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Next Round on Kings Crossing Scheduled for Monday

A new element has been added to the Kings Crossing debate.

A more definitive plan for Kings Crossing is expected to be presented on Monday by the developers, JPI Development Company of Vienna, Va.

At the latest Spring Bank Neighborhood Association meeting, Jan. 10, it was announced that JPI, was scheduled to meet again with area residents "to flesh out the plan." But, SBNA was not quite sure what that meant.

Throughout a series of meetings, beginning last fall, held under the aegis of Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, the primary debate points have been:

* The ratio of mixed use to residential on the site

* The type of construction of the buildings within the anticipated "Town Center" area

* How much of the adjacent areas, on which JPI holds options, will be devoted to additional residential and/or open space

THE PRIMARY SITE at the center of the tug-of-wills is the 11 plus acre parcel which now contains Michaels Arts and Crafts and Chuck-E-Cheese. A secondary consideration is the Fairchild property, immediately to the rear, on which JPI holds an option. A new element, recently added to the mix, is the mobile home acreage along Shields Avenue, bounded by Memphis and Vanport streets, which forms the northern border of the Michaels property.

David Dale, president, SBNA, at the group's December meeting said, "If JPI acquires an option on the property abutting Shields Avenue and decides to develop it, the entire project changes." According to Mount Vernon authorities that option has been acquired.

As pointed out at the December meeting, the acquisition of the Shields Avenue property could "have the effect of reorienting the concept of a town center" and would add considerably more residential property possibilities. An added consideration for JPI is the potential relocation of the mobile home residents now occupying the Shields Avenue property.

When Wal-Mart acquired its present site at the intersection of Route 1 and Sherwood Hall Lane, which at that time was the site of another mobile home community, they relocated those residents at its expense, according to Gerald Hyland, Mount Vernon District Supervisor.

"We would probably be looking at a similar approach for the residents located on the Shields Avenue property," he said. Since JPI would have to apply for a zoning change to convert the use to residential or mixed use, requiring the developer to be responsible for the household relocations could be one of the conditions imposed by the county prior to granting a change.

THE OTHER CONTROVERSIAL element of the land package at the Kings Crossing site are the individual homes sites along Fairfield Drive. Some of the homes owners have acknowledged that they have been approached by JPI about selling their properties.

"JPI is interested in buying properties on Fairfield Drive. If they can get all the properties they are interested in they hope to acquire them. But, if they can't get them all, they are not interested," Dale told the SBNA group assembled during the December meeting at Groveton Baptist Church.

One of the factors apparently impacting these negotiations is the alleged damage done to the County Resource Protection Area (RPA) when a JPI subcontractor bulldozed a swath through the back of several properties fronting on Fairfield Drive and through the RPA. Although JPI immediately assumed full responsibility, no county action has been formally taken relative to the RPA.

According to several of the property owners, if the county decided to exercise its legal right to sue for alleged damages to the RPA, they could also be held liable even though they had nothing to do with the bulldozing. Therefore, they are not willing to sell unless JPI can assure them of complete indemnification in case of such action by the county. This has not been resolved.

DURING THE DECEMBER meeting, an apparent schism surfaced within SBNA when Tate Westbrook, a Fairfield Drive resident, characterizing negotiations with JPI as unbending, asked, "What have we provided JPI that could be considered a middle ground? We seem to just be putting up road blocks."

He also stated, "It seems that the people on our committee have no knowledge of commercial development. It's like they're following some pipe dream."

Dale countered that "the entire Mount Vernon Council was opposed to the present JPI plan." As for the area behind those Fairfield Drive properties, where the bulldozer cut through, Dale said, "This is our only chance for a neighborhood park."

Since the outset of the Kings Crossing development, prior to its acquisition, plans for the area, which contains the RPA, included park land designed for passive open space. JPI site plans, as distributed at SBNA December meeting, maintained that open space but surrounded it with projected residential uses. SBNA members view this as limiting its use and accessibility.

Martin Tillet, another Fairfield Drive resident, said, in supporting Dale and the desire for a neighborhood park, "We have not been saying no development. We just don't want what the developer wants. We want development. But, we want good development. We are trying to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood."

That integrity as well as the entire concept of Kings Crossing being a truly mixed use site and its orientation will be on the table again at the announced upcoming community meeting.