Despite assurances to neighbors that no precedent would be set if a tract west of the Dulles Airport Access Road is rezoned commercial, traffic studies done for the developer, as well as company officials and other landowners, all assume that surrounding property will go commercial if the application is granted.
The site in question is 98 acres along Leesburg Pike west of Tysons Corner. NV Cos., a McLean-based firm headed by Dwight Schar, has asked Fairfax County to change its land-use plan to allow commercial development there.
Traffic studies prepared for NV Cos. to back up its request foresee the possible construction of a 250-room hotel and office park on land owned by J. Horace Jarrett on the other side of the pike. The Jarrett site is not a part of the land-use proposal. Jarrett owns approximately 55 acres on the south side of the road across the Dulles road from a 23-story Sheraton hotel now under construction.
Schar has asked Fairfax to allow commercial development on his site so he can build a million square feet of office space in three-story buildings on approximately 40 of the 98 acres he wants changed to a commercial designation. His site is across from the Jarrett property, a church, a neighborhood of $225,000 homes and the National Wildlife Federation.
Schar does not own or hold an option on the Jarrett tract, but he reportedly tried to buy the site months ago.
John Jarrett, son of Horace Jarrett, Thursday said, "We gave them permission to go ahead and show our tract because the whole intersection should be looked at at one time to give an idea of the traffic needs for both sites. To make it viable, you have to study the whole area."
Jarrett's land is not under contract to anyone, but "there have been a lot of people trying to buy it. It's a prime piece of property." He said his father is "not anxious to get rid of the property" where the senior Jarrett, a land surveyor in Fairfax County for 50 years, lives.
John Jarrett said the land is not "viable" for single-family detached home construction. He said Schar's site is not "fit to live on" and pointed to high noise levels on both tracts. Jarrett said noise from Rte. 7 traffic is worse than noise from the Dulles Airport Access Road and from the Dulles toll road.
David Flannigan, a spokesman for NV Cos., said, "We felt our proximity to existing C-7 development in the Tysons Corner area and along the Dulles toll road were similar to the Jarrett site. If you buy our arguments for the planned change, it opens the door to the same type of development on the Jarrett site," he said.
He said he did not think anyone would assume that residential zoning would be applicable on the Jarrett site if his company's plan is approved. Meanwhile, this week NV Cos. has come up with a name for the property, which has been known as the Schar tract. It will now be known as Colvill Green.
During a recent town hall meeting attended by more than 300 angry residents of the McLean, Vienna and Tysons Corner areas, project architect Christopher J. Glaister said traffic studies were not ready for distribution.
Glaister, a professor of architecture at the University of Virginia, said changing the Schar tract to commercial "does not set a precedent for anything else along Rte. 7."
"But it would have some impact on the Jarrett site," he said.
The traffic study, titled "Colvill Green Site Access Plan," was prepared by Kellerco, a Tysons Corner-based transportation consulting firm. The study says that while the site fronts on both Lewinsville Road and Rte. 7, "access would be via Rte. 7 and not Lewinsville Road."
"Equally important is the fact that Colvill Green site access to Rte. 7 must be shared with the potential development of" what is identified in the traffic study as the west tract, which is primarily the Jarrett property, a church and several other small parcels. To account for the fact that possible traffic generated by development on the Jarrett site may be served by intersections to be built by Schar, it was assumed in the analysis that the tract would be developed, although a site plan has not been submitted for review to Fairfax County.
The Jarrett site is zoned R-1, which would allow for construction of single-family homes. That is the same zoning existing on the Schar/Colvill Green site. Schar currently has the right to build 98 single-family detached houses.
The traffic study said development of the Jarrett tract and adjacent properties will permit construction of a new ramp in the northwest corner of the Rte. 7/Dulles Airport Access Road interchange.
The report says development of the two sites would improve rather than worsen existing traffic problems.
The McLean Citizens Association board of directors Wednesday night threw its support behind a unanimous motion opposing the Schar proposal. That motion was made before the group had time to analyze the traffic impact study. Other civic groups opposing the proposal include McLean Estates, McLean Hunt, Woodside, Summerwood, Peacock Station, Spring Hill, Wolf Trap Woods, Odricks Corner and Rocky Run.
In spite of Schar's push for the change in the land plan, there have been some questions about the financial viability of the project primarily because construction would be confined to approximately 40 percent of the site. One local commercial broker said the proposal would be underutilization of the land "if he could get the master plan changed."
"The only way to make that site work and make a profit is to turn that horse farm into a racetrack," said one local commercial land specialist who asked not to be identified.
Schar has proposed that an existing horse farm on the site be maintained or turned into community recreational facilities.