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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Conservation group wants to prevent development of vacant Annandale properties

The Annandale properties up for auction are outlined in yellow.
Fairfax County has put seven adjoining properties totaling 6.7 acres in Mason District up for auction. The land is adjacent to Accotink Creek, and the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) is scrambling to acquire the land so it can’t be developed. 

The seven parcels are clustered around Spicewood Court in Annandale. There are no houses on the lots. 

The owner, the Al Root Memorial Foundation, stopped paying taxes years ago, so Fairfax County assumed ownership of the land and will auction it off to the highest bidder.  

The land is in a floodplain so it’s questionable whether it can be developed, but it’s not impossible, said NVCT Executive Director Alan Rowsome. 

The NVCT is a nonprofit land trust, based in Annandale, that works to preserve land for wildlife habitat and public access. The organization tried to buy the lots but was unable to contact the foundation. 

“It’s rare to find so much undeveloped land in Mason District,” Rowsome said. “It should be protected.” 

All of the properties are zoned R-2, meaning someone can build two houses per acre. Theoretically, a developer who acquires all seven lots could build 14 homes. 

Fairfax County publishes a list of delinquent real estate up for auction four times a year. Bidding for the current auction, which includes the Spicewood properties, opened Oct. 19 and will close 11 a.m. on Nov. 9.

The largest property, 8400 Spicewood Court, which encompasses part of Accotink Creek and the Cross County Trail, has a 2020 assessed value of $33,000, according to Fairfax County tax records.

This land is up for auction.
The assessed values of the other properties are $13,000 (8403 Spicewood Court), $17,000 (8401), $18,000 (8407 and 8411), $23,000 (8402), and $24,000 (8406). 

“NVCT is raising funds to bid on and hopefully acquire these lots,” Rowsome said. The organization wants to make sure the trail and the stream are still accessible to the public and the rest of the properties will continue to serve as a wooded buffer between Accotink Stream Valley Park and a residential neighborhood near Woodburn Road.

NVCT is seeking donations and could dip into its reserves to buy the properties at auction. “We’re very committed to this,” Rowsome said. They would also like to work with the Park Authority or another entity interested in buying and retaining the properties as a nature preserve. 

“This is a key resource for our community that should never be developed and cannot fall into the wrong hands,” NVCT states.

“We don’t want someone to buy the land who is not interested in environmental stewardship,” Rowsome said. “We’re urging anyone interested to call us and consider working with us.” Contact the NVCT at 703-354-5093 or


  1. You can donate here:

  2. These parcels are surrounded on three sides by Accotink Stream Valley Park and for all practical purposes are already a functional part of that park. Portions of four of the lots are actually underwater where Accotink Creek passes through. Sale to private interests who hope to build in spite of the restrictions and flood danger would likely lead to extended legal conflict. The Board of Supervisors should simply take possession in lieu of unpaid taxes and make the parcels part of the Accotink Stream Valley Park for the benefit of all citizens.
    - Friends of Accotink Creek - -

  3. Isn't this the same area where the creek floods over Woodbutn Rd and closes it down every time we get a heavy rain...? Great selling feature.

  4. Just say no! The County is not smart enough to keep individuals from building unsustainable giant carbon footed monsters. Has anyone seen the white elephant on Braddock Road being built by the owner. It's 4000 SF of helium and looks like its about to role down its hill. This is Fairfax's future, thanks to the County's brilliant and self-destructive leadership.

  5. This is another opportunity for the county to retain green space that should not be squandered. Like the 10 acre Glavis property on Sleepy Hollow Road, the county's own consultants, in their report on the Cameron Run Watershed in 2007, recommended acquiring that property and the owner wished at that time that the property be saved. Unfortunately, the county did not acquire it, and private developers who acquired it clear cut 10 acres of mature trees for 18 homes, and destroyed habitat for numerous species of wildlife. Since the Accotink property is already in the county's hands, why not just keep it as parkland?


    As a resident of Annandale, I hope and pray with every fiber of my being that this unnecessary development does not happen. Thank you for all that you do, NVCT!

  7. You are living in fantasy land if you think the county will do anything except pander to developers.

  8. I walk that area of the trail almost daily, including right after a heavy rain. Almost all of that area has the long grass bent down from being flooded, I cannot fathom how they would build property there.