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WFCCA OKs Staff's Historic District Plan

Overall, members of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee are pleased with county staff's recommendations to enlarge Centreville's Historic District. But they believe three parcels along Route 29 should also be added.

THREE MEMBERS of the county's Department of Planning and Zoning presented the recommendations to the WFCCA Tuesday night. Created in 1986, the Historic District is currently 17 acres, and staff recommends enlarging it by including 67 particular parcels and right-of-way within the 85.8-acre area that was studied.

By enlarging and better defining the Historic District, it's hoped that a family-friendly, commercial focal point will be created to serve as a community attraction while respecting, honoring and promoting Centreville's heritage.

The study-area boundaries included I-66, Summit Street, Pickwick Road, Lee Highway and Sully Road. And the sites scrutinized — first by a 40-member, citizens task force led by Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) and then by various county entities — all contained areas of historical, cultural and/or archaeological significance.

The county believes including them in the Historic District will ensure their preservation and require any new development within that area be compatible with its historic nature.

Staff recommends the former Payne's Store at 13848 Lee Highway, now housing Jamie's General Bean, and the Utterback House at 13916 Braddock Road, now a daycare center — be assessed for listing on the county's Inventory of Historic Sites.

It also recommends that archaeological sites identified in a 1992 study, and located along Braddock Road near its intersection with Lee Highway, be evaluated to determine their archaeological or historical significance and whether they should be included in the expanded Historic District.

And it recommends the Civil War earthworks and trenches in the study area be protected and preserved. They include a deep, 1,000-foot trench called "The Covered Way," which comes off Pickwick and runs between Walney Glen and the Summit Street homes. During the Civil War, this trench protected soldiers carrying munitions back and forth between the forts.

The recommendations would also prohibit auto-oriented uses generating large volumes of traffic from operating within the Historic District. But At-Large Planning Commissioner Jim Hart wondered Tuesday whether it was wise to do so throughout the entire district.

"IT'S LESS compelling for the parcels fronting on Lee Highway because of what's there now and what's already been approved," he said. "The CVS has a drive-through and the Bank of America will have one." So Hart asked if the prohibition could be applied to the back parcels, but not to the ones with Lee Highway frontage, and the county's Cindy Chambers said they could "take a look at that."

WFCCA's Carol Hawn praised staff for doing such a "wonderful job" in clarifying the purpose and mission of the expansion. But she believes the three parcels along Route 29 with the CVS Pharmacy, Mercantile Bank and the Fair Lanes bowling alley should be included in the Historic District.

The rest of the panel agreed. For example, WFCCA's Ted Troscianecki said the parcel with the bowling alley won't contain that use forever, so it should be part of the expansion. And it's believed that this shopping center was part of the original Eagle Tavern parcel which is integral to Centreville's heritage.

However, Troscianecki called the overall staff report "extraordinary. It was a significant work effort, and staff facilitated a lot of people with differing viewpoints and boiled it all down to something that will benefit the area for a long, long time." He also acknowledged Frey for his support of the task force.

Hawn then recommended the WFCCA approve staff's recommendations, provided that the three parcels of concern to the panel be included in the Historic District. Dorothy Steranka seconded the motion and the panel unanimously approved.

Thanking county staff for its hard work, Hawn said it "went above and beyond what I expected." Added WFCCA Land-Use Chairman Jim Katcham: "This was a tremendous effort ... to create something that'll live on in history."

The issue now goes before the Planning Commission this Thursday, Jan. 18. To make the Historic District expansion a reality, the county zoning ordinance has to be amended to add any newly encompassed areas into the official Centreville Historic Overlay District.

In addition, the county's Comprehensive Plan must be amended to reflect the changes and overall vision for the Historic District.