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Innovation Center Metro station area prioritized for review of possible land use changes

The Planning Commission placed the Innovation Center TSA in the top tier for the county’s planning effort (via Fairfax County)

(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) Fairfax County planners agree that proposed development changes to the Innovation Center area are a top planning priority in the county’s ongoing Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) process.

At a meeting on Thursday (March 9), the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted to preliminarily place the Innovation Center Transit Station Area (TSA) in the top tier of the county’s SSPA work program, which sets the framework for the county’s review of comprehensive planning studies and plan amendments.

All three nominations in the Innovation Center TSA seek more density and more residential uses than originally planned.

Dranesville District Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder said the area is need of closer examination and focused work by the county.

“This is an important area now that the Silver Line is open and operating,” Ulfelder said. “We really need to play close attention to it as soon as possible in order to make it viable and to maximize the appropriate uses there.”

The current SSPA cycle kicked off with applicants submitting about 70 nominations last year. Ones formally accepted for review by the Board of Supervisors in December are now being screened and evaluated.

In a white paper released earlier this month, county staff organized the nominations in three tiers, with the top tier featuring those located in key development areas and identified as the highest priority for staff resources and timing.

So far, areas flagged as Tier 1 priorities include Fair Lakes, the Franconia triangle between Beulah Street, Franconia Road and Grovedale Drive and the Innovation Center TSA north of the Dulles Toll Road.

In the Innovation Center TSA, Peterson Companies is seeking the county’s permission to add 500 apartment units — a mix of which would be affordable — and a possible child care center at 13500 Dulles Green Drive. The project, called Innovation Center, would also include a county-owned parcel.

The Innovation Avenue plan for 2214, 2205, and 2210 Rock Hill Road seeks to boost the intensity of development near the former Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) office building and remove limits on the percentage of residential and office uses in the mix of uses.

A similar development called Rock Hill seeks to switch the development plan to mostly residential uses near the Innovation Center Metro station.

All three applications would be the focus of a combined study, according to staff.

The complexity of the proposed plan at Rivana at Innovation Station — which includes Loudoun County — requires close study, said Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter.

Franconia District Planning Commissioner Daniel Lagana emphasized the county’s need to continue collaborating with Loudoun County as planning moves forward, particularly coordination within the existing and future road networks.

Lagana said he was pleased to learn that coordination is ongoing.

“When something happens in the city of Alexandria…we sort of kind of pay the price and I’m sure kind of vice versa,” Lagana said.

Of the 75 nominations submitted for review in October, 68 have moved forward for evaluation. The planning commission has a final workshop on March 23 and a mark-up session on the work program planned for March 29. The program will face a final vote by the Board of Supervisors on April 11.

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