The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week approved construction of a cluster development of 19 homes in the $1 million price range in western McLean.
The action came after developer Robert A. Young abandoned his plan to provide access to the homes on private roads and agreed to build roads up to Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation standards.
"The private roads were not permitted," Young said. "Roads will be built to state standards. We were always going to build wide roads -- we were not concerned about the width. We were concerned about the impact on the natural environment.
"It has to do with the cutting back of the road banks in the adjacent areas," he explained.
Young also agreed to use only four pipestem lots, which will set the houses back from the road.
The development, to be known as The Courts, is considered the first new development in McLean with custom homes priced in the million-dollar range. The Courts will include 19 houses on 38 acres of rugged terrain north of Route 7, near Brook Road, Alps Drive and Old Tolson Mill Road. The site is known as "the Nye tract."
Young had planned to build private roads with median strips in the middle to provide boulevard-style entranceways. He had hoped to protect more of the natural terrain surrounding the roads, but now will have to broaden the roadbeds.
Fairfax County has come down on hard on developments that include private roads in the wake of an ongoing struggle with the Northern Virginia Builders Association over whether the county can require developers to post bonds guaranteeing completion of private roads as a result of a new state bonding law.
Young, who uses letters of credit rather than bonds, could have faced long delays if he had tried to retain his plan for private roads. He said he now hopes to have final site plans approved and construction started by late summer.
Young deeded a dead-end parcel at the end of one of the new planned streets to Fairfax County, giving the board of supervisors control of that stub, which eventually could be opened up to allow access to adjacent properties. The county transportation planning staff insisted on that action.
Young plans to build many of the houses himself, but will sell some lots to other buyers for $225,000 and up.
"We are negotiating with several local prominent builders who already have clients looking for this sort of product," he said. "Each house will be custom-designed for the people who are going to live in it. We will have tight control of architecture and guarantee a variety of home styles. We will avoid a uniformity of appearance."
Young said part of the architectural control will include landscaping. "Architectural plans submitted by builders, architects or clients must include landscape plans that must be implemented," Young said.
Residents of the area were opposed to the original site plan because access was limited to Nye Road, a short, dead-end street off Daleview Road, a street of homes from the $200,000 to $700,000 range.
The latest plan will provide access to The Courts from Nye Road and from Alps Drive.
More than nine acres will remain open space, some of which will buffer existing homes along Daleview from Young's new houses.