During the day, the Stephen Halverson family need only gaze out the windows of its home to see the biggest office building in the Tysons Corner area, across from the chain link fence separating the house from the traffic speeding along Old Courthouse Road.
Late at night, the Halversons and other residents of what is known as the Mosscrest subdivision on the knoll overlooking the Tysons area are awakened by customers leaving nearby restaurants and bars.
The wave of commercial development sweeping out of Tysons Corner has reached Mosscrest, and residents there say they are ready to go with the flow: They have banded together and are ready to sell out to a developer, if they can get the county to change its land-use plan for the area.
"This subdivision is the only major tract in the Tysons area that has not been restudied since the county land-use plan was adopted in 1975," said Charles R. Lewis, a Mosscrest homeowner who asked Fairfax to allow the 17.5-acre subdivision to be developed for commercial purposes.
The neighborhood is located at the intersection of Gosnell and Old Courthouse roads, a few blocks south of Route 7. Only one of the 20 homeowners wants to stay, and that family is not opposed to the land-use change, according to developer Dan Clemente, who already has assembled several of the parcels in anticipation of such a change.
The latest plan calls for construction of commercial town houses, Clemente said. That could only happen if Fairfax County goes along with Lewis' plea, filed in December, to study his proposal for a change under this year's plan review.
As the mammoth Tysons II project is completed -- bringing luxury hotels, office towers and restaurants -- developers say Tysons Corner will become a city that is active both day and night.
But life in Mosscrest is not the glamorous life that builders and developers depict for the Tysons area.
According to Halverson, whose home is on the corner of Gosnell and Old Courthouse roads, existing commercial development is causing trouble. He said his neighborhood is "70 percent substandard. It is getting close to being a blighted neighborhood."
Halverson, who is in the business of renovating old houses, said most of the homes in his area are badly in need of repair -- repairs that would be too costly for most of the residents, who live on fixed incomes.
Even though the interior of his own home is warm and comfortable, Halverson said that the roof on the house is in bad shape and that the plumbing and electrical fixtures in the old house are original and need replacing. The trim and siding won't take any more paint, he said. From an investment point of view, it would make no sense to spend a lot of money, he said, "but our big fear is that we will be stuck here."
Residents said they believe that Fairfax has forgotten their neighborhood while concentrating on developments in other parts of the Tysons area. They say they are not out to change the character of any of the adjacent residential neighborhoods, even though they would like to see commercial town houses built on their property. Such town houses would be similar in style and character to the residential town houses nearby, they point out, which would obscure the use of the town houses as offices.
Halverson's yard overlooks parking lots for Tycon Courthouse, the largest office building at Tysons Corner. Other small homes look out over apartment buildings and commercial strips along the south side of Route 7 toward the taller office buildings near Tysons II.
Two Metrobus routes run along the edge of the neighborhood. The once-quiet residential streets have become cut-throughs for rush-hour traffic, residents complain. Overgrown forsythia bushes in bright yellow bloom stand almost as monuments to the declining neighborhood that once was rural.
"The lack of consideration of Mosscrest in past rezonings in the area represents a gross oversight in land-use planning, which has created inconsistencies and inequities in the treatment of this tract," Lewis appealed to county officials.
The fate of Mosscrest will be publicly debated by the planning commission in upcoming weeks. County staff members and planning commission members agree that the area poses special problems with few easy solutions. While residents want commercial development on their land, the area representatives on the county planning board want Mosscrest to remain a residential neighborhood.
John Thillmann, Centreville District commissioner, has supported residential density of eight to 14 units per acre on the land, which is zoned for single-family detached residences. Thillmann's proposal would permit high-density residential development.
A recent planning staff report on Mosscrest noted that the area is the victim of "oversight, inconsistencies and land use-related inequities" and said that commercial development would generate increased traffic. Without substantial land consolidations and limits on entrances and exits, "the current planned residential density of two to three units per acre remains the most appropriate use," according to the planning staff.
Residents of Westbriar, a much newer neighborhood of single-family detached homes, have vigorously opposed changing the use of the Mosscrest land. A park separates the two neighborhoods.
The planning staff is opposed to commercial development, but it says it could support residential development at eight to 12 units if a number of conditions are met.
Halverson cited statistics from a recent survey of local residents showing that 60 percent of Mosscrest's residents are over 50 years old and 40 percent are between 60 and 78; 70 percent indicated they had intended to settle in for the rest of their lives when they moved to the area.
Halverson, noting that nearly half of Mosscrest's residents have lived there for as long as 30 years, said many now live on fixed incomes and would use whatever money they made from the sale of their property to provide security for their remaining years. A resident of the area for 10 years, Halverson said he himself would move his family to a street on which it would be safer for his children to play, away from the danger of Tysons Corner traffic.
"As a representative of the neighborhood, I don't have any axe to grind. I do think the residents who moved here to stay, who have lived here for years, should benefit from the transition," Halverson said, referring to increases in property values as Tysons Corner has boomed to become the commercial center of Fairfax County.
"Not many years ago, Mosscrest was a dead-end neighborhood, a relatively quiet place," Halverson said. "Now we are being led into blight."