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Fast-Food Restaurants for Centreville Square

The Lone Star restaurant has closed up shop in the Centreville Square I Shopping Center. But in its place may well come four, fast-food restaurants.

ATTORNEY John McBride presented the details Tuesday night to the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee. He noted that the building previously housing Lone Star is in the front portion of the shopping center, between Centrewood Drive and Machen Road.

The new application needs a special-exception permit from the county because it's located within a highway corridor. That way, explained McBride, the county gets to examine the project's signage, architecture, access to the highway, etc., before giving its approval. However, he said county staff is going to recommend approval.

"There's no new construction," he said. "It would just be allowing up to four individual restaurants [to operate out of that nearly 6,000-square-foot building]. People eat while they shop; they combine activities."

McBride said the parking is integrated within the shopping center, and access from the restaurants outward would be to the side roads, rather than to the main highway, Route 29.

He also noted that, for zoning purposes, the difference between regular, sit-down restaurants and fast-food restaurants is that, "at fast-food places, food is served in edible [i.e. ice-cream cones] or disposable containers, with plastic silverware, and you're expected to clear off your own table."

WFCCA was pleased with the proposal. "Since this shopping center was built, fast food is much more commonplace," she said. "So it's a good change and I like it."

McBride said the only thing staff and the applicant, shopping-center owner A.J. Dwoskin, differ on is a possible bus shelter. "Staff wants us to build a bus shelter along Route 29," he said. But a myriad of details would have to be ironed out — including who'd pay for it. "Conceptually, it's not a problem," said McBride. "But it's a pretty significant cost."

At-Large Planning Commissioner Jim Hart also had a comment. If this proposal is approved, he said, "The volume of paper trash outside is going to be significantly increased, so there ought to be some additional capacity [such as trash cans]. And it needs to be as convenient and available as possible, or else people will throw their bags and napkins in the bushes."

WFCCA's Scott Miller asked if the number of parking spaces for the new restaurants would be an issue, but McBride assured him it wouldn't be. "We'll actually have more parking," he said. "Lone Star required more spaces because it was a sit-down establishment and had bar use."

The matter will return to the WFCCA again next month for that panel's decision before heading to the Planning Commission, the next night, April 18.