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Woods On Hold, Still

County denies minor site plan application and delays construction project further.

The Burke Centre Conservancy stumbled across a small road block in the construction process for the Woods Community Center, pushing the start date back to sometime next spring.

The county planners rejected a minor site plan for the project because they require that the Conservancy file a PRC (Planned Residential Community) plan first, said Patrick Gloyd, executive director of the Burke Centre Conservancy.

“We didn’t expect that,” he said. “Our engineers didn’t think we had to [file a PRC plan] based on our understanding of the zoning ordinance.”

Because Burke Centre is one of three PRC’s in the county — Reston and Cardinal Forest in Springfield are the other two — they must file the plan before they can proceed with the Woods center project, said Florence Naeve, senior staff aide in Supervisor Sharon Bulova’s (D-Braddock) office. Bulova’s office has been facilitating the process between the county and Burke Centre.

In PRC districts, any new-use projects or expansions of existing uses above and beyond certain size requirements need a PRC plan, said Assad Ayoubi, director of the environmental and site review division in the county public works department. Since the Conservancy is expanding the Woods building beyond the allowable limitations, the extra step is necessary. Ayoubi said plan submissions usually take about 60 days to process, depending on the office’s workload and the complexity of the plans.

“We’ll do our best to process it as quickly as possible,” said Ayoubi.

ONCE THE Conservancy can re-file the minor site plan, Ayoubi said they need to make some changes to that plan in order for an approval. The good news is that the minor plan process is not as drawn-out as a regular site plan process.

“They do not have to go through any kind of public hearing process,” said Naeve. “They only have to file a PRC plan for that small section of the Burke Centre area that shows what they’re doing to the Woods Center.”

As for the company that will be doing the work, the Conservancy has narrowed down the contractor bids from five to one. Vantage Construction of Sterling is scheduled to begin work on the center next spring, as long as the plans are approved. Once construction begins, Gloyd said Vantage estimates it will take 21 weeks to complete.

“It’s kind of nice to close out the year knowing who the contractors are from here,” said Gloyd.

Since there has been some vandalism to the Woods Center building since it closed for renovations, Gloyd hopes to get a temporary construction fence up soon to try and deter more of that from happening. The Conservancy couldn't do that until they knew who the construction company would be, he said.

The bids came in last November, but only two companies provided “viable” bids, said Gloyd. The Conservancy previously estimated that the project would cost about $1.6 million. The board of trustees set aside the reserve funds and hoped their outdated estimate would remain current, said Gloyd. Vantage Construction budgeted the project at about $1.5 million, so the Conservancy lucked out, he said.