A proposal to build a 98,000-square-foot retail center on 16 acres at the intersection of Braddock Road and Gum Spring Road drew protests from residents nearby at a Planning Commission public hearing Tuesday night.
The project, Braddock Spring, is proposed by Peterson Companies.
Peterson is asking to rezone property from residential to commercial and for zoning exceptions to allow two drive-through restaurants and a service station. They are also asking for reduced setback and open space requirements on the property.
Residents from Virginia Manor neighborhood, which sits immediately at the rear of the property, came to the Planning Commission to urge county leaders to deny that application. Giovanni Caratolo of the Dulles Farm Community Association, that area’s homeowners association, said allowing that shopping center would “have a profound negative impact on the quality of life and property values of many of our Virginia Manor residents.”
“Virginia Manor’s 214 acres of open space with 14 parks and walking trails are for the benefit of the residents, not for buffers for rezoning,” Caratolo said.
Residents worry about the heavier traffic they believe the center will bring, including traffic cutting through their neighborhoods. They are also worried about putting the back of a commercial facility next to the parks and trails in their neighborhood.
“Simply put, the smell of dumpsters, the scent of diesel fumes, the noise from deliveries, the sound of airbrakes, and the thundering boom of commercial garbage dumpsters being emptied is not complimentary to our adjoining use of land,” David Labuskes said. “Some of the most spectacular views in all of Loudoun County are from the western reach of the applicant’s property. Why would we squander those views on dumpsters and delivery trucks?”
The property sits in the county’s transition policy area, across Braddock Road from the suburban policy area. County planning documents call for the transition policy area to serve as a lower-density separation between rural west and suburban east.
But the applicant’s representatives argue the project more closely fits what’s already happening in that area. It sits at the same intersection as several other proposed retail uses.
“If you didn’t know where boundary was, could you tell me the Suburban Policy Area ends and the Transition Policy Area begins?” said Walsh Colucci Lubely & Walsh lane use planner Michael Romeo. “It’s very difficult to do that.”
Planning commissioners expressed skepticism about the application. Commissioner Jeff Salmon (Dulles) compared it to the last steep hill in the Marine Corps Martathon, and said “I think it’s going to be a steep climb.” He remarked “it looks to me like you’re simply trying otoput as much stuff on this one property as you can.”
Commissioners voted unanimously to send the application to a work session for more discussion. Planning Commission Chairman Cliff Keirce (Broad Run) said he expects to discuss, among other things, an entry to the property near the intersection, designs of the buildings, dumpster location and covering, and transportation proffers in the area.