Board Approves Crossing Cemetery

Board Approves Crossing Cemetery

Twenty houses coming to Ridge Road in Springfield.

The Board of Supervisors approved a plan that includes paving over a piece of land which had been a cemetery.

Developer Brookfield Ridge Road plans to build 20 houses on about 6 acres off Ridge Road in Springfield. Residents of the nearby Middle Valley Neighborhood had opposed the plan. They live downhill from the development and fear increased stormwater runoff could flood their houses.

The proposal, approved by the Planning Commission last year, was put on hold as the developer came up with an alternate stormwater management plan.

"[Brookfield Ridge Road] has listened to the community concerns, and, I want you to know, has taken them seriously," said Lynne Strobel, Brookfield's attorney.

The project deserves further study, said Teresa Champion, president of the Middle Valley Civic Association. "We have issues on this property," Champion said. "We were told, 'trust us.' We want to be shown," she said.

Brookfield, besides providing the second stormwater option, paid for an engineer selected by the neighborhood to analyze the calculations, Strobel said. "I'm not sure what else the applicant can do," she said.

FURTHER COMPLICATING the issues is the presence of a 0.74-acre cemetery on the land to be developed. The cemetery is the ancestral burial ground of the Hall family, which once owned hundreds of acres in the area. At least five people are buried there.

Because of the configuration of the property, the only access to the bulk of the property comes from crossing the cemetery.

Several years ago, a group of heirs of the Hall family claimed to be the legal heirs of the land, and then sold it to Brookfield. Since that time, a group of other Hall descendants who were not part of the original settlement have come forward. These descendants assert that they have a right to be consulted in the disposition of the cemetery, and have filed a lawsuit to reclaim the land.

Diana Taylor, a representative of the Hall descendants, asked that the board defer its decision, pending the outcome of the court case. "No amount of money or time, at this point, can reverse what happens," Taylor said.

Strobel said that the original court order is correct. "I believe that court order will stand," she said.

Supervisor Penny Gross (D-Mason) questioned if by taking action, the county would become involved in the court case. Taylor lives in Gross' district.

David Bobzien, the county attorney, said that he does not think the county would become involved in the case.

Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) said that his first reaction to this proposed development had been unfavorable. However, he said that the developer went through more for this proposal than any other he could think of. He also commended the community for developing a deep understanding of county processes. "I am satisfied with the input and the questioning," Hyland said.

The board approved the development 7-1. Gross voted no. Supervisors Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) and Michael Frey (R-Sully) were out of the room during the vote.