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Plan for townhouses to revitalize Herndon-area site gets planning commission support

A townhome community is proposed at Coppermine Road in McNair (via Fairfax County)

Another bundle of houses is on the path to development in McNair near Herndon.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a plan on Wednesday (Feb. 7) to build 48 stacked townhouses at the northwest intersection of Coppermine and Centreville Road — potentially revitalizing a swath of land near Dulles International Airport that has sat mostly vacant for around 20 years.

Dranesville District Commissioner John Ulfelder said the proposal creates a positive use for the site, whose only occupant right now is a PNC Bank. The drive-thru bank won’t be affected by the redevelopment, according to the application.

“I think we’ve come to a point with the proposed housing and residential use that [it] is a good use for this site,” Ulfelder said, noting that multiple proposals for the site have fallen through. At one point, Wawa was contemplating the site for a location as well.

The development plan includes an 8-foot-wide asphalt trail connection from a bus shelter on Centreville Road to the existing Merrybrook Valley Stream trail, a dedication of 21 feet of right-of-way along Centreville Road for streetscaping efforts, and designation of 40% of the site as open space.

“We have spent a lot of time trying to think about how to develop and what should and could go on this site, which does some have constraints with respect to the power line, some existing [Resource Protection Area] and the fact that it is at the intersection of two large streets,” said Sara Mariska, a land use attorney for Oden Feldman Pittleman who represented the developer Dulles Center LLC.

The applicant also plans to dedicate 12% of the units as Workforce Dwelling Units for households earning between 70 and 100% of the area median income — a range that Mariska noted was lower than what the county requires.

Dulles Center LLC had previously planned a mixed-use development on the site. The proposal was approved by the county back in 2003 but ultimately didn’t move forward due to market conditions.

The latest plan for townhouses was put on pause last fall after Beacon Hill Missionary Baptist Church — which neighbors the site — raised concerns about storage and the availability of two trailers on the developer’s property. The site’s previous owner gifted the trailers to the church, which currently uses them for a food bank and administrative purposes.

Connell Lee, a representative for the church, told the planning commission that the church is comfortable with the project moving forward after the developer agreed to several proffers committing it to finding a long-term solution for the trailers.

The developer suggested several options, including replacement of the trailers, monetary compensation, or finding another location. An arrangement would likely be finalized before a site plan is processed.

The development plan now goes to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to hold a public hearing on March 19.

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