“Being part of something bigger than yourself can make all the difference in achieving positive results for ourselves and our community." — MVCCA Co-Chair Katherine Ward
The Mount Vernon Council of Citizens' Associations, Inc. (MVCCA) and the community at large are inundated with planning, zoning, rezoning, development issues along Route 1 and everywhere else that can be accommodated.
Unprecedented urbanization is underway in full force in the Mount Vernon Magisterial District. In approximately 3-4 years the southeastern sector will be broken off (Lorton and parts south and west) and a new magisterial district will be created to accommodate the population growth that is underway already and will continue.
Some of the current and upcoming challenges include an expanded Fort Belvoir, U.S. Army National Museum, Lorton HealthPlex, expanded Mount Vernon Hospital, a vastly expanded transportation system along Route 1 and, with it, commercial expansion. In addition the area will be witness to a multi-year rehabilitation of a new community center that will replace the Old Mount Vernon High School, and the further development of North Hill and associated developments that continue to replace the Lorton Prison and surrounding area.
For those in the Mount Vernon community who are unaware of MVCCA’s existence or what it does, here is the organization’s brief formal explanation:
It is "a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of citizens' associations in the Mount Vernon Magisterial District of Fairfax County. For the purpose of membership eligibility, the association types include: a civic association, a community association, a property association, a homeowners association (HOA), or a condominium unit association. Every citizen association in the Mount Vernon Magisterial District is eligible for membership provided the association is organized and operated for non-partisan civic activity and no substantial part of its objective is the promotion of commercial enterprise. A member association must represent at least 10 housing units. The purpose of the Mount Vernon Council is to represent and promote the interests of its member associations and to further the common good and general welfare of the residents of the Mount Vernon Magisterial District."
"The MVCCA was established by a small group of concerned citizens back in the early 1970s,” said MVCCA co-chair Katherine Ward. “These individuals felt that their interests were not being taken into consideration by the local elected county officials and county staff. Ever since then the organization has continued to offer Mount Vernon district residents and community organizations a forum to address issues of concern from land use, transportation and environmental as well as public safety, education and housing. Our members and participants work together to ensure that the Mount Vernon District continues to thrive and most importantly that our elected officials and the county staff listen to what we care about and take action on our behalf. Being part of something bigger than yourself can make all the difference in achieving positive results for ourselves and our community."
MVCCA operates through standing, ad hoc, or special committees which rely on community volunteers to review and develop positions on various policy issues and forward their positions to the MVCCA membership in the form of resolutions or present their findings informally at the General Council meetings which meet monthly.
Citizens, business representatives and nonprofit representatives, and elected and appointed county, state, and federal officials or their representatives attend the MVCCA meetings. Minutes of the MVCCA meetings and the work of the committees are recorded and published in the the MVCCA online newsletter. The meetings are open to the public.
At its June 28 General Council meeting here are some of the activities that took place:
A briefing by a representative of the zoning modification task force which looks to debate and propose more flexible, practical, and reasonable changes in the zoning process on minor zoning actions while assuring citizens and planners that zoning and rezoning actions will not compromise the Comprehensive Plan for the county or compromise the current zoning standards. The emphasis is on flexibility.
At the meeting, presiding co-chair Ward called on the various committee chairs to report on their activities, and announce the date of their next committee meeting. The July General Council meeting will be held July 26, 8 p.m. in the Mount Vernon Governmental Center Community Room.
The Environment & Recreation Committee Chair Cathy Ledec urged that members vote to support the Resolution prepared for the Council's consideration and supported jointly by the Environment and Recreation Committee, the Planning and Zoning Committee, and the Transportation Committee. She urged the approval of the rezoning application by the NOVUS Property Holdings LLC, which seeks approval affecting 5.3 acres of property to develop a 375 multi-family unit building which will impact the adjacent Spring Bank community. The Spring Bank association supports the rezoning application. The Resolution was voted on unanimously and forwarded to District Supervisor Dan Storck for his and the Board of Supervisors’ consideration.
Storck made a short presentation, referred to his handout which summarized actions by the Board of Supervisors, information items, and included a summary list of the legislation passed by the General Assembly that the Governor signed. Among the bills enacted and signed into law were two proposals that the MVCCA worked on and urged the County Board and the local northern Virginia delegates and state senators to support. The first was on short-term rental property; the county has already circulated a survey and is in the process of preparing regulations on the use of short-term rental property. The other piece of enacted legislation that the MVCCA worked on was to stop the City of Alexandria from dumping sewage into the Potomac river.
Storck urged that members encourage residents to attend and participate in the upcoming "Embark" Route 1 transportation improvement community meetings designed to invite community comments and questions, and bring residents and organizations up to date on the changes planned for Route 1 transportation improvements. The date and location of the next Embark meetings, which Storck will attend, are: July 19, 7 p.m. at the Huntington Community Center, and July 27, 7 p.m. at the Woodlawn Elementary School.
Storck was asked about the status of rehabilitating the Old Mount Vernon High School located on Route 1. After the Islamic Academy lease was completed and not renewed last year the county began the planning process to determine the alternative uses of the building and grounds and next steps. At the beginning of the year, the gym and some of the rooms were made available for local youth recreation and community uses as an interim measure. Storck announced that the county planning staff has advertised for a Master Planner bid that would take over the lengthy and complex process of developing the options for the variety of uses, and design the rehabilitation measures.
Former Supervisor Gerry Hyland formed a Rehabilitation Task Force which prepared a report and recommendations for the alternative uses of the Old Mount Vernon High school. In addition, the efforts of Storck's Task Force will also be taken under consideration along with the efforts of the anticipated Master Planner. Storck said the bid process will take time, and then there will be an inventory and research phase by the contractor including consultation with the community advisory task force, residents, businesses, and nonprofits before a proposal would be developed for review by the Board of Supervisors.
Storck informed the attendees that Heather Dietz was a key staffer in the county planning office for the project should there be any questions about the planning process. He also said that he views this project as a very high priority transformational initiative, and he and his staff and local advisors are available to consider ideas and answer questions from the community.