Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Best for This Neighborhood

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Best for This Neighborhood

I’m an HOA board member of one of the many communities surrounding 8800 Richmond Highway who are wholeheartedly in favor of the proposed residential development at that property. I represent Clusters at Woodlawn HOA. We’re located about a quarter-mile from 8800.

I had a good chuckle at Ms. Betsy Martin’s testimony before the Planning Commission and her letter to the editor in this newspaper on Aug. 9. How easy it is to daydream of all the lovely possible uses for this property — wide open green space, a canoe livery, a restaurant. If Ms. Martin has any of these developers lined up, then I wish she would place them in contact with the Sitnik family who owns this property. Please keep in mind that Fairfax County has done absolutely nothing with Pole Road Park, which includes 17 acres donated to the county by the Sitniks; nor does the county even want to purchase these eight acres in question.

The Sitniks, who have more than 60 years of roots in our community, have done the right thing by cleaning up the property after deciding not to renew leases with their commercial tenants. Now opponents of the proposed development expect them to sit and wait for halcyon offers to be delivered on unicorns so we can all live happily ever after. Perhaps these opponents are willing to pay for the property taxes while we wait patiently for these offers to pour in?

Ms. Martin wonders why townhomes at 8800 would revitalize the community. Simple — there isn’t an upscale townhome community on the west side of Richmond Highway within three miles. There are no recent townhome communities on Pole Road, as Ms. Martin claimed, but others along Sacramento Drive and Jeff Todd Way have improved my neighborhood. We need more communities like these to draw in higher-end retail and dining to a neighborhood — in and around the Woodlawn CBC — ready to really pop in a good way, with Arcadia’s farms and forthcoming plans for Woodlawn Plantation, the National Museum of the U.S. Army, and more.

I live in this neighborhood. The 8800 property is my neighbor. This is, perhaps, the last chance we will have to see it improved. If the opponents — who don’t even live in this neighborhood — prevail, the owners will be forced to take in commercial tenants again, a great opportunity for environmental clean-up will be lost, and Mount Vernon’s southwestern portion of Richmond Highway will continue to limp along with its shabby appearance. My neighbors and I are all hoping the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will do what is best for this neighborhood and approve this development.

Brian Leclair

Director, Clusters at Woodlawn HOA