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Braddock Residents Eye Nominations

APR Task Force receives input on proposed changes to Comprehensive Plan.

Braddock District residents aired their concerns over proposed changes to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan Tuesday, Feb. 7. The meeting was meant to give residents a sense of future plans for the district, said Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock District).

"It’s an opportunity for people to ask questions about the nominations and to understand the intent of the Task Force," she said.

The Area Plans Review task force for the Braddock District presented nine proposals for changes to the plan. One nomination would create an option for land parcels behind the Kings Park Shopping Center at Braddock Road and Rolling Road to develop with office and commuter parking, while two others dealt with the 22-acre Ridge Manor neighborhood at Roberts Road and a group of single-family residential parcels along Olley Lane and Athens Road.

For the Ridge Manor nomination, the task force added words to the plan emphasizing the current zoning of 1-2 houses per acre, to discourage future consolidation and high-density development of the lots. The nomination would also change the planned density of a larger lot on the east side of the subdivision from 2-3 dwelling units per acre to 1-2 dwelling units per acre.

On Athens Road, the proposal would make an editorial change to plan language and emphasize the existing planned density of 1-2 dwelling units per acre.

Low density was the purpose of another proposal to add plan text underscoring the single-family residential zoning of property on the Fairfax County Parkway west of Heritage Landing Road, commonly called the Remco property. A nomination for the Target store property on Roberts Road and New Guinea Road would encourage any future development of the property to stick to the original plan for the site, which was meant to be residential.

Other task force proposals focused on transportation issues and environmental concerns, such as one that would allow for a footpath to connect to a bridge over the tracks at the Burke Centre Virginia Railway Express station, and would provide for a Kiss and Ride site directly north of the tracks.

RESIDENTS' CONCERNS focused on keeping the low-density character and environmental integrity of Braddock District neighborhoods intact.

Steve Otto, who lives in the area surrounding Olley Road, was concerned about rampant development of the properties in areas such as the Ridge Manor subdivision and the Olley Lane corridor.

"There’s nothing in the back of my house right now, and I don’t see why you have to cut up and build on every square inch of land," he said.

Arthur Zimmerli, who lives across from Little Run Elementary School in the Olley Road area, agreed. He was concerned about the traffic problems high-density development projects would cause.

"I don’t want to mess up the traffic pattern," said Zimmerli.

The nominations that dealt with Ridge Manor and Olley Lane areas would actually discourage against the heavy development so many residents were against, said task force member Terry Wanbaugh.

"If you have a stable neighborhood, the county wants that to remain," she said.

Steve O’Toole, whose parents own the large parcel of land on the east side of the Ridge Manor neighborhood, hoped that the proposal to decrease the plan density from 2-3 to 1-2 dwelling units per acre would not affect any future plans his family might have to build on the land.

According to Sterling Wheeler of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, much of that particular property is flood plain and so would be difficult to build upon. However, he said, if the owners met all guidelines for subdividing or building upon the property, the proposed change would not hinder their ability to do so.

TASK FORCE MEMBERS and county staff disagreed on a nomination to add plan language about properties on the VRE tracks and Roberts Parkway. The industrial buildings on the properties have had problems complying with environmental codes in the past, said task force member Steve Schrobo, and so the proposal would add language encouraging compliance with the codes. But compliance is more of a regulations issue, said Wheeler.

The language couldn’t hurt, said Dunleigh resident Chris Krisinger. "It certainly adds to the spirit of the language the community and county officials want," he said.

Michael McMahon, Colony Park representative and chair of the Fairfax County Tree Commission, said that the Kiss and Ride proposal would benefit the neighborhoods surrounding the VRE station. Currently, he said, the site is an empty lot used as wetlands, but people often park trucks and dump garbage there.

"I do think something needs to be done about the remoteness of that area," he said. "It’s a real eyesore to the community."

Wheeler said not enough room was available in the lot for cars going into the Kiss and Ride to turn around. However, said Krisinger, the Target store just to the west of the proposed Kiss and Ride site might benefit from having a walkway and drop-off point close by, and might be willing to work with the county to make a Kiss and Ride work.

Now that community input has been received, said Bulova, the task force will now go back and tweak the nominations. On May 16, task force members will vote on the nominations, which will then go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for approval.