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Friday, November 9, 2018

Neighbors launch letter-writing campaign against Gallows Road development

Dozens of people turn out for meeting on a high-density development in their community. 
Residents of Holmes Run Acres, Windy Ridge, Lafayette Village, and Raintree are urging county leaders to reject plans for a 55+ housing development on Gallows Road across from Woodburn Elementary School.

About 40 neighbors gathered at the school Nov. 8 for a community meeting convened by Edith MacArthur, president of the Holmes Run Acres Citizen Association. They intend to write letters and call members of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors and bring a large crowd to the next meeting of the Mason District Land Use Committee on Nov. 27.

Flooding at Raintree in 2006. [Gerry Andrianopoulos]
The main objection of residents is that the high-density, 72-unit project would be out of character with surrounding single-family neighborhoods. They also raised concerns about traffic on Gallows Road, the loss of trees, and other issues.

In 2017, Christopher Land LLC withdrew a proposal for 66 townhouses on a 9-acre triangular-shaped property between Gallows Road, Libeau Lane, and the Raintree condominium after county planning and zoning staff recommended that the project not go forward.

Christopher Land revised its proposal and is now calling for 12 two-story townhouses along Gallows Road, 12 two-story detached single-family homes near Libeau Lane, and a four-story multifamily building with 48 units in the middle of the property.

Christopher Land has agreements to purchase 18 of the 19 existing homes on the site if the project is approved.

The earlier proposal called for an expedited amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Plan. The planning staff agreed with residents’ argument that the project would not conform with language in the Comprehensive Plan that calls for new projects to be compatible with the character of the surrounding community, which is mostly single-family homes on large lots.

Christopher Land subsequently found a loophole, which allows developers to seek a zoning special exception – rather than a plan amendment – if they build a community for people age 55 and older in a residential area, MacArthur said. There’s an easier approval process for a special exception.

The county allows higher density for senior housing, she said, because the county is expecting a “silver tsunami” of an increasingly aging population.

Setting an age limit of 55 was also designed to calm concerns about school overcrowding. But only one person who signs the deed has to be 55, meaning younger people could live there, MacArthur noted. Also, there are plenty of 55-year-olds with school-age children.

Several people at the meeting complained about existing backups on Gallows Road during the morning rush hours. Concerns were also raised about the developer’s plan to have only one access point to the property, which means if it’s blocked by an accident or fallen tree, the new residents will be trapped.

All the new pavement planned – for driveways, roads, and homes on the property – will exacerbate flooding, MacArthur added. The recent rains caused major flooding in Raintree, with some cars inundated up to their windows.

Whether this project is approved or not, “something is going to happen there,” she said. Developers don’t need county approval if they want to build one or two mcmansions per acre.

That would not be optimal – McArthur prefers smaller single-family homes – but would be more compatible with the surrounding area. A high-density project, with eight homes per acre, she said, “is just not acceptable.”


Anonymous said...

The loss of trees is an issue that's had its day. Just look at Sleepy Hollow Rd. Mason is destined to become a seamless urban extension of Arlington. If you want to live in a bucolic setting, move to Fauquier. - Sparky

Anonymous said...

I don't live in Holmes Run Acres, but I'd like to lend my voice and support. This is an entirely inappropriate development for that spot, and Christopher Companies knows it, and is just trying to shoehorn in whatever they can.

Anonymous said...

Loss of trees is an issue that still incredibly relevant to quality of life & the environment. Big cities are now paying big $$$ trying to bring back a tree canopy - why lose what we have because someone wants to make a buck, make them work with the landscape, environment & community if they want to build here.

Anonymous said...

Not necessarily. Citizens have the right to disagree and this is the only point in time where they actually have a say in the process. Once the trees come down it is too late. Land use is an opaque process that needs fresh eyes & ideas and lots of sunshine. Don't relinquish that ability to have input to status quo. But it takes participation and work.

Jeffrey Longo said...

“Just look at sleepy hollow road”... uh, yeah... I live right off of it. It has TONS of trees. The amount of power outages we have due to trees and branches falling on sleepy hollow backs that up.

Not sure where you are going there sparky.

Judi Booker said...

Further, Fairfax County's Tree Action Plan, found here,
calls for an increase in tree canopy of 45% from 2007 to 2037. Cutting down mature trees and replacing them with understory trees, which is what would likely be installed, just doesn't make any sense!

Anonymous said...

Yea and all the new immigrants keep cutting the older trees down when they buy a house. The tree canopy will decrease by 45% because there are no laws to protect the trees!

Jeffrey Longo said...

My neighbor is an immigrant. They haven't cut down a single tree. Previous neighbors up the street were white people, and they cleared their lot of mature trees in a tree protection zone to the point that they got sued by the county.

Anonymous said...

Ignorant trash does not have an ethnic group or color. But the less educated, that flock to our area have a higher propensity for disrespecting nature.

Denny Jay said...

The traffic on Gallows is already dangerous, increasing density is just stupid. There is no justification for this project other than a money grab for the short term by the Fx Board. In the long run it just costs the citizens of Fairfax more money and reduces the quality of life. I guess the county will be happy when all of Fairfax looks like Manhattan.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if any trees will be left if these lots sell individually.

Anonymous said...

Then, we, as taxpayers and citizens, need to get organized. Major props to the citizens who are trying to do that here. Join them. Try to attend at least one public hearing. Write a letter or email to supervisors and other relevant FFX gov entities. And, crucially, don't vote on party lines when the likes of Penny Gross or Bulova are up for re-election. Consider alternate candidates who have the best interests of Mason and FFX in mind.

Anonymous said...

And there are not good improvements for mass transit in the area planned. And dont tell me we have busses. The busses cannot make their schedules because the busses get caught up in rush hour traffic. If I am going to sit in traffic I may as well be in the comfort of my car screaming to myself how terrible Bulova and Gross are when it comes to these matters and taking care of Mason residents. Get us some good metro alternatives and then we can talk about increased density. Until then I will vote for my dog before I vote for the likes of them. Neither one of them has the will power to increase metro access or the vision to smartly grow the area.

Anonymous said...

Well if the County spent our hard earned tax revenue on installing underground utilities rather than on illegals we would have less power outages.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather the County not spend tax revenue on installing underground utilities. Perhaps the private utilities could/should do that, but it can come from their coffers.

Jason Anderson said...

You can still lend your voice by emailing these individuals:

Jason Anderson said...

This is a land grab pure and simple. A similar proposal by the same developer was rejected in 2017. Now the company is trying to sneak this in using a "Special Exception" rule and calling it a so-called older adult community. If the developer really cared about older adults that would have been his first proposal. Instead they are seeking several waivers to reduce the age from 62 to 55 and lesson distance between houses to a bare minimum to shoehorn as many people as possible into this property. It is in no way "harmonious" to the surrounding neighborhoods as the Special Exception Guidelines require and as is noted in the master development plan for FFX County. Shame on the Penny Gross and the Board of Supervisors for letting this bait-and-switch end around proposal get this far.

Anonymous said...

Check out the three lots between Woodburn Elementary School and Holmes Run Acres pool. There were trees. Now there are none.

And the property across Gallows Road which is now Brightview Senior Living was filled with trees. The only ones that remain are at the back of the property along Aston Street. There was a tree-save plan, but it resulted in epic fail.

No one is being held accountable for these actions.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this is a land grab and ANOTHER money grab by the county. No road improvements (except those by private companies charging ridiculous tolls), no sidewalk improvements, no planning, no increase in services -- yet our real estate taxes continue to RISE. This development will basically sit at the gateway to Annandale on Gallows Rd where there is already tremendous congestion. Let's take a look at the increase in accidents and pedestrian incidents. It's a choke point! If this development is going forward, PLEASE PLEASE look at ways to improve the traffic AND ways for pedestrians and bikers to get through this area. Plan for the future not just for the now.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article from this Blog dated September 17, 2010, which noted a Pond Project at 7820 Libeau Lane - $988,000 to create a new pond.

How can this property now be suitable for an Over-55 housing development?

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