Despite more than half a dozen people pleading against it, the Board of Supervisors voted Monday to defer a decision on the vacation of Talbert Road until June 26.
“In my 19 years as a supervisor, we have never had a case pending so long before the Board,” said Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon).
At question is the vacation of Talbert Road, currently a right of way extending between Hooes Road and Ridgely Road in the Lorfax community of Lorton. Originally mapped and developed in the late 1940s, Talbert Road was never built, and a portion of the now overgrown area has been used by homeowner John Fedorshik for his driveway since his house was built in 1996.
Fedorshik has submitted an application for the right of way to be vacated, which would grant him ownership of the property where he has constructed a driveway. Many of his neighbors have protested the vacation, claiming that the road can and should be developed to provide an additional egress out of the community of 125 homes.
“Our community has changed a lot since it was first developed,” said Tracy Rogers, a Lorfax Heights resident. “The roadway system does not support the current development and now is the time to preserve the option to improve Talbert Road.”
Residents on the far side of the community find themselves blocked into their homes in an emergency situation, she said. If Talbert Road were completed, that would eliminate their concerns.
“Buses must complete three-point-turns in order to get back to Hooes Road,” Rogers said. “We have safety concerns because the streets are so narrow. There are no sidewalks in our neighborhood, which puts our children at risk.
Seven of the 10 residents who spoke before the Board asked for the vacation to be dropped because the community did not want it approved.
“The most important reason to reject this vacation is simple — the community opposes it,” said resident Jill Howard. “It is unjust and irresponsible to consider it further. Your action is needed to help keep us safe.”
Resident Kathryn Brown reminded the Board of Supervisors that when Fedorshik’s house burned several years ago, he rebuilt it in the same configuration instead of reorienting it to use the property frontage on Ridgely Road.
“He chose to have his driveway over the right of way,” she said. “No one has given a satisfactory reason for vacating the road. We object to his ownership of it.”
Karen Yoon, a resident of Kiger Street in Lorfax Heights, contested that the 30 feet-wide right of way was wide enough for the Virginia Department of Transportation to maintain a finished Talbert Road.
“VDOT doesn’t always need 50 feet to build a road, they said they could be flexible,” she said. “Builders recently sought to develop the land near Talbert Road, why not just ask them to give 20 feet of land to provide the 50 foot right of way? They were never asked.”
Hyland later said that the development was being done by right and the Board of Supervisors had no authority to request proffers on that land.
Ken Hodgdon was one of the few residents who favored the vacation of Talbert Road, stating the if the road were ever developed, he’d lose a portion of his property.
“My neighbor should have access to his house,” Hodgdon said. “It is in the best interest of his family, with no negative impact on the rest of the community."
Citing a compromise posed by Fedorshik, in which he would take ownership of 20 feet of the right of way instead of 30 feet, Hodgdon said the creation of a 10-foot trail would “benefit the community.”
AFTER LISTENING to his neighbors plead against his application, Fedorshik said he agreed with many of their concerns.
As a public safety officer with the county’s Fire and Rescue Department, Fedorshik said he understood concerns for safety and emergency access.
“In 2000, I proposed to build a cul de sac at the end of Ridgely Road on the right of way for buses to turn around and I thought the community agreed,” Fedorshik said. “I’m totally on board with a trail. But if I were on the board, I wouldn’t support the vacation based on the information given here today.”
Fedorshik said he’d be willing to reduce his request to only 20 feet of the right of way, leaving the other 10 feet in the ownership of the county for later development as a trail.
“If Mr. Fedorshik wants to amend his application, we’d have to amend the plat,” said Michael Davis, a staff member from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning.
“I feel that if it were realistic to expect Talbert Road to be developed, my feelings would be completely different,” Hyland said. “It is very clear that the citizens want access along Talbert Road … there are certain document changes required and the staff should be able to review those changes before we make a decision.”
The Board of Supervisors will vote on the proposal during a meeting on Monday, June 26.