Chesterbrook Woods, Not Meadows

Chesterbrook Woods, Not Meadows

McLean neighborhood petitions for stronger protection of trees from infill development.

The Petition

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Why This Matters

Most new development in established neighborhoods in McLean and Great Falls will proceed as “infill” development. McLean Citizens Association and Great Falls Citizens Association will monitor new development and its impact on the environment and quality of life.

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McLean Citizens Association


More than 225 people in McLean’s Chesterbrook Woods have signed its citizens association’s Tree Canopy Petition, demanding that Fairfax County enforce the county’s Tree Ordinance.

“As a resident of the Chesterbrook Woods community, I highly value our beautiful trees and I believe that all reasonable efforts should be made to preserve our tree canopy. It has taken nature many decades to provide us with our tree canopy but it takes a builder only a few hours to destroy it,” according to the petition, organized by Neil Ende, chairman of the Chesterbrook Woods Citizens Association’s Environmental Committee.

“I am greatly disturbed by the increase in infill development projects where houses are razed and most if not all of the trees are removed from a property, particularly where it is clear that some of the trees are being removed merely for the convenience of the builder and could be saved.”

Ende made the petition available online in October.

More than 200 people have signed the petition online, sparing the use of paper in the process.

“It is essential that the public be made aware of what is occurring,” he said.

Many Chesterbrook Woods residents say their community was named so for a reason.

“Keep our canopy. It is one of the most unique things about this neighborhood,” wrote Richard B. Harris, of McLean, who signed the petition.

Rachel Deutsch also signed. “When we were looking at houses to buy in 2002 we were sold on our Chesterbrook Woods home by the beauty of the neighborhood with tree lined streets,” she wrote. “Please save our trees and save the personality of our neighborhood.”

“We live in a beautiful neighborhood that has many beautiful trees that are being taken down by developers when they build new homes. It would be so easy to work around the old trees that are so necessary for healthy living,” wrote Nancy Stansberry.

Hope R. Hsu asked what the neighborhood would look like if this happened to each and every house.

“What if all the houses in McLean were torn down, trees bulldozed, and new 7,000-plus square-foot homes went up?” she wrote.“What if there were no trees, and each huge house was spitting distance from the other? Would you want to live in a town like that?” she asked.


“I understand that the Chesterbrook Woods Citizens Association’s Environmental Committee does not believe that Fairfax County is enforcing applicable tree conservation ordinances and the absence of enforcement is resulting in a substantial and unnecessary loss of our historic tree canopy,” according to the petition. “I support the efforts of the CWCA Environmental Committee, in coordination with other local homeowners associations, to ensure that all applicable tree conservation ordinances are fully enforced by the County and to work for legislation giving the County greater authority to protect the tree canopy.”

“People live in this neighborhood because they appreciate the beauty of the trees,” said Ende. “People are expressing extreme concerns about this. There are environmental quality issues and there are frankly issues about abiding by the law.”

Local authorities have limited authority in Virginia, a Dillon Rule state, where localities have only the power specifically given to them by the General Assembly.

Although Virginia adopted a Tree Preservation Ordinance in 2008, the authority Fairfax County has is “very limited.”

Mary Jane Gallagher wrote that she moved to Chesterbrook Woods 18 years ago “for the beautiful, tall trees.”

“We plan to be here another 20 years and believe it is up to our county and state governments to protect our environment,” she said.