Hard Feelings about ODay Townhouses

Hard Feelings about ODay Townhouses

Although the developer has agreed to drop two townhouses from his proposed new community, residents of neighboring Woodgate Manor say it's not enough. They also believe the entrance planned poses a serious safety hazard.

And they and Mark Jenkins, representing the owners of the property where it would be built, faced off once again at the Sept. 20 meeting of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee.

To be called The Courts at Riverwind, 10 new townhouses would be constructed on 1.7 acres on ODay Drive, off Stone Road in Centreville, about 1,000 feet from the ODay/Route 29 intersection. The project requires the county's OK for a rezoning from one home per acre to eight homes per acre. But Woodgate Manor residents object to that high a density there.

The WFCCA's Carol Hawn said having 10 homes now puts this proposed community at a lower density than all the other neighborhoods surrounding it. But outstanding issues still remain and, instead of deciding last week whether to endorse the project, the WFCCA deferred its decision until next month, as did the Planning Commission.

County staff is recommending approval, but Sully District Planning Commissioner Ron Koch wants a blasting proffer included to protect the neighbors in case of damage resulting from site work for the new homes.

Last week, said Hawn, "They hadn't added the blasting proffer, yet, and I think they'll have to if they want to obtain WFCCA's approval." She also asked WFCCA to write a letter to the Department of Housing and Community Development — responsible for Barros Circle, just south of this property — to allow an easement to redirect the sanitary sewer line around around a large, tulip poplar tree on the site.

"There's an undeveloped trail near Big Rocky Run, and [the developer will] put in a trail from the homes to the tree," said Hawn. "But it would go through the drip line of this tree [where most of its roots are], so we're asking them to move the trail slightly away from the drip line."

She said Woodgate Manor residents would like the townhouse plan reversed so they could see better when entering and exiting that area. But, said, Hawn, "VDOT and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation say it's OK." She also said that "some trees that are unhealthy anyway will be taken down, so it'll clean up this area."

But Karen Wedekindt, on Woodgate Manor's board of directors, said her community doesn't see things that way. Said Wedekindt: "They said they'd plant saplings after they take down some 50-year-old trees throughout the property."

In addition, the developers are asking for a waiver of the 25-foot, transitional screening barrier between the new community and the 13 existing single-family homes on ODay because there's only room for 14 feet. But Woodgate Manor residents want the whole barrier because the new 3 1/2-story, 2,600-square-foot, luxury townhomes would be 1 1/2 stories higher than their homes and their backyards would be right in resident Hong Zhang's front yard.

"We're fighting together, and we're upset for Hong because, according to the [county's] Comprehensive Plan, he has rights to a 25-foot, natural transition zone between his property [and other homes]," said Wedekindt. "So in order to get a waiver, they plan on putting up a 7-foot wall."

She'd really like no more than eight townhouses built but, she said, "If they'd drop even one more, it would give them the transition zone and they could move the entrance to where it already is, next to Hong's house, uphill on ODay." Instead, Wedekindt said, the developers want the entrance downhill from his house, on ODay "in a dip where people's cars disappear from view."

Koch planned to meet this week with Zhang about his concerns. However, although the developers have met regularly with the Woodgate Manor residents, Wedekindt said she just "doesn't feel like they're listening to us."