Get Out Your Maps, Red Pencils

Get Out Your Maps, Red Pencils

District is one of five to review its Comprehensive Plan this year.

If they're all approved, a host of new mixed use developments could appear, including a new condo complex and a focus on pedestrians and environmental protections in areas scattered across the Braddock District.

According to state law, localities have to review their Comprehensive Plan every five years. Fairfax County does this through the Area Plans Review (APR) process, which began in 2003 when the northern half of the county was up for review. This year the southern half, including the Braddock, Mason, Lee, Springfield and Mount Vernon districts, is under review.

Fairfax County's process is essentially open. Any person can nominate any piece of land to be designated for any use. These proposals, called Nominations, are first sifted through by county staff, and then reviewed by a citizen task force. The task force may accept, reject or propose an alternative to each of the nominations. Its non-binding recommendation then goes to the Planning Commission for a public hearing and vote. Any nominations which are not approved by the Planning Commission stop there. Those that are approved go on to the Board of Supervisors for another Public Hearing and the final decision.

The task force in the Braddock District began meeting last June, said Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock). "What we did was have a series of meetings that were educational," Bulova said.

The task force subdivided into two groups studying roughly the northern and southern halves of the district. The sub groups, as a result of their discussions, came up with some nominations of their own. Of the 18 active nominations in the Braddock District, 12 came from the citizen's task force members. "They had some very strong ideas about environmental issues," Bulova said. "They also focused on better pedestrian access.

Task force nominations also seek to restrict density. One proposal would discourage neighborhood consolidation in the ridge manor subdivision. Consolidations are often the first step on the way to high-density projects. Another proposal would remove an option for increased density along Olley Lane.

NOMINATIONS GENERATED by developers and property owners, seek to increase density or allow mixed-use developments.

One of the most drastic changes would be to the mobile home park south of Lee Highway along Waples Mill Road. The current Comprehensive Plan calls for the land to remain a mobile home park. The nominated change would allow residential development of up to 30 units per acre (typically apartments or condos) on the 25-acre property. This option would also include a provision to allow a daycare facility.

Two shopping centers, Heritage Mall and Ravensworth Shopping Center, each seek to add a residential component. Ravensworth Shopping center is currently allowed to have a little less than 220,000 square feet of retail space. The nomination would allow this to increase to almost 440,000 square feet, which would be split 70 percent residential and the remaining portion to be either office, retail or a combination of the two.

Heritage Mall is currently permitted to have a retail use. The nomination would allow a mixed-use development of about 378,000 square feet including 77 percent residential, 14 percent retail and 9 percent office.

Areas already planned for residential use, such as the 10-acre parcel at the corner of Braddock Road and Olley Street, could see a dramatic increase. The land could currently be developed with about 10 houses, but the proposed change would allow up to 30.

One nomination has already been withdrawn. The task force had proposed adding language to the plan about the Morisette Drive Industrial Area. Task Force members had suggested that the area could be considered as a better location for the VRE station currently on Rolling Road, Bulova said.

The plan already contemplates this but the task force wanted to place additional emphasis on the potential, Bulova said.

However, the property owners were not receptive to the idea. They have long been good corporate neighbors, Bulova said, and neither she nor the task force wanted to proceed if they were not supportive. Bulova tries to make this a general rule in her district. "I wouldn't support changing that plan unless that is something the property owner is supportive of," she said.

The next meeting of the task force is scheduled for Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Supervisor Sharon Bulova's (D) office, 9002 Burke Lake Road, Burke.