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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Christopher Land proposal for 55+ community deferred indefinitely by Planning Commission

The site of a proposed independent living community along Gallows Road.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission on Feb. 13 deferred indefinitely a decision on Christopher Land LLC’s application for a zoning special exception to allow a 72-unit housing development targeted to the 55+ population on Gallows Road.

That’s a huge victory for nearby residents who strongly opposed the project, citing the negative impact on traffic and the character of the lower-density surrounding community.

Julie Strandlie, the planning commissioner representing Mason District, made the motion to defer the decision indefinitely, which was unanimously approved. Strandlie said she appreciates the community involvement; “Your voices were heard.”

A key sticking point was Christopher Land’s failure to get the Virginia Department of Transportation to approve a traffic signal on Gallows Road.

The developer will continue to work with VDOT on that, Strandlie said, but regardless of whether a signal is approved, “it would have to be installed before they break ground, and even if there is a light, it doesn’t mean the application will be approved.”

Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner (Providence) said he came to the meeting prepared to oppose the application, noting that both the Mason District Land Use Committee and the Mason District Council came out against it.

He called the proposal for an independent living facility “the right idea in the wrong location.” Having it so close to another facility for seniors (Brightview Senior Living) “establishes a precedent to introduce greater density,” he said.

Niedzielski-Eichner also said the proposed project – and especially the 48-unit multifamily building – would be out of character with the neighborhood and cited concerns with access and egress and safety issues for pedestrians on Gallows Road.

Other commissioners raised concerns about the lack of walkability for prospective residents, that the backs of the townhouses would face Gallows Road, and that the developer failed to consolidate the whole property, as one of the current owners refused to sell.

5 comments:

  1. Thank goodness! Much appreciation to Edith Macarthur and others who have attended many meetings, organized residents, and kept up the pressure on local govt planners.

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  2. GOOD! This would have been a disaster. I'm glad our voices were heard.

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  3. The residents who lived around the nominated property fought so hard against this proposal, you would have thought it was their full-time job. The residents learned the land use process in a hurry and were able to argue their concerns based on the county's own zoning ordinance. They were amazing. The development would have been disastrous for the area and the developer would have been long gone. Also, everyone owes a special Thank You to the Providence Planning Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner. Mr. N.-E. understood the residents' concerns and he challenged the developer to respond to the residents issues along with his own learned land use concerns. The developer was only trying to get as much density as possible. I wish Mr. N.-E. was running for Supervisor in Mason District, but the Providence District residents will get a knowledgeable and professional supervisor when they elect him. Providence District has been lucky to have had Supervisor Linda Smythe; she has been a great supervisor and I'm sure Mr. Niedzielski-Eichner will be just as good!

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  4. I attended the November meeting and have followed the progress of this proposal through my neighborhood HOA, Blogspot (thank you, Ellie!), Nextdoor.com, and occasional emails from Mason District.

    FOLKS, THIS DEVELOPMENT IS NOT DEAD. The decision has simply been postponed pending studies for a traffic light on Gallows Road at the entrance to the proposed development, across the street from Hemlock Drive.

    Julie Strandlie and Penny Gross still need to hear from residents who are concerned about the impact this facility would have, including damage to the environment and wildlife, water runoff and flooding, the continuity of character in the immediate region (it is NOT the peaceful little villa that Christopher Land is claiming), and of course, traffic problems that a single light will never, ever cure.

    You can reach Julie Strandlie, Mason District Planning Commissioner, at Plancom@fairfaxcounty.gov

    Supervisor Penny Gross: Mason@fairfaxcounty.gov

    Please, if you're even the tiniest bit bothered, write to them!! (Kvetching about Penny means NOTHING if you do not SPEAK UP TO HER.) Remember to include the application number SE#2018-MA-005 on your submission.

    --KDA

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  5. GREAT NEWS! This gives me encouragement that democracy and media still work. Thanks to the A.B. for informing the citizens in a timely manner on these meetings. It was truly inspiring to see the people take a stand for balanced and harmonious communities. It's time to stop destroying what we have for the vain promises of consultants and "slick sheets."

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