Neighbors Upset with Changes

Neighbors Upset with Changes

Gary Flaherty thought he had seven years before he would see construction begin on Claiborne Parkway. But two weeks ago, the bulldozers arrived at the Belmont Country Club development, unsettling him and several of the residents living there.

"It's ludicrous. Toll Brothers [Inc.] sold us out so quickly and pushed for the construction of apartments across from our residences and intended to put in a road without letting us, the residents, know what they're doing," said Flaherty, who has lived in Belmont Country Club for the past two years. "They never told us one thing."

The county asked for the change in the developer's proffers to speed up construction of Claiborne Parkway, a project that would coordinate with the county's plans to install a grade-separated interchange over Route 7 and eventually close down the Route 7 intersection with Ashburn Road.

"I was really disappointed people thought that Toll Brothers was trying to get off the hook for something," said Planning Commission Vice-Chairman David Whitmore (Broad Run). "We defined a balance between what Toll Brothers is offering and its value and the benefit to the county."

Whitmore and Supervisor Chuck Harris (D-Broad Run), along with representatives from Toll Brothers, explained the development changes at a community meeting Nov. 23. The meeting was attended by 300 residents living in Belmont Country Club, a 1,143-acre mixed golf course community planned for 1,933 residential homes with 500 already built and occupied. The Toll Brothers representatives were Jim Smith, vice-president of the company, and Sara Howard-O'Brien, planner for Reed Smith LLP in Ashburn, hired by Toll Brothers to handle the application process.

"The clearing is being done for eventual construction," Smith said.

THE COUNTY PLANS to build five interchanges along Route 7 at Claiborne Parkway, Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn Village Boulevard, Loudoun County Parkway and Algonkian Parkway, which is under construction to connect to Routes 7 and 28. County officials want to work with developers to align the proffers related to the interchanges and coordinate the improvements along Route 7.

"We started to find we had piecemeal interchanges and it went all along Route 7," said Supervisor Chuck Harris (D-Broad Run).

The proffers are triggered by a certain number of units or the amount of square footage built by the developers providing the proffers. Originally, Toll Brothers' proffer for Claiborne Parkway was triggered by the 1,451st unit, which would have been built in about 2008, Harris said. "We try to have reasonable triggers that are date-based, not tied to build out," he said.

Claiborne Parkway is proposed to be built as a four-lane divided roadway about five years sooner than the proffer requirement. Once finished, the roadway, which was approved in the 1990s, will extend from Route 7 south to Loudoun County Parkway to provide Belmont Country Club residents with a connection to the Dulles Greenway.

A three to four-mile section of Gloucester Parkway will loop above and run parallel to Claiborne Parkway at the road's southern end. Toll Brothers proposes realigning the section with Claiborne Parkway into one roadway, a change that will require a comprehensive plan amendment to the Countywide Transportation Plan.

"To eliminate that section, the plan has to be amended," Whitmore said.

TOLL BROTHERS planned to build 246 apartment units at Russell Branch Parkway near the southern loop of Claiborne and Gloucester parkways, and proposed moving the units east of Belmont Country Club to avoid overloading the combined section of roadway.

"We don't want them in our backyard," Flaherty said in reference to the apartment units, adding that the units are not part of Toll Brothers' original development plans and were proposed for the Ridges of Ashburn area south of Belmont Country Club. "They threw them in."

Once the Claiborne Parkway interchange is completed, the county plans to cul-de-sac Ashburn Road south of Route 7, since Ashburn Road will be just 300 yards from Claiborne Parkway. The project is outlined in the Countywide Transportation Plan.

"That will alleviate a lot of traffic problems in Old Ashburn," Whitmore said.

Flaherty said if homeowners knew about the proposed projects, "Nobody would have bought in here, I can tell you that. ... They are turning the woods in the back of our homes into the parkway."

About 300 homeowners formed a subcommittee with 12 of the residents tasked with analyzing the projects and related security issues for the gated community, which may not be gated from Claiborne Parkway once it is built.

The subcommittee, which began organizing on Monday, also is concerned with construction noise and wants a noise wall installed, Flaherty said. "They're not making any provisions to have it, so we want to stop construction on the road," he said. "It should be put up right away."

"The citizens are concerned this was a proposal to accelerate construction of the road," Whitmore said. "Our concern is to make sure the impact is mitigated for those citizens."

A Planning Commission public hearing on the comprehensive plan amendment is expected in February, followed by a Board of Supervisors public hearing at the earliest in April. The county's zoning map also needs to be amended to transfer the units to another section of Toll Brothers' property.

"We are at the very beginning of both of these processes," Howard-O'Brien said.