Old Colchester Road in southeastern Fairfax County is a highway into the past.
George Washington reputedly trod this road near the Occuquan River on his way to meet the British at Yorktown. Later, the road was part of the main postal route between Boston and Charleston, S.C. During the Civil War, Union and Confederate troops engaged in skirmishes nearby.
But today, the eight families who live along this narrow road are troubled by a modern-day reality-growth and the threat of commercial development. Fairfax and Prince William County across the river are among the fastest growing areas in Virginia.
Charles Beahm'swhite frame house goes back through six generations of his family and boasts a stone basement that served as a kitchen in colonial times.
This week Beahm stood on the hill behind his home, facing his own small, 12-slip boat favility, and pointed an accusatory finger to the east wherea larger boating facility, known as Beach's Marina, is threatening to grow even larger.
"The big deal is that these people over here want to expand their marina and put in a boathouse and everything. They want to stack all that place up with boats. It will make the traffic problem here so bad, I won't want to look out my windows and see it," said Beahm.
Beahm and other residents say that the proposed expansion will back up traffic along Colchester Road, threaten the foundations of the historic homes along this route, and set an unfortunate pre edent for development of commercial facilities in this residential community.
The argument is strongly rejected by Mary Beach, owner of Beach's Marine.
"I just don't understand these people," she said, referring to her neighbors. "I don't want to abuse this neighborhood, I'm trying to make it better. My grandparents owned this property and I'm trying to fix it up."
Although Beach's facility was until recently a small docking operation like Beahm's, in the past two years, according to Fairfax County planner Carlos MOntenegro, it has "expanded considerably" to a three-ramp facility with 14docking slips. Beach is now proposing to expand to a complex of 78 slips, with a new boathouse, office building and parking space for 147 cars, according to Montenegro.
The county planning department, which has conditionally approved the proposed expansion, said in a report issued this week that the enlarged complex would increase road traffic along Old Colchester Road from peak of 125 cars trips daily to 600 trips during peak seasons, which the report acknoledges "could prove to be confusing and congested."
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors temporarily deferred approval of the plan this week, but along Old Colchester Road, resident said they believe that the expansion will ultimately be approved.
Marion Thompson is another resident who said she is disturbed by the proposed expansion. Two years ago, Thompson and her husband bought the historic Fairfax Arms a two-story white frame residence that housed a tavern in the years before the Revolution, and is believed to be the second oldest structure in Fairfax County.
The gable-roofed building gained a certain reputation in the pre-Revolution War era as a meeting place for colonials who would gather to drink in the "men's saloon" - what is how the Thompsons' living room- while their women retired to the "ladies' parlor"-today, the Thompsons' kitchen.
Marlon Thompson is especially concerned about the fact that on a hill overlooking the docking facility, the owner of Beach's Marina already has under construction a two-story colonial-style house with exterioraccess to several public rest rooms.
"You just know they're going to turn that house into a restaurant or club," she said. "If that turns into a club, we might as well turn this back into a working tavern. We who live here know that in five years there will be a marina from here to heaven knows where.
"It's a few years down the road, but it's coming.