Rose Hill Civic Association
P.O. Box 10891
Franconia, Va. 22310
January 20, 2003
RE: Zoning Ordinance Section 2-308(2)
Supervisor Dana Kauffman
County of Fairfax
6121 Franconia Road
Franconia, VA 22310
Dear Supervisor Kauffman:
Last year about this time, the Rose Hill Civic Association and the Virginia Hills Citizens Association inquired about the applicability of Section 2-308(2) of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance involving property that already had been rezoned and therefore could be developed by right.
We learned that property that had been rezoned but not subdivided is subject to the density penalties outlined in Section 2-308(2). Conversely, we learned that property that had been both rezoned and subdivided into individual lots would not be subject to those same penalties.
Our renewed interest in the matter was triggered by the work of the Telegraph Road Task Force appointed by you to evaluate the comprehensive plan density ranges for numerous vacant parcels in the corridor. As you know, the work of the task force, the County staff and your office resulted in reductions to the planned density for numerous parcels.
However, those parcels previously zoned retain the approved density, whether or not they are in conformance with the comprehensive plan. We were heartened to learn that parcels that had been previously zoned but not yet subdivided would be subject to the density penalties outlined in Section 2-308(2).
As you are aware, there is a large undeveloped area in Rose Hill known as Rose Hill Park Section III that was rezoned and subdivided for 60 lots almost 40 year ago. Over the years, numerous plans have been submitted to the County seeking approval to build on those lots. All have sought the density approved so long ago, disregarding the harsh lessons we all have learned in dealing with problem soils such as the so-called marine clay.
Because the soil conditions are so hazardous in Rose Hill Park Section III, both for the proposed homes and those on contiguous lots, no plan has ever been approved. Despite those failures, we expect the owner and the development community to keep trying.
Rather than to continue to fight on a case-by-case basis, we urge the County to evaluate the development possibilities of the site and take an up-to-date action that would protect our community from undesirable development on a problem site.
A good first start would be to revise the zoning ordinance in such a way that the provisions of Section 2-308(2) would apply to parcels that have previously been zoned and subdivided but not developed cause of failure to satisfy the County that such development would not be hazardous to both the new owners and the neighbors.
Section III of Rose Hill Park was rezoned and subdivided at a time when little was known about the perils of building on problem soils. Many individual homeowners in Rose Hill and other subdivisions in Lee District have spent thousands of dollars trying to fight the ravages of the shifty marine clay. Despite advances in engineering and technology, we remain unconvinced that development on parcels heavily layered with marine clay is a prudent course.
Therefore, we urge you to propose to the Board of Supervisors revisions to the Zoning Ordinance that would make the provisions of Section 2-308(2) applicable to parcels such as Rose Hill Park Section III that were both zoned and subdivided many years ago. At the very least, a reasonable time limit should be imposed under which development must be approved by the County.
As always, we stand ready to support any effort that will protect both new and existing development from the ravages of marine clay!
Carl L. Sell, Jr.
President, Rose Hill Civic Association
cc: David P. Bobzein, County Attorney
Jane W. Gwinn, Zoning Administrator
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