Changes to the Landscape

Changes to the Landscape

Federation votes to not oppose conversion of landfill to park.

Tuesday night's meeting of the South County Federation could have been called the Planning Commission and Land Use show, as the proposal to turn the Lorton Debris Landfill into a park was discussed and a Planning Commissioner announced her resignation.

Laurie Frost Wilson, who has served as an at-large member for the Fairfax County Planning Commission, said she has decided to step down after being on the commission for eight years.

"I wanted to make sure you know first because you are my community," said Frost Wilson, a long-time resident of Lorton.

Frost Wilson, who was appointed to the position by then Chair of the Board of Supervisors Kate Hanley, said she was selected for the at-large position specifically to represent the southern part of Fairfax County.

"I'm the only one who pipes up and speaks on behalf of this community, and now that John Byers and myself are gone, you won't have that voice anymore," she said.

However, with two positions open on the Planning Commission, Frost Wilson urged the South County Federation to talk with Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) and chair of the Board of Supervisors Gerry Connolly (D-At-large) in the hopes of securing another representative from southern Fairfax County.

"I'd hate to see you have the same uphill battle you've had in the past for representation," she said.

The Federation membership passed a unanimous resolution to contact both Hyland and Connolly about the two positions, and thanked Frost Wilson for her work.

THE MEETING also focused on the application from EnviroSolutions Inc., which plans to convert the Lorton Debris Landfill, a construction and demolition debris landfill on Furnace Road, into a park.

Bill Lynch, a representative from Gunston Commerce Center, said trucks from the landfill are bringing large amounts of silt and dirt onto Furnace Road, causing hazardous driving conditions after rain storms.

"We've invested quite a lot of money to raise the image of our employment facility in Lorton and there's been lots of truck damage to the asphalt in front of our building," Lynch said, illustrating his concerns with a PowerPoint slide show.

He pointed out where newly repaved areas are already cracked, then moved onto a series of photos of silt accumulation on the side of Furnace Road, under bridges for Interstate 95 and near Richmond Highway.

Lynch said he wasn't trying to convince the Federation to reject the application, he was just trying to protect his investment.

"We need stricter conditions for these trucks," Lynch said. "The county needs to be able to restrict the silt on the trucks coming out of the landfill. We didn't have these problems with the former owner ... this has really gone downhill."

Several members of the Federation argued that the road conditions have either stayed the same or improved since EnviroSolutions purchased the landfill several years ago.

Conrad Meehan, speaking on behalf of EnviroSolutions and the Lorton Debris Landfill, said he'd be willing to take Lynch's concerns into consideration, as he's modified the plans for the proposed park based in large on community input.

He also said that the proposal would include a pressure washer to rinse dirt off truck tires before leaving the landfill and a grate system to knock mud off tires to reduce the amount of dirt that leaves the landfill and winds up on roads.

"We recognize that people are concerned with truck traffic," Meehan said. "VDOT has agreed to put a no left turn sign in front of the entrance on Furnace Road so trucks can be ticketed for doing that," he said.

He's also talked with the Virginia Department of Transportation about digging out the ditches along Furnace Road which have become clogged and refilled over the years, but VDOT has refused to re-dig them. Meehan said he has offered to do the work himself or pay VDOT for it, without any commitment to get the work completed.

Calvin Smith, chair of the South County Federation Land Use Committee, made a proposal that the Federation not oppose the application for the park. The resolution also included a list of contributions EnviroSolutions has promised to make to the Lorton Arts Foundation, totaling $500,000 over 10 years, and a $200,000 contribution to the proposed Cold War Museum once its site plan is approved. An additional contribution of $2 million will be made to the Lorton Community Action Center.

Lorton resident Lowell Curtis said those contributions were a good start, but the amount of money to be made by the landfill is much greater. He suggested an amendment to the resolution, calling for a $10-per-truck fee to be collected from now until the landfill closes to debris in 2017, an estimated $1 million per year. The money would be put into a trust and given to non-profit organizations that benefit the southern Fairfax County area.

The resolution passed by a vote of 43 to 9, with one community abstaining. In addition, The resolution requested that language in the application be modified to require the landfill to stop receiving debris by Dec. 31, 2015.