General Dynamics Will Make Traffic Proffers for Sunset Hills Road

Location of proposed General Dynamics campus/Source: Fairfax County

General Dynamics’ plans to build a five-story office building on a wooded lot on Sunset Hills Road will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Tuesday.

The plan has generally been well received by community members, as well as the Fairfax County Planning staff, which recommends the plan with a few conditions.

The 21.69-acre site between Wiehle Avenue and Hunter Mill Road is a heavily treed, previously undeveloped lot. But it has been approved for years for a developer to build three, five-story buildings or about 358,000 square feet. Also approved: three levels of below grade structured parking designed for 297 spaces and the option for surface parking spaces on the south side of the building.

What General Dynamics has proposed is one, five story building at about 190,000 square feet, with an option for a 30,000-square-foot addition in the future.

GD also plans a reduction in parking from 572 spaces to 347 spaces.

GD, which currently leases office space in Fairview Park, previously said it was drawn to the site because it could build to its specifications, including a security fence and an “arrival pavilion” that would provide security checks on the property’s access road.

The company also plans to preserve most of the trees. GD has asked to build a 10-foot security fence along the perimeter, which has previously been approved for a 4-foot fence.

What concerned community members at a previous meeting was potential traffic backups on Sunset Hills Road as the proposed building is not in walking distance of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro.

The county staff report recommends widening Sunset Hills Road to four lanes. Nearly two acres has been dedicated for such road widening as part of the previous approvals. The report says Sunset Hills’ eastbound improvements include the addition of a 150-foot left turn lane with a 100-foot taper into Dressage Drive and a 250-foot right turn lane with a 100-foot taper into the site.

Westbound improvements on Sunset Hills Road include a 175-foot left turn lane with a 100-foot taper into the site. Curb and gutter will be provided along the frontage on the south side of Sunset Hills Road. On the north side of Sunset Hills Road, a 4-foot wide shoulder will be provided to improve the almost non-existent shoulder along the road.

GD likely won’t construct the lanes, but has carried forward a proffer commitment to be able to request a waiver and to escrow funds in lieu
of construction of any remaining frontage improvements and has “included a cap to the escrow amount based on the cost to construct the frontage improvements today.” The planning staff is reviewing the escrow amount to ensure that it would be adequate for the frontage

GD would also need to address stormwater management when Sunset Hills is widened. The applicant has also proffered to design and construct the on-site stormwater management facilities to accommodate stormwater runoff from a fully improved Sunset Hills Road, the staff report says.

More traffic considerations: The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) recommends that the site access occur from the previously approved western entrance opposite Business Center Drive.

This would cut down on traffic affecting residential properties that are further east along Sunset Hills Road. FCDOT also recommends installing a traffic signal there to cut down on delays at rush hour. GD has offered to proffer money for the signal.

Photo: Location of proposed General Dynamics campus/Credit: Fairfax County

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