Three residential-development projects advanced by longtime Vienna builders now can move forward following approval Dec. 7 by the Vienna Town Council.
Two of the projects involved the Sekas family. Council members voted 7-0 in favor of a five-house subdivision at 601 Marshall Road, S.W., and 1011 Ware St., S.W., which was proposed by Connor Sekas of Apex Developers LLC.
Both of the lots making up the 2.93-acre site have existing single-family homes, which will be razed to make way for the project. Those homes since the 1950s have been used for a preschool, the Parkwood School, and the developer has named the new subdivision Parkwood Oaks.
The site also will have an outlot, which the developer plans to sell to the abutting lot at 1009 Ware St., S.W. The builder may sell some of the land adjacent to the Vienna Aquatic Club if that organization can obtain the funds it needs to build an indoor swimming pool.
Joseph Saunders, who is secretary on the Vienna Aquatic Club’s board, said the potential purchase would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the club, given the scarcity of buildable land in Vienna. Building an indoor pool could allow the club to increase its membership from 450 to 800.
Club leaders likely would need help from an outside partner to purchase land for the pool. The Vienna town government, which did not build a pool when recently renovating the town’s community center, is one possible partner, but any such arrangement would require at least some public access to the pool, said Town Manager Mercury Payton.
“The more public access, the closer we get to ‘yes’,” Payton said.
• The Council on a 4-3 vote also approved plans by Sekas Homes Ltd. to raze a circa-1984 medical-office building at 201 Park St., S.E., and construct five attached townhouse-style condominiums.
All units will have two-car garages underneath them, which will be accessible behind the building. The site also will have four parking spaces for visitors.
The 0.41-acre site’s western boundary borders on the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Trail. Council member Ed Somers said part of the reason he supported the project was it would give the development’s residents strong incentive to use the trail.
While the Vienna Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the proposal Nov. 4, the project on Dec. 7 received nay votes from Council members Howard Springsteen, Nisha Patel and Steve Potter.
Some Council members expressed concern about several variances being sough for the project, including a side-yard-setback waiver to allow the building to be 10 feet away from an adjacent commercial property, versus the required 15 feet.
“I’m concerned our exceptions are becoming the rules,” Potter said.
Council members also questioned why the site should be allowed to have 60-percent lot coverage, when the usual residential maximum is 25 percent. The existing medical building’s lot coverage is 55 percent.
Potter said he was having flashbacks of the town’s recently abolished Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) ordinance, which allowed high-density developments, and thought the proposed project was too large.
Council member Charles Anderson disagreed, saying that when town officials approved requirements for that kind of residential zoning several decades ago, they did so to discourage the building of multi-family housing. The site is a good location for such residences, he said.
Developer John Sekas pointed out multiple benefits of the project, including the planting of 18 trees and installation of a modern, underground stormwater-management system on a site that now has none.
The three-level units will be about 2,700 square feet each, Sekas said. Council member Patel suggested the town was in greater needed more housing units that were smaller.
“We’re trying to let people age in place,” Patel said.
Sekas responded that his company’s market research had shown demand for the larger units, all of which will have elevator options. While potentially he could build seven or eight smaller units at the site, that would require 19 parking spaces, instead of the 14 provided with the proposal before the Council.
• The Town Council also unanimously approved a three-house subdivision proposed by developer Dennis Rice of JDA Custom Homes at 117 and 121 Courthouse Road, S.W.
The Council on Aug. 31 rezoned the narrow parcel at 117 Courthouse Road, S.W., from commercial to residential in anticipation of the project. The other parcel in the 1.4-acre site has two circa-1925 single-family homes. Rice suggested town officials contact the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department about possibly using those houses for firefighter training before the buildings are demolished.
All three of the new lots will be relatively large, ranging from 18,000 to 22,000 square feet, and accessed from Courthouse Road, S.W.
The Council granted the proposed subdivision a lot-shape-factor waiver. While all three lots share the same long, narrow layout, the lengths of two of those parcels exceeded the town’s formula.
The town’s lot-shape rules were designed to “prevent the creation of silly-shaped lots,” said Council member Anderson.
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