Plans to build a townhouse subdivision on the former Westpark Golf Club property did not find many fans during last week’s Town Council public hearing on the project.
Speaker after speaker on Nov. 26 urged the council to consider better alternatives than the proposed rezoning, which seeks authority to build 96 townhomes on 12 acres of the 142.3-acre property. The applicant behind the project is residential developer Lennar Homes, the contract purchaser of the property that went up for sale in the late summer of 2017. The golf club recently ceased operations after more than 50 years.
Neighbors also did not seem particularly wowed by a proposal from the applicant to donate the remaining 129 acres to the town for use as a park or maintaining it as conservation space that could not be developed. Another option for the undeveloped land proposed by the applicant includes restoring streams, ponds, and wetlands; creating a wetlands mitigation bank for stream and nutrient credits; and maintaining the remainder of the property in a condition consistent with environmental preservation and enhancement, according to a staff report. Along with other features like boardwalks, paths and bridges, this could create a natural area akin to Fairfax’s Huntley Meadows Park, the applicant said.
But neighbors were not impressed, and instead cited the project’s impacts on already overcrowded schools and the already congested traffic network.
“I really feel like there are better things out there,” Virginia Davies said.
Greenway Farms resident Brian McAfee also pointed out the still-not-completed residential developments in nearby Meadowbrook and Rogers Farm that will also impact the town.
“There’s a number of reasons this should be denied,” he said.
Another concern cited by residents and town staff members was the project’s incompatibility with Town Plan policies for that area, which call for commercial or employment-generating uses, rather than residential development. The applicant had previously sought a Town Plan amendment for the project but, following its recommendation of denial from the Planning Commission, it was withdrawn and never refiled.
The project did have at least one fan—Ashburn resident Jim Bonfils, who most recently was a Republican candidate for county Board of Supervisors and who said the 100-acre park amenity would be an “incredible” feature for the town’s southern quadrant, to complement Ida Lee Park to the north.
John Foote, an attorney from law firm Walsh Colucci Lubeley & Walsh, which is representing the applicant, pointed to many Council on Government studies that show a critical housing shortage in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area to support the need to add residential options to the town. He also noted that the current property owner, Dittmar Company, is beginning to grow impatient of thetown’s review process of the application. If delays continue, or if the rezoning is denied by the council, it is possible that Lennar may pull out of the sale, he said.
It will go on at least a little bit longer, as the council voted to continue the public hearing to the council’s only business meeting in December, Tuesday, Dec. 10. Mayor Kelly Burk noted that many residents had reached out to the council to ask for a deferral since the Thanksgiving holiday was bringing them out of town at the time of the hearing.