Richard Korink is acutely aware of the downside of a development boom.
The 43-year-old federal worker moved from the densely populated Fairfax City area in 1972 to Centreville, where he believed that life would be calmer amid the winding country roads that connect the placid dairy and horse farms in southwestern Fairfax County.
Now, Korink sits trapped in his Ford Mustang for 30 minutes each morning as he makes what only three years ago was an easy 10-minute drive through the heart of Centreville.
"It boggles the mind," said Korink, whose commuting time to the District is well over an hour. "It takes all this time to go a short distance, and that's with all the major development still to come."
The traffic bottlenecks that greet Korink and his neighbors are products of the swift commercial growth that has occurred to the north of Centreville in the Dulles International Airport area, Tysons Corner and Reston, the daily destinations of thousands of workers from southwestern Fairfax and Prince William and Loudoun counties.
Most of the drivers converge at the busy intersection of Rtes. 28 and 29 in the middle of Centreville; others seek out secondary highways such as Braddock, Walney and Stringfellow roads, turning what were designed as small town roads into busy thoroughfares.
Soon, however, this predominantly rural area, where some buildings date from the 18th century, will be creating traffic pressures of its own.
Developers have descended on Centreville, snatching up land in one of the few areas of the county left with open space for big projects. Their plans could transform it into a major business-residential hub.
"Centreville is a boom area," said Samuel A. Patteson Jr., who retired last week as Fairfax County's supervisor of assessments. "Property values have risen tremendously. In the last year alone, they've taken off."
Some of the best known names in development in the area, including John T. (Til) Hazel, Cadillac Fairview, the Turner-Harwood Co. and the Olin Corp., have bought or have options on large parcels of land in Centreville and are planning massive developments. The competition has driven property values up dramatically and triggered some of the most intense land speculation in the county, according to people familiar with the situation.
"You couldn't give property away" as recently as three years ago, said Dean P. Yeonas, vice president of the Yeonas Co., a division of Wood Brother Homes. "Now things are booming. The real estate market has been so hot that everybody's been developing as much as they can as fast as they can."
Quarter-acre residential lots that sold for $12,000 to $15,000 a decade ago and for $25,000 as recently as early 1985 are now selling for $30,000 to $35,000, according to one developer.
The so-called Winkler tract, which backs up against Rte. 28 just west of Rte. 29, is said to have sold recently for an estimated $7.5 million. Four years ago, it was reported to have had a price tag of about $4 million.
The center of attention has been what is known as the "core area," a 3,000-acre swath of land where Rtes. 28 and 29 and Braddock Road and I-66 come together. The projected development is expected to send the population there soaring from about 8,000 today to 35,000 to 40,000 in 15 to 20 years.
Yeonas said the construction is the result of "a tremendous demand for housing units" spurred by the commercial and industrial growth in Fairfax County. He said developers have flocked to Centreville because there really is nowhere else to go.
"Land in Fairfax County is very scarce right now," he said.
"It's the last frontier in the county," agreed Supervisor Elaine N. McConnell (R-Springfield), whose district includes Centreville. "If we plan that community well and if we have a good transportation system, it can be less of a disaster than people have projected." Residents such as Korink, who is chairman of the Centreville Citizens Advisory Task Force, are watching the county's actions closely to minimize the impact of the forthcoming development.
The task force, a 24-member committee appointed by the Board of Supervisors to recommend a development plan for Centreville, will present its 18-month study to the county planning commission Tuesday night, in which it urges that growth be controlled.
"Balance and moderation are the key words," Korink said. "People expect growth, but they would like to see moderation and pacing of that growth. The answer is not to fast-track the development. People don't want to see them try to produce 20 years of development in 10 years."
Among those involved in the coming building boom are:
The Fairfax-based Hazel-Peterson Co., which entered into a venture last summer with the Pomeroy Co. to build about 3,200 residential units, along with stores and office buildings, on a 408-acre tract just southwest of where Rtes. 28 and 29 intersect.
The Yeonas Co., which is building 1,056 units on a 198-acre tract along I-66 west of Rte. 28.
Cadillac Fairview of Dallas, which has an option on 112 acres northwest of the intersection of Rtes. 28 and 29. A spokesman for Cadillac Fairview, which is building offices and a hotel on a 3.7 million-square-foot tract at the Beltway and Rte. 50, said the company will determine its plans for the Centreville property in about two weeks.
Turner-Harwood Ventures. Its proposed Centerwood project on an estimated 800,000-square-foot tract southwest of Rtes. 28 and 29 would include a five-story office building and a six-story hotel.
Construction of substantial residential and commercial projects is under way on smaller parcels throughout the Centreville area.
"You're talking about a phenomenal amount of development in a very short period of time," Korink said. "People are kind of overwhelmed by it."
The report from the task force headed by Korink attempts to address some of the problems that he says have been largely ignored by the county government. It cites a need, for example, for widening some of the main arteries that go through Centreville, such as Rtes. 28 and 29 and Braddock Road. It calls for the construction of new roads and improvements on existing ones.
Korink said residents question why county officials, although aware of the coming construction, excluded Centreville from the recent $135 million road bond issue and why Centreville is not among the areas being examined by a county-appointed task force studying development-related issues in the Rte. 28 corridor.
The task force report, he said, maps out "a plan for growth that hopefully will be responsive to what the road network and other support services such as schools and sewers can cope with."
The report strongly urges county officials to establish a historic district to protect the Revolutionary War-era buildings on Braddock Road between I-66 and Rte. 29.
Among those buildings are St. John's Episcopal Church, a small, one-story Gothic structure with arched windows and a cemetery in the churchyard; Mount Gilead, a pre-1750 home that is said to have been a frequent stopping place for George Washington, and the Old Stone Church, now known as the Centreville Methodist Church. Rebuilt in 1870 after being destroyed in the Second Battle of Manassas, the church was used as a hospital during the Civil War.
"People chose to live in Fairfax County for a certain quality of life," said Korink. "They came here for somewhat of a pristine environment, and they don't want to trade that for cement palaces and asphalt."