Great Falls: Final Chance for Brooks Farm?

Great Falls: Final Chance for Brooks Farm?

Dranesville District Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder

Dranesville District Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder Photo by Ken Moore.

The Planning Commission deferred its decision on Brooks Farm, perhaps for the last time.

“I think everyone agrees this process has gone on long enough and everyone, especially the neighbors around Brooks Farm, deserves resolution,” Dranesville Supervisor John W. Foust wrote to the Great Falls Citizens Association.

“I do not expect any more delays and I believe the applicant understands that the most recent deferral is the final opportunity to address the remaining issues that GFCA has identified.”

The Planning Commission now has the decision hearing on the calendar for June 15, although the hearing has been deferred six times.

The Great Falls Citizens Association wrote Foust on May 9, nine days before the scheduled Planning Commission decision.

“An additional community concern recently was triggered after public records research by the Lake Estates HOA uncovered a 1968 deed of easement that permits the Brooks Farm and adjacent property owners to combine their respective 16-foot and 34-foot parallel parcels of land to form a 50-foot-wide parcel for a public road connecting Brooks Farm to Springvale Road,” according to Great Falls Citizens Association.

The community never had the opportunity to respond in January’s public hearing to the possibility of a cut-through road because “the easement was never disclosed by the applicant,” said Eric Knudsen, present of GFCA.

“The applicant appears to have the unilateral right to request VDOT approval to construct a roadway connecting the Brooks Farm property to Springvale Road, thereby creating a cut-through to Walker Road via Forest Lake Drive,” he said.

“I have made it clear to the applicant that I believe your letter identifies legitimate concerns,” wrote Foust. Dranesville Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder deferred the May 18 commission hearing to “provide the applicant with a relatively short time to address those concerns.”

GFCA CONTINUES TO OPPOSE approval of the current proposal to rezone the 51.9 acre Brooks Farm property from the R-A zoning district to R-E Cluster (Residential Estate). The applicant proposes to build 20 single family detached homes on the farmland off Springvale Road and around Walker Lake Drive. More than 1,400 people in Great Falls signed a petition opposing the development.

Great Falls Citizens Association has held numerous meetings on the proposal -- touching on environmental questions including septic, well, stormwater and tree canopy -- including a Town Hall meeting on May 10, attended by more than 70 residents.

“The application remains unacceptable to the Great Falls community,” said Knudsen.

The application, according to Knudsen’s letter to John Foust, fails to “sufficiently address the environmental and stormwater management concerns” raised by GFCA’s experts; “contains an unacceptable plan for tree preservation” and “fails to address the likely damage to trees on existing properties;” and “fails to address the potential negative consequences of an existing easement for access to Springvale Road.”

THE APPLICANT, Basheer/Edgemoore-Brooks, spent more than a year revising its application in attempt to meet concerns of residents, especially regarding density, septic, stormwater, environment, well, water, preservation of trees, and other features of the property around Walker Lake.

“It is very clear this is a special piece of property to people in the community,” said Gregory Riegle, representing the developers. “We went to great pains to ensure that we have complete answers to questions.”

Great Falls was part of a downzoning more than 30 years ago designed to protect drinking water and the Potomac River, with much of the area zoned for one house for five acres.

GFCA passed a resolution opposing the rezoning application in May 2015.