When Jeanette and James Bohanan built their home in then-rural western Fairfax County 35 years ago, they planned to spend their lives in the rambler they built for themselves along Rte. 50.
Today, the Bohanans want to stay on their 1.75 acres even though the land is almost surrounded by Washington Dulles International Airport, but because of a change in the county master plan, they fear they may be taxed out of house and home.
"We have been victims of the bureaucracy," Jeanette Bohanan said during a recent public hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Since 1982, she has been paying property taxes based on the fact that the board of supervisors changed its comprehensive land-use plan for her home and other acreage in the area of Rte. 50 west of Sully Road from residential to industrial.
Since the change, the assessment on the Bohanans' land alone has gone up 87 percent, and Bohanan said she has been pleading with county officials to return her land to residential status and therefore bring down her taxes.
She said she has been told by various officials that for many reasons nothing can be done. Her story has been told in local newspapers, and a television consumer affairs reporter tried to help, but nothing worked, she said. Then, last December, Bohanan saw a notice about the county's process for seeking changes to its comprehensive land-use plan. Without a lawyer, she filed a handwritten request asking that her land be returned to residential.
County planning officials, however, oppose her request, and on Monday, the board of supervisors will make its final decision. Bohanan will know then if she can expect a tax decrease.
Her husband, who has arthritis, is now retired on a disability pension. "We live on his pension," Bohanan said this week.
The Bohanans raised five children on the land that now lies under the Dulles flight patterns.
But the noise is not constant, the Bohanans say, and they plan to stay in the house the rest of their lives.
"When the time comes when we need help," one of the Bohanans' daughters plans to move in, Jeanette Bohanan said.
A son in Missouri "wants to keep the house in the family," she said.
"We built this house, my husband and sons. The only thing we had done by a contractor was have the shingles put on the roof," she said.
Bohanan insists that she does not want to sell her land.
She told the supervisors, "We are not interested in selling. We hope to live in peace and quiet."
Ironically, in the months since Bohanan's application has been aired before the planning commission and the board of supervisors, she has had several phone calls from real estate agents interested in buying her land, Bohanan said.
She said she told them she is not interested in selling.
Even though she said she has tried to get help from Fairfax su- "We have been victims of the bureaucracy. . . . We are not interested in selling. We hope to live in peace and quiet." -- Jeanette Bohanan pervisors in past years to no avail, Centreville supervisor Martha Pennino said "a great injustice has been done to her."
The Fairfax County planning staff recommended denial of her request to return her property to a residential status.
The staff report said the land is in an area that suffers from "adverse impacts of projected noise levels" from Dulles and suggested that residential development in the area would need special noise-attenuation measures.
The staff report said, "Land on both the north and south sides of Rte. 50, from Chantilly to the Loudoun County boundary, is planned for, and developing in, industrial use."
Bohanan said the homesite is surrounded "on the north and on the east by the airport. On the west is Chantilly Baptist Church."
In spite of the staff's negative recommendations, a task force of citizens in the western part of Fairfax that worked on amendments to the comprehensive plan and the county planning commission came out in support of Bohanan's efforts to get the change.
Even though the Bohanan home is located on land planners have targeted for industrial use, and no matter how many airplanes may fly overhead, the Bohanans said they want to stay put.
"We've been residents of Fairfax for 35 years," she said.