At 9:30 the night of Tuesday, June 27, several people were gathered in the gym at the Arcola Community Center looking at a map that showed the proposed developments for the Dulles South area. They were talking with Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) and Packie Crown, vice president of planning and zoning for Greenvest LLC, pointing out areas on the map and asking questions about the plans for the area.
All of the people gathered around the map that evening were residents of the Arcola Farm development there to learn more about the Comprehensive Plan amendments (CPAM) being considered for the Dulles South area and to show their support for the current plans.
"We are trying to find out what the process is," resident Norma Bailey said. "We are interested in having our own area rezoned."
Arcola Farm is made up of 17 lots at Evergreen Mills Road and Ryan Road, just north of the Brambleton residential development. The area, which has been in existence since the early 1980s, was originally planned as part of the Brambleton development before it was sold and subdivided.
Arcola Farm residents are on well and septic, even as they see new pipelines running adjacent to their properties.
"Some of us have really good wells and some of us don't," Bailey said. "Some people are very concerned about how the encroaching development will hurt their wells. We don't want to just hook up to city water, we want someone to be allowed to come in and help us [improve]."
Arcola Farm is not included in any of the CPAMs submitted to the county, something the residents hope to change soon by submitting their own CPAM.
"We just want the same zoning considerations that Brambleton got," Bailey said.
THE RESIDENTS OF Arcola Farm were at the community center for a Dulles South Business Alliance's (DSBA) community forum. The event, the first in an intended series, was designed to provide residents and businesses with information about the development being planned for the Dulles South area.
"This area is probably going to undergo its biggest changes in history over the next couple of years," DSBA president Bill Dean said. "This is a process of self-determination for those of us in this area."
Throughout the evening residents heard presentations from representatives of Inova Loudoun Hospital, George Mason University, county staff and members of the Route 50 Task Force about the plans for the Dulles South area. Each presentation was intended to inspire residents to become a part of the redevelopment process.
"This area is going to be developed and then it will probably be 50 years before it is redeveloped," Dean said. "This is the time to get involved."
The Route 50 Task Force was formed in 2004 in order to get residents' and landowners' opinions on what should be done along the Route 50 corridor. The corridor was divided into four segments, three of which make up the Route 50/Arcola CPAM. The fourth segment is the Upper Broad Run and Upper Foley CPAM.
The task force has been criticized with detractors saying it was just a front for developers to have control over the development of Dulles South. South Riding resident Stephanie Smith, who was the representative of segment two at the forum, said that is not true.
"There is a misunderstanding that this task force was a vehicle for developers," she said. "There were several hundred people involved in this project. It is easy to throw stones."
SMITH WAS ONLY one of the speakers who encouraged residents to get involved in the development of the area.
"Residents need to get involved and work together," she said. "We can't go at this big, long stretch of Route 50 piecemeal."
Many of the night's speakers talked about the need for the residents to come together and be a part of the creation of a better Dulles South.
"This has been a long time coming," Robyn Bailey, a manager in the Department of Economic Development, said. "This is the first time in my history here of seeing all the forces coming together."
Bailey added that it was important not only to make things better for the area, but to "get ahead of the change."
"This is really a case of the community working together to do what is right and what is good for the community as a whole," Bob Buchanan, segment three's representative said. "I think when you see that you really start to pay attention and say, 'What can we do to make it better?'"
MAKING IT BETTER and working together was on the forefront of the Arcola Farm residents' minds.
"Every homeowner has come together and agreed on this CPAM," Bailey said. "I think that says something. It is a great opportunity for improving [our development] overall."
While Arcola Farm is not sure of its next step, Tuesday's forum only helped the residents to realize how much they want to get involved in the rezoning process.
"We are very excited about the Dulles South plans," Bailey said. "We think it will be a great benefit to the county. We just hope to be included in the future development plans before it is too late."