Burgeoning Growth Challenges Vienna and Oakton

Burgeoning Growth Challenges Vienna and Oakton

Two close-knit communities must deal with growth while maintaining quality of life.

By Joanna Franco

<bt>As Fairfax County grows, the areas of Vienna and Oakton will continue to face the challenge of maintaining their close-knits atmospheres in the midst of burgeoning development. While Vienna residents want more sidewalks and Oakton residents desire the preservation of their wooded acres, recent development plans in neighboring areas, both proposed and approved, may test Vienna and Oakton’s ability to retain the small-town environment. With development comes traffic, and as the major roads of Route 123 and Hunter Mill Road cut through the heart of Vienna and Oakton, residents will continue to face the woes that come with increased traffic, including cut-through traffic, speeding and volume.

<sh>Fairlee Development

<bt>Although the project is still pending, developers want to build a higher-density, mixed-used development south of the Vienna Metrorail station and Route 66. The development, on 70-acres off of Route 29, could include several mid- to high-rise buildings containing up to 2,300 dwelling units, as well as some office and retail space. A tentative completion date for all construction would be 2010.

The County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors have yet to rezone the site for higher density. Some concerns expressed by neighboring subdivisions and the Town of Vienna have been increased traffic that could occur, Metrorail's limited capacity and building an adequate sound buffer between the site and the neighboring Circle Woods subdivision.

<sh>Development at Tysons

<bt>Several major changes at Tysons Corner will occur in the next several years. The Tysons II Land Company intends to develop 57 acres into residential, office and retail space. The final development will include eight buildings, the tallest being a high-rise with 543 residences, commuter rail at Route 123 and Tysons Boulevard, an amphitheater, public art and fountains, and a ground-level pedestrian bridge linking the development to Westpark's approved development of 1,350 residential units at Westpark and Park Run Drives.

In addition to a new development at Tysons II, the Tysons Corner Center mall has a project of its own. With the recent department of JC Penney, the mall owner Wilmorite Properties intends to renovate and build upon the vacated space in a $100 million dollar project. The project will add 50 percent more square footage and will include more higher-end dining options and an 18-screen movie theater. Construction could begin in January 2004, with its completion in August 2005.

<sh>Proposed Later Start Time at James Madison High School

<bt>James Madison High School is considering starting school later starting fall 2004. Instead of starting school at 7:30 a.m., school could begin at 8:10 a.m. or as late as 8:30 a.m. Several students and parents fought for a later start time, arguing that starting later would give teenagers more opportunity to sleep, thus better preparing them for school. If instituted, the change could affect the busing schedules of several elementary schools and Thoreau Middle School.

<sh>Oakton Library

<bt>The Oakton community has been gearing up for its library, slated to open 2007. After years of wanting a library, the developer Hearthstone Vanguard proffered three acres of land off of Hunter Mill Road for the library’s site. Although library construction is pending a 2004 bond referendum and the county recently slashed $1.7 million from the library system’s budget, community volunteers and activists, whose organization Friends of the Oakton Library received nonprofit status earlier this winter, remain optimistic.

<sh>Southern States

<bt>As the Maple Avenue Enhancement Project completes the bulk of its sidewalk construction, the former Southern States building will receive a makeover that will blend into the town. The ‘Vienna Marketplace’ converts the building into seven retail businesses, with construction starting sometime this year.

<sh>Beulah Road

<bt>In January, many Vienna residents gathered at an informational meeting to offer their feedback on road improvements on Beulah Road by the Virginia Department of Transportation. VDOT intends to work on the road, which has been deteriorating with increased traffic flow between Vienna and the Dulles Toll Road, in 2005. Totalling $5.8 million, the project would widen the road and add sidewalks.

The town and the North East Vienna Citizens' Association have been discussing Beulah Road improvements since 1995.