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County Planning to Hear Exxon Car Wash Proposal

July 18, 2002

<bt>A hearing that will bring the Exxon Corporation before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on July 25 to ask approval for a car wash in McLean will go forward, despite opposition from neighbors.

Last week, the McLean Citizens Association voted not to support the application. After a lengthy debate, the vote was 16-14 against a resolution supporting Exxon’s plan, with several “proffers.” The company wants to add a car wash, larger convenience store, and several gas pumps to its premiere site at the main intersection in McLean’s community business center (CBC).

“We are real proud of what we are proposing,” said Keith Martin of Walsh, Colucci, Stackhouse, Emrich and Lubeley, Exxon’s attorney.

“We think it is a true benefit for McLean, and should be taken very, very seriously. Hopefully, all of our supporters who have encouraged us along the way will come out and voice their support. We have really only heard from a few opponents,” he said.

The McLean Citizens Association’s board of directors objects to it on several grounds: Fairfax County’s comprehensive plan recommends mixed use or office use at the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Chain Bridge Road in the heart of McLean.

Also, the group questions whether the intersection can handle the traffic the new uses will generate.

The MCA also questions whether Exxon’s proffer of $250,000 to pay for underground utilities is enough. The firm has also offered about $70,000 in streetscape improvements.

“The architecture, the streetscape, the additional car wash will relieve the pressure from Embassy and Crown [two existing car wash businesses at the intersection].” said Martin.

“Now that you won’t even see it, the larger store there will allow people to get in and out quickly, rather than the two 7-Elevens, that are hard to get in and out of.

“We are offering $250,000 to help [Supervisor] Mr. [Stuart] Mendelsohn leverage the $1.8 million for the undergrounding of utilities in downtown McLean [the balance of a $2 million bond referendum in 1988]."

Martin discounted the citizens’ argument about mixed use at the intersection. “The comprehensive plan is flawed,” he said.

“It doesn’t take into account the existing viable businesses. They are part of McLean, and will continue to be a part of McLean. Exxon has owned the property since 1957,” Martin said.

“It is probably one of, if not the best, corners for local-serving retail parcels in McLean.”

In addition to the MCA, both the McLean Mews and Hamptons housing developments that abut the Exxon on Old Dominion Drive are opposed to the car wash.

“We are mystified as to why other McLean communities want to add more gas pumps, a third car wash, and a mini-mart when there are already 46 gas pumps in downtown McLean, four full-service grocery stores, two car washes within sight of each other, two 7-Elevens, and an existing mini-mart at the Exxon,” said a flyer distributed at the MCA meeting.

The hearing is scheduled at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, in the Board Auditorium at the Fairfax County Government Center. The hearing will be televised live on Cable Channel 16.