22 Houses on 52 Acres Proposed for Brooks Farm in Great Falls

22 Houses on 52 Acres Proposed for Brooks Farm in Great Falls

Public hearing on Brooks Farm proposal scheduled for June 10 at Planning and Zoning.

Basheer/Edgemoore, a builder, wants to build 22 houses on the 51.97 acre Brooks Farm property. The Department of Planning and Zoning received the fourth and latest iteration of the proposal last week.

"Our next step is to meet to see how they have addressed the issues," said Catherine Lewis, from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning. "We are just one part of the review."

After the department issues its staff report, the Department of Planning and Zoning will hold a public hearing, currently scheduled for June 10, 2015.

"That's when everyone else gets involved," said Lewis.

After planning and zoning makes a recommendation, the Board of Supervisors will hold its own scheduled process, including additional opportunity for public involvement and testimony.

MORE THAN 70 residents clustered into a Great Falls Library meeting room Tuesday, April 14 for an update scheduled by the Great Falls Citizens Association's Land Use and Zoning and Environment committees on the Brooks Farm proposal.

The applicant seeks rezoning to R-E zoning, which permits .2 to .5 dwelling units per acre and conforms with the Comprehensive Plan recommendation, according to Gregory A. Riegle, attorney with McGuire Woods for Basheer/Edgemoore.

"As shown the Brooks property is planned for the exact same density as all of the surrounding area and, in fact, as most of Great Falls," according to Riegle.

The proposal for cluster development is intended "to better preserve the environmental features of the property, preserve more trees in dedicated open space, provide more homeowners’ open space and generally create a better designed, more cohesive community," said Riegle.

BUT GREAT FALLS residents have concerns: environmental concerns, septic, well water and stormwater management concerns. And, perhaps, traffic and density concerns.

The developer says that density is on par with subdivisions that surround the property, and that the additional 17 trips in the morning peak hour and 23 in the afternoon peak hour can be mitigated.

The Great Falls Citizens Association held its second meeting of the year on Brooks Farm to update residents on the proposal, and to voice questions and concerns to county officials.

"The Environmental Committee has a goal to try to preserve the semi-rural nature our community," said Bill Canis, vice president of the Great Falls Citizens Association. "People can't take well water and quality of water for granted."

Brooks Farm is one of the last old farm properties of Great Falls to be developed.

Although planners said they just received the latest version of the application and need to meet with each other before voicing opinion, they attempted to address dozens of questions raised by the committees.

The newest application, for example, evaporated an old plan for a wet pond for stormwater management in favor of a safer dry pond.

"Our primary concern is safety. We look to see if you have exhausted other options," said Camylyn Lewis, with the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. "They will create a more traditional dry pond," and will use other stormwater management tools, including a rainwater garden.

The applicant has also chosen an alternative system to remove impurities in runoff, according to Riegle. "The alternative system is projected to remove 85 to 99 percent of the impurities and reduce nitrogen by at least 50 percent."

Craig Herwig, of the Urban Forestry Management Division, said he will make an inventory of the trees on site.

"We would like to see native plants in their landscape," he said. "we will require species diversity."

If approved, all the details will be addressed at in the site plans, said Herwig. "There could be one, two, three submissions of this plan until staff has a chance to make sure they get it right."