The recently released study aimed at guiding growth on approximately 2,600 acres in the Centreville area of western Fairfax has sparked some harsh criticism from residents in the area and from developers who say they won't build there.
The study, prepared by the Centreville Citizens Advisory Task Force, focuses on too narrow a geographic area, developers say.
Some county officials say the study, which predicts that almost 40,000 people will move to the Centreville area in the next five to eight years, fails to face up to the transportation problems that would be created by the influx of people. Schools and other public facilities also could be jammed unless plans are made now to accommodate those children, officials say.
David Hunter, head of Hunter Properties, said the study fails to take into consideration large parcels of land that already are being developed close to or immediately adjacent to the study area. Hunter is the developer of Little Rocky Run, a 743-acre residential development that opened last month abutting the Centreville study area. More than 2,300 residential units, including detached homes and town houses, are planned or under construction in Little Rocky Run. But Little Rocky Run is not included in the study area.
Some area residents say that they did not have sufficient input into the study. Others say the planned development for the area is too intense for the rural character they want to preserve. Still others say they have known development was coming since Fairfax targeted Centreville as a potential growth area almost a decade ago. They say they want guarantees that road improvements and other public amenities that have been left out in the heavy development of other parts of Fairfax will come to Centreville along with development.
The study forecasts that, by the year 2000, the 2,600-acre Centreville area will contain 10 times as many single-family dwellings as it does today. The study predicts construction of many new town houses and construction of more than 4,000 apartments.
In addition, the study projects the Centreville area eventually will have 995,000 square feet of retail space, 575,000 square feet of light industrial space and 450 hotel rooms. But developers say those figures only apply to the 2,600 acres in the study area and not to as wide an area as future development pressures will demand.
The Centreville study stresses the need for established development goals to achieve a balance of residential and commercial development. Hunter, other developers and several land-use attorneys said omission of the residential units at Little Rocky Run undermines that supposed balance between commercial and residential development.
"It is going to be a very delicate issue of balance out there," said Fairfax County Supervisor Elaine McConnell, within whose district the Centreville study area lies.
She said the major issue may be roads. "How are we going to move those people? We have got to watch the balance. When will we get out roads?" she asked. She said major improvements are needed to I-66, Route 28 and Route 29/211.
Some of those improvements are planned and some are scheduled to be paid for by developers in the general area.
Because of citizen concern and interest in the study, McConnell said she has scheduled a public meeting on the task force report for Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Centreville Methodist Church in Centreville.
McConnell said she intends to continue holding public meetings on the study because she wants "residents to get a chance to participate" before the Board of Supervisors takes any action that would adopt the study's findings as guides to future land-use decisions in the Centreville area.
Ironically, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), which last week announced plans to build a major high technology development on approximately 200 acres near Washington/Dulles International Airport, was hoping to locate in the Centreville area. EDS wanted to locate near the I-66, Route 28 and Route 29 interchanges, sources said.
The continuing controversy over development in the Centreville area may have played a role in the EDS decision to locate near Dulles, sources said. EDS also considered and rejected a site in Montgomery County.
"I know there is a lot of interest in this study . I know a lot of poeple are in a rush" but a lot of issues need to be addressed, McConnell said. She said schools can't meet the needs of the residents that are expected to come to two new developments within the confines of the study area.
McConnell would like to see a park-and-ride lot built in the Centreville area to ease access to Metrobuses and rail stations that are slated to open next year. McConnell said also hopes to get some relief for commuters via a commuter rail service along existing railroad tracks from the Manassas area into the District.
The 2,600 acres included in the study are part of the mass of land included in the Occoquan watershed that was down-zoned by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. That down-zoning led to a major court decision upholding the county's right to down-zone the land. Several developers said the Centreville study itself may be the first of many proposals that could lead to land-use decisions that might be inconsistent with the Occoquan decision.
Developers certainly would like more intense development than allowable under the down-zoning period. Hunter said the Centreville study "is a comeback" from that down-zoning decision. He predicts that future boards of supervisors may "nit pick" at that down-zoning decision.
Several other developers would like to see the Centreville study area expanded to include all the land in western Fairfax hit by the Occoquan decision. But it would be hard to expand a study of the Centreville area to include all that land, officials said.
There are several major rezonings pending in the area. The Pomeroy Cos. have filed two separate zoning applications for 407 acres identified as the Payne tract. Developers filed different applications in order to gain consideration by Fairfax under provisions of either the Occoquan Basin Study limitations or the Centreville study -- if it is adopted.
Attorney Charles Shumate represents the Scarborough Corp., a major residential builder in Northern Virginia. That company has a major rezoning pending for a planned development housing project near Little Rocky Run. Shumate said Scarborough shares McConnell's concerns about transportation problems. He said his clients had promised to build a major road through their own site connecting Braddock Road and Routes 29 and 211.
"It has been said at the political and staff levels that the study's major weakness is its failure to address how much road improvement is needed and who would fund them," Shumate said.