Here Comes the Water

Here Comes the Water

Town officials hear about Wedderburn development plan.

Tempers flared at a meeting between Town of Vienna officials and the developers of the Wedderburn Property, but not between the Town and developer.

Town officials called the Feb. 17 meeting to discuss the possible impacts of the development on the town. The property is south of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail (W&OD) and west of Cedar Lane, outside of the town boundaries. The property is a 12-acre parcel, sometimes known as "Midgetville."

A public hearing on the development had been scheduled for March 9 at the Fairfax County Planning Commission. The hearing has been deferred. "There are still some larger issues dangling there," said Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) in a separate interview.

Smyth said that a recent issue at the nearby Goat Farm development [see story page 3] has highlighted the need for the county to evaluate some rezoning issues in general. "We need to look at our process for tree save," she said. For example, the county may begin to require that signs on protected areas be posted in English and Spanish. She also said that the storm-water plan for the Wedderburn property should be reevaluated.

Throughout the meeting in Vienna, several area residents got into heated discussions with the developers and their representatives about the details of the plan.

Each time such an exchange began, Mayor Jane Seeman would bring the meeting back to its initial focus, impact on the town, not necessarily the surrounding neighbors.

The Town's three major concerns are setbacks from the trail, traffic, and storm-water runoff.

The runoff generated the most discussion. Councilmember Laurie Cole was concerned that the additional water runoff would cause the stream to become perennial within the Town's limits [see sidebar]. "That would be a pretty big effect on their [residents’] land holdings," Cole said. "If all your best plans and analyses are incorrect, what will happen?"

The development plan calls for a storm-water retention pond to absorb additional runoff that will be created from the new houses and pavement. Cole feared that if the pond catches the water and then releases it slowly, it could even out the flow of water and change the stream from perennial to intermittent within the Town's borders, which are downstream from the property.

According to the calculations provided by the developer, that should not happen. "We just don't have enough water," said Michael Rolbland, president of Wetland Studies and Solutions, which conducted the drainage studies.

Gregory Riegle, attorney for Elm Street Development Co., said that the development plans to maintain a 50-foot buffer, 25 feet of which will be undisturbed space, between the edge of the trail property and the houses. "We'll commit to the 50 feet," he said.

Access to the development had initially been proposed as a cul-de-sac off Wedderburn Lane. However, the residents in that area, and in the town, had expressed concerns that that might encourage drivers to use Wedderburn Lane as a cut-through, instead of using Cedar Lane.

As a result, Riegle said, access has been changed. "We have moved it to Cedar Lane, hoping that would provide some improvement," he said.

Elm Street plans to provide for a right-turn lane going into the development on Cedar Lane southbound. The developers also plan to install a center turning lane for northbound drivers who will need to make a left into the development.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will need to approve the part of the plan concerning where the streets will connect. That approval process will occur concurrently, and if VDOT does not grant approval, the entire plan will have to be redone. "If it [the new street] doesn't come out there [on Cedar Lane], we're going to have to come back in this process," Riegle said.