Residents Rail Against New ODay T ownhouses

Residents Rail Against New ODay T ownhouses

Plans are afoot to build 11 new townhouses on 1.7 acres on ODay Drive, off Stone Road in Centreville. It needs the county's approval for a rezoning from one home per acre to eight homes per acre. But residents in neighboring Woodgate Manor object to such high density there.

"All around the county, developers find small scraps of land and build as much as possible on them," said resident Rob Henshaw. "This is putting too much in too little acres of land. It should be rejected entirely and treated as an R-1 [one home per acre] development."

He spoke Tuesday night during the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee's hearing on this project. And many of his neighbors attended, too, and also made their feelings known.

"The [Fairfax County] Comprehensive Plan recommends the low end of the density ranges — five to eight homes per acre — for this site, unless the parcel is consolidated or it's greater than 10 acres," said Woodgate Manor's Karen Wedekindt. "And it's not, because the person in the existing single-family home there originally didn't want to sell. Since it wasn't consolidated and is less than 10 acres, there's no merit for this proposal."

THE PROJECT would be called The Courts at Riverwind, and the site's about 1,000 feet from the ODay/Route 29 intersection. Representing the property owners, Mark Jenkins said the density proposed is 6.3 homes per acre — "which is below the high end of the density" allowed there.

He and the 272-townhouse, Woodgate Manor Homeowners Association have been meeting and conversing about the project regularly, but problems still remain. At county staff's request, the proposal's been changed from 12 to 11 townhouses. And in conjunction with a landscape architect, the developers created a 25-foot open-space area with a 20-foot tree-preservation area within it.

"We took some parking and moved it [to the back], and we re-sited the homes," said Jenkins. "And we added landscaping along its frontage with ODay Drive and also along the [project's] southern border. We're also proposing to extend the trail along the Big Rocky Run Stream Valley Park and connect it to other trails."

Wedekindt, on Woodgate Manor's board of directors, presented the community's case to the WFCCA. Calling the development of 3 1/2-story, 2,600-square-foot, luxury townhomes "outrageous," she said, "These townhouses will be monstrous and loom over our neighborhood."

She noted that the developers are asking for a waiver of the 25-foot, transitional screening barrier between the proposed townhouses and the 13 existing single-family homes on ODay because there's only room for 14 feet.

"We want the full, 25-foot barrier," said Wedekindt. "If it's waived, it would be a detriment to the next home. These new townhouses would be 1 1/2 stories higher, and their backyards would be right in his front yard."

THAT HOME belongs to Hong Zhang who's lived there with his wife, Zheng Su, for almost 14 years. He told the WFCCA the new townhouses are "not harmonious and will not fit into our neighborhood. We should not remove every, single green space. This is the last piece of green space there." Furthermore, added Wedekindt, it would make the single-family homes there "an island in the midst of townhouses."

She also has serious safety concerns about the proposed entrance to the new community. Showing photos of hilly ODay Drive — and her car invisible within it to oncoming traffic — she said, "My car completely disappears in the dip of ODay where the new entrance and the private road for the new community would be. This is an accident waiting to happen."

She's already spoken to VDOT about it and invited the WFCCA members to "come out and drive it" and see for themselves. Saying there's no reason the entrance couldn't be moved, Wedekindt instead suggested that townhouse residents enter via an already-existing driveway there. However, she acknowledged, doing so would mean one less home that the developers could build there.

"I wouldn't object [to the new townhouses] if they moved the entrance and only built seven townhouses," she said. "It would save trees and it's a density we could live with. And it would push the townhouses back toward Big Rocky Run and then the developers would have the 25-foot barrier."

With tears filling her eyes, Wedekindt made an impassioned plea, asking the WFCCA not to decide on this project until her community's concerns are addressed. "Developers invade our neighborhoods, build and leave," she said. "They leave us with a quality of life that's lessened. We always hear about all the things developers are entitled to. What are we entitled to? By the time this comes to the Board of Supervisors, will the decision already have been made? Will we be listened to?"

JENKINS SAID the townhouses would be 35 feet and he promised to look at their height in relation to the neighbors' homes. As for harmony, though, he said some Woodgate Manor homes have garages and some don't. And there's "a general mix of townhouse types."

But he said their engineer and VDOT would look at the road situation further. And WFCCA Chairman Jim Katcham told the residents that the new community's proposed density "is less than all the other developments around you."

WFCCA's Chris Terpak-Malm agreed with the residents' buffering concerns, but WFCCA's Carol Hawn said developers aren't required to put in any transitional screening between "the same type of housing."