The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, having made the decision to move the county government out of the City of Fairfax, has begun the process of selecting a new site for the county office complex.
The board voted this week to authorize $20,000 for a transportation consultant's study of four sites in the Rte. 50 corridor. The board set May 1 as the date for real estate appraisers hired by the county to report on the value of the sites. By July 24, the transportation analysis is expected to ready, and on July 31 the board plans to set a date, probably in early october, for a public hearing on the sites.
Under consideration are: The Pender site, at the intersection of Rte. 50 and West Ox Road; the Smith-Carney Site, on Rte. 29-211 a mile from the Fairfax City limits; the Chiles NE site, on the northeast quadrant of the intersection of Rte. 50 and 495, and the Chiles SE site, on the southeast quadrant of the same intersection.
The board decision to move the county government offices followed a recommendation by a citizen's committee appointed last fall to study the feasibility of relocation. The study concluded the county could save as much as $50 million during the next 40 years by moving out of Fairfax city. The county now plays about $741,000 annually in rentals for the 15 buildings which house its overflow from the Massey Building, according to county officials.
The board's decision to move did not include county court facilities.
Citizen opposition to the county's possible move to the Chiles and Pender sites has surfaced quickly. Citizens groups say they feel that a government complex, which within 40 years may include five to six office buildings the size of the present Massey Building, would bring too much traffic and congestion into their neighborhoods, and encourage strip commercial development.
The citizens committee has projected that commercial development around a relocated center could net the county as much as $15 million in tax revenues over four years.
Jack W. Carney, part owner of the Smith-Carney site and chairman of the Route 50/66 Association, a group of landowners holding nearly 1,460 acres around the interchange, commented:
"Naturally, if the county government locates there (near the interchange), it would do a lot for future land use. There would be an influx of lawyers, engineers, and other people who do business with the county. And I think you would see a lot more commercial and white collar industrial use of the land."
The following is a description of each of the four sites and their projected costs:
The Pender Site - Made up of parcels now held by 19 separate owners, this 154-acre site at the southwest corner of the Route 50-West Ox Road intersection was the favorite of the citizens committee. According to Bryan Heller, one of the landowners and a history buff, it was the site of the Civil War Battle of Ox Hill which followed the Second Battle of Manassas.
The assessed value of the property is listed as $1.495 million and its estimated purchase price is $1.7 million.
The site lies just across West Ox Road from the Pinecrest Golf Center which has been sold to Taubman and Co., a Michigan-based corporation. Taubman says it plans to begin construction this summer on a 1.3 million-square-foot shopping center called Crossroads.
Recently, six citizens associations in the area have united to fight the location of county offices on the Pender site.
Gretchen Davis, presdient of one of the groups, the Fairfax Farms Citizens Association, said property owners on Rte. 50 near the shopping center site are already requesting commercial-office rezonings based on the location of the center. She and her neighbors say that his will increase if the county offices move in too. Area residents, she said, are particularly concerned about the potential for increased traffic.
"We have an area that's really rural now. We'd like to keep it," said Davis.
Rising gradually into a gentle hillside on the south side of Rte. 50, the Pender site is heavily forested with maple, oak and other hardwoods. Up Dorforth Baad, which runs northsouth along the site's western edge, there are about a dozen modest homes, many with their vegetable gardens freshly plowed, ready for seeding.
In addition to the estimated purchase price of $1.7 million for the Pender site, about $1.66 million would be required to provide water, sewer service, and storm drainage, necessary to prepare the site for development, according to the citizens committee report.
The reports also estimates that $6.74 million would be needed to provide necessary road access to the site. For instance, Rte. 50 would need to be widened to six lanes along the site's frontage; a grade separated interchange would be necessary at the Route 50-West Ox Road intersection, and West Ox Road would need to be widened to four lanes in the vicinity of the site.
According to a report given the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations last month by relocation committee chairman Michael Horwatt, application would also be made for a full interchange with I-66 to serve the government center should it come to the Pende site.
The Smith-Carney Site - This 150-acre tract fronts on Rte. 29-211 about one mile past the Fairfax City limits and is part of 263 acres owned since 1960 by Carney and Benjamin M. Smith, Jr. Like the Pender site, the land is heavily forested with mixed hardwoods, and on the site rise some of the headwaters of Difficult Run.
The assessed value of the site is $1.506 million. According to the citizens committee report, the approximate purchase price would be $3.78 million.
According to Carney, the land was rezoned last year for residential use, and he has plans to develop the site with a mix of 1,316 residential units. In addition, nine acres have been set aside for a neighborhood shopping center on Rte. 29-211.
"Smith-Carney will have to proceed with currents plans in an orderly manner," said Carney. "The county's plans are very fluid now . . . You don't sit around and wait forever for something to happen.
Costs of improving highway access to the site are estimated by the citizens committee to be $2.65 million. Improvements would include widening Rte. 50 to six lanes from I-66 to Waples Mill road; widening of Rte. 29-211 along the frontage of the site, constructing a four-lane, east-west collector road between realigned Legato Road and Waples Mill Road extended, and completion of the Rte. 50/I-66 interchange.
Estimated costs of providing water, sewer service and adequate storm drainage to the site are $1.735 million.
Chiles NE - This 158-acre piece of property located on the northeast quadrant of the Rte. 50/I-495 interchange and extending northward to Rte. 29-211, is part of what once was a large holding of the Chiles family, which extended west past the present location of the Fairfax Hospital and included the land which Mobil Corporation is developing for its offices. According to the citizens committee, this piece of wooded property ranks high in accessibility to most of the county's population.
However, its estimated price tag is $9.4 million, and the committee says an additional $1,205 million would be needed to provide storm drainage, water and sewer services. Another $5.4 million would have to be spent to builtd a grade-separated interchange at Rte. 50 and Jaguar Trail. Rte. 50 would need to be widened to six lanes between I-495 and a point a quarter of a mile east of Jaguar Trail.
"These areas (the two Chiles sites) are obviously not going to be left untouched, but the county government - that's a lot of people," said Brian McDonald, president of the Pine Spring Civic Association, which represents one of the several subdivisions either near the Chiles NE site.
According to McDonald, his civic association has registered its opposition to the county's relocation on the Chiles site in a letter to Supervisor James Scott (D-Providence).
"We're trying to avoid having them, mostly because of traffic congestion along Rte. 50. We see the whole highway as already being overly congested."
Chiles Se - Like its neighbor to the north, Chiles SE is centrally located for most of the county's population but is estimated to be the most expensive of the four sites. The citizens committee pinned a price tag of $11.7 million on the 196-acre parcel which lies just to the west of Falls Church High School between Jaguar Trail and the Beltway.
Wills and Plank, a residential development corporation in the area has recently purchased the site, however, and plans to build from 300 to 400 single family detached homes. Reed Wills said the company had paid less than $11 million for the site, but he refused to comment further on the purchase price.
Wills added that he and his partner have filed a development plan with the county and will proceed with their proposed residential development.
"Until something is yea or nay, we're proceeding," said Wills.
The land is currently zoned residential, according to Yeager, and its assessed value is listed at $3.5 million.
In addition to the site acquisition costs, about $660,000 will be needed to provide water and sewer service to the site and road improvements for the site will cost $5.6 million, according to the citizens committee study. Most of that amount would go for building an interchange at Rte. 50 and Jaguar Trail.
According to Roland Peterson, president of the Holmes Run Acres Civic Association, the possibility of the county's move to the Chiles SE site "has been of general concern," although the civic association has not looked at it in detail.
Peterson said he is concerned that the area will experience an increase in congestion once Mobil opens its head-quarters nearby on Gallows Road. To add county government traffic as well "would be disastrous," he said.