Taxpayers may to have foot the bill for destruction of four yet-unbuilt $100,000 to $115,000 houses in the Fairfax County subdivision of Brimstone II when Ox Road is widened.
A smiliar set of circumstances led the county of inform builders that it expects to condemn two just-completed $84,500 Middle ridge houses further north on Ox Road, which is Route 123.
Oscar Hendrickson, with the Fairfax County design review board, said the reason the county allows homes to be built only to be destroyed is that under Virginia law no property can be acquired for roads until funds are appropriated.
In the Middleridge case that meant a wait of three years from the time the plan was initially submitted. In the meantime, the Ryders Place cul de sac was constructed in Middleridge with two houses directly in the right-of-way. County officials have said they are studying the situation but eventual condemnation of the two houses appears almost certain.
While the Highway Department removes those houses, four new houses blocking the right-of-way could be constructed on the southern strectch of Ox Road. Funds for the northern portion of the road were appropriated in February.
Building permits have already been obtained for the four lots by Berger Berman Builders, Inc.
Larry Goldstein, director of land development for Berger Berman, which is now development Brimstone II, said he had hoped Faifax County would deny his company the building permits because "we don't want to get in the same situation as the people, down the road."
But Fairfax County cannot deny building permits without reimbursing the owner for his land because of the constitutional guarantee of due process, Hendrickson said.
In fact, the division issuing building permits is not even aware of planned road construction, said John F. Chilton, also with the design review board. Chilton said the matter of where the "moral authority" rested for telling a homebuyer or developer about a proposed road site was unclear.
Goldstein said his company was trying to "wait it out" by building houses away from the right-of-way first. When those houses are complete in nine months, however, construction may begin on the four lots, Goldstein said.
Goldstein said one of the reasons construction might have to begin around that time is that the company can't be "expected to pay interest forever."
Both Chilton and Hendrickson said they believed the profit-motive could play a large role in a developer's decisions in such cases, pointing out that building a house for the government to destroy can involve a monetary gain. Not only will the builder be reimbursed for the land, but he will also receive the same profit margin that a buyer of the home would provide.
"He has a right to this (the money the builder makes from selling a house to the government) as an American citizen," said Hendrickson. "The profit motive developed this country."
Chilton said, however, that he did not believe ANB Construction, which built the two homes on Ryers Place, built a house "for the state to buy."