A plan to build 154 townhouses on a property surrounded by industrial uses and bisected by transmission lines opposite Westfield High School in Chantilly is drawing scrutiny from the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
Providence District Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner said the applicant was attempting to putting a “square peg in a round hole” and struggled to understand why county staff recommended approval of the application, which requires the site at 15014 Northridge Drive to be rezoned from industrial use to residential.
“We don’t have more industrial uses than we need in the county and here we are taking an industrial use and creating a residential island in the middle of industrial use,” Niedzielski-Eichner said.
Other commissioners expressed concern about the transmission lines that cross over the entire property.
The applicant’s attorney, Kenneth Wire, noted the presence of the high school contributes to the sense of community, suggesting that the development would not be on an island.
He also said the developer worked closely with the community, Dominion Energy, and Washington Gas to design the development so that the road network aligned with most of the transmission lines.
“The center of a community is often a school,” Wire said, adding that some buyers may not be perturbed by the presence of transmission lines above.
Staff said the development was appropriate for an area — known in planning jargon as Land Unit J — that could have up to 4,000 additional residential units.
“It’s really just the beginning of the evolution of Westfields,” Bill O’Donald of the county’s zoning department said.
The proposed townhouses are “strategically organized” around the power lines to include open spaces like grilling pavilions, fitness stations, play costs, and a playground, according to the application.
By county standards, 12% of the units are considered affordable, and roughly 3.5 acres of open space is planned. Trails will also be provided along Stonecroft Boulevard and Northridge Drive.
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