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Beer Plant Expansion OK'd

There's no sudsy saga here — it was raised glasses, all around, last week, for a local beer distributor's plan to expand its facility.

Well, no, it didn't happen exactly like that, but Oglethorpe Ltd. Partnership of Chantilly did get its first OK from the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee.

Oglethorpe is at the northeast corner of Braddock and Old Lee roads in the Westfields Corporate Center and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The land for which it needs a toast from the county is 7 1/2 acres in an industrially zoned district designated I-3.

According to the county's Comprehensive Plan, Oglethorpe may operate by right, where it is now — on land designated I-4. But because part of the building expansion would spill over into the I-3 area, it needs to first obtain a special-exception permit.

Speaking at the April 15 WFCCA meeting, attorney Bob Lawrence said that, since he first described the proposal to the committee, last month, Oglethorpe had added landscaping along its perimeter and reduced the amount of parking it had planned. Furthermore, he said, "The Westfields Business Association approved it — it just wants to see the building color to make sure it's compatible with other buildings there."

He also stressed that only passenger vehicles would be allowed on Conference Center Drive, and not trucks from the beer distribution plant. Said Lawrence: "They'll be limited to Northridge Drive, where they currently go." He said no outside storage will be permitted and Oglethorpe would have three times the amount of open space required by the county, plus 230 parking spaces.

Frank Ojeda of the Rock Hill Civic Association asked if this parking lot could be used on weekends for overflow parking during soccer tournaments, once the fields in Quinn Farm Park are developed. Lawrence said he'd pose the idea to Oglethorpe, but added, "There's no pedestrian connection [to that parking lot] and it could be a security problem because it's isolated back there."

Sully Station's Gil Kesser told Lawrence his homeowners association's trustees are interested in what transpires in Westfields and "we'd appreciate having a briefing on this project." Lawrence said he'd be glad to oblige. The WFCCA then recommended approval, provided that Oglethorpe upholds its tree-save and vehicle-traffic pledges and also deletes a driveway currently proposed within the Environmental Quality Corridor. The issue was scheduled to go Wednesday, April 23, to the county Planning Commission.