Last week, Tom Brock presided over his first McLean Citizens Association (MCA) Board of Directors meeting as president. Several resolutions were up for discussion, including one on proposed development in Tysons Corner.
For the last 10 months, the MCA Tysons Corner Development subcommittee — a division of the McLean Planning committee — has been looking at an application that proposes rezoning Tysons from a "High Intensity Office District" to a "Planned Development Commercial" (PDC) district.
The Tysons Corner property is approximately 79 acres, and currently has 2.5 million square feet of developed land in the Tysons Corner Center shopping mall. The applicant, Tysons Corner Holdings, LLC, is proposing to remove 43,000 square feet of the existing shopping mall, while adding 3.5 million square feet of gross floor space to a mixed use development that would include 1.4 million square feet of office space, 1.7 million square feet of multi-family residential units, 275,000 square feet of hotel space and 200,000 square feet of new retail space. The development would also include 9,000 new parking spaces for the offices, hotel and residential units.
"It's a really, really, really big project," said MCA board member John Foust, who is also a member of the MCA Tysons Corner Development subcommittee.
Tysons Corner Holdings is hoping to carry out its plans for mixed-use development in four phases. The first phase would include construction of an 18-story office building, a 27-story multi-family residential building and a 21-story hotel. The second phase would include a 25-story multi-family residential building, a 27-story office building and "lots of parking." Phases 3 and 4 would involve significantly less construction.
"Phase 1 does not need Tysons rail in place," said Foust. "Without rail this plan goes nowhere other than Phase 1."
The MCA voted to approve a resolution that states MCA opposition to the proposed rezoning application. The MCA took this stance for a number of reasons, but primarily because its members do not think that any sort of rezoning decision should be made until the Tysons Corner Land Use Task Force has completed its study of the property.
"They're rushing to judgment before the Tysons Corner Task Force can come up with its findings," said Foust.
The Tysons Corner Land Use Task Force is made up of 35 members of the surrounding communities.
"They are busting their humps working to come up with a vision," said Foust.
Another MCA concern is that residents of McLean will be negatively affected by such heavy development, without receiving any sort of benefits.
"What does the community stand to get out of this huge investment that we are making in transit?" asked Foust.
Although Tysons Corner Holdings has put forth a number of proffers as part of its application, Foust said "there's a lot more that would be needed to make it acceptable if it went forward."
According to MCA board member Wade Roberts, Tysons Corner Holdings does not feel that it needs to hold its application until the completion of the Tysons Corner Land Use Task Force study.
"The applicant is saying that they are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan," said Roberts.
THE BOARD also voted to approve a resolution on a proposed Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance amendment. The amendment would add flexibility on certain yard requirements and on clarification of accessory structure height measurements.
While board members agreed that flexibility in zoning ordinances is necessary in certain situations, several addendums are listed in the resolution. The resolution states that "in principle, the MCA supports amendment of the Zoning Ordinance to add limited flexibility to the Zoning Ordinance." However the board added that an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance should contain certain provisions — namely that the property owner truly needs an exception, rather than just wanting one for their own personal convenience or desire.
The resolution also states that the MCA does not support the idea of the Board Of Supervisors delegating Zoning Ordinance amendments to a non-elected body such as the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). Rather, the MCA suggested that the Board of Supervisors hear variance requests on a case-by-case basis, and issue special exceptions when necessary. The MCA suggested an alternate option, which would be to permit the BZA to "act as a gatekeeper by evaluating applications in accordance with threshold requirements."
"We're opposed to it as written, however if these elements were added, we could find ourselves in a position to support it," said MCA board member William Banks of the proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment.
Banks added that requests for Zoning Ordinance variances are few and far between.
"99.9 percent of the people that we represent are never going to apply for a variance," said Banks. "This is not something that a normal citizen uses in the course of their life."