Development Angers Neighbors

Development Angers Neighbors

Residents concerned about flood plain in Scotts Run.

Ballantrae Oaks, a new development planned for the stretch of land just beyond Scotts Run Road and adjacent to the Capital Beltway has garnered the concern of several McLean residents.

"The developer is trying to build way too many houses on a track that is made up of several different parcels that got consolidated, and an awful lot of it lies in flood plain," said Frank Crandall, chair of the McLean Citizens Association's (MCA) Environment, Parks & Recreation committee.

The developer Williamson Group Construction, Inc. plans to build a minimum of 20 houses on the 27-acre property.

Trish Butler lives on a piece of property that abuts one of the parcels that make up the site and she is displeased with the entire development plan.

"Some of that land is 100-year flood plain, and some of it is Resource Protection Area (RPA), and a lot of it constitutes those two things together, which means they're [the developer] taking building credit for land they can't develop on," said Butler.

According to Butler, approximately 15 acres of the land make up flood plain or RPA, and that having so much of this type of land run through residential properties would be "very messy."

"It means that you're going to have nine, ten, eleven, twelve different residences trying to maintain the standards of the flood plain, and it's practically impossible to coordinate that," said Butler.

SHE AND SEVERAL other affected residents filed for a review of the proposed development with the Board of Zoning Appeals, and they have been granted their request. Their appeal will be addressed by the BZA on Dec. 6. Butler says that the they are specifically concerned with the fact that the developer has used the Capital Beltway to meet Fairfax County street access requirements.

"They've used the Beltway to measure lot width on these lots that are as much as 4/10 of a mile away from the property that is up against the Beltway. That means you have to walk 15 minutes from the front yard to the backyard just to get to the property line. As usual, this is all part of the grand plan which is, jam as many houses in there as you can," said Butler.

She added that if the developer were only to construct homes on the segments of the land that are actually suitable for building, "they could put six, maybe seven R1-zoned residences."

"But because of the way they are gerrymandering these lots, they are building on land that they can't build on and backing it up to the Beltway. It's absolutely ridiculous," said Butler.

Frank Crandall is also disturbed by such planning.

"They are trying to claim that the lot down by the Beltway is road frontage, and the County is saying that a road is a road. Apparently they've done it once or twice before on this kind of thing, but it's absolutely fraudulent," said Crandall.

Beth Chung is another nearby resident who is unhappy with the proposed development. Chung says that the "density they are attempting to achieve is inappropriate," and that building on 15 acres of flood plain is "bad environmental policy."

"It is more than looking for a reasonable profit, and I believe that developers should make a profit, but it's going too far with the lots on the Beltway," said Chung.

She noted that with the increased development at Tysons Corner, developing the flood plain is "a bad prospect since it's already being stressed."

"We need it more than ever, not less than ever," said Chung.

CHUNG ADDED THAT she and many of her neighbors are particularly disappointed with the fact that, unlike previous developer who have been interested in the property, Williamson Group Construction, Inc. has not been willing to initiate any discussions with the affected residents.

"Frankly, we are disappointed as a community... we'd like to come to some reasonable, low-impact agreement, but they have not been willing to engage us at all," said Chung.

Ron Frazier, a partner at Williamson Group Construction, Inc. could not be reached for comment.