If all goes as planned, the Fair Oaks Child Development Center will be able to double its enrollment and expand its building size to accommodate the additional children.
The facility is at 12001 Lee Highway, and representatives presented details, last week, to the Springfield District/Fairfax Center Land-Use Committee. The building was constructed in 1999 on almost three acres at the corner of Spruce Avenue and Route 29.
Some 75 children are currently enrolled, but adding to the rear of the building would enable the child-care center to serve 150 children. However, when the land-use committee first learned of the idea in October, there was an issue with the intersection of Marymead Drive and Route 29, just west of the facility.
Last Tuesday, Feb. 4, Lori Greenlief — of Jane Kelsey & Associates Inc., the land-use consultant representing the applicant — told of changes since then. The problem, she explained, was that "cars traveling west on Route 29 and going into the service drive would cut across and not go around the median, conflicting with residential traffic."
Cars heading east on Route 29 would do the same thing. So, said Greenlief, "We propose extending the median to prohibit anyone from cutting across." Added neighbor Jeb Snider of the Marymead Homeowners Association: "We asked them to extend the raised median so we can keep 60 feet of entrance there."
Noting that Fairfax County staff was also concerned about the intensity of use on the site, Greenlief said the applicant has now deleted an outdoor labyrinth in the back so there would be more open space.
The child-care center already has a playground with equipment, and Greenlief said that — although another play area will be added — it will only be a grassy, picnic spot with trees.
Committee-member Patricia Goins asked how the additional children would impact the traffic count there, but Greenlief replied that 50 percent of the new children will be siblings of ones who already attend, "so traffic won't double." And she said seven more parking spaces will be added to the 15 now there.
"Where do the cars go that can't find a place to park?" asked committee Chairman Mark Cummings. But Kelsey assured him that it wouldn't be a problem. "The children don't all arrive at the same time, and there haven't been any [parking] complaints," she said. "It's open from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. and there are 24 employees, but they're [also] not all there at the same time."
Neighbor Lucy Edwards agreed. "In the last four years, I've never seen the lot full," she said. "And they never park on Spruce — it's not that wide."
Committee-member Tom McDonald then made a motion that the committee approve the application, subject to VDOT's approval and the child-care center improving the intersection in question. The members then endorsed the plan unanimously. It now heads to the county Planning Commission on March 5 and, if everything goes well, Fair Oaks Child Development Center hopes to begin construction of the addition in July.
"We were never excited about the daycare going in there, but we realize there's a need for [it] in the county," said Snider. "And they haven't been bad neighbors — they just need to do something about the traffic at that intersection."