Gearing up for Sept. 10 BOS Meeting
Vienna, VA-August 27, 2013- Residents in the Hunter Mill Road corridor are decrying a major departure from previously agreed-upon conditions for the approval of a 450-student private school, urging the Board of Supervisors (BOS) to protect the area from ensuing traffic and safety nightmares that would reverberate beyond the community.
The Oakcrest School for Girls, currently operating in McLean, has proposed to expand and relocate to a site on land between Crowell and Hunter Mill Roads (on land that was part of the current Hunter Mill Golf Park). The original approval of the application was unanimously approved by the BOS in 2010 with the stipulation that the main entrance be on Hunter Mill Rd. with a roundabout at the intersection of Hunter Mill and Crowell in order to minimize safety concerns and traffic complications in this already heavily congested residential area.
Now, the school, claiming an inability to overcome right-of-way concerns, has backpedaled on these crucial commitments and is currently re-proposing the entrance be installed on Crowell Road (immediately west of a dangerous curve) with a stoplight at the intersection at Hunter Mill Road, as well as disregarding the restrictions placed on the land (such as berms, etc.). The Supervisors concluded three years ago that such a scenario would never work at this overcrowded intersection.
Every rush hour, over 1,165 cars presently inch their way through the Hunter Mill/Crowell intersection. That number is soon expected to increase because of the new Wiehle Avenue Metro station and the fact that more drivers are using the roads to escape escalating fees on the Dulles Toll Road. “Over the last three years, traffic accidents on this road have increased by 300%. Factor in a school with an enrollment of 450 plus 90 faculty members and you have a recipe for dreadful congestion,” worries Crowell Road resident Brian Schuster.
Recently, on June 20 the Fairfax County Planning Commission held a hearing on the school’s new special exception amendment. Almost every speaker, while welcoming the school to the neighborhood, opposed the changes sought by Oakcrest. Mason District Commissioner Janet Hall even asserted the commission’s very credibility would be called into question should it abandon the development conditions carefully crafted by the community and overwhelmingly approved by the Board of Supervisors. But incredibly, on July 31 the Planning Commission took the Hunter Mill community by surprise and acted to narrowly recommend the Oakcrest special exception amendment on a 6-5 vote (with 1 abstention), abandoning the development conditions that had been so pivotal to the original approval of the application. The vote goes now to the BOS.
The Board of Supervisors is slated to take up this special exception amendment issue on Sept 10. Residents of the area and commuters are urged to attend the meeting and persuade the Board to deny this amendment. According to Bruce Bennett of the Hunter Mill Road Traffic Calming Study Group, “Approving the amended Oakcrest plan would put residents and motorists at risk, further encumber an already stressed traffic pattern, set a disastrous precedent for land development in the new Dulles Metro corridor and wreak havoc on the surrounding communities.”
Contact: Barbara Gahagan, Hunter Mill Traffic Group (firstname.lastname@example.org)