Land Use Changes Head to Planning Commission

Land Use Changes Head to Planning Commission

Providence District nominations set for April 21.

And then there were seven. The Area Plans Review process started roughly a year ago with residents suggesting how certain pieces of land should be planned for a different use.

Within the Providence District, 21 nominations were put forward in the Tysons Corner area, while 16 other nominations addressed changes to other parts of the county. In Tysons, 20 of the nominations were determined to be related to the proposed new Metrorail line that would add four stations in the Tysons area. Those 20 will be considered separately, after the completion of a transportation and design study that is just about to start. The remaining Tysons-area proposal was heard by the APR task force, but it is scheduled to be deferred and considered with the rest of the Tysons recommendations.

The 16 remaining nominations were brought before the APR task force which reviewed the proposed nominations and made recommendations. The task force, with few exceptions, opposed increases in density.

Several of the proposals were withdrawn before the task force heard the recommendations, and others have been withdrawn after a negative review from the task force. Only seven — not counting the Tysons recommendations — remain, and they are scheduled to be heard by the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday, April 21.

The Hunter Mill, Sully and Dranesville districts are undergoing a similar process. The nominations for those districts will be heard by the Planning Commission on April 20.

THE TWO NOMINATIONS in the Providence District, which generated the most controversy, Wedderburn and Poplar Terrace, will both be coming to the Planning Commission.

The Wedderburn property, sometimes called "Midgetville," is undergoing a process that would reduce the maximum density and is simultaneously undergoing a different process that would increase the density.

The public hearing on the increased density proposal is scheduled to be heard by the Planning Commission prior to their "mark-up" session scheduled for Wednesday, May 18.

During the task force meetings, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning staff recommended denying the proposal for less density, while the task force supported the lower density.

Poplar Terrace is a proposal that follows on the heels of the Fairlee/Metrowest project. Fairlee, which is currently undergoing the rezoning process, will create a substantial increase in density just south of the Vienna/Fairfax Metro Station. The Poplar Terrace nomination also seeks to increase density, but the neighborhood is located further away from the station. Both staff and the task force opposed the plan.

Swanee Lane is another nomination that faced disagreement between the task force and county staff. Right now, an area of seven houses with lower density, just off of Nutley Street and across from the Vienna/Fairfax Metro Station, abuts an area with higher density. The higher density area can only be accessed by passing through lower density, which is considered inappropriate land use. The residents of those houses proposed increasing the density so that they could sell, and let the builder put in more houses, which would mitigate the issue.

The residents argued that the neighborhood was a generally quirky one, with a variety of different housing styles and densities, and that the current density was in keeping with the quirkiness. The nominators and those opposed to the nomination disagreed about what areas should or should not be considered the "neighborhood."

Staff recommended a density between what the residents asked for and the current permitted density. The task force opposed any increase in density.

Any of the seven nominations that are not started before midnight on Thursday, April 21 will be carried over to Wednesday, April 27. The Planning Commission will then conduct a mark-up meeting on Wednesday, May 18, at which commissioners will discuss the proposals. Any nominations that do not receive the support of the Planning Commission die. Those that are approved will go on to be heard by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The board meeting is scheduled for Monday, July, 11 at 5:30 p.m.