0
Votes

Mulford Townhouses Get Two Approvals

A new townhouse community on the longtime site of the Mulford School in Centreville has received two unanimous approvals and is now bound for the Board of Supervisors.

If developer Pulte Home Corp.'s rezoning plan gets a green light there, too, it will clear the way for construction of some 47 single-family, attached townhouses on that spot along Old Centreville Road.

For years, Beverly Mulford has taught preschoolers there, and she and her family have given riding lessons to horse enthusiasts. Although the school will be open one more year, Pulte hopes to begin work on its new community by summer 2003.

Although the property is currently zoned for one home per acre, the land is actually planned for residential development at 5-8 homes per acre in Fairfax County's Comprehensive Plan. Pulte is seeking a rezoning of the 6.1-acre site to build 7.7 homes per acre there.

The nearly four dozen townhouses would have brick fronts and two-car garages, with driveway parking, too, for 155 parking spaces total. Expected to sell in the mid-$300,000 range, the homes would be built on the east side of Old Centreville Road, just north of Singleton's Way and south of Sunset Ridge Road.

The neighborhood has access onto Old Centreville Road. Planned are sidewalks on both sides of the streets, trees, a tot lot and a gazebo. Also envisioned is a community-gathering area with benches plus an open space for meetings.

Land-planner Inda Stagg recently told the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee the changes made since January.

"We've expanded the open-space area by 5 percent, moved the gazebo to save an American holly tree and added crosswalks," she said. "And we narrowed the [entry] road to one-way to slow traffic. We've also added [more] landscaping around the periphery."

In January, the WFCCA's Jim Hart advised Stagg and Pulte land-acquisition manager Steve Coniglio that graves and Civil War trenches are "within spitting-distance" of the site. So Stagg said Pulte will allow an archaeological survey prior to any construction.

Also at WFCCA's request, the developer added blasting proffers to protect nearby residents' homes from damage while the community is being built. WFCCA member Stephen Vandivere was pleased that the garages will not be used for other purposes. And member Richard Smith asked about trail connections, and Stagg said Pulte would complete two of them with sidewalks.

She said the developer had met with Little Rocky Run and Singleton's Grove residents about their concerns. And she said street lights in the neighborhood would be shielded to prevent impacting other communities.

The WFCCA wondered about the project's name and how it would be advertised. Hart noted that, on two other developments, Pulte promised the county it wouldn't erect "Popsicle signs" in or near the property it was selling. But, he said, it did so, anyway. "Do the proffers matter [to Pulte]?" asked Hart.

"We contract with someone to do the signs, and they put them up," replied Coniglio. "But ultimately, it is our responsibility, and I'll follow up on it." The WFCCA's Ted Troscianecki reminded him that it's illegal to plant these signs on rights-of-way and in median strips, and WFCCA member Mary Coyle advised Coniglio: "Don't ask them not to put up [these signs] — tell them."

The WFCCA's Carol Hawn then suggested that, rather than naming the new community "something sterile and without meaning," Pulte should call it "Mulford" in honor of the family that owned the land for so long. "I think some tribute needs to be made," she said. "[It] will always be known as the Mulford property." Stagg and Coniglio said they'd include it in their list of possible names.

Stagg also noted that, if the county approves the project, Pulte will give $20,000 to the Old Centreville Road Park, across from the Burger King and directly north of the site. "Pulte will do road improvements there and will also put in the driveway and parking lot for the park," she said. "And Pulte is contributing to the Housing Trust Fund."

The WFCCA then approved the proposal unanimously, provided the townhouses have brick facades consistent with those shown to the WFCCA and that Pulte commits to "honoring the Popsicle-sign proffer in a meaningful and consistent way."

The next night, April 17, the plan also received a unanimous endorsement from the county Planning Commission. It heads for the Board of Supervisors on May 20.

Recognizing the Mulfords' contributions, Sully District Planning Commissioner Ron Koch said they've been there since the 1970s and "provided a wonderful service to the community over all those years. I wish Beverly and Preston Mulford good luck, wherever they go."