The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors deferred a decision on a proposal to bring a 91-unit assisted living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive amid backlash from residents neighboring the project.
At a Tuesday night meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said she wanted to work with residents and the developer Kensington Senior Development to tackle concerns raised by residents over several months.
During the meeting, residents continued to protest the location of the two-to-three story building, which they said was shoehorned onto 1.8 acres. The new structure, which would replaces Good Beginning School, a child care facility, is more than eight times larger than the current building. The facility would include up to 125 beds and up to 91 rooms.
Responding to residents’ concerns about limited privacy and the overwhelming nature of the plan, Hudgins said the application was “difficult” even though “the zoning is what the zoning is.”
“The zoning change has been made and it is an acceptable development in the center,” she said. “It’s just difficult for the neighbors to accept as far as the size and the screening that is provided.”
The board will vote on the project on Feb. 6 at 3:30 p.m — a delay that allows Hudgins says allows the stakeholders to settle concerns.
The developer’s representative, Mark Looney of Cooley LLP, pointed to the “evolution” of the plan since it was originally proposed. After back and forth with county entities like the Design Review Board, the developer scaled back the plan by reducing the number of stories from five to either two or three stories.
In a November staff report, the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the plan.
Photo via handout
At its meeting tonight (agenda), Reston’s Planning & Zoning Committee will hear presentations on three major upcoming projects.
Two projects are scheduled to be voted upon at the meeting:
- Renaissance Centro 1801 LLC — Currently the 1.51-acre home of a three-story office building, 1801 Old Reston Ave. has been proposed by property owner Renaissance Centro as the site of a 20-story high rise with up to 150 living units. Of those units, 126 would be market-rate and 24 would be workforce dwelling. This project has a Dec. 6 hearing scheduled with the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
- Kensington Senior Development LLC — Currently the home of Good Beginnings School, 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive is proposed as the new home of a senior-living facility. The 65,000-square-foot building would include 96 beds within 70 units. This project has a Nov. 30 hearing scheduled with the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
The committee is also scheduled to hear an informational presentation on the CRS Sunset Hills LC project. Comstock Partners plans to convert the Sunset Hills Professional Center, a one-story office condo complex at Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue, into a mixed-use development featuring approximately 460 residential units and 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The project would also include two parcels to the east, known as the “Kfoury Parcels,” which would be developed to add approximately 300,000 square feet of office uses. Comstock also plans for an approximately 400,000-square-foot full-service hotel and 80 high-end residential units on another adjacent property. In total, the planned project includes about 1.24 million square feet of proposed redevelopment, exclusive of affordable-housing provision bonuses.
That project does not yet have a county hearing scheduled.
Tonight’s Reston P&Z Committee meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
File image of 1801 Old Reston Ave.
During their meeting Tuesday (video), the DRB voted 4-2 to give conceptual approval to the Kensington Senior Living project, pending final architectural drawings. The facility would be constructed at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive, which is the current home of Good Beginnings School.
After previous designs for the property were for a building of up to 91,000 square feet and five stories, the developers have brought their proposal down to about 65,000 feet and two stories. However, residents of adjacent Wethersfield Cluster say they have concerns that even a two-story building will result in their privacy being disturbed.
“I can still see sight lines from the second floor into our first-floor rooms,” said Thea Kreinik, of Approach Lane. Kreinik and other residents said having the building so close to their properties would also have a negative effect on their property values.
Following comments from numerous residents about the use of the property, which is outside the DRB’s purview, vice chair Richard Newlon said he doesn’t agree with their assertions that an assisted-living facility is a bad fit.
“You have room there to build 30 townhouses, something like that,” Newlon said. “The residents of this facility are not going to be driving in and out all the time, the parking is underground, there’s not going to be a lot of traffic outside, [and] people in this type of facility are probably not going to be out in that backyard playing volleyball and making a lot of noise.”
One resident who spoke following the Board’s discussion said the “better this than that” mentality does not sit well with the community.
“The impression I’m getting from the Board — your kind of thinly veiled comment to us — is, ‘Suck it up with this old-folks home, or you’re going to get something worse,'” said Lisa White, of Wethersfield Court. “That’s not making me feel comfortable.”
The issue of lighting from the facility affecting nearby residents was also brought up, and the developers were told by DRB to “be cognizant moving forward” to address the issue.
Residents of the cluster who attended the meeting and spoke out against the project let their displeasure be known as they exited the room following the vote.
“I hope all of you [who voted for it] get one on your doorstep,” one member could be heard telling the Board following the passage of the motion.
The Kensington Senior Living facility is planned to include 96 beds within 70 units. It still must receive additional approval both locally and at the county level.
Before its meeting tonight, Reston’s Design Review Board will have another one-hour work session with the developers of the proposed Kensington Senior Living at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive.
Following a work session with the DRB in May, Kensington has made the following changes to its plan to reduce the project’s size:
- Eliminated an entire floor of the building, resulting in a 2-story building
- Reduced the overall mass of the project by about 30 percent, from 91,000 square feet to 65,000 square feet, resulting in an approximate FAR of 0.83
- Narrowed the width of the building toward the south of the site, resulting in an additional setback to the nearest townhomes of 20 feet
- Reduced the unit count by 23 percent from 91 to 70, and the bed count by 26 percent from 130 to 96
Previous designs for the proposal featured as many as five stories.
The facility would be at the site of the current Good Beginnings School. The property has not yet been sold, with the deal contingent upon the plan’s approval.
At the May work session, residents of the Wethersfield Cluster expressed their concerns about lowered property values, privacy and architectural compatibility. Kensington says it “has considered and is working through different architectural styles, and it “plans to present more detailed building elevations” during tonight’s session.
The documents that have been provided prior to tonight’s session are available here.
The discussion is scheduled for 6 p.m. at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The DRB’s regular meeting will begin at 7.
Image via Moseley Architects