Working Together

Working Together

Meeting hopes to connect officials, residents.

Kirby Court resident William “Bill” Kelleher recalls a night about four years ago when storm water runoff from neighboring Temple Rodef Shalom flooded his backyard.

“That night the rabbi was down here helping. She was in our backyard. It was raining — we were putting bags of mulch around the house to absorb the runoff,” said Kelleher, in an effort to prevent his home from taking in water.

The flooding of the yard took place during the temple’s construction of its addition. “There was a dramatic increase in water,” said Kelleher. “Their pond doesn’t delay runoff,” and with the increase in the impervious surface, there is an even greater amount of runoff.

“I’ve discussed this with the county – they have little understanding of the engineering. It’s been on the table for three years and nothing has been done. The issue is the inability of the county to recognize and enforce its own laws,” said Kelleher.

KELLEHER IS NOT the only McLean resident to experience problems without satisfactory solutions or any solution at all from the county.

In an effort to begin a dialogue between local residents and county government, the Tuesday, March 26 MCA (McLean Citizens Association) Planning and Zoning Committee meeting will be co-hosted by the MCA Environment, Parks and Recreation Committee and will feature a presentation to be made by six members of the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.

In addition to the downstream flooding from the Rodef Shalom expansion project, there has been “the destruction of trees at the McLean Bible Church, mud flowing off of construction sites all over McLean into people’s yards and swimming pools” as well as the streams and ponds. Trails and sidewalks people thought would be built have not been built or infill sites being developed where a trail was planned but not built, are problems and concerns common to McLean residents said Planning and Zoning Committee chairman Adrienne Whyte.

“This is an opportunity for the community to ask specific questions. This meeting is a step in the right direction — to work together with local government and have an understanding of the processes for site review and inspections,” said Whyte. “We have to start somewhere,” she said. “It will take the community, paid government representatives’ and developers’ understanding to help solve these problems.”

“I’M THE GUY that started this, if unwittingly, in my role with EQAC [Environmental Quality Advisory Council],” said MCA Environment, Parks and Recreation Committee chairman Frank Crandall.

Crandall said he was discussing issues with Fairfax County Deputy Executive Robert “Rob” Stalzer and Stalzer suggested the meeting between community residents and county staff. “The public at large needs to be better informed as to how the process works,” said Crandall.

“The public will raise questions such as: Which office can help with what problem? How can we get remedial action on a more timely basis? Why is it that infill development sites are not better reviewed and regulated to prevent problems from impacting the adjoining neighbors?” said Crandall.

“We hope for a continuing dialogue, identify problems and work with staff to solve them,” said Crandall.

Jeffrey Blackford, deputy director with the office of Site Development Services for 12 years, will be one of six members of county staff expected to participate in the joint session.

“I will present a review of our organization — who does what and address some site development issues,” said Blackford. Residents are concerned with the development of single-family infill projects, remaining site space to be developed after the development of the surrounding space and changes to the environment. The original owner does not typically express the concern, said Blackford, citing the example of a development planned for 50 homes and only 40 are built with the leftover land remaining undeveloped. Concern and/or objections are raised by a second or third owner who was not present for the original construction and may not know the history.

“These are legitimate issues. I know we can’t address all issues in one night. We’re certainly willing to return again. We’d like to develop a relationship with them. We’d like for them to get to know us and get comfortable with us when they call us. In the past we have not been as available. We need to mend that,” said Blackford.

“If folks feel they’re having a problem, they should attend this meeting,” said Crandall.

The MCA Planning and Zoning meeting is slated for Tuesday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the McLean Community Center. For additional information, call Adrienne Whyte at 703-241-1095.