What’s Happening in 2016 in Great Falls?

What’s Happening in 2016 in Great Falls?

A preview of the issues, events that will mark the new year.

The Grange was built in 1929 and used to be the community center of Great Falls. “The Grange could be the jewel of Great Falls,” said Jorge Adeler, the way it was in the past.

The Grange was built in 1929 and used to be the community center of Great Falls. “The Grange could be the jewel of Great Falls,” said Jorge Adeler, the way it was in the past. Photo by Ken Moore.


The county’s Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a redevelopment proposal for Brooks Farm, a 52-acre site off Springvale Road on Jan. 21. GFCA is scheduled to hold a meeting on Jan. 19 to hear the developer’s changes to its plan. Members of Great Falls Citizens Association line up on May 12, 2015 to vote on the proposal to develop Brooks Farm.

Future of Brooks Farm, Jan. 21

Fairfax County Planning Commission staff published its report to recommend approval of the rezoning of Brooks Farm on New Year’s Eve.

The planning commission has scheduled a public hearing on Brooks Farm development for Jan. 21.

Great Falls Citizens Association has scheduled a Jan. 19 meeting at Great Falls Elementary School that will include a presentation by the applicant on revisions to their proposal. County staff from the Fairfax County Department of Zoning Evaluation and Health Department will also present their findings and be on hand to answer questions.

“Staff finds that the application is consistent with the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan and conform to the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance,” according to Planning Commission staff documents.

Brooks Farm is a 51.97-acre site off Springvale Road, located between Springvale Road and Walker Road and north of Parkerhouse Drive and south of Walker Lake Drive. The applicant, Basheer/Edgemoore-Brooks, requests rezoning from the R-A (Residential-Agriculture) and R-E (Residential Estates) zoning districts to the R-E zoning district to permit a cluster subdivision for 20 single family detached dwelling units.

When first proposed, 1,400 Great Falls residents signed a petition to oppose the rezoning of Brooks Farm, which some call the heart of Great Falls.

The potential developer tried to compromise, eliminating three houses from 23 in their cluster development proposal. But Great Falls Citizens Association voted in May for a resolution to oppose rezoning and cluster development of Brooks Farm.

“The GFCA believes the property should be developed as a five-acre subdivision, perhaps in the Residential-Conservation “RC” Zoning Category,” according to the resolution.

“Let me be as blunt as I can be,” said attorney Gregory A. Riegle, of McGuire Woods who represents Basheer/Edgemoore-Brooks, LLC at a meeting with GFCA. “We would not be able to meet the expectation of the landowner with five acre lots. There is an economic value to this that we have to balance.”

According to the Planning Commission’s report on the proposed rezoning, 41 percent of the site will be designated as open space.

According to staff reports:

“The 20-lot subdivision will have a proposed density of 0.38 dwelling units per acre. The average lot size will be 59,618 square feet and the lots will range in size from 52,220 square feet (1.19 acres) to 80,280 square feet (1.84 acres).

“Access to the proposed development will be provided by extension of Forest Lake Drive, a public street. An existing farm pond and associated stream and adjoining environmentally sensitive land will be preserved, enhanced and incorporated into the layout of the development.”

A horse stabling operation was conducted on the site until 2012.

Grand Grange Vision

Representatives from a dozen or so Great Falls organizations, coordinated by Jorge Adeler, have met monthly since October to plan making the Great Falls Grange the centerpiece of the community, as founding Great Falls farmers envisioned almost a century ago.

“It’s gone through ups and downs, but through all its history it has always been the center of the community. It can become that again,” said Phil Pifer, of the Great Falls Citizens Association.

“The potential is extraordinary,” said Adeler. “The possible activities for community use, for youth, senior citizens, adults, artists, musicians, nonprofits and the entire community are endless.”

The Great Falls Grange was the first grange hall built in Virginia and one of five granges built in Fairfax County, said Kathleen Murphy, president of the Great Falls Historical Society.

Last March, the community celebrated renovations to the 1929 Great Falls Grange Hall building that made it accessible to all.

“For far too long, it was not accessible to our residents with disabilities and to our senior citizens,” said Supervisor John Foust, who helped secure $350,000 for the $503,000 project from County carry-over funds in 2013. The Fairfax County Park Authority funded the balance.

“A really impressive group of community organizations got together and signed a letter to me basically asking for more access to these facilities.” Foust said. “The proposal was that I would get the Grange made ADA accessible and they would come forward with a proposal that community groups would take responsibility for these two buildings.”

“If the community groups come together the way I think they might and the way it was initially proposed, I see something more grand here.”

Talk to the General Assembly

The Fairfax County delegation to the Virginia General Assembly will hold a hearing for public comment on the upcoming 2016 session on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.

The Virginia General Assembly will meet for 60 days in Richmond beginning Jan. 12.

Residents who want to sign up in advance to speak at the hearing should contact the Office of the Clerk to the Board of Supervisors at 703-324-3151, TTY 711, by noon on Friday, Jan. 8.

Two Town Hall Meetings

Del. Kathleen Murphy is hosting a Great Falls Town Hall on Saturday, Jan. 9 from 1:30-3 p.m. at Great Falls Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike.

Murphy is hosting a McLean Town Hall with McLean and North Arlington General Assembly Delegation at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave, McLean, on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.


Pumping and treatment of the Exxon cleanup will continue this year. A drive-through TD Bank will eventually replace the former station on Georgetown Pike. See www.gfca.org.

Exxon Cleanup Continues

The Exxon cleanup in Great Falls continues. Despite ongoing efforts to remove the Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) from the groundwater as a result of the leak from the former Exxon Station at 9901 Georgetown Pike, concentrations of the chemical remain more than 10 times the target level in at least one spot.

Approximately 256 pounds of MTBE have been removed since pumping and treatment began in August 2014, according to the Great Falls Citizens Association.

“We will keep being vigilant until the problem goes away,” said Glen Sjoblom, chair of the Great Falls Citizens Association’s special committee on groundwater contamination.

Route 7 Widening

Throughout January, teams from the Virginia Department of Transportation will meet with Amberwoods, Bradley Oaks, Lockmeade, Locust Hill homeowners and Shouse Village homeowners association as well as the Towlston Meadow Community Association about plans to widen Route 7.

VDOT cancelled its two day Public Information and Open House Meeting scheduled for Jan. 8 and 9, but information meetings and hearings are tentatively planned for later in the winter and spring.

The $265 million project would widen 6.9 miles of Route 7 in 2021, increasing from four to six lanes between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

VDOT hopes for approval of the design from the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board in the summer of 2016.

Safety accessing the road remains a major concern to neighborhoods along Route 7 corridor.

See www.ConnectRoute7.org.

Mental Health, Not Jail?

The county began its new Merrifield Crisis Response Center, a key component of the county’s Diversion First initiative, on Jan. 1.

A sheriff’s deputy and a police officer will be stationed in CSB Emergency Services, the Merrifield Crisis Response Center, every day from 11:30 a.m. until midnight starting on New Year’s Day.

Their primary duty will be to accept custody of individuals brought in to the crisis response center by other police officers and sheriff deputies who have detained an individual for a nonviolent offense but may need mental health treatment rather than incarceration, according to county documents.

This is designed to balance providing appropriate assessment and care for individuals in crisis while allowing those other officers and deputies to go back into service for other duties more quickly.

Interagency and community teams have made progress in developing components of the Diversion First initiative, designed to reduce the number of people with mental illness in local jails by diverting non-violent offenders experiencing mental health crises to treatment instead of incarceration.

Some of the components of Diversion First have already begun, including Crisis Intervention Team training for police officers and sheriff deputies and Mental Health First Aid training for other county first responders.

Presidential Primaries

The Democratic and Republican Presidential Primary Election Day is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1.

To participate in the primary, voters must be registered by Monday, Feb. 8.

The Virginia State Board of Elections (SBE) determined by random drawing the order that candidates’ names will appear on the ballots for the upcoming presidential primaries.

On Dec. 11, 2015, the Democratic Party of Virginia certified that the following three candidates qualified to appear on the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary ballot. The names will appear on the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary ballot as:

*Hillary Clinton

*Martin O’Malley

*Bernie Sanders

On Dec. 15, 2015, the Republican Party of Virginia certified that the following 13 candidates qualified to appear on the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary ballot. The names will appear on the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary ballot as:

*Marco Rubio

*Lindsey Graham

*Ben Carson

*Rand Paul

*Mike Huckabee

*Ted Cruz

*Donald Trump

*Jim Gilmore

*Chris Christie

*Jeb Bush

*Rick Santorum

*John Kasich

*Carly Fiorina

Absentee voting by mail, fax or e-mail is due by Feb. 23. Voting in person but by an absentee ballot can be done by Feb. 27.

See elections.virginia.gov.

Congressional Race

U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-10) is serving her first term in Congress, elected following the retirement of long-time Congressman Frank Wolf.

Comstock is up for reelection in November, and will face Democrat LuAnn Bennett, who describes herself as a small business owner and working mother who has lived in Northern Virginia for more than 30 years.

Virginia Congressional District 10 includes McLean, Great Falls, Herndon, Chantilly, Lorton and some other parts of Fairfax County.

Noise Ordinance

The Board of Supervisors is at peace with the county’s new Noise Ordinance.

“Believe it or not, that passes,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova at the Nov. 17, 2015 meeting of the Board of Supervisors. The new ordinance becomes effective on Feb. 17.

The Board directed staff to monitor the effectiveness and impact of the new Noise Ordinance for an 18-month period after its enactment.

Some groups advocated for stronger enforcement and stronger details in the legislation, especially in neighborhoods close to county schools and parks. The school system has pledged to ensure that there will be specific technology on loudspeakers at schools to stay within new county code.

The Board delayed the effective date of implementation of the new ordinance to February in order to provide time for staff training, to update county websites, and to assist staff in understanding the new regulations, according to county documents.

The overall goal of the Noise Ordinance is to recognize that there will always be certain levels of noise that occur in the normal course of daily living; to allow certain levels of daytime noise so that people can live, work and play during the day; and to minimize noise at night so residents have an appropriate quiet environment in their homes at night. For more, see http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/zoning/noiseordinance/.