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Board of Supervisors Approves Willow Run Housing Application

With support from Mason District Supervisor Penelope Gross, the plan to build 29 single-family homes on Willow Run Drive will move forward.

Following a brief public hearing that included two speakers from the community, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the application for RZ/FDP 2011-MA-029 Neighborhoods, VI, LLC, better known as the , to build 29 single-family homes on Willow Run Drive in Alexandria.

The homes will be built on the 8.79 acres of property currently occupied by Campbell & Ferrara Outdoor Living off of Little River Turnpike, just outside Annandale. Campbell & Ferrara has been in the location for 66 years. The business will leave their location prior to the start of construction on the new homes.

Speaker Jack Haberle, president of the Willow Run Civic Association asked the supervisors to "think about how you would vote if this were in your district and your constituents were unhappy with it" in his presentation during the public hearing. However, Haberle's plea did not convince the supervisors to reject the plan.

Mason District Supervisor Penelope Gross said that despite vocal opposition, she believes the application meets the requirements of the comprehensive plan.

"I've listened to all sides in this debate and understand and respect those who oppose this change in our community, said Gross. "The plant nursery will be developed and I believe this application meets the requirements laid out in the comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance."

Gross voted in favor of the application so long as the board approved the following motions: a waiver of a 600-foot maximum length for a private street; modification of the trail requirements on Little River Turnpike in favor of Right-of-Way dedication; and approve a waiver of a service drive along Little River Turnpike in favor of Right-of-Way dedication.

Before announcing her decision, Gross said it is "not a surprise that the plant nursery would be redeveloped" since there are already several townhouses near the Campbell & Ferrara property that were developed over the years.

The plan has been a point of contention within the community for over a year with Mason District residents arguing that due to its density and stormwater issues.

Prior to the vote, E. Neil Brown, who spoke on behalf of his mother, a 77-year-old widow who has lived on Willow Run Drive for the past 57 years, urged the board to consider postponing the approval of the plan until all issues raised by residents could be addressed.

“The issues we have put forward have been minimally addressed. We’re not talking bout rejecting all development. We’re talking about reasonable approaches for these significant issues, some of which are significant safety issues, that will end go unresolved,” said Brown during the public hearing.

During his presentation, Brown also accused Commissioner for Mason District Janet Hall of “mischaracterizing, misrepresenting, and demeaning and minimizing the issues that a significant number of the members of this community have laid out in writing and in public forums” at the when the committee recommended approval of the rezoning request.

Haberle described the current county planning process as "strongly biased in favor of developers" and approached the podium to speak already knowing which way the vote would go.

“I am painfully aware that this is a lost cause. Our district supervisor told us yesterday that she had made her decision and nothing we can say will change it,” said Haberle, who has lived in the community for over 20 years.

For his presentation, Haberle listed several reasons for why the board should reject the application, the first of which is that the development is not "innovative and creative" as per the county’s zoning board requirements. Another issue he addressed was about the single point of entry into the community from Little River Turnpike.

“The access to Willow Run will create two new chokepoints that will make it difficult for existing homeowners to use their own driveway and we fear that spillover parking will be a point of aggravation for us all,” said Haberle.

Riegle did not specify an end date for when construction on the homes will be finished.

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Stuff August 01, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Is this the area where a new, non-working street light over Little River Turnpike was put in a while ago? Regardless, this decision should come as no surprise to anyone. 29 homes on 8.8 acreas is going to be a tight fit. And when you add the overflow of on street parking that you know is going to come with it, what a mess. Good luck to neighbors in the area.
AIDA ABUZAYYAD August 01, 2012 at 02:49 PM
What a shame! Democrats or Republicans, two sides of the same coin with total disregard to history and devoid of any compassion! I din't even know why we vote for these people. They don't represent their constituents. I have lived in the Annandale are for almost 40 years when it was a perfect place to raise a family. With a sense of community. When there were parks, trees, birds and 66 year old nurseries. My condolences to that place which sits remotely and sadly in the annals of my memory.
FedupinMason August 01, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I cannot believe this woman actually holds office. What a joke. I would fire her if she worked for me.
Sherell Williams (Editor) August 01, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Yes, this is the area where the street light was added. However, Riegle told Patch last month that VDOT already planned to have the street light installed prior to their application. So it sounds like it was going to be there anyway.
Jeff C August 10, 2012 at 08:15 PM
What a one-sided commentary. The owners do everything they are supposed to do to meet all requirements in terms of zoning, etc.. Why are they not entitled to sell their property? 8.8 acres divided by 29 lots = 0.3 per lot -- I think that's a typical Northern VA lot size. I understand some angst, nostalgia, etc., but the talk about people getting fired over this decision, I don't understand. If it was your property, wouldn't you be entitled to sell it if you wanted to?
Shane December 26, 2012 at 09:40 PM
No Jeff, this is a landmark in the community, not piece of money to be thrown to constituents in the construction industry. When you ride roughshod over the will of your citizens, are you not betraying the very reasons of why people are elected to public office? Why do you think people are so fed up with government today? Possibly because it seeks only its own enrichment through special deals, not service to citizens and solutions to social issues. Do you really feel it is fit to bulldoze what it took 66 years to build??

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