The soccer fields have been deleted, but a new home community proposed for Centreville has definitely taken a turn for the better.
That was the consensus, last week, after the latest information on the project was relayed to the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee.
OMR, LLC/Jackson Fields wants to rezone 11.6 acres on the north side of Mount Olive and Old Mill roads so it may build nearly two dozen, single-family homes there. Prices would begin in the $300,000s and home size would range from 1,250 to 2,000 square feet.
Since a large, Virginia Power easement runs across the back of the property, the developer initially proposed constructing 26 homes, plus a soccer/lacrosse field and two practice fields under the power lines. But, explained attorney Lynne Strobel, last Tuesday, March 18, to the WFCCA, "After talking to the community, we made drastic changes."
She said the developer "came to the conclusion that [what was planned] wasn't the best use of this particular site. There were parking and [field]-maintenance questions. So we looked at other options."
The parcel is currently zoned for one home per acre, and the original density proposed was 2.46 homes per acre. But the revised plan shows just 22 homes, spread out more on the site, for a density of 1.93 homes per acre. Entering the neighborhood via Mount Olive Road, the main street would have homes on both sides and lead to a cul-de-sac.
The community would also have access to Crim Station Road, and the homes would be compatible in size with those in Confederate Ridge. The developer also intends to do extensive landscaping and plantings, including the creation of a wildflower meadow for passive recreation, in the easement area.
"It will be connected by a trail, and there will be a multi-use play area for kids from this community," said Strobel. "And we'll build a fence around the existing cemetery and put in some parking [for cemetery visitors]." Overall, she said, "I think we made a lot of progress."
Agreeing, the WFCCA's Carol Hawn said, "This is vastly improved from what was presented [Dec. 17]. I feel much better about it." Committee member Ted Troscianecki said he was disappointed that the recreational facilities were dropped, but he understood "the problems and obstacles they created." He advised Strobel that someone would have to maintain the trails and cut the grass in the cemetery, and she said the neighborhood's homeowners association would be responsible for those tasks.
The WFCCA's Jim Hart liked the new street-layout because it "got rid of some awkward pipestems." But he wanted to insure that "there's a minimum driveway length and minimum space between side yards." And, asked Hart — who's also on the county Board of Zoning Appeals — "Are the back yards big enough for a deck or sunroom, so people don't each have to come in and [request] a variance to build them?"
Strobel replied that the minimum driveway length would be 18 feet and houses would have 16 feet between them. She also noted that "there's sufficient room to put decks or sunrooms on back." Hart then focused on traffic problems in that vicinity.
"The transportation infrastructure in the Mount Olive area is horrible — particularly at Old Mill and Mount Olive where they come out to Old Centreville Road," he said. "Therefore, I would hope that we consider whether a commitment to transportation improvement in this neighborhood is our biggest priority. If we're adding homes, cars and drivers to this mix, it would help to mitigate [the traffic impact] here." In response, Strobel said the developer has proffered to contribute funds to transportation improvements there.
Frank Ojeda of the Rock Hill Civic Association said he believes OMR/Jackson Fields should also put money into the county's Capital Improvement Fund for schools. Said Ojeda: "Families with children will probably live in these homes and go to our schools for 12 years."
In other comments, the WFCCA's Russ Wanek said he liked the passive recreation proposed for the new community: "When you're a kid, all you need is an empty field — you make up your own game." The plan goes before the county Planning Commission on April 30.