Vernon Wong brought his own Power Point presentation to the Board of Supervisors‚ public hearing Tuesday, July 25. Representing the Estates of Forest Ridge Homeowner's Association, Wong brought maps and questions that outlined his and his community's concerns about the approved Brambleton development.
"We would request that there be a closer look at the traffic impact," he told supervisors. "Traffic design must be actively managed upfront to deal with any problems."
The Brambleton community was originally approved in July 1990 and was amended and expanded in November 1995. The community consists of 2,379 acres and is approved for 6,240 residential dwelling units at a density of three homes per acre. The project allows 200,000 square feet for a golf conference center, 220,000 square feet for office, 450,000 square feet for retail and will include three community pools, six tennis courts, six multipurpose courts, a 15-acre park, a golf course, 15 public playing fields, three worship sites, a community building and four school sites.
The current special-exception application sought to realign portions of the golf course and relocate two elementary-school sites to add a focal point for a religious facility and a day-care center.
"We have no issue with golf course and school realignments," Wong said, "and we think day care and religious facilities are needed for community."
Wong said what concerned the residents of Forest Ridge about the community was the lack of detailed information about the project, pointing out the unknown size and capacity of the day-care center, religious facility and the type, number and layout of the residential units. Wong added, however, that the biggest concern remained traffic in the area.
"I would like to see the traffic generation," he said. "I don't know which is worse: a teen driver with a new license or a parent eager to drop their kids off at the high school."
LOUDOUN COUNTY Public Schools‚ Director of Planning Sam Adamo also addressed the board about the project, telling supervisors that the Brambleton area is in desperate need for schools.
"The school in question was supposed to open this fall and it has been delayed," he said. "We have three schools serving the entire area."
Adamo told supervisors that the new schools in the Brambleton area are already filled to capacity and that any additional delay to the Brambleton project would create problems for the schools scheduled to open in fall 2007.
"We are very concerned about this already having slipped one year and if there were more delays we would be looking at that school slipping another year," he said.
Adamo said that if the project was not approved expeditiously the county would be unable to get the engineering done on the new schools in time to complete construction for the 2007-2008 school year.
"We believe that we probably would not be able to authorize out construction until late September, early October, which would make our timeline really tight," he said.
In the face of time pressure for the school system, supervisors voted to approve Brambleton's application, but asked that the group work with the citizens about their concerns.
"I am in hopes that the applicant would get with them," Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) said. "What I will do is I will work with them to get things to your satisfaction. That is what I pledge to you."
Wong said that while he wished that the application was not approved, he was glad to see that Snow was vocal about working with them and thought they might be able to work out some of their concerns. On the issue of traffic, however, he was not convinced.
"I don't believe them on the traffic," he said. "As an engineer I just don't see how it could work."
IN ADDITION TO the Brambleton application supervisors heard from citizens about the proposed retail development The Ridges at Ashburn Neighborhood Center and residential development, Hall Road Property.
Members of the neighboring Oak Grove Baptist Church came out in support of the Hall Road Property, which would rezone 4.25 acres to allow for the construction of 44 single-family townhouses. The church's members said they believed that the project would help with many neglected areas surrounding the property, including safety.
"They have addressed all our questions and our concerns about their proposal," Martin Taylor said.
Supervisors, however, said they were concerned about the residential density of the project and they would like to move the application to the land-use committee for further work.
"The density is an issue for me," Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said. "I just think you are trying to fit too many houses on too small a parcel."
Residents of the surrounding area were split over the Ridges of Ashburn neighborhood center, with some saying it was an inappropriate use for the location and others saying it was part of the original plan for the area.
"Why people are surprised, surprises me," Neil Manausa, a member of the board for the Ridges of Ashburn, said. "I understand that this was approved before the first stick went in the ground for houses. I think anyone who is surprised might not have done their homework when buying their houses."
Resident Yolanda Thompson, however, presented the board with a petition signed by 78 Ridges of Ashburn residents stating their concern over the project.
"When we purchased our home it was with the notion of living in the suburbs, not an urban setting with a bank and a pharmacy in our backyard," she said. "Our kids have to cross Susan Leslie [Road] to get the tot lot, to get to the basketball court, to the park."
It was the petition that caused some supervisors to send the application to their Sept. 5 business meeting.
"I think there are some outstanding issues that need to be addressed between some residents and the applicant," Waters said.
Other supervisors said they were concerned about the application's proposed access, which would come off of the private road, Susan Leslie.
"I can't imagine an application being passed by having a commercial project off a private street," Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) said. "That is a new one for me."