Update April 27 8:02 a.m.: The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the S11-I-B1 Peace Valley Lane property plan as it was amended during its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, April 26.
Despite the Mason District Land Use committee's vote against the development and opposition from residents and community organizations such as the Mason District Council, the vote to approve the amendment was unanimous.
“I know everyone’s not happy, but you try to do the very best you can,” said commissioner Jane Hall, who represents Mason District on the committee. “I’ve often said that land use is not a popularity contest. It isn’t how many votes you get on one side versus the other.”
“What we are proposing is not to open Peace Valley Lane. It can be opened going north or south. Nothing supports Peace Valley Lane going to Route 7… Ravenwood will continue to prosper for many years. It has great community spirit. Nothing in this language takes way that option," said Hall.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on the final decision on the property at a to be announced date.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission has deferred their decision on the S11-I-B1, Peace Valley Lane property plan amendment until April 26. The commission was originally expected to announce their decision on Wednesday night during its scheduled meeting.
This is the second time the commission has postponed their decision on the property. A decision was expected on Feb. 9, but it was deferred to April 18 to allow county staff additional time to elaborate on the plan amendment recommendations.
The 1.89-acre lot at 3236 Peace Valley Lane in Falls Church, located north of Colmac Drive and south of Vinewood townhouses, is planned for residential use at two to three dwelling units per acre. The plan amendment put forth by the developer asks for a rezoning change that would allow residential density up to four to five dwelling units per acre on the property.
[See a copy of the Planning Commission’s Staff Report at right.]
The property is currently zoned "R-3" and could accommodate as many as five single-family homes, but the proposed plan amendment, if approved, could allow up to eight single-family homes. According to their website, the Concordia Group purchased the Peace Valley Lane property in June 2011 and plan to develop the property into ”eight single-family detached lots.”
Peace Valley has become a passionate issue for many Mason District residents. The Ravenwood Park Citizens’ Association spent the last several months opposing the planned dense development on the property, writing letters to Mason District Supervisor Penelope Gross, speaking out at Mason District Land Use committee meetings and at public hearing in front of the Planning Commission.
In a February letter, members of the Ravenwood Park Association Board and residents who live on Colmac Drive and White Street explained that the community is not against development, but expressed displeasure at the proposed zoning change and plan amendment that would allow the developer Concordia Group to build eight townhouses in the community:
"Ravenwood Park is not against development. We are against overdevelopment and using a backdoor change in the zoning laws to allow it to happen. We are simply trying to protect property values and the overall quality of life our neighborhood enjoys. If single family homes were built, we would gladly welcome those homeowners to our neighborhood."
Some of the issues Ravenwood residents have listed for their opposition to the development are the valuation of the land and declining property value, storm-water management, drainage, soil integrity, and concerns about driving additional traffic into the community. Residents don’t think the infill development will fit with the character of the already established neighborhood.
“We’d really like to see development that follows the existing zoning and see something architecturally responsive to the interests of the people in the neighborhood,” said Co-President John Iekel .
The Mason District Land Use Committee previously held a public hearing about the property back in January and in February, recommended that the planning commission reject the planned amendment for Peace Valley Lane.
The staff report from the Planning Commission supported the plan amendment as long as it improved “the site layout and overall development is appropriate. A planned density of up to eight single-family detached houses (which represents a density of four to five dwelling units per acre) is recommended to be added as an option with conditions such as landscaped buffers, clearing and grading limits, site design, trails access, and energy and stormwater measures to achieve the goal of compatible infill development.”
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the plan amendment and make the final decision on the property at a later, to be announced date.