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.
Want Annandale news and information in your inbox? Sign up for our free newsletters here.