There's a Story in The Post Today About Saturday's Hunter Mill Road Workshop
Here it is:
Traffic was sparse yesterday on winding, tree-shrouded Hunter Mill Road near the Dulles Toll Road. A man stood outside a clapboard house selling labrador puppies. A church advertised a rummage sale. Cyclists stopped to rest at the Washington & Old Dominion Trail bike path crossing and soak up the autumn sun.
But a few miles away, in the Madison High School cafeteria, a battle was brewing over the area along this stretch of roadway that links Reston and Vienna. With the help of a private consultant, Fairfax County officials held a public meeting to ask residents how they view the future of their community.
Many residents are worried that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will change the existing comprehensive plan to allow denser development in the Hunter Mill area, which is a few miles from a planned Metro stop at Wiehle Avenue in Reston. The Hunter Mill Road dispute is part of a broader discussion along the corridor between Tysons Corner and Herndon about how much development the county should allow if Metro is extended to Dulles International Airport.
At issue around Hunter Mill Road is a 309-acre, mostly residential or undeveloped area. Two developers, WCI/Renaissance and K. Hovnanian, have proposed changing the zoning to allow construction of townhouses and commercial strips. Current zoning allows for houses on two- to five-acre lots, or about 250 houses; the proposed changes could allow up to eight residences an acre, or nearly 1,800 residences.
Many residents yesterday voiced strong opposition to changing the comprehensive plan that has been in place for the past two decades.They said that denser development could threaten the area's historic character and open spaces, add to already congested rush hour traffic and school overcrowding and break down their sense of community.
"Most of us live here because we don't want a super-high developed dense area," said Judy Naiman, who has lived on Hunter Mill Road for 19 years. "The schools can't handle it. The roads can't handle it."
Tempers flared when Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) told the 250 people who attended that she was "surprised and disappointed" that there was "anger and anxiety about this rather than excitement" about an opportunity to come together to sketch their own vision of the future. Hudgins has not taken a position on the proposed rezoning.
A man interrupted Hudgins to ask if "those of us that you have just slammed" would have an opportunity to give their side.
The Board of Supervisors assembled a citizen task force in June to consider changes to the comprehensive plan and make recommendations to the planning commission before the commission, followed by the supervisors, act on the developers' requests. This is not the first time developers have sought such changes; in the past 15 years, task forces have rejected proposals to increase density in the area.
County officials and task force members stressed that yesterday's discussion was not about the merits of a particular proposal. Instead, it was about three hypothetical scenarios under which varying degrees of density might affect the community.
Some residents said whether the board changes the zoning or not, it is just a matter of time before density increases in that area. Jack Wilbern, an architect and a member of the task force, said Hunter Mill is one of many areas where such questions will arise as more residents and businesses move in.
"In my opinion this is going to be countywide," he said. "There are going to be changes in this county, and if you say the response should be that...we should just stop all job growth in Fairfax County, I don't think that in a democracy we're able to do that."
Breaking up into smaller discussion groups, some residents complained that they were being rushed to discuss proposals about which they had limited information. "Nobody has really seen this whole elephant," said Reza Sadeghi of Reston. "Everyone has seen either the trunk or the foot or the ear, but no one has an idea of what this elephant looks like."
By Steve Fehr |
October 2, 2005; 6:44 AM ET
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