In March 2005, the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee approved nine new homes for construction in Centreville's Historic District.
BUT SINCE Sully District Supervisor Michael R. Frey and others on a Historic District work group were — and still are — trying to expand the area designated as historic, the project stalled when sent on to the county Planning Commission.
Instead of considering the developer's request for a rezoning, at the end of that month, the Planning Commission deferred the matter until after completion of the Historic District study.
"Michael and I didn't see any sense in rezoning a parcel of land that could possibly be affected by the study," explained Sully District Planning Commissioner Ron Koch. "So we thought it would be best to defer it indefinitely."
Now, though, the issue has again arisen and, last week, the proposal received another approval from the WFCCA. And on Feb. 1, Koch and his fellow commissioners must finally render a decision. (But they don't have the final say, however; the Board of Supervisors will give the ultimate thumbs up or down).
In the meanwhile, some things have changed in the past year. The builder is now NVP instead of Stanley Martin and, in deference to county staff's wishes, it's agreed to turn one of its homes to face Wharton Lane.
WALNEY GLEN is to the north of the site and Englewood Mews is across the street. The back of the neighborhood is adjacent to St. John's Episcopal Church. And the single-family detached homes would be built along 3.68 acres on Wharton Lane.
Representing the applicant at the Jan. 17 WFCCA meeting, attorney Bob Lawrence said each lot would be "exceptionally large — 10,000 square feet." And the new community would be developed at three homes per one acre, if the county approves a rezoning there from the current one home per acre.
The Colonial-style houses will have brick or stone fronts, and the sides facing Wharton Lane will be brick and stone. No vinyl or aluminum siding will be used, and the homes will be about 3,000 square feet.
"It's going to be a nice subdivision," said Lawrence. "There'll be a public street going down the middle of it and a provision for an interparcel connection to the property to the south when it's developed. And there'll be sidewalks on both sides of the street."
He said the homeowners association would maintain the grass around the dry, stormwater-management pond, and that area will be "heavily landscaped with deciduous trees and evergreens." A rain garden is planned and tree-save areas have been designated on two portions of the property.
"This case was deferred because of the pending Historic District approval," Lawrence told the WFCCA last Tuesday night. "But that would have taken a long time, so we've proffered that we'd go back to the Historic District ARB [Architectural Review Board], even though we're not [officially, just geographically] in the Historic District."
WHEN THIS application first came up, last year, county staff recommended denial. It wanted a home or two to face Wharton, instead of an internal street, so the community would appear more welcoming from the outside. But the builder balked, saying it would make the neighborhood look awkward.
Now, said Lawrence, "We've agreed." Noting that staff wanted a home turned toward Wharton "to add to the character of the Historic District," he said the builder has also decided to add a front porch to that home's frontage, all around Wharton Lane.
"It was the sole reason staff was recommending denial," he said. "So staff has now given us a favorable recommendation."
However, WFCCA members Russ Wanek and Carol Hawn both said they didn't like the new orientation of the house, and Wanek said he didn't understand why staff was taking that position.
"I don't see why you'd want to have the back of your house facing your neighbor's," said Hawn. WFCCA's Chris Terpak-Malm also didn't see the rationale for it, saying, "I think it diminishes the value of that lot."
Cheryl Repetti, of the Centreville Historic District work group, said the turning of the house "has to do with ARB streetscape guidelines and the streetscape that's already established there."
WFCCA's Dorothy Steranka then made a motion for the panel to approve the Wharton Lane assemblage for rezoning, "but with the notation that we recommend that that lot be oriented toward the rest of the community and not toward Wharton Lane." The WFCCA then voted unanimously in favor of the project, and it was on to the Planning Commission, once more.