Fairfax Water wins OK for Merrifield maintenance facility

Fairfax County supervisors on Sept. 24, 2019, approved plans by Fairfax Water to build a maintenance facility on Lee Highway in Merrifield.

Fairfax County supervisors on Sept. 24 unanimously approved a proposal by Fairfax Water to build a maintenance facility in Merrifield that will serve the central section of the county.

The facility will be located on 4.27 acres on Lee Highway, approximately 1,000 feet west of Prosperity Avenue. It will consist of a warehouse, administrative/vehicle-maintenance building, fuel islands, a vehicle-washing building outdoor storage area and covered vehicle parking. The buildings will be up to 32 feet tall and have brick façades with decorative horizontal banding.

The site will have substantial open space and landscaping on its southern area, which will screen it from an adjacent residential neighborhood, and a pocket park on its northeast side near Industry Lane.

The facility’s entire perimeter will be fenced. There will be an 8-foot-tall ornamental-metal fence along Industry Lane, a 7-foot-tall black chain-link fence surrounding the employee parking area and the southwest perimeter will be lined with an 18-foot-tall solid-wall fence placed on top of a retaining wall.

Fairfax Water in 2014 acquired the water systems of the cities of Falls Church and Fairfax, which served customers outside their borders in parts of Fairfax County such as McLean, Tysons, Merrifield and Seven Corners.

Utility officials bought those systems to “ensure a robust and reliable water system capable of supporting future development as envisioned in the county’s comprehensive plan,” said Steven Edgemon, Fairfax Water’s general manager.

Another goal was to ensure that county residents served by those previous two water systems would pay the same low rate as Fairfax Water’s customers, he said.

The new facility will help the utility meet a county-code requirement of no more than a one-hour response time for emergencies, such as water-main breaks, county staff said.

Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) moved for the application’s approval and thanked Fairfax Water officials for modifying their plans so that the facility’s impact was farther away from nearby residences.

“There’s only this one bit of buffer between [the] industrial property and homes, and we need to maintain that as much as we can,” Smyth said.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) said she had seen the project’s layout evolve and was pleased with the end result.

“The Water Authority is able to make anything look compatible,” she said. “I appreciate your making that effort – not just in this particular case, but in other situations where an industrial-looking-something can be turned into something that looks like an attractive townhouse or barn. I appreciate your doing your magic in this particular case.”

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