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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Opponents of using Brooks Place to access new homes are totally wrong, says George Glavis

The Glavis home
George Glavis, the former owner of the property on Sleepy Hollow Road where a new housing development is under construction, disagrees with certain Lake Barcroft and Malbrook residents who argue the use of a small private road to access the new houses is illegal. 

The Gulick Group is building 18 single-family houses on a property bounded by Sleepy Hollow Road, Malbrook Drive, and Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church. The development is called Hudson Quarter. The plan calls for the new homeowners to access the community from Brooks Place.

The old house on the property where Glavis grew up will stay in the family. It will be rebuilt because the existing structure is beyond economical repair. 

A sleepy country road

When his parents bought the old 1911 farmhouse with a stone foundation dating to the Civil War period, Sleepy Hollow was a dirt road lined with trees and a few farms. 

Seven Corners was known as Fort Buffalo back then, and Glavis remembers walking through ridge fort embankments overlooking a Studebaker dealership below. The AT&T communication line along Sleepy Hollow Road connecting Washington and Richmond was built in 1918.

Glavis secured the communications right of way several years ago which allowed the nine-acre property, which was zoned R-2, to be developed by right. 

The adjacent Malbrook subdivision is also zoned R-2 but has covenants that restrict property owners from having less than one acre.  

The subdivision roads were lawfully deeded to Fairfax County for public use following World War II. A Malbrook covenant that restricts those roads for private use is illegal, Glavis says, along with another covenant that bars ownership to people of color. 

State law overrules covenants

When Malbrook residents sued to block construction of the eight houses on Brooks Place in 2015, the court overturned the covenant, allowing public use of the county-owned road. 

“A vain attempt to further argue private road maintenance on Brooks Place, which was deeded to Fairfax County during creation of the subdivision, is also wrong,” Glavis says. “There is no record of anybody purchasing part of Brooks Place from Fairfax County. It continues to be owned by Fairfax County together with all the other subdivision roads.”

Related story: Residents fighting plans to designate a small private road as the only access point to new housing development

He says that road was originally known as Wedderburn Place. The name “Malbrook” reflects the developers of the subdivision, Doug Brooks and Frank Malace.

Brooks built his home at the end of Wedderburn Place, and while engaged in politics, had the name changed to Brooks Place, Glavis says. Brooks and a neighbor apparently signed an agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation telling VDOT the upper section of the road no longer needed to be state maintained, thus becoming a “private” road. 

“Actually, it became a narrow drive with expanded yards on public land without added taxes,” he says. “Our property connected to that end of the road. We used it for egress and ingress. My widowed mother was never informed of that illegal agreement. She was furious when later told Malbrook residents controlled access to her place. As stated, it was county owned, and still is.”

Site preparation is under way for the new housing development.
Glavis contends that recent comments by a Malbrook resident to the Annandale Blog about the Brooks Place issue are “misleading and inflammatory.”

The eight homes built at the end of Brooks Place have a single access point. That road, Brooks Place, was designated by VDOT as the access point for the Hudson Quarter homes under construction, he says. 

“This was confirmed by VDOT in 2016 when their official emphatically stated ‘you must connect to Brooks Place.’ Most important, covenants do not overrule law as this Malbrook resident tries to mandate,” Glavis says.

“It would be a shame if certain wealthy and politically connected Malbrook and Lake Barcroft residents could overturn the legal and ethical process that Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross has maintained,” he says. 

New intersection not feasible

The opponents of using Brooks Place as the only way to access Hudson Quarter want VDOT to create a new access point on Sleepy Hollow Road. 

Glavis contends they “are trying to force an intersection for eight cars per hour on a very busy roadway just so they can keep their fiefdoms and private roads.” He notes the VDOT road design requirement is 10 vehicles per day per home.

Those residents claim that the important VDOT decision to designate access through Brooks Place is an administrative decision that can be easily reversed. Glavis believes that is an attempt “by selfish people who conveniently ignore regulations.” 

Any proposed Sleepy Hollow Road intersection would violate statutory distance requirements, he says, because the Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church is too close in one direction and the hill and curve are too close in the other direction.

Related story: Lake Barcroft, Malbrook residents oppose access plan for new houses on Sleepy Hollow Road

The new development will include significant efforts to preserve natural resources, Glavis says. 

“With assistance from Supervisor Gross, the land will continue to have 25 percent open space with trees as you now see while driving on Sleepy Hollow Road,” he says. “Rain runoff will also be greatly reduced with underground storage which allows water to soak into the dirt instead of washing away valuable topsoil.” 

And, he adds, a new sidewalk planned for Sleepy Hollow Road would require the removal of trees, whether the new homes are built or not. 

9 comments:

  1. Sounds like a much needed boost to the housing supply, and a boon for Justice High School and the entire Justice school pyramid. Attempts to stop responsible land use like this have consequences for those that then have to drive to the outer suburbs for adequate housing. The added hours on the road contributes to air pollution and prevents parents from spending time with their children, coaching youth sports, volunteering in the community, and dozens of other productive endeavors. Further, in a school pyramid laden with at risk kids and families, boosting the number of parents willing and able to support the schools acts as an equity multiplier for all kids. It seems to me that this is where the rubber meats to road, if you won't support endeavors that will have clear benefits for the most at risk among us, take down your meaningless yard sign, proclaiming to all that drive by, how wonderful you are.

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    1. Not sure what the connection to Justice is- what makes you think that the kids of these incoming 17 houses will go there? And how do 1.2 to 1.5M homes (as advertised) help the "most at risk among us"?

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    2. This comment sounds like it was written by the developer. Agree with Anon 6:27pm.

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  2. Interesting perspective and nice spin by George. The land has been clear cut with no attention to old growth preservation. The 25% reference is the parcel he is retaining for himself. The only one selfish here is the heir of an estate with no regard for his neighbors.

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  3. This opinion is hardly unbiased. Seems to me like Mr. Glavis, who clearly stands to gain from this development, is simply trying to justify stabbing his neighbors in the back.

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  4. The developers were very clever and deceptive. They put up large signs indicating "Tree Preservation Zone" or something to that effect. It foster the belief that some of those big beautiful old-growth trees would be preserved. But little by little, more and more of them were cut, leaving the land clear cut -- as a previous comment noted.

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  5. Much more to come, but remember Mr Glavis was formally the DEVELOPER, who along with his wife, also a County Supervisor, got personal help from our Supervisor, Penny Gross, to get approval for an illegal plan that VDOT rejected for its explicit violations of the State code. How did that get reversed? No one has offered any explanation. A July 11, 2018 meeting called and chaired by Supervisor Gross on behalf of George Glavis excluded the VDOT engineer that rejected the plan but included Glavis' wife. How does this stuff happen? Thank God for FOIA and email records, otherwise we would never know. Keep asking - you are right - this is wrong - and the politicians need to answer for it.

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  6. "Any proposed Sleepy Hollow Road intersection would violate statutory distance requirements, he says, because the Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church is too close in one direction and the hill and curve are too close in the other direction."

    What are the statutory distance requirements? Churches can be close to intersections. If the church driveway is the issue, why not change how the church is accessed from Sleepy Hollow? It seems like this dispute could be resolved amicably given enough money. Maybe the neighbors who don't want access from Brooks Place could chip in somehow.

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  7. I don't live in that neighborhood but do dog walk there. There are no sidewalks so everyone must walk in the road. That neighborhood has a lot of dog owners so there are always people walking in that neighborhood. Both Brooks Place and Glavis Rd (connects Malbrook and Brooks Place) are very narrow roads and not intended for the amount of traffic that would be leaving the new "neighborhood" that is being created. Pedrestrian safety is also very concerning. I feel sorry for any of the houses that are on those 2 streets. There really should be an entrance off of Sleepy Hollow Rd.

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