‘Inconsistent with the Neighborhood’

Infill townhouse proposal raises residents’ concerns.

During a recent Fairfax City Council work session, councilmembers received a presentation about a proposal to build new townhouses at 11006 Park Road. The applicant, Caglayan Investment Group, would like to erect 13, three-story townhomes fronting along both Park Road and a private street.

The homes would have two parking spaces each, with three visitor spaces in the development. A playground is also planned, and the project is estimated to generate 58 vehicle trips/day. 

Before the presentation, however, two City residents expressed their feelings about this proposal during citizen-comment time in the Council’s regular meeting, prior to the work session. Speaking first was Lindsey Collins, who lives in the Westmore community in a house that backs up to the proposed townhome site.

“My husband and I looked forward to this development and continued improvement and beautification of our neighborhood,” she said. “We were excited about it until the latest iteration of the plans was released. The changes proposed shocked us. First, having a single access point for entry and exit off of Park Road – with only walking access off Lee Highway – would bring a tremendous amount of traffic to a neighborhood struggling to sustain the traffic we already have.”

“We have serious concerns about safety, as well,” said Collins. “So many nonresidents fly through our streets to cut through – right by a playground where neighborhood children walk.” Lastly, she added, “The current design is quite a departure from the previous [one]. These townhouses are hideous structures that’ll look absolutely out of place in a neighborhood full of both modest, Cape Cod and Colonial-style homes.”

Next, Russ Landis said he lives about half a block away, around the corner from the proposed site. “The development would sit in the middle of an established neighborhood of single-family homes – the majority of which are one story,” he explained. “These 13, multi-story townhomes are completely inconsistent with the size, scale and character of the surrounding neighborhood. Single-family homes or a number of low-impact, commercial uses would be more appropriate.”

Later, during the work session, City Planner Supriya Chewle told Council the property is 1.16 acres to the north of the Park Road/Holly Street intersection. “It’s zoned commercial retail and would need a rezoning to residential townhouse,” she said. Chewle also noted that one house, some small businesses and a vacant commercial building are currently on that site.

Representing the applicant, attorney Keith Martin said the changed zoning classification would be “an appropriate transition between the commercial and residential uses” in that area.” In addition, since the land is in the Kamp Washington section of the City, Councilmember Billy Bates noted that the townhomes’ height would be in keeping with Fairfax’s Small Area Plan for Kamp Washington, which recommends three- to five-story buildings along Park Road.

Councilmember Tom Ross said he’d heard from a resident who was concerned only three guest parking spaces were provided. But, replied Martin, “Most of the townhouses have two-car garages, and most of the driveways would be 18 feet long – large enough for two or three cars.”

Still, said Ross, “Most of the single-family homes there were built in the 1940s and ’50s. That site does need to be redeveloped, but please consider how to make the design fit in better.”

Councilmember Jeff Greenfield asked, “Will you place covenants requiring people to use their garages as garages, to keep them from parking on the outside streets? It would protect property values and allow people in the other neighborhood to park in front of their own homes.” Martin said the applicant would do that.

Greenfield, too, said the townhomes’ architecture “missed the mark” and should, instead, “be more traditional and not so modern-looking.” Martin said the City’s Board of Architectural Review – which already saw the plan – agreed with Greenfield and recommended the architect add more brick to the building and do a better job of breaking up the façade.

Councilmember Kate Doyle Feingold asked what would happen if landscaping was added to the streets, and Martin answered, “We’d lose half the townhouses.” The work-session presentation was made just to give information to Council about this project, so no official action was taken then. However, Ross advised Martin to consult with the neighbors about it because “they’re the ones who’ll have to live with it.”