Statement by Kathryn Hauser
on behalf of
The McLean Province Homeowners
In Opposition to the Proposed
Special Exception Amendment SEA 2003-DR-022 for
Fairfax County Planning
February 5, 2004
McLean Province is a community of 132 town homes located at the
intersection of Great Falls Street and Kirby Road. Many of our
homeowners were attracted to our community because of the large
amount of green space in our development and the fact that we
are adjacent to Haycock-Longfellow Park. Our community spends
a high proportion of its funds on landscaping and we place a premium
on protecting the natural habitat.
McLean Province strongly opposes the proposed Special Permit
application because the facility size and scale is not in keeping
with the residential nature of our community. The size and scale
of the proposal by Chesterbrook Residences Incorporated (CRI or
“the developer”) is unacceptable because it would result is severe
degradation to our neighborhood and parkland.
1. Size of property is too small for such a large
institutional facility. According to the Staff Report SE
2003-DR-022 discussion of Standards for all Category 3 Uses
(Sect. 9-304), Standard 6 requires that the use be located
on a lot a minimum of five acres in size. The proposed facility
is located on 5.72 acres. While it is true that 5.72 acres does
meet the standard for use, one must question whether it makes
sense to build such a massive facility -- 69,000 square feet --
on such a relatively small parcel located in a residential neighborhood
and adjacent to Fairfax County Parkland.
In fact, the project scale is so
large that CRI cannot meet the requirement of 100’ setback from
Longfellow School on the north (Standard 5 requires that
no building be located closer than 45 feet to any street line
or closer than 100 feet to any lot line which abuts an R-A through
R-4 District.) The developer is requesting a modification of this
requirement to permit the building to be located within 66 feet
of the public school property to the north, which is zoned R-1.
This is a clear and factual indication that the proposed facility
is too large for the property and on this basis alone, we request
that the Planning Commission deny the request.
When our community was built nearly
20 years ago, our developer proffered a significant amount of
property to the Haycock-Longfellow Park. It is our understanding
that we actually own some 5 acres in what we all consider to be
“our park”. It is therefore of concern to us that CRI only reluctantly
agreed to a 100’ buffer from the western edge of the property
after it was pointed out to them that the parkland contained a
perennial stream that is a designated RPA and EQC. The project
they propose is simply too big for the parcel of land, making
it impossible for them to take any steps to enhance stewardship
of the natural habitat we all enjoy.
2. Scale of facility is too massive. CRI proposes
a 69,000 square foot building, two stories in front and three
in the rear. This would make it one of the largest assisted-living
facilities in Fairfax County, more than twice the size of the
average 45-48 bed facility. And, it would be located in a residential
neighborhood of some 500 homeowners, which is already congested
with four other institutions on the same block-long strength of
Westmorland Street (Haycock Elementary School, Temple Rodef Shalom,
Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, and Longfellow Intermediate School).
The homeowners of McLean Province are particularly concerned
about the size and scale of the building from the western side,
which would be clearly visible from the park. The proposed building
would be 39 feet high (nearly the height of Temple Rodef
Shalom) and 215 feet wide. It will be situated only
100 feet from the perennial stream and adjacent footpath in
Haycock-Longfellow Park. The character of Haycock-Longfellow
Park will be changed significantly if this project is approved.
3. Number of units is too large. The proposal
calls for 97 units or 109 beds, which would make it the second
largest facility in Fairfax County. This is unacceptable
in a residential neighborhood of some 500 residents that is already
congested with four sizeable institutions in the one block of
Westmorland Street between Haycock Road and Kirby Road. McLean
Province supports a facility size in the range of 45-48 beds,
which would be in line with the average facility in Fairfax County.
A redesigned facility on this scale would better fit with the
surrounding neighborhood, while still providing new low-income
units to meet the social goals of the developers.
Given the chosen size of the proposed project, the developer
is required to have 62 parking spaces to meet the requirements
for staff, resident and visitor parking. We believe their assumptions
about adequate staff size relative to service level, resident
and visitor parking are faulty and note that they have made no
provision for growth in any area. Should more staff be needed,
or more parking spaces for residents or visitors desired, CRI
would have to file an amendment to their Special Exception which
would require two public hearings. This is yet another indication
the facility is too large. By building a smaller facility
with fewer beds, while maintaining the current projection of 25
employees and 62 parking spaces, CRI would have the necessary
flexibility to change staffing needs to meet changing circumstances.
4. Landscaping and water management are inadequate.
According to the plan documents, the developer plans to clear
cut all vegetation within 25 feet of the building foundation,
leaving only 75 feet of natural habitat to the south along Kirby
Court and west along the Park. While CRI has agreed to a condition
requiring modest landscaping to the south, it does not intend
to provide any landscaping behind the building facing Haycock-Longfellow
Park to the west because Fairfax County does not require it.
We are particularly concerned that the developer has made no
offer to install a barrier, transitional screening or additional
landscaping along the perennial stream and footpath along the
proposed development site. This area is a designated Resource
Protection Area (RPA) and Environmental Quality Corridor (EQC).
The 100’ buffer is a Fairfax County requirement, but in our view,
it does not fully satisfy General Standard 3. Without
transitional screening or additional landscaping along the perennial
stream and footpath, the proposed use will NOT “be harmonious
with” and WILL “adversely affect the use or development
of neighboring properties.”
Secondly, storm water run-off is a serious concern to McLean
Province and our neighboring associations, in particular, Brooks
Square which lies directly to the east of McLean Province and
with whom we share frontage on the northern side of Haycock-Longfellow
Park. Our neighborhoods are built next to the RPA and, as a result,
we are all too familiar with water run-off problems associated
with the perennial stream running through the Park down to Pimmit
Run. CRI has chosen the northwestern portion of the property
to locate the proposed dry pond to handle storm water. In addition,
a connecting road for access to the pond by maintenance vehicles,
with two parking spaces, is proposed right on the very edge of
the RPA. This is unacceptable.
According to the Country Staff report, “The proposed dry pond
is located just east of the limits of clearing and grading that
protect the RPA/EQC, and immediately west of the rear of the building.”
It is unclear from the Staff Report just how far the western edge
of the dry pond will be from the protected boundary of the RPA.
We do know that there is not much room to shoehorn in a dry pond
and maintenance access road and parking area, while ensuring protection
of the RPA.
Further, it is clear that CRI does not intend to provide any
transitional screening or additional landscaping to “hide” the
dry pond or ensure maximum capability for water retention. The
developer has repeatedly stated that the proposed dry pond would
exceed the minimum requirement for the site by 10%. This is hardly
a reasonable concession, given the fact that the property abuts
a Fairfax County field-verified perennial stream and flood plan
that is classified as a Resource Protection Area (RPA). County
officials are well aware of the numerous drainage complaints both
upstream and downstream of the proposed development due to undetained
or underdetained runoff from the surrounding developments. It
is reasonable to assume that a 69,000 square foot building located
on the property, with the associated 62 parking places and access
roads, and with minimal landscaping, will generate more water
runoff than the proposed dry pond could handle. We are confident
that the neighborhood will be worse off as a result of this development.
5. Traffic issues would be exacerbated. We have
significant concerns about the traffic in our neighborhood. General
Standard 4 states that “the proposed use shall be such that
pedestrian and vehicular traffic associated with the use will
not be hazardous or conflict with existing and anticipated traffic
in the neighborhood.” The addition of this proposed institution
will only exacerbate the current problem.
The developers propose to align the property entrance with Hopewell
Drive and to provide a connection to the school property so that
vehicles can exit separately from the bus traffic. We question
how this could actually improve the traffic hazards existing in
the neighborhood when the amount of space between Longfellow School
and the proposed facility is only 66 feet and the roadway contains
parking spaces for staff, residents and visitors. A stop sign
and crosswalk at the entrance on Westmorland Street will do little
to change middle-schoolers’ behavior, improve the ability of our
neighbors in Westmorland Square and Kirby Court to access Westmorland
Street (both northbound and southbound) during peak hours, and
deter parents who drop off their children from making U-turns
throughout the neighborhoods.
McLean Province strongly opposes the proposed Special Permit
application because the facility size and scale are not in keeping
with the residential nature of our community. The property is
too small to accommodate the project, the proposed building is
too massive, the number of units is too great, landscaping and
water management is inadequate, and traffic will be exacerbated.
Our community of 132 homes, as well as our neighbors in McLean
Greens (92 homes), Brooks Square (32 homes), L’Ambiance of McLean
(45 homes), Westmorland Square (182 homes), and Kirby Court (20
homes) would all be disadvantaged and we would experience severe
degradation to our neighborhood and parkland. We respectfully
urge you to deny the Special Exemption Amendment SEA 2003-DR-022
for Chesterbrook Residences Incorporated.