The Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, a nonprofit organization that serves 64,000 girls across the region and in parts of West Virginia, is asking Fairfax officials for special permission to build a storage facility on its 68-acre Camp Crowell in Oakton. The metal warehouse would be near the camp’s entrance on Justin Knoll Road, whose residents contend that it would be an eyesore, add traffic and lower their property values.
The 6,000-square-foot warehouse, to be ringed by dozens of new trees and shrubs, would store all sorts of Scout items that troop leaders can borrow: tents, lanterns, frying pans, microscopes, tie-dye kits, memorabilia, hiking rickshaws for handicapped girls, and ice-cream sticks that are used to make photograph frames and earn merit badges.
(Alas, no cookies. They’re made in Louisville.)
, the Girl Scout Council’s chief executive, said she’s made multiple concessions to alleviate neighbors’ concerns, including changing the paint color and taking measures to minimize traffic.
“There’s a piece of me that’s a little sad” at the opposition the project has encountered, Soto-Harmon said. “I didn’t think this was going to be as big of an issue as it turned out to be.”
This being Northern Virginia, Justin Knoll Road residents have lawyered up. They’ve built a Web site — called “Stop Industrial Oakton” — along with a companion Facebook page. In the past year, they’ve met at least seven times with Girl Scout officials to argue their case against the warehouse, which will be named after the nonprofit’s president, Diane Tipton. Most recently, the neighbors filed an appeal with the county zoning board, months before county supervisors will get a chance at a final say.
But as serious as the Oakton residents are in their opposition — they once refused free Girl Scout cookies at a community meeting with scout leaders — they are also self-conscious about who they’re opposing.
“I love the Girl Scouts. . . . If I was a girl, I’d be a Girl Scout. I want to be very clear on this with you. It has nothing to do with the Girl Scouts,” Newt Wood, 68, a semiretired office-furniture salesman who lives on Justin Knoll Road, told about 80 residents at a community meeting last week. “When we all moved here, I don’t think any of us envisioned that we’d be standing here tonight talking about a 6,000-square-foot . . . prefab warehouse. It will adversely affect our daily lives and the value of our property.”
After Wood gave his speech, he asked listeners to raise a hand if they were opposed to the project, and nearly every hand went up.
Soto-Harmon said the nonprofit wants to save money in the long run with a $600,000 warehouse — built with donations — rather than spend $50,000 a year to rent storage space.