High-Density Development

Threatens Neighborhoods

The recent article and pictures concerning development around the Vienna Metro station are not entirely correct ["Project Aims to Cater to Baby Boomers' Desires," Fairfax Extra, Dec. 26, and "Vienna Station's Metamorphosis Continues," Jan. 9].

I am one of the homeowners abutting the Saintsbury Plaza project -- the senior housing development mentioned in the article -- on the west across Hatmark Branch. The developers of that project have met with us and the county planners and have made plans which will, if carried out, ameliorate the impact of that development upon us. This may all, however, be for naught.

The Jan. 9 article said, " . . . while protecting nearby low density residential areas, such as Fairlee." Fairlee, which abuts the Metro station on the south, has fallen to the developers. The resistance of the last holdouts has been overcome.

The Fairlee community and the Sweeney tract are the subject of an out-of-turn county plan amendment that will lead to their being rezoned for development at much higher densities.

The Sweeney tract, just west of Fairlee, is presently being used for an overflow parking lot. The present single-family homes in Fairlee will be razed.

Development may not be confined by " . . . East Blake Lane Park on the west. . . ." Currently, our community, made up of James Street, Bel Glade Street, Sayre Road, Five Oaks Road and the east side of Blake Lane, is under attack.

We are west of East Blake Lane Park and Hatmark Branch. Centex Homes and Fraser Forbes Co. are soliciting commitments from my neighbors to sell their property. Their intent is to raze our houses and replace them with high-density housing. They hope to get county approval for 40 to 50 dwelling units per acre. That would mean 1,200 to 1,500 units replacing our 70 houses with its concomitant impact on local schools, roads and public utilities.

Centex hopes to get an out-of-turn amendment to the county plan also. This would speed the development process and avoid scrutiny by the local advisory boards impaneled during the usual plan amendment cycle.

Many of my neighbors are ready to accept Centex's offer and leave the area. It seems odd that those who no longer wish to live in the neighborhood may have the power to change its character to the detriment of those who do wish to remain.

James H. Fahs


Columnist Seems to Be

Picking on Gov. Warner R.H. Melton's continuing campaign to discredit Gov. Warner is getting rather tiresome ["Warner May Pay High Price for Reversal on DMV Closures," Fairfax Extra, Jan. 16]. Where was he during Allen and Gilmore's destruction of Virginia's fiscal sanity?

Raymond E. Meyer

Falls Church

Speed Enforcement Won't Fix

Fairfax County Parkway Fairfax Police Capt. J. F. Bowman danced around all of the enforcement issues on the Fairfax County Parkway ["Crashes, Not Revenue, Spur Crackdown, Commander Says," Fairfax Extra, Jan. 9].

The single most effective way to improve safety on any road is through engineering improvements. Having a high-speed roadway with many traffic signals (uncoordinated, of course) and other at-grade intersections is a recipe for death and destruction. There are good reasons that freeways have much lower fatality and accident rates than other roads and many freeway accidents occur at interchanges.

Yet freeways have by far the highest speeds and still are safest.

You can bet the mortgage that the federal highway standards to set speed limits have not been applied to the Fairfax County Parkway or most any other local roads. These standards have been time-tested to set the safest and most efficient speed, generally a speed at which 85 percent or more of the traffic flows.

So most parkway drivers are ticketed for doing nothing more than exceeding a substandard limit.

The surest way to get the bad drivers to behave is to have a regular police presence. Given the mentality of police enforcement almost everywhere, it is no surprise that dangerous drivers are seldom stopped. So you have traffic police generally sitting on highways in a single spot most of the day or concentrated in a small area while other areas are virtually unpatrolled. Expect to see more of the same, including the only-for-revenue unmarked vehicles.

If you look at national accident statistics, speeding is very low as a primary cause, and so-called aggressive driving isn't even on the radar screen.

An article in The Post a couple years ago exposed the "aggressive driving" scam as something created by the press. In reality, the incidents classified as road rage have changed little over the past few decades. But it makes for good public relations because some drivers believe the headlines, even if they are hokum.

In summary, there must be a reason that the Fairfax County Parkway became an accident problem to begin with. It was the same police department with the same philosophy. No doubt there will be more "road shark," DUI roadblocks and other such dog-and-pony shows in the future.

While the 5 percent coverage racks up lots of tickets to fill quotas and produce good headlines, drivers will become more frustrated because the other 95 percent of the area is uncovered. There are ways to make driving better for everyone, but until citizens insist on change in traffic enforcement mentality, they will continue to be cash cows for their own governments.

Mike McGuire

Falls Church