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The Boro developers appeal county’s claim that construction blocked pedestrian access

Construction on the next phase of The Boro in Tysons has prevented pedestrians from safely walking on the streets around the site, a Fairfax County inspector says.

Matthew Stenger, an investigator with the county’s Department of Code Compliance, issued violation notices last month against The Meridian Group, The Boro’s master developer, and Silverstone Silver Living, which is constructing The Trillium Tysons, a senior living building expected to open this year.

A Nov. 15 inspection of the construction site bounded by Westpark Drive to the south and Greensboro Drive to the east “revealed that there is no safe and efficient pedestrian pathway provided along the properties street frontages,” Stenger said in the Dec. 15 notices.

The code compliance investigator also alleged that the companies failed to submit a construction management plan required as a condition of the expansion project’s approval in 2021.

Both developers have now separately filed appeals challenging the citations, stating that they have in fact provided the promised plan, which shows that a sidewalk on the southbound side of Westpark Drive would be closed throughout construction.

“Sidewalk closures are specifically identified as an appropriate method to ensure pedestrian safety,” Silverstone’s zoning appeal says. “…After consultation with County staff, due to existing sensitive fiber optics and live power infrastructure…along the Block J frontage, it was agreed that no safe interim pedestrian pathway was possible and a closure of the southbound side sidewalks during construction was necessary.”

Block J — The Trillium — is one of four blocks planned for The Boro’s expansion to the west side of Westpark Drive. Under construction since spring 2022, the apartment building for seniors will eventually be joined by two multi-family residential buildings with retail and either a health club or townhouses.

During the county’s review of plans for the development, nearby residents raised concerns about its accessibility and potential construction impacts, which led Meridian and Silverstone to agree to provide a construction management plan.

In addition to raising the possibility of fines, the code compliance department directed the developers to submit the required plan and build temporary pedestrian facilities along Greensboro and Westpark.

“Within two weeks after the date of this notice, you must complete the installation of an asphalt path along the Greensboro frontage,” Stenger wrote. “Within three weeks of the date of this Notice, you must complete the installation of that asphalt trail down Westpark Drive as close to the frontage of Block J as possible.”

However, Silverstone says in its appeal that construction on the Westpark trail — which will represent the first segment of the planned Tysons Community Circuit — can’t begin until Dominion Energy relocates its electrical utilities, a process expected to be complete this January.

Even after the utilities are moved, a temporary sidewalk can’t be safely built “due to the required installation and coordination of tree pits, bio filters, and additional underground infrastructure along the street,” Walsh Colucci land use attorney Lynne Strobel wrote in a statement on the developer’s behalf.

In a separate appeal application, The Meridian Group noted that the proposed temporary sidewalk on Westpark Drive would lead “pedestrians to a dead end at an active construction site,” which could result in people crossing the road without a crosswalk or traffic signal.

“The appropriate solution is to direct pedestrians to cross Westpark Drive at its intersection with Greensboro drive to access the existing sidewalk on the northbound side of Westpark,” Strobel wrote. “…The suggested sidewalk should only be constructed when the pedestrian signal at Boro Place is operational.”

According to the application, construction is underway on sidewalks along Clover and Broad streets, and the developer has agreed to build a temporary asphalt sidewalk on Greensboro. All of the facilities are on track to be completed and open for use “within the next several weeks,” as of mid-December.

A public relations firm representing The Meridian Group said the developer has no comment on its appeal.

Meridian and Silverstone have asked the county to dismiss the notices of violations, saying they’re “based on incorrect and inaccurate facts.”

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