Owners of 347 acres at the southwest corner of the intersection of Centreville Road and Fox Mill Road are trying to change Fairfax County's plan for their land from residential to industrial.
The proposed change, apparently the largest now being considered during Fairfax's annual plan review, could result in construction of as much as 6 million square feet of office or high-technology industrial buildings, according to the Fairfax County planning staff.
The property is east of Washington-Dulles International Airport, north of Frying Pan Park and east of Monroe Street. Five separate applications to change parts of the 347 acres have been consolidated into a single amendment to the land-use plan. A series of public meetings have been held with residents of nearby areas, especially those living in Greg Roy, a well-established development of homes on two- to five-acre sites north of the 347 acres.
Charles Shumate, attorney for the Batman Corp., which is the owner of more than 250 of the 347 acres, said he is working with Greg Roy residents to craft an agreement that would protect the residential character of their neighborhood. The Greg Roy community is wedged between the applicants' land and the Dulles Airport Road corridor. The proposed Springfield bypass is east of Greg Roy and the consolidated parcels.
"Any development should be sensitive to the Greg Roy community," Shumate said this week. On the map, the Greg Roy community is dwarfed by the consolidated site.
Even though it is impossible to write in protections for a neighborhood in a plan amendment, Shumate said, it is possible to insert language that would allow the site to be developed for industrial/commercial purposes only if certain conditions are met.
Several of those filing for the rezoning to industrial own small chunks of the overall parcel. "My concern is being the smallest landowner in the group," said Jim Mills, who lives on six acres on the site. "I want to be good neighbors with everybody," he said. But he said that if the area is rezoned industrial, he wants to be moved before it is developed.
Other landowners filing for changes are William Moncure and J. Horace Jarrett, owners of 53 acres; S. Best, owner of 13 acres; and C. Holloway, owner of 23 acres.
The Centreville Task Force, a group of citizens appointed by Supervisor Martha Pennino to study proposed amendments in that area, deferred a vote on the proposed change two weeks ago to give developers and residents additional time to compromise. Action by the task force is expected next week. The county planning commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal in late April.
A major concern voiced at the task force meeting was the impact of traffic on what area residents said were already overcrowded roads. "You are setting a lot of industry where the roads cannot accommodate it," one resident said.
Planning commission member John Thillmann, the chairman of the Centreville Task Force, worked for Fairfax when its current land-use plan was developed and the acreage involved planned for residential development at two to three units per acre. He said the staff 10 years ago projected growth in another nearby residential area known as Floris. Although that community has maintained its stability and rural character, projected expansion has not taken place.
Thillmann said the proximity of the land to Dulles Airport may have a major impact on future land use. "People don't like to live near a major airport. To sustain an airport, you need support facilities such as light industrial."
Thillmann said the county possibly should have made the Frying Pan Stream Valley "the buffer between industrial and residential. You can't create artificial transitions between industrial and residential."
The proposed amendment would extend industrial use to the stream valley and to Frying Pan Park. The valley and the park would then become barriers between residential and industrial use on the south and east.
"I am not saying this justifies the proposed change," Thillmann added. He said he "wanted the staff to take a long, hard look at the area. I'm not willing to concede the decisions we made back then were wrong."
Some residents of the area said they want to make sure they get "high-quality, high-technology development" rather than warehouses and freight terminals.
In asking the task force for a delay, David Kraft, a Greg Roy resident, said, "We are not willing to make a decision on this right now."
In an unusual move, Thillman granted the delay. Votes on proposed plan amendments are usually taken on the same day a task force hears a presentation by an applicant.
Shumate and other representatives of those seeking the changes plan to continue to meet this weekend to reach agreements that would protect Greg Roy. Shumate said road improvements in the area, including a realignment of Centreville Road, must be funded by those who develop the land.
He said his clients would be willing to fund such improvements as an internal road network in exchange for permission to develop the site for commercial/industrial use. Other concessions his clients are willing to make include consolidation and/or coordination of design and development of smaller tracts, maintenance of the Frying Pan branch stream valley and "sensitivity to the Greg Roy community, including buffering and the siting of buildings," he said.