Public Payoffs Are Numerous in Sale of Vienna Land

(Ray Lustig - Ray Lustig/tw:p Staff)
Thursday, November 24, 2005

Dear Mr. Davis:

I am writing to follow up on the Nov. 1 public forum at Oakton High School on the proposed sale of Metro-owned excess property near the Vienna Metro station. On behalf of the Metro board of directors, let me thank you for taking the time to participate in this forum and listen to the various points of view. I believe that the format for this forum allowed equal opportunity for points to be raised in favor of or opposed to the land sale and/or the proposed rezoning. Of the attendees, 49 were generally in favor and 36 were generally in opposition. Many of those in attendance were speaking on behalf of larger groups.

As you know, Metro's role in the development process is limited to the sale of the 3.75 acres of excess land which it owns and is proposed for consolidation with the nearly 53 acres of land that the developer has assembled. The decision on the rezoning application is solely up to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Although the forum was structured by Metro for citizens to comment on the land sale, we also included representatives from Fairfax County, FairGrowth, the Coalition for Smarter Growth and citizen task forces to respond to the larger issues related to the proposed development.

The Metro funding authorization bill (H.R. 3496) called for such a forum to be held after that date. The notice of this forum was publicized through Metro's Web site and media advisories. Several newspaper stories also mentioned this forum. As you are aware, the large number of attendees at the forum demonstrates that citizens were well informed about it. This forum was designed to satisfy the hearing requirement in the proposed legislation, and the presence of five of the six voting members of the Metro board shows that we take your concerns about this issue seriously.

The proposed legislation directs Metro to report on the costs and benefits associated with the disposition of the Metro-owned property, the impact of the disposition on parking at the Vienna Metro station and the effect of the disposition on the capacity of the Vienna station and the entire Metrorail system. The response to these issues, in the context of proposed H.R. 3496 and some other key questions asked at the forum, is outlined as follows:

Costs and benefits associated with the disposition of the property.

Metro, as part of the sale, will receive $6.5 million for this narrow strip of excess property consisting of about 3.75 acres. In addition, if the developer is substantially successful in its rezoning application, Metro will receive, at the developer's expense, a list of roadway and transit facility improvements that have been coordinated by the Virginia Department of Transportation, Fairfax County, Metro and the developer during the last 18 months. These improvements are estimated at $9 million and will directly benefit Metro patrons. They are related to ameliorating existing and projected service issues and include:

-- Widening of Saintsbury Drive to a four-lane divided roadway.

-- Two roundabouts at the eastern and western ends of the roadway to facilitate bus access and traffic circulation.

-- Relocation of 75 existing metered parking spaces on the reconstructed Saintsbury Drive.

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