McLean has had its fair share of contentious development debates, but to the relief of everyone involved, a planned senior living facility at 1638 and 1642 Chain Bridge Road didn’t go that way, instead getting a unanimous vote of support from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Tension over the future of development in McLean has been brewing in recent weeks with the much-debated downtown revitalization plan headed for a delayed planning commission public hearing on May 26.
In this case, however, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust says the cooperation and willingness to compromise from both developer Tri-State Development Companies and the nearby residents resulted in a smooth process.
The plan is to build 35 independent living units, five of which are expected to be sold as affordable, and a central clubhouse area for residents to gather.
“This has been a really good experience, working with the community and this developer,” Foust said. “Sometimes you don’t come away with such a good taste in your mouth after you go through a difficult land use case, and this wasn’t simple, but everyone was so positive and cooperative and I want to thank everyone involved in the process.”
While speakers at the meeting generally expressed support for the project, neighboring property owner Bobbi Bowman, who said she’d lived there for 22 years, stated that she still had concerns about the noise level from the clubhouse on the site.
“I will look over my back yard and side-yard fences into the front yard of two-story townhouses and clubhouse with an joining outdoor area,” Bowman said. “I believe this application fails to meet county standard that says such development must be compatible…I am not asking the applicant to forego the clubhouse, I’m only asking to be protected from the noise.”
Tri-State has agreed that the clubhouse will not be rented out to anyone outside of the condominium owners association that will be formed to govern the facility, and no audible music will be allowed in the patio area, according to a list of approved development conditions attached to the project.
Other speakers said they were looking forward to the development in part because they see the need for senior housing for their parents or for themselves a few years down the road.
“I think it’s an excellent idea,” nearby resident Eric West said. “I don’t know of any place within the DMV that has something that would meet the needs of those who want to age in place.”
Winnie Pizzano, president of the nearby Stoneleigh Homeowners Association, said the project had great support from within her community.
Resident Scott Shawkey expressed hope that the project could help pave the way for a transformation of McLean’s downtown area, a goal of the county that has been several years in the making.
“I have a father in his 80s who’s worked his entire life for something nice,” Shawkey said. “This is something special, a celebration of life. I think it will be great…We have an incredible community, but our downtown is just a four-way intersection.”
Map via Fairfax County
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