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Votes

From History to Toilets

Providence Area Plan Review makes first two recommendations.

Lawrence Vogel was trying to read between the lines at the Oct. 5 meeting of the Providence District Area Plan Review Task Force. "My old gut is that something is embedded in this language that would deal with the widening [of Hunter Mill Road]," said Vogel, who represents the Oak Manor Homeowners Association.

Hunter Mill Road and the Flint Hill School were the two items up for discussion before the task force. The task force review is the first step in a process that could lead to a number of changes to Fairfax County's Comprehensive Plan, the document that addresses land-use development.

Providence, along with three other magisterial districts — Sully, Dranesville and Hunter Mill — are reviewing applications to change the Comprehensive Plan for various parcels in each district.

After the Providence task force makes its recommendations about the proposed changes for 16 parcels across the district — there had been 17, but one concerning the Seven Corners area was withdrawn — the recommendations will be presented to the Planning Commission and then the Board of Supervisors, which will make the final decision.

THE PROPOSAL surrounding Hunter Mill Road was the first to come up for discussion. The task force heard arguments that the Comprehensive Plan should include language that recognizes potentially significant historic sites along the road.

"We have identified 52 sites on Hunter Mill Road that are of historical significance," said Jodi Bennett, speaking on behalf of Linda Byrne, who made the nomination.

Some members of the task force were concerned that the additional language would prevent future widening of the road. Although Hunter Mill is currently two lanes along its entire 7.2-mile length, parts of it are shown as potentially four lanes in the Comprehensive Plan. "Is this the first step to making Hunter Mill Road two lanes?" asked Howard Wallach of the Tysons Place Homeowners Association.

While the language will not prevent the widening, it will recommend additional sensitivity to potential historic sites during a review prior to approval of widening, or other rezoning of adjacent properties.

"It does not prevent [widening], but it is one more thing to review," said Charlene Fuhrman-Schulz of the county's Department of Planning and Zoning.

The task force approved adding the language unanimously.

THE FLINT Hill Upper School wants some new bathrooms. The school's 35-acre campus on Jermantown Road sits partially in and partially out of the County's Approved Sewer Service Area.

The school wants to construct a comfort station consisting of a few bathrooms near its athletic fields, outside of the area.

"When you are out there at the ball game and you look for the john, all we can offer is a couple of Don's Johns," said Til Hazel, chairman of the board of Flint Hill.

The Board of Supervisors' current policy is to restrict sewer access in the location proposed by the school due to its proximity to the Difficult Run watershed. Difficult Run drains into the Potomac, the source of drinking water for much of the Washington region. However, Difficult Run enters the river downstream of the Fairfax County Water Authority's intake pipe.

Since no sewer service is available in the area near the school's athletic fields, the school has portable restrooms or must ask its guests to walk several hundred feet to the school building.

Some members of the task force were concerned that if an exception were made to allow the extension of sewer service, it could be used as a precedent for others who want sewer service in restricted areas.

Additionally, the proposed language did not specify the intensity of use. Hazel said that the school had not yet decided on the number of fixtures the school would put in the location but suggested that it might be approximately six.

The planning staff has yet to work out the specific language that would be included in a plan amendment. "The staff supports it in concept," said Fuhrman-Schulz. She explained that planning staff is working to craft language that would be specific to the site and therefore could not be used as a precedent.

Additionally, the staff will work to specify the number of fixtures that will be permitted, Fuhrman-Schulz said.

The task force first considered deferring the vote until the specifics have been resolved, but that vote failed 16-17.

The task force then voted to accept the proposal 18-15. As a result, county staff will work out language with the applicant. While the proposal may be brought before the task force again, it is not required.

Specific language must be resolved prior to the proposal’s being presented to the Planning Commission, Fuhrman-Schulz said.