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Historic District Expansion?

Civil War Preservation, Village Center, Proposed

Preservation of some Civil War forts, a village center and a Civil War park were among the ideas proposed Monday night for Centreville's Historic District.

They were presented during the fifth meeting of the citizens task force working on the possible expansion of the district's boundaries. The 40-person group hopes to create a family-friendly, commercial focal point that serves as a community attraction, while respecting, honoring and promoting Centreville's heritage.

CENTREVILLE'S HISTORIC DISTRICT is currently 17 acres, and the group proposes adding some specific parcels to increase it to more than 50 acres. Taking action would entail amending the Fairfax County zoning ordinance to add a Historic Overlay District to include any newly encompassed areas.

Besides the Apex fort on Pickwick Road near Sully Manor, the middle fort along Wharton Lane and the Star fort at Wharton Lane and Gresham Road, the group seeks to protect and preserve a 1,000-foot trench called "The Covered Way." It comes off Pickwick and runs between Walney Glen and the Summit Street homes.

"It's a deep trench built to protect the Civil War soldiers carrying munitions back and forth between the forts," explained Dennis Hogge, who owns property in the Historic District.

Bull Run Civil War Roundtable members John McAnaw and Mike O'Donnell recommended these forts and their easements be included in the Historic District. Hogge called it a "significant contribution" on their part because "they raised the consciousness of the task force to the importance of the forts and The Covered Way and their relationship to the Historic District."

A couple weeks ago, at Supervisor Michael R. Frey's (R-Sully) request, the Board of Supervisors agreed to have county staff review the possibility of including the forts in its Historic District feasibility study. This will make the project take a bit longer but, he said, it will be worth it.

"We'll still have to advertise the zoning-ordinance amendment for public hearing, but probably not 'til after Labor Day," he said. "And first, it'll go to the ARB [Architectural Review Board] and History Commission for their input" before going to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, maybe by the end of the year.

In addition, an amendment to the county's Comprehensive Plan would have to be made to reflect the changes and overall vision for the Historic District. The district currently consists of 35 separate parcels and, said Frey, "There's a pretty strong consensus on what properties should be expanded."

The work group wants the shopping center containing the Fair Lanes bowling alley and Community Bank, plus the CVS pharmacy site along Route 29, to become part of the Historic District. That's because the shopping center likely was part of the original Eagle Tavern parcel which is an integral part of Centreville's heritage.

FREY SAID county staff also recommends including the shopping center, but not the Community Bank there, the bowling alley or the CVS. However, he said the majority of the task-force members wants them included "because they think that, somewhere down the line, that area will redevelop. So we'll advertise it and see what happens."

Another Historic District landowner, Phil Saunders, has submitted a proposal to amend the Comprehensive Plan to allow for the creation of a village center, heart of Centreville with historic overtones.

Property owners would be able to consolidate their parcels for uniform development, and historic architecture and design would provide visitors more of an opportunity to truly experience the Historic District. It would arise on Saunders' land — the Royal Oaks site on Braddock Road, and three properties on Pickwick Road near the CVS — and, perhaps, on some adjoining parcels, too.

Saunders' proposal includes the shopping center, bowling alley and Hogge's property, but his plan amendment is currently deferred until this Historic District study is completed.

As things stand now, the Comprehensive Plan recommends mixed uses in the Historic District. On Monday, Frey gave the task force information about what the plan envisions for this area and asked the members to decide if they believe these recommendations are appropriate for the district. He gave them 30 days to respond. The group will probably meet again, the end of July.

Frey said one of Monday night's strongest proposals, besides preservation of the forts, also came from McAnaw and O'Donnell. "They recommended no development of the Historic District and to make it one, big Civil War park," said Frey. "But the property would have to be bought by the county to make it happen, and the Stanley Martin rezoning proposal — [to allow for the construction of nine, single-family detached homes on 3.68 acres along Wharton Lane] — is part of what they want to be parkland."

HE SAID the issue of Leland Road will also have to be addressed, at some point. "The Comprehensive Plan shows Leland Road extending across the end of the Royal Oaks property and tying into Old Centreville Road," said Frey. "It was planned for a second outlet to Lee Highway and to keep traffic out of the Historic District."

But from a retail standpoint, he said, "You've got to have access to be successful. So we'll have to decide whether to keep it on the plan, take it off or try to do something different. I want input from the group and the [county] transportation department."