Board Approves House on River

Board Approves House on River

The Board of Supervisors approved a plan which will allow the completion of a house along the Potomac River which has been stalled for a year.

The house at 8019 East Boulevard Drive is being built by Scott and Phyllis Crabtree. When it was originally approved in 2002, the plans had allowed for 11 cubic yards of fill dirt to be brought in to help level the site of the new house. During construction, 241.5 cubic yards were brought to the site.

Adding dirt to the floodplain of a river can harm the river’s ecology, so the extra dirt stopped the plan while it was sorted out.

Lynne Strobel, attorney for the Crabtrees, said that there had been a misunderstanding and that the amount of dirt needed was "not adequately described."

Barbara Byron of the Department of Planning and Zoning disagreed with Strobel’s characterization.

"There was no confusion at all," she said.

There was confusion about the height of the house. Fairfax County has a 35-foot height limit, but the limit is based on the average height of the roof, not the highest point. Although there are points of the house that exceed 35 feet, there are also other, lower rooflines. Planning staff had needed time to sort out the average height, and eventually decided to permit the height as built.

Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) opposed the plan. Smyth said she remembered the case from her time as a planning commissioner, and that the plan being presented was different. ‘This is a substantial change, and I don’t think I can quite go along with it," she said.

Supervisor Penny Gross (D-Mason) also said she had reservations about the plan. Gross often opposes construction in floodplains, but said she would vote for the new house "reluctantly."

Board Chair Gerry Connolly (D) also opposed the plan.

Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) said he could not remember working harder on any case, and that he had reached a point where both he and the community (three residents came to speak in favor of the plan) could support the house.

Smyth and Connolly voted against the plan with the rest of the board supporting it.