|The Glavis home|
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.”
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.|
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.
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.