Mount Vernon: Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Bock Farm

Mount Vernon: Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Bock Farm

Facts Behind Rezoning Proposal

To the Editor:

Those who have driven on Parker Lane toward Sherwood Hall Lane recently probably noticed the yellow hand-painted signs on various front lawns, urging Supervisor Dan Storck to vote against the rezoning of the Bock farm, which sits on the corner of Parker Lane and Hinson Farm Road.

I admit, my first inference from the signs was that some unscrupulous person might be pressuring the Bocks to rezone and sell their property at a price grossly under market value (something that was attempted against them in the past). In an attempt to get the facts, I called Mr. Storck’s office, speaking to his chief-of-staff, Christine Morin, and a few days later I spoke with Mrs. Bock, with whom I am acquainted.

The facts are that only a 4.3 acres of the horse farm property facing Hinson Farm Road next to Mount Vernon House and across from Mount Vernon Hospital will change. This land will be used for the construction of condominium buildings for adults 55 and older. It will also include affordable units suitable for public servants, such as firefighters and teachers; far too often these public servants can’t afford to live in the areas in which they serve because of real estate prices.

Apparently, people who object to the rezoning fear further urbanization of the area, higher real estate taxes, further overburdened schools, and increased traffic. Considering the proposed condominiums will have fewer units than what is allowed under current PDH zoning (downsizing changes have already been made in response to the zoning objections); will house older people who are less likely to be adding students to the public schools; and will increase county income paid by the condominium owners, it’s hard to believe the rezoning would be detrimental to the neighborhood or the community at large. It’s also likely that increased traffic attributable to the new condominiums would be minimal, despite what the opponents say.

For those who think the Bocks might be greedy in selling a piece of their property, think again. They have spent decades as part of our community with a unique setting for horses. The Bocks have cared for many horses who because of age or injury cannot be ridden or put at service of people. Many of these horses have been allowed to end their years in pleasant retirement. The Bocks, now both in their 70s, also would like to retire. Caring for horses and maintaining appropriate facilities requires much hard labor seven days a week with no holidays to provide respite from the work. In addition, care for horses is expensive, having to provide feed, medical care, and shelter in all weather.

In the end, unless the rezoning objectors want to buy the farm from the Bocks lock, stock, and barrel for a fair market price, they might want to take another look at their objections. Only a third of this land will be used for the condominiums; the zoning for the remaining seven acres will only be for three single family homes. In addition, the developer plans to plant substantial stands of additional trees as a pleasant green buffer within the neighborhood. This is hardly a picture of urbanization.

The Bocks won’t get rich from this action; they might just break even. They have served the community by being good neighbors to those in the Mount Vernon area, by being dedicated to helping horses in need, and by being good friends to horse lovers who use their facilities and who have great fondness for this wonderful, hardworking couple.

At the Sept. 20 public hearing before the Board of Supervisors of the seven people who spoke, only one person spoke against it, and the county planning board reported a unanimous decision to recommend approval of the zoning application to the Board of Supervisors. Even though Mr. Storck asked for the board to defer the vote on the issue, it is clear the larger community beyond the few neighbors want it. And I believe the full Board of Supervisors is very willing to approve it.

It’s simple. Let the Bocks retire and move on with their lives. Let seniors who have lived here for years and who may now have to leave this area for economic reasons, to move into this new affordable housing near their old neighborhoods, churches, doctors, longtime friends, and familiar surroundings. Let public servants who serve us locally, live locally. Contact Supervisor Storck at 703-780-7518 (TTY 711) or and tell him to move the zoning application forward for approval.

William Zaccagnino