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Votes

Board Approves Arcola Center

Mixed-use development to be built just west of Dulles Airport.

The county Board of Supervisors voted last week to approve a rezoning that will allow the construction of Arcola Center, a 400-acre mixed-use development that was proposed by Buchanan Partners in the fall of 2004. The center is to be located between Route 50 and Evergreen Mills Road, just west of Dulles International Airport, in one of the county’s fastest-growing areas.

Before voting on the matter at their meeting last Tuesday, Dec. 4, some supervisors expressed concerns about the project’s phasing, and Supervisors Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) and Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin), as well as Chairman Scott York (I) voted against the project.

Burton pointed out that the development proffer only requires one-third of the center’s commercial space to be built before all its residential units — which could number as high as 1,169 — are completed. "I’m concerned that all we’ll ever see is one-third," he said.

Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said she thought the county had met with "quite a bit of success" in negotiating the phasing. "There are some things that still give me a little bit of heartburn, but I do believe the positives, at this point, outweigh the negatives," she said.

"I do think you’re voting on something very historic," said Supervisor Steve Snow (R-Dulles), in whose district the site lies. He recalled that the center was a major part of the discussions of the Route 50 Task Force, which he initiated, and he said he expected the completed project to be "magnificent."

All supervisors were present for the vote.

Arcola Center is to be built over a period of 10 to 20 years, beginning with a 670,000-square-foot retail center, expected to open in mid-2009. West of this shopping center will be the heart of the development, a main street-style town center. The total project is planned to include more than 2.6 million square feet of commercial space, with an emphasis on offices. However, county staff has warned that Buchanan Partners’ proposal does not guarantee that all of this will become a reality.

Housing will be located on about 80 acres of the property and will consist of townhouses and multifamily units.

Also included in the development is a restored slave quarters from the early 1800s, which Buchanan has said it plans to market as a cultural tourism and education destination. Surviving slave quarters are rare and the Arcola site is one of just a couple of such remnants in Loudoun County.

ALSO APPROVED at Tuesday’s meeting was the rezoning of almost 100 acres that will become the Glascock Field at Stone Ridge development. The project will include up to 276 multifamily dwelling units and up to 1,310,355 square feet of planned development and office park space, including a heliport and a hospice. It is to be located on the north side of Route 50, and Gum Spring Road will run through the development. The vote to approve the rezoning was unanimous.

A rezoning to accommodate the Morley Corner development, which is to sit on 32 acres on the northwest corner of Ashburn Village Boulevard and Waxpool Road, was also approved. The project, proposed by local developer Keane Enterprises, is to include 128 multifamily units and 260,000 square feet of retail and office space. Supervisors Burton and Kurtz voted against the motion and Supervisor Snow was absent for the vote.

Less successful was an application to rezone almost 150 acres on the eastern edge of the Transition Policy Area, which would allow the proposed Braddock Village development. After extensive debate, the board voted to defer the matter until its Dec. 18 meeting.

The proposal includes up to 860 residential units, a swimming pool, a soccer field and a middle school. The applicants, Nicholas/Farkas Joint Venture and John Crear Jr., had changed their proposal several times in efforts to win the board’s approval. Both the Planning Commission and county staff had recommended denial of the application because it calls for a density of almost six dwelling units per acre in the transition area between suburban and rural Loudoun, which is zoned for densities of one unit per acre and one unit per three acres.

Snow moved for approval of the application, citing the need for the middle school and soccer field, and Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) seconded the motion. Burton and Kurtz expressed concerns that approving the rezoning would open up the transition area to suburban development.

When Waters asked whether county staff had received and reviewed updated traffic studies and proffers for the development, she was told that staff had only received the latest version of the proposal the previous Friday. Waters said she wanted to see the plan denied. "It’s like trying to hit some unknown target on a wall," she said of repeated changes to the proposal. "This application is certainly not in any kind of approvable form."

Roberts and York agreed that the new proffers had to be reviewed before approval could be granted and the decision was deferred until the next meeting. Snow said he hoped staff could come up with definitive answers by then, although Waters expressed her doubts.

THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS also voted to:

* Approve the rezoning of 10 acres on Gum Spring Road, across from its intersection with Tall Cedars Parkway, for a commercial site consisting of two banks, a pharmacy and two buildings housing retail and office space.

* Dedicate an annual budget of $100,000 to a blight abatement program.

* Take action against illegal immigration by asking the Virginia General Assembly to grant local authorities the right to deny building permits and business licenses; by adding wording to county contracts that specify that the contractor is not to violate U.S. immigration laws; by adopting a six-month zoning enforcement pilot program aimed at reducing overcrowded housing and other zoning violations in two areas of Sterling Park; and by asking that parents of children participating in programs offered by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services sign that their children are legally present in the country.

* Direct staff to determine the cost of a program that would see to the repair or removal of defacement to any structure visible from a public right of way.

* Defer a decision on the county’s pit bull adoption policy until the board’s next meeting. The county is being sued by the Animal Rescue League of Tidewater because its animal shelter does not put its pit bulls up for adoption.