End of the Road for Peaches

End of the Road for Peaches

Moutoux Orchard to be developed with 60 homes.

One set of neighbors wants to be able to drive through the new development at the Moutoux Orchard. Another neighborhood wants to ensure that drivers can’t access their neighborhood streets.

For decades, people have come from across the county to buy peaches grown at the 69-acre Moutoux Orchard on Beulah Road near Leesburg Pike. The Moutoux family is in the process of moving to Loudoun County, and now the land that they have owned since 1948 will become a home to a 60-house subdivision (two of those houses already exist).

“This is, by any definition, an absolutely beautiful piece of property,” said Greg Riegle, attorney for the developer.

The developer, Basheer-Edgemoor-Moutoux, LLC, is proposing to preserve 17 acres of the property as parkland with trails and to preserve several smaller green areas. The houses will be on lots from between 0.4 acres to just over one acre. They will also be providing a storm water detention pond which will help to control the runoff from not only the new development, but some existing, older developments in the area.

Neighbors from two adjoining subdivisions spoke favorably about the proposal with the major point of contention being access. The new subdivision will have one access point on Beulah Road.

The 19-house subdivision of Blueberry Hill, which abuts the orchard to the north, will gain access to Beulah Road through the new development, which will be called Maymont. Blueberry Hill residents have been accessing their houses from Leesburg Pike, but there is no break in the median where the access road intersects the pike, creating an unsafe situation.

“We’re trying to make the best of this situation,” said Marion Erickson, president of the Blueberry Hill Community Association.

In an unusual move, the Blueberry Hill neighbors had asked the developer to put houses as close to their development as possible. By moving the density toward their development, they would allow the developer to keep some houses off of steep slopes and environmentally sensitive areas on other parts of the property. “This is really in the best interests of the farm,” Erickson said.

The Spring Ridge development to the south of the orchard had an opposite access situation. Between two of the houses on Spring Ridge Lane is a narrow spit of land (called Outlot A) which is being used as a driveway to an existing house.

Planning staff thinks that Outlot A should be turned into a street to accommodate vehicular access between the two developments. One reason for this is that county guidelines prefer that a development has more than one way in and out.

The developer does not want to make the connection, and Maymont as proposed has only one access point.

Neighbors in Spring Ridge accept that Outlot A should be used for pedestrian access and for emergency vehicles, but they do not want it open to regular traffic. “The cost of convenience will not be borne by the residents of Maymont, but by the residents of Spring Ridge,” said Gene O’Brien of the Spring Ridge Community.

Neighbors point out that there are no sidewalks in Spring Ridge, and that children and families frequently walk along the side of the road. By allowing vehicular traffic, the number of cars driving through the neighborhood would increase dramatically. “It wouldn’t be safe if we changed Outlot A,” said Chuck Clopton, a Spring Ridge resident.

Not everyone who came to speak was in favor of the development. Remo Perini, a nearby resident, said that the proposed density for the orchard property was too high, and suggested that the developer stick to the lower end of density range envisioned by the Comprehensive Plan — about one house per two acres. “We ask that no home be built … on less than two acres,” he said.

The development as proposed, however, does comply with the density levels of the comprehensive plan. “The owner of this property has a right to develop that property,” said Planning Commission Chair Peter Murphy (Springfield).

The Planning Commission deferred the decision on the development to Oct. 6. After the commission decides, it must go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.