|The site proposed for Woodburn Manor, as seen from Libeau Lane.|
The proposed Woodburn Manor project would consist of 72 housing units, including 12 single-family detached houses, 12 townhouses, and 48 units in a five-story multifamily building. Each unit would have to include at least one resident who is 55 or older.
|Libeau Lane would no longer exist if Woodburn Manor is built.|
During the hearing, commissioners raised questions about these issues:
- The impact on traffic along already-congested Gallows Road.
- The impact of the development on surrounding single-family neighborhoods.
- Whether the proposed stormwater controls would be sufficient to prevent flooding in the adjacent Raintree community.
- Whether the HOA created for Woodburn Manor would be sufficiently funded to maintain the stormwater system and other costly needs.
- With only one access point to the community – on Gallows Road – wouldn’t residents have difficulty turning left onto Gallows? (That drew laughter from the audience.)
- Whether some residents who are 55 or younger would have school-age children, straining capacity at Woodburn Elementary.
- The impact on safety as elderly residents try to walk across Gallows Road to catch a bus.
One of the objectives of the Comprehensive Plan calls for Fairfax County to “encourage a land use pattern that protects, enhances, and/or maintains stability in established residential neighborhoods.”
Because the application is seeking a special exception, not a rezoning, the project needs to be “in harmony” with the Comprehensive Plan, said Kelly Atkinson of the Planning and Zoning Department. It doesn’t need to be in “substantial conformance” with the Comprehensive Plan,
Despite the 55+ restriction, John Regan Jr., executive vice president and chief financial officer of Christopher Land, said most residents would be in the 65 to 75-age range and would be doing less driving. A shuttle system would be considered, and a concierge would arrange ride-sharing trips.
Commissioner Julie Strandlie (Mason) raised a concern that residents could use their homes for short-term rentals, especially the larger units with four bedrooms. Regan said that could be prohibited in the HOA rules.
The Mason District Land Use Committee voted in November to urge the Planning Commission to not endorse Woodburn Manor, while residents of Holmes Run Acres and other nearby communities have actively campaigned against the project.
|Some of the houses on Libeau Lane that would be demolished if Woodburn Manor is built.|
Gerry Andrianopoulos, a member of the Raintree HOA board, told the commissioners there is flooding in basements and the parking lot during heavy rains and the addition of more paved surfaces will exacerbate the problem.
Gallows Road resident Rames Rubio, the only homeowner who refused to sell his property to Christopher Land, said he is concerned that increased traffic would lead to more accidents and that the value of his property would decline.
Holmes Run Acres is already “the ultimate aging-friendly community,” said civic association president Edith MacArthur. She warned Woodburn Manor would set a precedent for more high-density development and could be “the tipping point leading to the unraveling of stability of my neighborhood.”
Speaking on behalf of the Mason District Council, Carol Turner said the project doesn’t meet the definition of an independent living facility because it doesn’t provide services for residents.
Clyde Miller, speaking on behalf of Holmes Run Valley Citizens Association, charged the developer is proposing an age-restricted community disguised as an independent living community solely to gain approval of a special exception, so they won’t have to go through a more difficult rezoning process.
Among those who testified in support of the project were several people who own property on Gallows Road or Libeau Lane who would be bought out by Christopher Land or expressed a desire to live in Woodburn Manor.