The road to approval of the Stanley Martin residential project in Centreville has been a long and rocky one. It's been dotted with research, controversy, meetings, compromises, deferrals — and even an archaeological study.
But on Monday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors finally gave it its blessing, paving the way for construction of a new community partly in Centreville's Historic District. Composed of some four dozen luxury homes, it will be called The Village at Mount Gilead.
"I'm comfortable with it," said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully). "I think, in the long run, bringing new residential development in and adjacent to the Historic District will help create a sense of vibrancy — of bringing the district alive. Clearly, there's not much there now; it needs something."
The new neighborhood will be built near Wharton Lane and Mount Gilead Road. Planned are single-family, detached homes built in a neotraditional and Colonial-style. They'll be 2,200-4,000 square feet and are proposed to sell for $400,000 and up.
The homes will have two-car garage entrances in back and will face private streets. Fronts and porches will mainly face Mount Gilead Road and Wharton Lane, and homeowners could turn their basements and attics into extra rooms.
Stanley Martin needed the county's OK to have the property rezoned from its current zoning of one home per acre to as much as eight homes per acre. (The actual proposal only calls for slightly more than six homes per acre).
Civil War earthworks near the center of the site will be preserved
as a special feature of the new community. The proposal also calls for historic markers, plus a split-rail fence around the earthworks to protect and define them.
There'll be a gazebo there, too, plus a pathway for the public. And the county Park Authority's Cultural Resources Protection Branch will maintain and preserve that area — especially the earthworks.
The project was recommended for approval by both the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee and the county Planning Commission. And on March 4, county staff also gave it a green light, stating that The Village at Mount Gilead is in harmony with the county's Comprehensive Plan
But resident Larry Baldwin of Centreville Farms didn't believe the earthworks would be adequately protected. He also contended that some semblance of the forts that once stood on that site should be preserved and memorialized.
Thunderbird Archaeological Associates Inc. of Woodstock, Va., then conducted an archaeological survey of that area, in February. But the results didn't bear out Baldwin's claims. Stanley Martin already planned to preserve the historically significant earthworks, and the only old map showing a fort placed it outside the area of the proposed rezoning.
"There was no perfect option, and the developer had worked with the community for a long time," said Frey. "And, while there were some differences, there were quite a few that supported it — the WFCCA, the county's Architectural Review Board and the Historic Centreville Society."
So did Centreville historian Dennis Hogge. "These will be the first dwellings to be built in the Historic District in several generations, and creating an old-town concept is in keeping with the [Comprehensive] Plan." said Hogge. "It's actually going to be real nice."
As for Frey, he's glad to have the whole issue resolved and believes that things will work out fine. Now, he said, "We just need to focus on the rest of the vacant property [there]. Certainly, [a priority is] getting a permanent plan adopted for the Mount Gilead House and the property around it and trying to make it a focal point for the community."