The Mason District Council (MDC) is a non-profit, membership organization designed to act as a support network and communication forum for citizens, civic associations and home owner associations within the Mason District, County of Fairfax, Virginia. The organization also facilitates the efforts of its member-associations by promoting the community’s general welfare through non-partisan, civic activities. We are part of a larger organization - the Fairfax Federation of Citizen Associations.
On July 28, the Planning Commission approved the county’s application to relocate the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter to a recreational field that serves as the backyard of the Lincolnia Senior Home/Center at 4710 North Chambliss St. The county’s plan is to locate the shelter on the Lincolnia site through late 2019 at which point it would be moved to a permanent location. Mason District Commissioner Julie Strandlie recommended that the commission approve the application for the shelter relocation in spite of the fact that the Mason District Land Use Committee had voted 5 to 3 to not approve the application. Land use committee members expressed concerns about the loss of green space at the senior center and the importance of retaining the field as a community recreational resource in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan. The Lincolnia site proposed by the county is surrounded on four sides by residential communities.
Two days before the July 28 commission hearing, the county announced that a contract had been signed to purchase the property at 5914 Seminary Road in Mason District to serve as the permanent location for the shelter. According to staff testimony during the hearing, establishing the shelter at that location will also require a Comprehensive Plan amendment and a special exception both of which entail potentially controversial public deliberations.
On August 8, Lincolnia residents, with legal counsel, appealed the Planning Commission decision to the Board of Supervisors, and a lawsuit has also been filed.
Resources re. Shelter Relocation:
Video of July 20 Planning Commission Public Hearing (at 1 hr, 54 min on tape): Public Hearing Video
Video of the July 28 Planning Commission Decision-Only Hearing (near the beginning of tape): Decision Video
Lincolnia Residents Opposed to Shelter Move
Update: Proposed Changes to Policy for Public School Facilities:
Also on July 28, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on their proposed revision of Comprehensive Plan policy regarding provision of public school facilities. The principal changes proposed allow placing schools in surplus commercial office buildings, in commercial areas, with outdoor recreational space confined to garage rooftops and school properties limited in size to the minimums allowed by the zoning ordinance. A number of the school facilities policy changes proposed by Fairfax County do not comply with Virginia Department of Education guidelines.
In spite of the fact that the proposed changes would affect every public school in the county, only three speakers appeared to testify. All three were from Mason District and all expressed opposition. The Planning Commission deferred a decision in order to allow time to consider the comments received.
Please send your comments on the amendment to the Planning Commission. The record for public comments on the proposed amendment will remain open until September 28. Send your comments to email@example.com and include your name and address so the commission can verify that you are a county resident.
Resources re. Policy for Public School Facilities:
Video of July 28 Planning Commission Public Hearing (at 1hr. 56 min on the tape): School Policy Video
The proposed revised school facilities policy is
A Planning Commission Schools Committee meeting to discuss and revise the amendment has been scheduled for 7pm on September 14 in the Board Conference Room at the Fairfax Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.
The commission has scheduled a decision-only hearing on the amendment at 8:15 PM, September 29.
The Board of Supervisors public hearing is scheduled for October 18 at 5:30 PM.
Proposed amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan: Urban Schools Policy Plan Amendment.
- Supporting urban/vertical schools in areas like Bailey’s Crossroads, Seven
Corners and where compatible with existing or planned development
- Co-locating different levels of education within the same building or site
and sharing facilities
- Co-locating schools on sites with other public uses
- Locating schools in mixed-use/commercial areas
- Re-purposing existing buildings for school/educational use
- Providing outdoor recreation areas on converted rooftops and underutilized
surface parking lots
Subject line: Plan Amendment 2016-CW-1CP
Public hearings on the proposed FY 2017 Budget are held in the Government Center Board Auditorium:
- April 5, 4 p.m. (following the 3 p.m. public hearing on the effective tax rate)
- April 6, 1 p.m.
- April 7, 1 p.m.
Those wishing to speak at a public hearing can sign up online to place their name on the speakers list or contact the Office of the Clerk to the Board at 703-324-3151, TTY 703-324-3903. The public hearings will be held in the Board Auditorium, Fairfax County Government Center and will be shown live on Fairfax County Government Channel 16.
Additionally, Fairfax County is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of its nearly 400 Lines of Business (LOBs) as a part of a multi-year planning initiative. LOBs can be reviewed online, and residents are encouraged to share their feedback by completing a LOBs survey.
Your participation is valuable. Please take time to review the budget, provide comment or attend a meeting or hearing.
Mason District Council of Community Associations
Carol Turner – Vice Chair
Clyde Miller - Secretary
Jon Clark – Treasurer
Connecting Communities in the Mason District
NEXT MEETING: General Membership Meeting
Wed., Feb. 24th, 7pm Belvedere Elem. (6540 Columbia Pike Fall Church, VA)
Guest speaker, from the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative will make a presentation to our membership on human trafficking in Northern Virginia.
The membership meeting and discussion will follow at 7:30 pm.
The membership meeting and discussion will follow at 7:30 pm.
re: Bailey's Southeast Quadrant Land Swap/Purchase and Homeless Shelter Relocation
On behalf of the members of the Mason District Council, the executive board is requesting a deferral on this land swap and purchase deal until the community has a reasonable amount of time to fully evaluate it.
With just two business days prior to this public hearing, Supervisor Gross hosted a community meeting on this issue. And, as you may recall, the decision to advertise the public hearing came as a last minute addition to the board’s Dec. 8th meeting agenda -- during the heart of the holiday season. This has not allowed our community adequate time to devote to this matter.
While revitalization of this area is welcome by our community, the current proposal does not comport with previous, lengthy and costly county-led community planning efforts which did not involve the removal of the shelter. Today’s deal would dispense of the work of those residents who crafted a vision for the southeast quadrant for the benefit of the entire community and particularly sensitive to the plight of the most vulnerable – who will now, it appears, be relegated to a temporary site and modular structure in order to make way for new housing for the more fortunate.
Of utmost concern is that Supervisor Gross and Mr. Stalzer do not have a new site for the homeless shelter and were unable to elaborate on the plans for its relocation during the Jan 7 community meeting. The move of the shelter is integral to this real estate deal. Without a location in place and necessary, notification, inclusion and discussion with affected community members, it would be premature to conduct a vote at this time.
In addition to the uncertainty surrounding the move of the shelter, the community has also not been provided other essential information. Interested residents would like to evaluate the county’s proposed purchase price for the Landmark Atlantic property; however no such information is included in the documents available to the public.
Inexplicably, the county’s online tax assessment website is missing the historic valuation of the property for the past 14 years -- showing instead, only a single year of data. The historic valuation data are especially critical given the apparent discrepancy between the proposed purchase price of the Landmark property ($6.6 million) and its current assessed value ($3.85 million). This has raised the question that if the fair market value is truly $6.6 million why is this property so drastically underassessed?
As far as planning for a future east county human services center, is the county exploring possible alternative locations and if it finds one, would that alter the need for this real estate transaction? Chairman Bulova has launched a building repositioning effort to explore repurposing the growing number of vacant buildings in the county. The vacant office building at 5600 Columbia Pike for example is 169,000 sq feet and is assessed at $7 million. If the county paid the same 70% over assessment that is proposed here today for the Landmark Atlantic property, it could have a location for the east county human services center for a little under $12 million instead of the projected $125 million for a new construction. In addition, since the county already passed a comprehensive plan amendment on March 3, 2015 to allow 5600 Columbia Pike to be redeveloped with multi-family use, the county could potentially incorporate the shelter, housing for those transitioning out of the shelter and the services required by this population all in the same building.
We ask the board to defer a vote today to take our concerns into account and to provide the community with more information and time to fully weigh in on this important matter.