Controversial Homes Get Their First OK

Controversial Homes Get Their First OK

Single-family homes would go in historic district.

Stanley Martin plans to build just nine, single-family detached homes in Centreville's Historic District. But this small development is generating good-sized controversies.

THE WEST Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) received its second presentation about the community during its regular meeting, Tuesday night. It eventually gave it its blessing — subject to certain conditions — and after learning about potential problems with home alignment, Civil War artifacts and blasting.

The homes are proposed for Centreville's Historic District, along 3.68 acres on Wharton Lane. Walney Glen is to the north of the site and Englewood Mews is across the street.

Attorney Bob Lawrence said each lot would be large — 10,000-11,000 square feet — developed at three homes per one acre, if the county approves a rezoning from the current one home per acre.

"It's going to be a nice subdivision," he said. "There'll be a public street going down the middle of it and a provision for an interparcel connection to the property to the south when it's developed. And there'll be sidewalks on both sides of the street."

Lawrence said the homeowners association would maintain the grass around the dry, stormwater-management pond, and that area will be "heavily landscaped with deciduous trees and evergreens." A rain garden is planned and tree-save areas have been designated on two portions of the property.

The houses will have brick or stone fronts, and the sides facing Wharton Lane will be brick and stone. No aluminum siding will be used. "And there'll be trim around the windows and doors in the back," said Lawrence. "We want to make it as attractive a community as possible."

Jim Reeve, a land-development project manager with Stanley Martin, said the homes will be center-hall Colonials with porches and range in size from 2,800 to 3,300 square feet, not counting the basements. He expects them to sell in the vicinity of $600,000 to $700,000 — "whatever the market will bear."

However, county staff is recommending denial because it wants two of the homes turned to face Wharton so the community would appear more welcoming. But Reeve said it would make the neighborhood look awkward. "We don't want their backs to face the other units," he explained. "And it would also lead to a chopped-up, unusable backyard."

Frank Ojeda of the Rock Hill Civic Association suggested putting a wrap-around porch on those two homes, and WFCCA's Ted Troscianecki agreed that it might help since "people like seeing activity on people's porches."

"IF THERE are ways you could create a more inviting community, it might be more appropriate for this area and in keeping with the [new, visitor-friendly vision for the] Historic District," he told Reeve. "And look for ways to invite pedestrians into your community."

WFCCA's Judy Heisinger had a different concern. "This [site] needs to have some deep, archaeological survey done because it once had homes for Civil War soldiers on it," she said. "This is Centreville's Historic District, so we're going to insist on it."

Reeve said Stanley Martin already did an archaeological survey of this site before it built the Village at Mount Gilead community, also in the Historic District. But he said the developer would do more.

WFCCA Chairman Jim Katcham said Stanley Martin proffered money to the county Park Authority for a Centreville park, and he requested it to be "for a park in the Centreville Historic District or Centreville Farms area." But Troscianecki, and Sue Davis of Friends of Centreville's Historic District, both said funds should be designated toward parkland in the Historic District.

Also speaking was an angry Chuck Covarrubias, of nearby St. John's Episcopal Church, which sustained some damage when Stanley Martin built the Village at Mount Gilead.

"Some of the proffers meant to protect the historic church were not satisfied," he told Reeve. "What will you do to prevent further damage to the church?"

"I had a contractor who made a mistake, violated a proffer and blasted," replied Reeve. "It cost us six months and a lot of money. We're embarrassed about it and we paid a heavy price." He then assured Covarrubias it would not happen again. If it did, said Reeve, Stanley Martin could lose its license.

Local architect Bill Robson, involved in a plan to create a village green in the Historic District for community use, said Centreville is "looking at expanding the Historic District and improving the county-owned portion of it." Since the nine, new homes will have such high price tags, he said, the developer might consider increasing the amount of money it'll contribute to the county.

Katcham wondered if the community would have any impact on the Historic District expansion, but WFCCA's Carol Hawn said she doesn't believe it would affect it adversely. Davis asked if Stanley Martin could plant trees between the neighborhood and St. John's, and Reeve said it could.

WFCCA then unanimously approved the proposal, subject to the developer: Adding more landscaping to the two end lots, and between the community and the church; reorienting one house toward Wharton; use exterior colors similar to other Historic District Homes and designate park funds for the Historic District. Next stop: Planning Commission, March 30.