0
Votes

Development, Traffic Ongoing Issues

As more people and more jobs come into Fairfax County, both Vienna and Oakton grapple with ongoing issues: traffic congestion, open space and historic preservation, and proposed commercial and residential developments.

Development on its Borders: MetroWest and Wedderburn

Up for debate this fall is a proposed mixed-use development south of the Vienna Metrorail station and Route 66 and north of Route 29. The development by the firm Pulte calls for 300,000 square feet of office space, between 25,000 and 75,000 square feet of retail space, 2,400 residential units, including condominiums and townhouses, and 25,000 square feet for government or community use.

Although the fate of the development has yet to be determined, camps on both sides of the issue are preparing for a tentative public hearing before the Board of Supervisors on Sept. 27. While detractors are concerned about the impact that the development would have on area traffic and Metro capacity, those favoring the development approve of its application of smart-growth principles.

Another possible development, just south of the Town of Vienna's border, is for 29 single-family, detached homes off Wedderburn Road. The wooded neighborhood, known as "Midgetville" because of the 12 small houses currently on the property, abuts the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Owners of the property want developers to create 29 homes for the site, but surrounding neighbors are concerned about the trees that would be lost along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

The Planning Commission delayed its vote on the property this past June but may discuss the issue again this fall.

In addition to the Fairlee and Wedderburn properties, development is also occurring in Tysons Corner, which Vienna borders. A $100 million renovation to the Tysons Corner Center mall is currently under way, which will house movie theaters, 40 more retail shops and another 20 spaces for "white-tablecloth" restaurants and family eateries.

Library Bond Referendum: Oakton Library

In November, county voters will be voting on a bond referendum that would fund projects sponsored by the Fairfax County Public Library. One of those projects is the construction of a new library for the village of Oakton. The library would be located on Hunter Mill Road near where it intersects at Chain Bridge Road.

For the past several years, a group of citizens has been working on getting a library built on the site, after three acres of land was proffered for the library by the Hearthstone Vanguard housing development in 1999 and 2000. The group, which formed the Friends of the Oakton Library, is optimistic that it will get its community library, which will be located next to the Unity Church, across from the Sunrise Assisted Living Home and near Oakton Elementary.

Preliminary drawings have already been made for the library, which, if the bond is passed, would open in 2007.

Area Parks: Nottoway Park and the Corbalis Property and the Oakton Schoolhouse

Two Fairfax County Park Authority-owned parcels of land are currently going through the planning process:

In October 2001, the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) bought the 10-acre Corbalis Property, located off Hunter Mill Road, for $2.8 million. Although no determined timetable for the property has been set, citizens hope the funds needed to turn it into a community park will be available through a November bond referendum for the county's parks.

The Park Authority has conducted several public hearings asking citizens what they would like to see on the property. While most citizens at the meetings have advocated keeping much of the land untouched, some wondered whether a soccer field could go on the existing cleared field.

Another major issue for the park is the possibility of moving the historic Oakton Schoolhouse to the Corbalis site. The 1897 Schoolhouse currently sits at the corner of Chain Bridge and Hunter Mill roads, inside the Appalachian Outfitters building. However, Chevy Chase Bank bought the property after Appalachian Outfitters went bankrupt last winter. While many citizens, including those affiliated with the ad-hoc advocacy group Options for Oakton, preferred that the Oakton Schoolhouse remain at its present site, a real possibility for the historic building is to have it moved to the Corbalis Property. There, it would be restored and possibly used as an historic exhibit.

Nottoway Park, a 90-acre park on 9601 Courthouse Road, is wrapping up its master plan revision process. For almost two years, the Park Authority has been attempting to revise the park's master plan. Several issues had come up during the revision process, including a failed proposal to place a maintenance facility at the park, and the question of putting a soccer field on the park without sacrificing any current fields. Also proposed by citizens was a desire to place the historic Moorefield House somewhere within the parkland.

Traffic Calming: Cut-Through Traffic, Church Street Traffic, Hunter Mill Road Traffic

Traffic congestion is an ongoing concern in both the communities of Vienna and Oakton. While Vienna neighborhoods can request their town government to consider placing traffic-calming measures on their neighborhood streets, the Town and the wider Oakton community have begun studies on improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety along their main routes.

Vienna's Transportation Safety Commission (TSC) is currently working on a study of pedestrian safety along Church Street, a historic street with shops and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail cutting through its center. Because Church Street also intersects with the busy Lawyers Road and the Vienna post office, discussion is also occurring on how to ease congestion at that intersection.

The Hunter Mill Defense League conducted a traffic-calming workshop on Feb. 17, 2004, to solicit residents’ feedback on what traffic concerns need to be solved along Hunter Mill Road, which connects Vienna and Oakton to Reston. The group hopes to establish a public/private partnership similar to one established several years ago for Georgetown Pike in McLean, in which citizens can help fund the addition of traffic-calming measures along the 7.2-mile historic byway.

Neighborhood Issues: WIndover Heights Historic District, Beulah Road Property

Within the last 12 months in Vienna, several issues have emerged that are neighborhood-specific. The Windover Heights Historic District, located north of Maple Avenue in the northwest quadrant of town, is a neighborhood of narrow streets and homes representing all the decades of the town's development. The quaint character of the neighborhood is put on display each April during the annual Walk on the Hill, put on by Historic Vienna Inc.

The historic district's viability was questioned last year, when three homeowners wanted their properties out of the district so that their properties could be made into a townhouse division. The neighbors were against the properties’ being removed from the district, explaining that it would destroy the current neighborhood's character.

In the northeast quadrant of town, the Northeast Vienna Citizens Association (NEVCA) has been questioning the environmental impact of the town's leaf mulching site on 440 Beulah Road N.E. In addition to the noise and air pollution that town residents say the leaf mulching operation brings, the residents were also concerned that the leaf operation has been slowly impacting the woods on the site with its chemicals. They would instead like the site to become a town park.

After disagreements with the Town on how the situation should be handled, the Beulah Road site is under consideration of a conditional-use permit to allow leaf mulching on the site. The permit will go before the Town's Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals this summer. Both NEVCA and the Town have been trying to inform town citizens of the issue, since leaf-mulching is a town-wide service.

Road Improvements: Branch and Beulah Roads

Both Branch and Beulah roads will get long-needed fixes from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in the next several years. VDOT is currently finalizing plans for Beulah Road, and construction could begin in 2005. The project, estimated at $5.8 million, will create a uniform width for Beulah Road, by providing two lanes with 27 feet between the curbs. On each side of the road, a 2-foot curb and gutter will be constructed for drainage and pedestrian passage. On the east side of the road will be a 5-foot sidewalk.

Improvements to Branch Road will take place in 2007.

The Town of Vienna's Comprehensive Plan Is Up for review

In 2005, the Town of Vienna will begin updating its Comprehensive Plan, which determines land use for property within town limits. Included in the plan, although already approved, will be the Town Green, which is set for construction in 2006. The Town Green will be a park and open space area in the center of town, to be located where the current Wright Building sits at 144 Maple Ave. E.

A Home for the Moorefield House

Local Baptist groups and the Jeremiah Moore Historical and Educational Association are currently working to rebuild the house frame of the Moorefield House, which was previously located in the Townes of Moorefield housing development in Vienna. The Moorefield House, a structure dating from the late 1700s, had been slated by demolition by the Town of Vienna last spring, until citizens who later became the Jeremiah Moore Association intervened.

The house currently sits in storage, waiting to be rebuilt. The association would like the house to become a historical exhibit, examining Revolutionary War-period life and celebrating the contributions of Jeremiah Moore, a Baptist preacher and Revolutionary War figure, who advocated for the separation of church and state.