The Patch article regarding the Oakcrest Special Exception Amendment (SEA) currently before the Board of Supervisors does not provide adequate background to the matter. As a homeowner in the immediate vicinity of the Oakcrest property, I have followed this case closely since 2007 and would like to provide a more complete background for your readers.
1. When Oakcrest School received approval more than three years ago to build on a site off Crowell Road, the Board of Supervisors recognized that the intense use proposed by the School was incompatible with the surrounding area and required that its only entrance be from Hunter Mill Road. The Board of Supervisors also made a requirement that the school build a roundabout at the intersection of Hunter Mill Road and Crowell Road in order to accommodate the heavy volume of traffic to be generated by the School's 450 student and 90 staff population
2. The entrance on Hunter Mill Road and the roundabout were conditions imposed to mitigate the impact of the Oakcrest building and facilities on the surrounding neighborhoods. The intensity of use that the School will bring to the surrounding low-density area is loosely equivalent to a higher density subdivision with 7 dwellings per acre. And the peak hour traffic is substantially more.
3. Because the school was unable to purchase the land necessary to construct the roundabout, it is asking to amend its zoning approval to allow a Crowell Road entrance only and the installation of a traffic light at the corner of Hunter Mill and Crowell Road. This is nearly identical to the proposal that was previously studied and rejected by the County because the intensity of use and heavy traffic volumes would be entirely concentrated on Crowell Road and the Crowell Road communities. In addition, a Crowell Road entrance would entail removal of a substantial portion of the existing earthen berm and its mature stand of trees.
4. The Hunter Mill Land Use Committee, a group of citizens appointed by the Supervisor to advise her on land use matters, voted unanimously to recommend denial of the current SEA.
5. A deeply divided Planning Commission then recommended approval of the SEA on a closely divided vote of 6-5-1. Such a close vote is highly unusual and clearly demonstrates that the SEA represents not a simple ‘roundabout versus a traffic signal’ decision, but one much more substantial in nature.
Before the Board of Supervisors votes on the SEA, it should consider the particular circumstances surrounding the original applicationin 2010 and why a community supported solution was necessary for its approval. A similar degree of community involvement in arriving at a solution should once again be allowed so that all stakeholders, not just Oakcrest School, are provided the opportunity to be heard.
1416 Crowell Road
Vienna, VA 22182