Residents of a neighborhood squeezed between Tysons Corner and Vienna have convinced Fairfax County to help them protect their homes from commercial growth.
Bowing to the wishes of the residents of Woodford Road, south of Old Courthouse Road and north of Vienna, the board of supervisors recently restricted the height of a new commercial building on the edge of the residential area from three to two stories.
The vote to restrict developers Clifford C. Jorgensen, Andrew Pepin Jr. and Marion Jorgensen to a low-rise commercial building at the northwest corner of Woodford and Old Courthouse was seen as a major step in preserving the neighborhood.
"We need to send a clear signal that expansion of the Tysons area is not going to take place," Fairfax board Chairman Jack Herrity said.
While the vote favored the Woodford residents, those who live in another nearby area known as Mandrillon Farms have asked Fairfax to change the county comprehensive land-use plan for their neighborhood from low-density residential to high-density residential and commercial use. Residents of Woodford and Mandrillon Farms presented petitions supporting their opposing views to members of the board.
"I'm sorry that everyone didn't win," Herrity said.
"Is it fair that citizens south of Old Courthouse Road are sacrificial lambs? We resent being used in this way," said Jean Jones, representing the views of residents of Mandrillon Farms.
Mandrillon Farms residents were using the zoning hearing as an opportunity to air their grievance that they have become victims of the commercial expansion of the Tysons area. However, their proposal is caught up in the county's annual review of its master plan and will not be heard by the county planning commission until late April. If the planning commission were to approve the proposed change, the board of supervisors would schedule public hearings.
Meanwhile, residents of the Woodford Road area were delighted with recent board action reaffirming that existing commercial town houses along the south side of Old Courthouse Road are the barrier against Tysons. Several board members reminded residents of both neighborhoods that the county tried in the past to contain the Tysons area by vetoing construction of those town houses, but that the decision was overturned in court.
Silvia Auten, president of the Woodford Citizens Association and a resident of the area for 30 years, asked the board to cut the height of the proposed building from three to two stories because the site is adjacent to single-family homes. Auten said a vote for the two-story building would "make the site the end of Tysons. This would send a clear message and protect Woodford."
Auten later called the board's decision fair to the property owners and to the neighborhood.
But John Murphy, a resident of the area for more than 35 years, said commercial development in the area has made his home more secure. "I have lived through construction of two or three buildings, one adjacent to my property. Now we have lights from the commercial property." Murphy said those lights make the area safer.
Clayton Meyers, a resident of Bethany Court, presented petitions with 263 signatures of persons opposing the project. Residents of Mandrillon Farms had 168 names on their petitions.
Providence District Supervisor James Scott, within whose district the area lies, said he believed that "the application we have now is better than anything we've had before, but not a whole lot better."
Developers had sought a C-2 commercial zoning, but the board approved a C-1 lower density change.