McLean Province HOA Planning Commission Testimony re: Chesterbrook Residences


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    you are here: home > activities > letters > McLean Province HOA PC CAALF testimony

    Statement by Kathryn Hauser on behalf of

     The McLean Province Homeowners Association

    In Opposition to the Proposed Special Exception Amendment SEA 2003-DR-022 for

    Chesterbrook Residences Incorporated

    before the

    Fairfax County Planning Commission

    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.

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