Some residents of nearby Oakton who live near the Girl Scouts of the National Capital Region’s Camp Crowell are gearing up for the latest in an ongoing fight with the county.
For several months, the residents have been protesting the Girl Scouts’ plans to build a 6,000-square-foot storage facility on the wooded site of the camp, which thousands of Northern Virginia Girl Scouts use as a camp and retreat center.
The case goes before the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals on Nov. 20.
“The Board of Zoning Appeals will be deciding if the ‘Resource Center’ will be allowed to be built on the campground,” the group Stop Industrial Oakton writes in its latest blog post. “It has all the characteristics of a commercial warehousing operation and has been located in an industrial/commercial district for over 25 years.”
The scouts are seeking a special-exception amendment from Fairfax County. Since the 1980s, the council has been leasing a Merrifield storage facility at a cost of about $50,000 annually. But that lease is not being renewed as that location is about to be redeveloped as part of the big Merrifield transformation.
Girl Scout leaders say they examined other comparable rental sites, but decided it would be more cost-effective to spend $600,000 and build a permanent resource center in Oakton. The facility will mainly house camping equipment and other supplies.
Camp Crowell is located near Stuart Mill, Justin Knoll and Vale roads. The site also is close to Difficult Run Stream Valley Park and Gabrielson Gardens Park, both part of the Fairfax County Park Authority.
The 67.7-acre camp has some development, including a paved road, two lodges, picnic and cooking shelters, latrines, parking facilities and campsites with shelters.
The building would be located at the site’s northern end, near the Justin Knoll Road entrance. There are about 10 homes on Justin Knoll, each on two-acre lots, The Washington Post reports.
The scouts say they have already made concessions to the neighbors, including painting the structure dark brown to blend in with the woods, having a reduced number of parking spots and limiting access from scout leaders (who would pick up equipment elsewhere).
Still, neighbors have a long list of concerns. Among them:
- Green space will be lost: a large area cleared; 4000 sq. ft. of paved parking; 6000 sq. ft. and 27 ft. high steel construction; and cannot be replaced by planting a screen.
- Justin Knoll is a residential cul-de-sac, a small road without sidewalks and cannot withstand the ebb and flow of commercial traffic which is more suited to a minor arterial road. The residential character will be lost.
- The commercial nature of this activity will detract from the neighborhood and negatively impact the tax base.
- Protecting the residential integrity of this neighborhood is important for all the residential neighborhoods in Oakton and countywide.
- There are warehouse properties available for sale for comparable money proposed for this project in the same locations that would serve the Council’s purposes.
- It is not reasonable to burden a community simply because it makes financial and logistical sense for someone else.
Oakton resident Trish Strat is a longtime Girl Scout member and leader who is now working with Stop Industrial Oakton to keep Camp Crowell a camp and not a warehouse district.
“My fight is for the girls,” she said. “It is wrong to put such a structure at their camp. When you drive through the windy roads of Oakton and you get to the camp, you will see this massive building that does not need to be there. We need to save the forest so the girls can feel they have arrived someplace special and not at Safeway.”
(Rendering of proposed Girl Scouts storage facility courtesy of Stop Industrialized Oakton)