required to keep a large proportion of the existing (rare, old) trees. This project was finalized in the Spring of 2016. There are zero (0) trees left lining the sidewalk along Gallows Road. Epic fail.

    The biggest problem with this area is traffic! It continues to build, more accidents along this stretch of roadway, more speeding, greater back-ups, and no relief in sight. Approving any development which increases the density anywhere along Gallows Road will positively create gridlock.

    Vote NO.

  9. We do NOT need more density on Gallows Road! Let's stop developers (and some residents) from chopping down every last old growth tree in Annandale. Don't buy the argument that trees are "renewable resources" -- that only holds true if you are able to sit around and wait for 50 years. Whoever the last holdout in that parcel is, PLEASE save our neighborhood -- keep your property from falling into the hands of Christopher Robbin' (the people of harmony).

  10. This is just as bad as the previous submission. Wonder if their logic is "aim high, settle low"?

    I doubt it, they're trying to pack in as many in as they can .

  11. To Anonymous 9/27/18 11:16

    Fair housing regulations and bona fide senior residence facilities are two different things.

    Stating that one resident 55 years or older in a unit designates it as a "senior residence" is inaccurate and impossible to enforce.

    In fact, my guess is that many of the thousands of apartments and multifamily homes in Mason District may currently have one or more residents 55 years or older. Are they therefore de facto "senior residences"?

    Is the proposed development supposed to be a true Senior Residence facility like Sunrise or simply another developer effort to increase density? A little honesty can go a long way.

    In either case, the plan appears to be too intense for the property
    with minimal consideration of its impact on traffic and the environment.