History

Summary of the relationship with BMRA's relationship with Monticello Mews

 

Since the 1950s, the Bren Mar Recreation Association has owned and operated a swimming pool and other recreational facilities in the Bren Mar Community.  The Association, BMRA, is a membership organization and receives no tax money, deriving all of its income from membership dues and user fees.  It provides a service to the community that would otherwise fall on the Fairfax County government.  In the early 80s a developer purchased the land across the street, known as Monticello Mews, and the residents of Jefferson Green, the Isabella and the new development are part of BMRA’s membership.

 

 

Full story of the relationship with BMRA's relationship with Monticello Mews

 

Since the 1950s, the Bren Mar Recreation Association has owned and operated a swimming pool and other recreational facilities in the Bren Mar Community.  The Association, BMRA, is a membership organization and receives no tax money, deriving all of its income from membership dues and user fees.  It provides a service to the community that would otherwise fall on the Fairfax County government.

 

The facilities are located on Edsall Road, directly across from the development known as Monticello Mews.  That land, once the site of a quarry, was rezoned for residential use in 1976.  That approval included voluntary proffers by the landowner, which promised to construct “recreational facilities” including a “swimming pool complex” on the site, which would further provide services that might otherwise be the County’s burden.  The original and current owner/developer, DRW, bought the land a few years later and the approved zoning for that parcel is 496 units.  In the 70s it was a requirement for approval to have recreational facilities to sell to anyone with a VA loan. 

 

To avoid the expense of building a recreation facilities during the first phase of development, known as Jefferson Green (195 units), DRW proposed a solution: it would substitute automatic membership in the Bren Mar Recreation Association for the on-site recreational complex required by the proffers.

Additional architects of this agreement were Bren Mar Community leaders and at the time Fairfax County Supervisor, Tom DavisDRW would purchase the equivalent of 496 membership fees at $100 per unit, totaling ~ $50,000 as part of this agreement. The intent of the $50,000 besides brokering this deal was to help the struggling pool bring itself up to standards, so the money went to repairs and maintenance.Thereafter, owners of each of the 496 dwelling units to be constructed would be members of the Association, with their membership fees originally paid by DRW, yet their annual dues paid by their respective homeowners’ association(s).  In this way, the developer would be relieved of the significant expense of building a recreational center, instead paying BMRA a lump sum to provide one instead.  The County approved this plan, and the proffers were amended accordingly, and Jefferson Green (phase 1) was built in the late 70s and completed in 1981. 

This agreement was challenged (see argument in link) in 2000 in court by Jefferson Green, and upheld by the Virginia Supreme Court.  Jefferson Green withheld held funds in escrow and was countered, lost (see counter in link) and required to pay BMRA for the 2 years of dues that were withheld. BMRA is considered a third party beneficiary, meaning that BMRA benefits from the original agreement between DRW and Fairfax County, yet has no legal connection to this agreement.  At no time has BMRA been directly involved in this lawsuit, yet BMRA continues today from this agreement.  Without this agreement BMRA would no longer exist.

 

Led by Supervisor Penny Gross, the County has long stood by this agreement, which provides recreational opportunities for hundreds of families, saves the County [and DRW] money in so doing, and allows the residential development of the old quarry site.

 

The Isabella (144 units, phase 2) was built in 2013 and is part of this agreement, as will the new development of 99 units (phase 3) discussed in 2016.  The Isabella has a pool, yet the pool was not part of the original proposal to Fairfax County. The Isabella pool was an add-on after the zoning approval occurred.  During the sales process of the Isabella, it was not disclosed until condo documents were presented that potential buyers were part of the agreement.  BMRA worked with DRW and Penny Gross’ office to ask that they disclose this information during the sales process, but it went on deaf ear from DRW.  Gross’ office supported the financial aspect of this agreement, but didn’t feel that it was part of their purview to discuss sales practices, however unorthodox.   DRW apparently perceived this agreement as a negative and took the stance that, “this information is in the condo documents.  We complied with the law by providing the condo documents 10 days prior to purchase. It is the owner’s responsibility to read their purchase information.” 

 

BMRA receives annual dues from Jefferson Green and the Isabella.  It will receive annual dues from Phase 3 as part of this agreement.  BMRA bylaws limit memberships to 700 households.  When Phase 3 is completed, BMRA will support the total Monticello Mews membership of 441, Jefferson Green 195, the Isabella, 144, and Phase 3, 98 respectively.  Beyond the 441 memberships from the Monticello Mews, BMRA has approximately 100 other members. 

 

BMRA bylaws require that all memberships be of one membership class, coupled with the requirement that half of the seats on the BMRA board of directors be reserved for unit owners, effectively prevents BMRA from substantially increasing membership fees in the future. The BMRA has 12 board members, where six are made up of non-Monticello Mews members, and the other six are a combination of Jefferson Green, Isabella, and future seats from the 99 unit phase 3 development. The current dues are substantially lower than any other pool of its class within a 10 mile area.  Bren Mar Recreation Association is open to any household in the general area. This is a requirement to be in compliance with Federal Law as BMRA is a not profit, so it is entitled to a tax exempt status.

On March 8, 2016 the Fairfax County Planning Commission met with the leaders of the community and it was agreed that the proffers will be identical to the proffers written for Jefferson Green and the Isabella. This case was reviewed previously by DRW, Jefferson Green, Isabella and BMRA's individual attorneys.  All came back with the same outcome....these proffers are here for good and impenetrable. 

Comments