Maybe what Richmond Highway really needs is a string of mixed-use condo developments. How about a 10 million square-foot mixed-use development in the industrial area along Cinder Bed Road. Or maybe just increase the allowable density along Beulah Street and in other residential areas scattered throughout the Lee District.
Each of these scenarios have been proposed in Lee's Area Plans Review process.
According to state law, localities have to review their Comprehensive Plan every five years. Fairfax County does this through the Area Plans Review (APR) process, which began in 2003 when the northern half of the county was up for review. This year the southern half, including the Braddock, Mason, Lee, Springfield and Mount Vernon districts, is under review.
Fairfax County's process is essentially open. Any person can nominate any piece of land to be designated for any use. These proposals, called nominations, are first sifted through by county staff, and then reviewed by a citizen task force. The task force may accept, reject or propose an alternative to each of the nominations. Its non-binding recommendation then goes to the Planning Commission for a public hearing and vote. Any nominations that are not approved by the Planning Commission stop there. Those that are approved go on to the Board of Supervisors for another public hearing and the final decision.
THE LEE DISTRICT is slightly different in its process, since most of the power is granted to the Lee District Land Use and Transportation Committee, said Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee).
While all supervisors pay attention to the recommendations of their task force, the Lee task force essentially makes the decisions. "The Planning Commissioner [Rodney Lusk] and I will stand by their decision," Kauffman said.
Richmond Highway has long been an area that the Board of Supervisors would like to see revitalized, and a host of proposals have been put forward to do just that. Kauffman, however, is not supportive of many of them.
Trammell Crow Residential has submitted five nominations in the Lee District, along with eight in the Mount Vernon District.
Each seems to be for a similar project — mixed use with 80 percent residential and 20 percent retail, and residential units of 950 square feet each.
"I think Johnny Condoseed went down the highway, and wherever there was open dirt he said, 'Why Not?'" Kauffman said. "I find it insulting to the local land-use process."
He might be more supportive of more office development, but questioned the need for additional residential uses on Richmond Highway.
One justification which nominators are using frequently in the recent action by the federal Base Realignment and Closure Committee which has added about 18,000 jobs to Fort Belvoir.
Two nominations in particular propose changing parts of the area between Fort Belvoir and the proving grounds into mixed-use developments with hotel to accommodate the new workers, and temporary workers in the area.
Kauffman, however questions the need for this. Many of those whose jobs have been shifted to Fort Belvoir already live in the area or further south. "For them, it may be an easier commute," Kauffman said.