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Do Over on Huntington

Change in floodplain helps spur redesign of development.

A plan under consideration by the Fairfax County Planning Commission could allow nine more houses to be added to an approved but unbuilt development along Huntington Ave.

Almost two years ago, The Board of Supervisors approved a plan by developer Madison homes to put 85 townhouses on 13 acres along Foley Street. Three property owners opted out of the plan, leaving a few islands of lower density in the area.

Now two of those three have joined in, and a new builder, KB homes, wants to incorporate them into the plan.

But there have been changes along the Potomac River since 2005. Last year’s flooding demonstrated that the floodplain wasn’t where it was shown on the map. The lines have been redrawn, and as a result, 13 previously approved homes would have been constructed in the floodplain, said Inda Stagg, representative of KB homes.

Although houses are not typically permitted in a floodplain, the plan was approved prior to the new floodplain delineation, so the houses could still be built.

The new plan will reduce the number of houses in the floodplain to eight, and will increase the overall number of houses in the development by nine to a total of 94 townhouses on 14 acres.

Planning Commissioners were concerned about a portion of the plan, which calls for a 15 percent reduction in rush hour car trips. The reduction is based on the Institute of Transportation Engineers survey of the number of trips, which would be expected from a development of its size. According to the terms of the development proposal, the new homeowners association will be responsible for surveying itself to ensure that the goal is being met.

Commissioners questioned whether or not the residents will have the expertise to carry out the survey. "I think you are imposing an awfully big commitment on those poor folks," said Commissioner Frank de la Fe (Hunter Mill).

If the goal is not met, residents will need to implement additional strategies, with the help of the county, to meet the goal.

Commissioner Tim Sergeant (at large) said that some of the proposed remedies, such as providing residents with information about ridesharing, might be better presented immediately, since the residents will be new to the area, and might not be aware of the service.

Commission Chair Peter Murphy (Springfield) also warned the last holdout landowner that there may be consequences for not joining with the development. By not being a party to the larger development, the landowner will miss the opportunity to be part of a consolidation, which allows for greater density in redeveloping areas. "They have a right to not develop, but they will not get the same density," Murphy said.

The Commission deferred its decision until July 25 to work out the traffic reduction plans