Bank-Pad Site Concerns

Bank-Pad Site Concerns

There have been some significant changes to a proposal for a bank-pad site in Centreville's Sully Station Shopping Center off Westfields Boulevard. But traffic flow there still remains problematic.

At the Feb. 20 meeting of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee, land-use attorney David Gill discussed the changes and answered questions. He represents the shopping center's landlord, JBG Rosenfeld, who's requesting the shopping center's proffered conditions be amended to allow a drive-in bank.

The pad is earmarked to go in front of the former Frank's Nursery building (now Ace Hardware) and, said Gill, "We've reduced the size of the bank pad from 4,000 square feet to 3,650, and we've dropped a drive-through lane so we're now down to two."

As a result, he said, "We increased the buffering and provided easier parking for the [nearby] Blue Water Grille. And we created a pedestrian pathway to get to the other stores there."

"The least-used part of the shopping center is where we're proposing the bank pad," continued Gill. "And we're putting in a raised speed table, about 6 inches high, before the exit to implement some traffic control."

He said county staff "thinks we're a lot closer to what it wants, but is still leaning toward denial" because it's concerned there's not enough parking for the restaurant and doesn't like the way parking would be reoriented to accommodate the bank.

"But we think it's safer for pedestrians," said Gill. "Staff also said you need 16 spaces adjacent to the building, but none of the businesses there have that."

He said some new retail stores are also proposed. "Right now, we could develop 19,900 square feet of retail, by right. But with this plan, we're at 16,200 square feet total, including the bank pad." He said some small shops, such as coffee or bagel places, were being considered for construction in the old, Frank's, outdoor-nursery area.

WFCCA's Jim Neighbors, who lives in Sully Station, said his homeowners association has some serious worries about the project. "There are a lot of blind spots [in the back service-drive access road], so they have safety concerns," he said.

"Also, post-office trucks are backing up, and they had concerns about the bank being in the middle of that parking lot," added Neighbors. "They suggested rotating the bank 90 degrees clockwise and putting the drive-through near Westfields Boulevard, by the perimeter of the shopping center."

Gill said he plans to meet with the homeowners association soon; a meeting scheduled for last week was cancelled because of the snow.

Then WFCCA's Chris Terpak-Malm said, "I have a lot of trouble with this application, for a lot of reasons. The [existing] gas station was also put in as an afterthought and creates driving conflicts. This will, too, because of the number of quick trips in and out."

Gill said they were trying to direct motorists in a more natural traffic flow around the bank. But, said Terpak-Malm, "There are a lot of fender-benders there, and I think that's what staff's concern is.

Basically, she said, "I believe this bank needs to go in line with the other retail. I go to that shopping center all the time, and there are lots of traffic-flow problems in it."

Gill said he thinks "the drive-through bank complements some of the existing uses in the shopping center." But WFCCA's Ted Troscianecki agreed with Terpak-Malm: "Parking isn't the issue — it's the flow. I think there's ample parking. Something needs to be done to make that shopping center more vibrant."

Addressing Gill, he said, "Continue to listen, tweak and work; and hopefully, we can close that gap. Keep focusing on pedestrian safety; I think it's safer with this, than without it."

WFCCA will consider the matter again next month, prior to it going to the Planning Commission on March 21.