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Commerce Bank is Proposed for Chantilly

In February, attorney Fred Taylor gave details of Commerce Bank's plan to build a new branch in Chantilly. He returned Tuesday night to the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee with an update.

Proposed is a 3,400-square-foot building at Walney Road and Route 50 on the site of the existing Anita's restaurant. And Commerce needs a special-exception permit from the county for its drive-through window.

"COMMERCE'S approach is that this will be a neighborhood bank, serving people within a two-to-three-mile radius," said Taylor. "There's a significant, residential neighborhood and businesses [nearby], plus a great deal of Route 50 eastbound traffic."

Commerce's banks are open seven days a week, with Saturday and Sunday hours, plus extended hours on weekdays. And, noted Taylor, "'Consumer Reports' rates Commerce Bank No. 1 nationally for service."

The new, Chantilly bank would have an exterior of rose brick, cast stone and glass, similar to Commerce's branch in Centre Ridge. Regarding access, only a right turn into the bank from Walney would be allowed.

"We're utilizing the service road," said Taylor. "And there's a significant bike trail along the west side of the property, plus a pedestrian connection with the trail [across Commerce's Route 50 frontage]. The north side of Route 50 is the main pedestrian access."

The bank would be adjacent to the existing Chantilly Cash & Carry, so Taylor said Commerce would provide a connection to it for future development. "We're talking to the property owner," he said. "And we're realigning the access providing the interparcel connection."

WFCCA Chairman Jim Katchem said he "could see how that will work." He asked if the ATMs would be in the drive-throughs, but Taylor said Commerce doesn't like them there. Instead, he said, "We put the ATM in a lighted, glass vestibule that can only be accessed by using your Commerce card."

Katchem also asked what sort of "green [environmentally friendly] features" the building would have, and Commerce's engineer, David Steigler of PHR&A, said it'll have "a water-cleansing device for the water runoff."

WFCCA'S Judy Heisinger asked where the water runoff would go, and Steigler replied that an underground, storm sewer is already in place on the .8-acre site.

"I really think it's great that you guys have these bike trails; that's wonderful," said WFCCA's Scott Miller. But Taylor said that's thanks to county staff, which pressed for them.

At-Large Planning Commissioner Jim Hart suggested that Commerce incorporate a mural of a local, historical site inside this bank, as it did inside its Centre Ridge branch. He also had some recommendations regarding green possibilities.

He said Fairfax County is still creating a policy plan on how to provide incentives for green-building techniques. "And there can be cost-saving measures, over time, if it's done the right way," said Hart.

For example, there's lighting that uses less energy; plumbing fixtures that use less water; more energy-efficient windows; and a light-colored, reflective roof for savings on air conditioning. So, said Hart, "We want to encourage applicants to consider some of these green techniques. There are ways to do them, even with a tiny building."

He also asked if there's an underground, stormwater-detention pond, but Steigler said it's not required because "the impervious area would actually be decreased by the redevelopment."

Regarding traffic, Hart said the Walney/Route 50 traffic light backs up sometimes. So, he asked Taylor, "Will people be tempted to skip the light at Route 50 and bail out on Walney?" Taylor said Commerce will "explore it and come back with an answer."

Hart also noted that Route 50/Walney Road is envisioned someday as a grade-separated interchange on the county's Comprehensive Plan. "There's no money for it now," he said. "But if there were, would it affect [the bank's] parking?"

"No," replied Taylor. "And, in fact, it would be a better site from a business standpoint."

Hart then said he'd feel better about this application overall if it included a land consolidation with the next-door neighbor, Chantilly Cash & Carry, but Taylor said the business owner isn't interested.

"It's a cash cow, right now — a successful enterprise," he said. "So the owner is happy with the way things are now." Commerce's application goes to the county Planning Commission on Sept. 27, so Taylor said they'd return to the WFCCA before then.