A controversial proposed land-use change along the north side of the Leesburg Pike at the Dulles Airport Access Road from residential to commercial is meeting preliminary opposition from the Fairfax County planning staff.
Ken Doggett, a member of the county Office of Comprehensive Planning staff, said the 98-acre site, known as both the "Schar tract" and as Colvill Green, is suitable for residential development.
His comments came during the opening of a citizens' task force session which focused on several major changes to the county's comprehensive land use plan in the Tyson's-McLean area Tuesday night at Spring Hill School which sits within a mile of the controversial development site.
Though local homeowners may have heard what they wanted to hear from Doggett, they were not pleased that the audience participation period -- the time for the task force and the developer to hear their side of the case -- was cut short by task force chairman Tony Dempsey of Herndon.
Several residents were told they could have their say at public hearings which are tentatively scheduled before the county planning commission April 24.
The NV Companies, a McLean-based land development firm headed by Dwight Schar, is asking Fairfax to change its master plan for the 98 acres in a triangle created by the Leesburg Pike, the Dulles corridor and Lewinsville Road, from residential to commercial.
Schar's attorney, J. Marshall Coleman, told the crowd his client does not "think the status quo is the best use of the land."
"This is the largest consolidated piece of ground in the Tysons area," Coleman said. Coleman is a former Virginia attorney general and is currently a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.
The recent opening of the "Dulles Toll Road and the toll booths have created a shadow over this property making it unfit for the present residential zoning," he said.
Coleman and Christopher Glaister, a professor of architecture at the University of Virginia who was hired to study the site and make development proposals, said the noise levels on the site make it unsuitable for homes.
However, county studies disagree. "The noise can be handled with 200 feet setbacks," Doggett said.
A member of the task force asked Glaister, "Did you take a noise monitoring instrument onto the property to measure the noise?"
"No," Glaister said. "The calculations were done using standard technological statistical methods."
"You're proposal is to put 1 million square feet of office space and 4,000 cars on the site and then tell me that is going to improve the site," said another task force member. "I find it incomprehensible." There are 32 citizen members of the task force.
Glaister defended the proposal saying "the current zoning is probably incorrect."
Coleman said allowing commercial development on the site would be establishing a better transition between existing zoning and Tysons Corner and residential areas.
Glaister said it is "good standard planning practice to concentrate high density uses at major intersections."
"Tysons corner is changing, is growing and intensifying," he said.
Doggett agreed and pointed to current efforts to redevelop large portions of the Tysons area such as car dealerships that line the Route 7 corridor near the Dulles Road. Several residents of the area said there was plenty of land within what is already known as the Tysons area for development without expanding the Tysons area.
Doggett called the traffic impact of the Colvill Green proposal "enormous."
Recent traffic studies prepared before the developer by Kellerco, a Tysons Corner traffic consultant, said traffic lights would be installed at two intersections if the new plan is approved. That traffic study takes into account potential development of a 59-acre site along the south side of the Leesburg Pike which is owned by J. Horace Jarrett, a land surveyor in Fairfax for more than 50 years. One of the intersections in the Colvill Green plan would be designed to serve that site even though it is not the subject of any pending land use change.
The traffic plan also calls for a new ramp on the southwest side of the Dulles Road leading to the Leesburg Pike.