The house sits back from the road. It is an unfinished cinderblock structure surrounded by tires, old cars, and litter. Inside, two rooms serve as the living quarters for a couple and their 10 school-aged children. There is no bathroom nor running water.
"Sewer is my main problem," said the Fairfax County mother standing in her bedroom-living room area where her son lay asleep on a matress without sheets or pillows.
The family is one of 165 in the Lincoln-Lewis-Vannoy community in southwestern Fairfax County, many of whom have had to make do with no bathroom or with outhouses because there is no sewer system in the area. County regulations prohibit those residents from installing new bathrooms or making additions to their homes.
These residents hope things will soon change. After years of analysis, experiments and county reports, the county supervisors have approved the allocation of an initial $750,000 in federal and local funds for sewer facilities in Lincoln-Lewis-Vannoy.
Undecided, however, is what type of sewer system should be installed. The County supervisors are expected to vigorously debate the issue today because Board Chairman John F. Herrity is staunchly opposed to providing sewer to the area. Sewer facilities in the area would attract high density development, he believes.
"You can't do this type of thing," Herrity said. "Sewer is a wild thing."
Herrity said the Lincoln-Lewis-Vannoy community includes "vacant lots all over the place" that could be developed if sewer was provided.
According to a county report, 47.2 per cent of the land is vacant or largely undeveloped in the Lincoln-Lewis-Vannoy community, a group of sparsely developed subdivisions of single family detached homes three miles west of Chain Bridge Road on Braddock, Popes Head and Colchester Roads.
An earlier county report warned that if sewer lines were installed they "would open up a large segment of western Fairfax County to premature intensive development."
Supervisor Marie B. Travesky, who represents the community in the Springfield District, counters tht the sewer system would not open the area to widespread development.
Travesky said county housing officials are recommending that four small sewage treatment plants costing a total of $1.5 million be built and their use be limited only to that community. She said that because community is restricted to single family development, it would avoid high density development.
"That group of homes was built on the worst land in the county," Travesky said.
County officials said septic tanks cannot be used on 95 per cent of the land because the soil will not absorb water. The altenative would be for the county to install a public water and sewer system, some officials said.
Families that live in the blighted area in one of the richest counties in the nation want the sewer system as soon as possible.
"We need the sewer and we need the water," said Sherrol M. Greene outside his cinderblock home in Lewis Park, one of the five subdivisions that make up Lincoln-Lewis-Vannoy. "I don't have a bathroom . . . When I go to take a bath, I've got to do like they did in the old days - use a foot tub."
Mrs. Travesky agrees. "I think any resident of the county has a right to expect what most of the other county residents have . . . I don't think we can sit around and twiddle our thumbs. These people have gotten the short end of the stick."
most of the homes in the Lincoln-Lewis-Vannoy community are box-shaped clapboard structures built between 1945 and 1961. Some are concrete structures that have never been painted. There are some abandoned houses as well.
Most of the residents are white and many are retired. Many of those who aren't retired are working bricklayers, carpenters, custodians, and store clerks; some are employed by the county or federal government.
According to a county report, 90 per cent of the houses are in need of repair or rehabilitation. Housing values average $14,286, a figure that drops to less than $11,000 when the highest priced 20 per cent of the homes are excluded. The median price of a home in the county as a whole is $62,500.
Of the 165 homes, 57 per cent have outdoor toilets andanother 6 per cent have septic tanks, the housing report says. The remaining 7 per cent have no toilet facilities and their residents apparently rely on neighbor's facilities.
Ninety per cent of the homes have individual wells, while the remaining 10 per cent either have no source of water on their property or have poluted or contaminated wells, according to the report.
A county survey in late 1969 stated that 67 per cent of the households had an annual income of less than $7,200.
In 1967, when Sherrol M. Greene bought an acre in the community, he moved a trailer onto his property. He and his family lived in the trailer for two years, although county officials told Greene that he couldn't live in the trailer on his property because of the lack of a sewer system.
While living in the trailer, Greene, a construction worker, said he obtained a building permit for a garage. He said he built the garage and later moved his family into it. That garage has now been expanded to seven rooms, Greene said.
Some residents interviewed said they have illegally piped their well water to their kitchen sinks so they can have water inside the house.
Community residents complain of stagnant water that stands in yards throughout the community for lack of a drainage system.
"Water and sewer would be a great thing," said Martha Dancy, who has been living in the community for 20 years. "It would be a cleaner community."
Other residents echo Mrs. Dancy's feelings. They say that homeowners - 60 per cent of the 165 families in the area - would make needed repairs on their homes. Some renters say they would consider buying the homes where they now live once public sewer comes to the area.
Herrity, who cast the lone vote against funding the sewer system three weeks ago, said he is concerned that the residents will not be able to afford the higher taxes they will incur once they make such home improvements as installing bathrooms.
However, residents said their property tax bills have tripled and doubled in recent years and they have not received anything in return. "It (the property tax bill) is going up anyway," one resident said.
For years, various county officials have said the county couldn't afford to pay for public sewer in the area and the community lacks a tax base that would support a sewer sytem. The residents think the county should help.
"Here we live in Fairfax County where people have $100,000 homes and we sit with no toilets," said Jean Stanley, who has lived in the Vannoy subdivision for three years. "It's a shame."