The Big Four

The Big Four

Four issues in Kincora project leads Planning Commission to another work session.

As the project moves closer to the date it will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for a vote, Kincora still had four outstanding issues under debate during the Planning Commission’s Monday, July 23, work session. Commissioners and the county’s planning staff remained concerned with two transportation issues, the development’s phasing and protection of the area’s steep slopes and flood plains.

The Kincora development, which was first proposed in February, is located at the corner of Route 7 and Route 28. The proposed mixed-use business community would include residential, retail, civic and office development on 239 usable acres, leaving 185 acres for a natural park within the Broad Run watershed.

While the principal issue for the county’s planning staff is still the development of residential homes in an area planned for high-density corporate office employment, the applicant, Norton Scott LLC, has dropped the number of proposed houses from 1,376 to 1,068.

"The issue is how much is too much in this area," John Merrithew, the assistant director of planning, said.

ORIGINALLY, THE APPLICATION did not call for any affordable dwelling units in the project because it included four-story buildings with elevators.

"The idea is that elevator buildings would be more affordable by their very nature," John McGranahan, an attorney for the applicant, said.

Merrithew told the Planning Commission that the application now included a proffer for 67 affordable dwelling units, meant for those living between 30 and 70 percent of the area median income, and 20 work force housing units, for those living between 70 and 100 percent of the area median income. However, if the county deemed the affordable dwelling units unnecessary, the project would include only a maximum of 67 work force housing units.

The Kincora project is located within the Route 28 tax district, which does not allow for residential development, but the developers have agreed to pay out taxes for the residential homes they develop.

"The applicant has agreed to pay out, where they pay whatever taxes they would have paid if the area had not been converted [to residential]," Merrithew said.

The total buyout, which runs through the life of the bond, is approximated to be $250,000. Last year, the applicant paid approximately $80,000 in taxes for the entire site.

<sh>Development Phasing

<bt>When the Kincora application last came before the Planning Commission at the beginning of the month, the applicant had taken the reduction in houses from the last phase of the project, leaving more than 700 homes to be built in the first phase.

During Monday night’s meeting, the applicant presented a different phasing plan, where 550 homes would be built in the first phase, along with 550,000 square feet of nonresidential development.

"What we tried to do is keep a 1-1 ratio," McGranahan said. "The market wants synergy. That’s why we’re here."

In the second phase, Kincora could be developed for a total of 850 residential units with 1.55 million square feet of nonresidential units, 750,000 of which would be office space. In the third phases the applicant could construct up to the total number of multifamily units, 1,068.

"These are a mix of condos and apartments," McGranahan said. "It’s to create an amenity that makes [employers] want to come to Kincora."

Some commissioners, however, were still concerned with the phasing plan and the number of families it will bring into the community before the road network is complete.

"We will be completely built out residentially before Gloucester Parkway is finished," Commissioner Nancy Doane (Catoctin) said. "And the need for Gloucester is exacerbated by the residences and the children who will need to get to school along it."

Doane asked the applicant to consider adjusting the number of residences developed until the necessary road network was completed.

<sh>Transportation and Road Construction

<bt>The Kincora project faces two different transportation hurdles on its journey for approval. The Planning Commission wants a priority put on the construction of Gloucester Parkway, connecting the project with the roads to its west.

"Until we have access to the west, we will be forcing school buses onto Route 28, 7 and Waxpool," Merrithew said.

The commission suggested switching the Gloucester Parkway project with the expansion of Russell Branch Parkway, which is scheduled to occur earlier in the development, but the applicant said that is not possible because of monetary issues.

The issue of the timing of the Gloucester Parkway construction project lies in the approval or denial of the creation of a Community Development Authority, or CDA.

NA Dulles Real Estate Investor LLC, partners with Norton Scott on the Kincora project, submitted an application to establish a CDA in an area that would encompass the proposed development. The creation of a CDA would allow the developer to use bond money up front to build schools and other infrastructure, such as the Gloucester Parkway project, and charge homeowners an assessment to repay the bond money. The proposal was before the Board of Supervisors’ finance and government services committee at the beginning of the month and is expected to come before the full board in September or October.

"If the Board of Supervisors says no to the CDA and we have to switch the roads, I don’t think that [the applicant] will," McGranahan said. "I think they’ll just develop by right."

The Russell Branch Parkway project also faces problems with its right of way, which would go through the homes of two different property owners. The applicant has been working with the homeowners on solutions to the problem, but there has been no final decision.

"The applicant has asked for a proffer where it would have the right to negotiate with the two properties," Art Smith, the county’s senior transportation planner, said. "If they can’t negotiate then the applicant has the right to petition the board for condemnation of the properties."

<sh> Environmental Issues

<bt>Protecting Broad Run and the Kincora site’s natural watershed has been a longtime concern of the Planning Commission and the county’s environmental review team; and the applicant’s plans for the area sparked a heated debate during Monday’s meeting.

The proposal includes the construction of two roads that will cross two intermittent streams in the area’s floodplain. While planning staff does not support the construction of the roads, the applicant maintains that the roads are allowed under the zoning ordinance because they cross the flow of the streams perpendicularly.

"If we can show hydrogeologically that is true then [Zoning Administrator] Melinda [Artman] might agree with us," McGranahan said. "If she doesn’t then we’ll have to redesign. We’re going to comply with your ordinance."

Commissioner Nancy Hsu (Blue Ridge), however, said she believed the plan needed to make sense environmentally before following the letter of the ordinance.

"I am not sure this is," she said.

While giving Norton Scott LLC credit for "working to maintain the integrity of the county’s most unique environmental features," Laura Edmonds, of the county’s environmental review team, said there was a disconnect over a proposed water feature in the steep slope area.

"We’re not sure there’s a need for anyone to put storm-water management in this area," she said. "We feel pretty strongly that this should be an area that should be avoided."

Some commissioners agreed with the findings of the environmental staff, saying that fountains, such as the one proposed, could induce trash, such as food wrappers and coins. They expressed concern over the purity of the water from outside pollution.

"It is important that if you take away natural filtration, you replace it with something," Hsu said. "I think you need to take it the next step and make sure it is filtered. You don’t have a backup plan to protect from the things that people do to urban water features."

Commissioner John H. Elgin (Leesburg) asked that both the environmental staff and the applicant come back to the commission with information as to how large the impact would actually be if the proposal moved forward as is.

"I want to know how big the bread box is," he said. "I want to know how big the damage actually is."

THE COMMISSION plans to work on the project in committee during its Monday, Sept. 10 work session, following the counnty government’s August recess.

"We would like to see this application move forward with the CDA," McGranahan said.