In an effort to get Fairfax County to act on a rezoning application pending since 1982, the Pomeroy Cos. of Oakton this week filed an unusual amendment to its original application for a 407-acre tract in Centreville.
The amendment is really two separate alternative plans, which the developers hope will guarantee that they will conform to whatever comprehensive land-use plan Fairfax County officials decide to abide by in making a decision on the future of the site.
The land is located near the I-66 and Rte. 29 interchange between I-66 and Rte. 28, west of the Fair Oaks area.
The double filing is unusual in Fairfax, but developers said it was necessary to try to get action on the application, which they say has been sitting on the shelf since shortly after it was filed.
When first filed, the application called for construction of residential units on the entire tract, according to Douglas R. Fahl, director of planning for the engineering firm of Dewberry & Davis, engineers and planners for the development project. The new plans both call for a mix of commercial and residential use.
"The amended application, filed in the alternative form, is actually two development plans," Fahl said Thursday. The 407-acre site is officially known as the Payne Tract. "The land is in the core of the Centreville Planning Area," Fahl said.
The Payne Tract currently is zoned residential.
The first alternative calls for building 2,750 dwelling units including town houses, detached homes and apartments on 230 acres and a research-and-development office park on 178 acres. A small neighborhood shopping center would be included in the office area.
The second alternative calls for a similar mix of housing totaling 3,200 units and a 75-acre office and retail park.
"One is primarily residential, and the other is primarily commercial, but both call for mixed uses on the site and both include extensive residential development," Fahl explained.
The original proposal was delayed because of the controversial Occoquan Basin Study. "This has been caught up in the controversy involving that study even though the Centreville core was excepted from the downzoning action in the Occoquan plan," Fahl said.
In 1982, the Board of Supervisors downzoned all lands in the Occoquan Basin as an amendment to the county's comprehensive land-use plan. That decision led to a major court battle. But the board's decision was recently upheld by a Fairfax Circuit Court judge in a case involving three parcels whose owners were seeking to overturn the downzoning. The court decision virtually left standing development plans for the three owners involved in the lawsuit because of grandfather status.
There apparently are more than two dozen similar cases that could go to court, but Fairfax officials reportedly hope to reach some sort of an agreement with the landowners out of court. Meanwhile, a citizens task force has completed a planning study for the Centreville core area. Action to make that proposal part of the county comprehensive land-use plan was expected months ago but has been delayed, apparently because of land-use questions yet to be resolved as a result of the Occoquan decision. Phone calls to Fairfax County acting planning director Sid Steele were not returned. Pomeroy officials said their original request had been deferred for almost three years.
"They are unable to wait any longer," Fahl said. However, public hearings on the alternatives will not likely be held for at least six months based on the time it currently takes to get a public hearing once an application is filed.
The first alternative plan filed in the amendment is in compliance with the recent Occoquan decision, Fahl said.
The second complies with the Centreville area study.
Although Pomeroy Cos. participated in preparing the recommendations of the Centreville center, a request for approval of a rezoning based on that plan might jeopardize the outcome of the rezoning or substantially delay its hearing because the proposal has not been acted on by the county Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors, Fahl said.
"Ironically, at the time of the original filing, Pomeroy applied for 5,500 dwelling units when the master plan called for 6,700 units on the site. County planners suggested substantial commercial and office development and reduced residential," Fahl said.
At that time, the developer was wary of the marketability of offices in that area. The site is just one exit west of the booming Fairfax Center area.
Fahl said western Fairfax has dramatically changed in the past three years, "clearly showing office and commercial as a viable action."