Gigantic trailers, a tree-limb shredder and an old, dented car perched atop a boat trailer — these are just a few of the unsightly and potentially dangerous vehicles parked along Little Rocky Run Circle.
And now, because of items such as these and others parked on streets in Little Rocky Run’s townhouse neighborhood, the community is seeking to establish the Little Rocky Run Community Parking District (CPD). And a public hearing on the matter will be held this Monday, April 9, before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
“It’s been a long-time concern of ours,” said Alec T. Monroe, Little Rocky Run Homeowners Association president. “There are 925 townhomes in the Centreville area.”
No one knows for certain who owns this odd assemblage of vehicles, but it’s likely that many of them are owned by the townhouse residents, themselves. In addition, said Community Manager Pat Moore, “We’ve been told people from Bent Tree [apartments] are parking their vehicles there, but we have no way of knowing that. And Deerfield Ridge is nearby, too.”
“They’ve got boat trailers, motor homes and campers on Little Rocky Run Circle, Sunset Ridge Road and Braddock Creek Road,” said Monroe. “And these are public, VDOT-owned streets.”
If approved by the Supervisors, the CPD would prohibit or restrict the parking of watercraft, boat trailers, motor homes, camping trailers and any other trailers, vehicles with three or more axles, and vehicles weighing 12,000 or more pounds — except for school buses used on a regular basis for transporting students. Public-safety vehicles are also exempt.
Monroe said the idea for the CPD was born a few years ago and came from Little Rocky Run’s “wholesale look at all the parking problems in our area. We talked to people, registered their complaints and thought about what we could do.”
“And we had a consultant come in and look at the parking areas that belong to Little Rocky Run,” said Moore. “If the residents don’t have enough room to park their regular vehicles in their own areas, then they park in the spillover areas — the public streets.”
But, said Monroe, “If the spillover areas are full, they might find themselves parking a half mile from their homes. These homes were built 20 years ago, when every home was allocated 1.8 parking spaces. But now, the kids have cars and many of the houses are rented out — so some homes have up to five cars.”
When deciding on a plan of action, said Monroe, the community considered three options:
* Building additional parking spaces within Little Rocky Run, if space could be found;
* Having reserved parking spaces. “There was never an official allocation of parking spots in front of the townhomes,” explained Monroe. “It was a free-for-all, unless neighbors agreed on parking, in advance. But if someone else parked in your space, their was no provision to remove their vehicle.”
However, he added, “We have regulations within our governing documents that will allow people to establish reserve parking plans with towing enforcement. The residents would do it by petition, with a certain percentage — and a majority of them — signing.”
* Creating a CPD — which would take these larger vehicles off the public streets and result in more parking for the residents.
“We held public meetings about two years ago and got a good, active response,” said Monroe. “The residents didn’t want to expand their parking lots and lose the look and feel of the neighborhood and its trees. They liked the idea of reserved parking with towing enforced, and the Community Parking District.”
“The large vehicles were a safety hazard in the minds of those people,” he continued. “There are tot lots nearby, and kids dart between these vehicles; and when they do, people don’t see them. So it’s dangerous for children, pedestrians and for the drivers, themselves.”
Monroe said the oversized vehicles also impede traffic. “It’s difficult for motorists to maneuver around these vehicles,” he said. “And [motorists] have trouble seeing them at night. Sometimes, it’s hard for two cars to pass each other” with a slew of trailers, motor homes, boats and commercial trucks lining both sides of the streets. “You have to duck in somewhere,” added Moore.
Besides all those reasons, said Monroe, “Part of the Homeowners Association rules are to make sure we have an attractive community. We spent all this money on landscaping and enforcing architectural standards; and frankly, those streets look like dumps.”
“And we feel, if people could spend a lot of money on a boat, they could pay for storage,” he added. “Storage companies and RV lots offer this service, for a fee,” said Moore.
But requesting the creation of a CPD entailed collecting names on a petition from the townhouse residents and presenting the document to the county. “[Sully District] Supervisor Michael Frey was very helpful and supportive,” said Monroe. “And Ruth Ann Henderson, on the Homeowners Association staff, coordinated the meetings and response,” said Moore.
Volunteers worked on the petition drive and, said Moore, “It was a 13-month process from the time we got the forms until we got all the signatures we needed. Then we had to send a check to the county — $10 per home — paid by the Homeowners Association, for $2,180.” Since not all the townhouses are directly affected by the oversized vehicles, the county determined that signatures from 218 homeowners would be enough to go forward with the proposal.
The money was to defray the cost of the signage for the public hearing, the signs to be placed along the streets once the CPD is approved and the administrative costs associated with the work leading up to that point. Little Rocky Run turned in its petition in January; then on March 12, the Supervisors set April 9 as the public-hearing date.
And the residents have been kept informed of the whole process via articles in their monthly newsletter and, so far, there haven’t been any objections. “No one has complained to us about [the CPD],” said Moore. “But they’re welcome to speak at the public hearing.”
If OKed by the Supervisors, the parking district would probably take effect during — or by the end of — this summer. The county and VDOT will set the exact date.
“Well put notices in the newsletter and on our Web site advising people of the change,” said Moore. “Then, once it’s in effect, it would be a police matter [to enforce].” So, said Monroe, if people disregarded the new rules, “Police could issue tickets, like for a traffic violation.”