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Kincora Raises Concerns

Work session on large development project brings questions of roads, houses and money.

Both positive and negative points for the proposed 424-acre Kincora development were up for debate during the Planning Commission’s latest work session on the project. While commissioners were pleased with the proposed cultural arts center, many raised concerns with the development’s construction phasing and transportation proffers.

"We still have some fundamental issues outstanding," John Merrithew, the assistant director of planning for the county, said at the July 2 meeting. "We have a verbal agreement on a number of the issues, but we have not received the updated proffers."

The 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.

Under the newest plan, developer Norton Scott LLC reduced the number of residential units from 1,376 to 1,068 units, for a density of 16 units per acre.

MERRITHEW EXPLAINED the planning staff’s reasons for supporting denial of the application to the commission, citing the lack of appropriate infrastructure and that the development does not follow the county’s General Plan. The area is currently designated for employment uses. While the Kincora proposal does call for office and commercial uses, Merrithew said it is important that those uses remain visible along the main roads of the area.

"We want to maintain that keynote appearance," he said.

Representatives from Norton Scott maintain that the residential component is important to Kincora because it will promote 24-hour activity in the area.

Merrithew also pointed out that there is no appropriate linkage of roads to provide Kincora’s school-aged children easy access to their schools.

"This residential [component] is isolated from schools and other services," Merrithew said. "Until we have access to the west, we will be forcing school buses onto Route 28, 7 and Waxpool."

Merrithew also added that, while the county’s transportation staff has not given their official position, the proposed transportation contribution of $500 per residential unit is not sufficient.

SINCE THE REDUCTION in the number of residential units, there has been no change in the number of units the developer is proposing to build up front, Merrithew said.

"The critical point is that this is a balanced development," he said. "In this case, we are opposed to residential, but if it is to occur, we think it should be introduced later, after it has been established as an employment center.

John McGranahan, an attorney for the applicant, said the residential development was done in three phases.

"When we took the residential units off, we took them off the back end," he said.

McGranahan also said that the phasing was done according to the applicant’s transportation analysis and what would work best for the site in question. In addition, the applicant is working with county staff to figure out an appropriate amount of regional road credits and cash proffers.

"This is consistent with what [the county] has done in other cases," McGranahan said. "We aren’t looking to push the envelope here."

SOME COMMISSIONERS expressed concern about moving forward with the Kincora application when a decision has not yet been made on 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 and charge homeowners an assessment to repay the bond money. The proposal was before the board’s finance and government services committee at the beginning of the month, but has not yet moved before the full board.

"We need to make sure the proffer language and the phasing language is cultivated under the assumption that the CDA is not approved," Commissioner Nancy Doane (Catoctin) said.

Other commissioners said, however, that the project needed to move forward in order for the proposed authority to serve its purpose.

"The CDA won’t work without them building some things," Commissioner Kevin Ruedisueli (At large) said.

ONE PORTION OF the proposed community that everyone could agree on is the 550-seat cultural arts center that would sit on two acres of the property.

Commissioner Helena Syska (Sterling) said she went down to Anacostia to see its new arts center, which would be similar to what would be built in Kincora.

"It is a stunning, modern and absolutely beautiful place," she said. "And it has brought equity not only to homeowners, but to the neighborhood. [The applicant] is proposing something similar with a true public-private partnership."

Mike Scott, managing member of Kincora, said they have worked with the people who put together both the Washington Ballet and the Levine School of Music in order to ensure the quality of the design.

"I think this would be a good starter for the many private entities who are constantly searching for performance space," Syska said. "Something like this is necessary in our corner of the world."