A Dunn Loring development that was the subject of a hearing by the Board of Supervisors is set to go before the Planning Commission on Sept. 14.
Although a relatively small development, the case raised the issue of what tools the county can use to enforce its rezoning agreements.
The Goat Farm is a seven-acre parcel at the corner of Gallows and Idylwood roads. In 2003, the Board of Supervisors approved construction of 14 houses on the site in a cluster development. Cluster developments allow houses to be built on smaller lots than would typically be allowed in a given zone. In exchange, the builder is able to preserve an environmental feature on the site.
In the case of the Goat Farm, also known as the Corbin property, two stands of mature trees were to have been saved. Saving these trees was part of a commitment made by the developer, John Batal, in exchange for a higher density project.
In the course of preparing the site for the construction of the new houses, one of the trees that was to have been saved, a 46-inch diameter tulip poplar, was removed. Also, a 39-inch white oak was permanently damaged, according to a Department of Planning and Zoning staff report dated Aug. 31.
Also, the workers on site violated the limits of clearing and grading, said the report. These are areas set aside in developments in which no construction activities can occur in order to mitigate environmental damage.
By using heavy equipment in these areas, it is possible to damage the root systems of nearby trees, which can sometimes kill the trees. Root damage occurred on the Goat Farm, stated the staff report.
In January, these issues were brought to the attention of county staff by Mike Cavin, a nearby property owner. On Jan. 24, Barbara Byron, director of the Fairfax County Zoning Evaluation Division, issued a letter which determined that the development was no longer in "substantial conformance" with the terms of the rezoning. She further noted that the cluster had been granted in order to protect the trees, and since the trees had been removed, Byron questioned allowing the cluster.
In spite of this finding, the Board of Supervisors would not have been permitted to rescind the rezoning which had been granted, said Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence).
The county refused to issue any additional building permits for the site, and development was stopped pending a review by the Board of Supervisors. The Board heard the case on April 25, but deferred its decision.
The board asked that Batal submit a Proffered Condition Amendment, which would address the loss of the trees and other issues. He did so.
The amendment calls for increasing the amount of tree cover, redesigning the stormwater management pond and planting trees on the abutting Washington & Old Dominion Trail in conjunction with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, according to the staff report.
The development had initially called for planting some new trees on the site. The new filing calls for planting more trees which will be taller and have a larger diameter. It does not suggest any change in the number of houses or their layout.
The Proffered Commission Amendment is scheduled for a public hearing at the Planning Commission on Wednesday, Sept. 14, and the Board of Supervisors on Monday, Oct. 17. The file is available for review at the Department of Planning and Zoning, Herrity Building 7th floor, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.
To register to speak at the Planning Commission call 703-324-2865. To speak a the Board of Supervisors, call 703-324-3151.