A developer is trying to win approval to build 16 town houses or 13 detached houses on a 2.5-acre plot in the midst of a quiet residential neighborhood in Vienna zoned for single-family homes.
Despite objections from a civic group and some nearby residents, developer Roger DeMarco will ask the town's nine-member Planning Commission this week to recommend approval for his project, which ultimately would have to get the go-ahead from the Vienna Town Council.
DeMarco, who lives across the street from the proposed site, said he originally intended to construct 19 town houses on the vacant parcel off Roland Street and Wade Hampton Drive.
But in late September, the neighborhood citizens group, the Malcolm-Windover Heights Civic Association, unanimously voted to oppose the project.
Jim Tate, who heads the group, said about 50 of the 120 members attended a meeting to vote against the project.
"I think people are unwilling to accept the increase in traffic," Tate said, adding that another concern of the group involved a possible drop in values of surrounding homes.
"You start cramming town houses together and you're going to reduce property values," he said.
But DeMarco, who modified his plans slightly after the group's vote, said he does not think that either concern is justified.
In either case, whether the houses are to be attached or detached, DeMarco said he plans to build houses that will be "tremendously deluxe" and that will have no adverse effect on property values.
"What I want to build is a home that will appeal to older professionals," he said.
DeMarco said his town house proposal would be to build 16 two-story red-brick houses with two-car garages in groups of five, five and six. He said he would sell the houses for between $225,000 and $275,000 each.
He said that the houses he envisions would appeal to couples with perhaps one child living at home.
The town houses would "not have a big yard," he said, but they would be roomy and luxurious, with four bedrooms each.
"These people are not going to want to spend their time mowing two acres," he said.
DeMarco's alternative plan is to build a slightly smaller number of detached houses on the property. He estimated that he could sell those for a higher price, between $250,000 and $300,000 each.
To win approval for either proposal, DeMarco will need to obtain a change in zoning for the land, which sits in the middle of a neighborhood zoned for single-family houses with a minimum lot area of 16,000 square feet. The Town Council would have to change the parcel to town house zoning or single-family house zoning with a smaller minimum area.
Although DeMarco said he believes that the proposed project's impact on traffic would be minimal, some nearby residents strongly disagree.
John Reese, who lives about two blocks from the site on Glen Avenue, said that the impact on traffic would be "very, very bad."
"My feeling is that it's going to generate too much traffic on Glen Avenue and be a very dangerous situation for the very young children on the street," he said.
Reese said he fears that cars from the development would spill out of Wade Hampton Drive and onto Glen Avenue, currently a quiet neighborhood street where many elementary school-age children live.
James McLeod, who lives on the same street, said he has the same fear.
"I have three kids," he said. "I'm against the project."
The Planning Commission is expected to make a final recommendation on the project at its Jan. 8 meeting. The Town Council, which can overrule that recommendation, is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal Jan. 27.
If the project is approved, DeMarco said, he expects to begin construction in March and have the houses ready by late summer.