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Fairfax Planning Commissioners and Tysons-based developer Cityline Partners are at a stalemate over the inclusion of workforce housing in the newly proposed Arbor Row high-rise.

Last week, commissioners opted to postpone their vote on a proposed 23-story, 270-foot residential tower at Arbor Row, set to house up to 240 units and 8,500 square feet of retail space, after county staff voiced objections about the developer’s refusal to include workforce dwelling units in the new building.

Instead, Cityline Partners has proposed either building workforce housing several miles away or making a one-time cash contribution between $4.17 and $.76 million to the county’s housing trust fund program.

“Overall, the applicant’s proposed fixed cash contribution even with a one time adjustment is not in conformance with the comprehensive plan and does not fully address the affordable housing need generated from this development,” Department of Planning and Development staff member Sunny Yang said during the April 3 Planning Commission public hearing. “So, for all these reasons, the staff is not supportive of this application.”

Initially approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2012, Arbow Row spans 19.4 acres near Tysons Galleria on Westpark Drive. The development originally envisioned 2.6 million square feet of mixed-use development, including residential, retail, hotel, and office space.

Two residential buildings, including the Monarch condominiums and Nouvelle apartments were completed last summer. The Mather, a two-building senior living facility, has finished one of two planned high-rise apartment buildings.

However, the developer decided to scrap the office building, also referred to as “Block C2,” following a decreased demand for office space.

“An office [building] is not gonna happen — we don’t believe — anytime soon,” Lynne Strobel, a land use attorney with the law firm Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, told commissioners during the public hearing last week. “I don’t think any of us believe that. There’s no demand.”

In addition to a new residential high-rise, the developer plans to build several amenities, including a 3-acre park, urban plaza, playground, lawn area, pavilions, and public art, according to the application.

Although commissioners commended the applicant on the design, they concluded more work needed to be done to figure out a solution to the issue of incorporating workforce housing in the project, increasing the cash contribution or moving the proposed offsite housing closer to the Tysons Corner Metro Station.

“The intent of the [workforce dwelling unit] program is to get the units at the same time and to create these mixed-income communities, and that’s that’s the problem,” Hunter Mill District representative John Carter said. “The other issue is to get the units in the same neighborhood close by and when I hear things like five miles away. It’s concerning.”

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Somos at McLean Metro’s first phase will add 231 units of workforce housing at 1750 Old Meadow Road in Tysons (courtesy SCG Development)

An office building in Tysons is being demolished to make way for workforce housing near the McLean Metro station.

SCG Development announced today (Wednesday) that it has closed on the financing needed to build the first phase of the project, which is being called Somos at McLean Metro. Construction can begin immediately on the mid-rise, 231-unit rental apartment building at 1750 Old Meadow Road.

“Somos at McLean Metro Phase A will bring high quality affordable housing options to families and individuals in a very high barrier to entry market that is walkable to the McLean Metro and all the surrounding amenities that Tysons has to offer,” SCG Development President Steve Wilson said in a press release. “We are thrilled to move this project to the construction phase after many years of effort. I am very thankful that our team and partners who have shared this vision for our community and worked hard to make it happen.”

Built in 1984, the existing, six-story office building was vacant, and its demolition is now underway, a process expected to take about six weeks, according to SCG. A three-story parking garage on the site will remain as the base of one of the new residential buildings.

Approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in October 2022, the Somos project will deliver a total of 456 workforce dwelling units (WDUs) across two buildings. All of the WDUs will be aimed at households earning 30-60% of the area median income (AMI), which was $145,164 for the county, as of 2022.

The developer received funding help from Virginia, Fairfax County and Amazon for the project’s first phase, per the press release:

Virginia Housing, Virginia’s state housing finance agency, has committed over $54.5 million in financing, as well as 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). These tax credits make it possible for the residential units to be available at rents affordable to residents earning 60% or less the area median income (AMI).

“Our investment towards Somos at McLean provides much needed increased affordable inventory in the Northern Virginia area,” said Tammy Neale, CEO of Virginia Housing. “We look forward to seeing the impact this property will have on residents and the community of McLean.”

Amazon is also supporting this new affordable housing community with a $28.97 million low-rate loan to Phase A from the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, a more than $2 billion commitment to create or preserve more than 20,000 affordable homes for low- to moderate-income families in the Arlington, Virginia-Washington D.C. region, Washington state’s Puget Sound region, and the Nashville, Tennessee region. SCG Development is also receiving substantial support from Fairfax County, reflecting the significance of this large-scale, transit-oriented development opportunity, and a contribution of tax credit equity from Stratford Capital Group.

Amazon also contributed a $55 million grant to accelerate construction of an all-affordable housing project near the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons. The nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) broke ground on the 516-unit Exchange at Spring Hill Station in December.

Through affiliates, SCG is leasing the Somos site from the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA), which has a ground lease that will ensure the housing is designated as affordable for at least 99 years.

“We are committed to creating groundbreaking solutions for Fairfax County’s affordable housing needs. Innovative partnership has enabled us to leverage private equity to convert an unused office building site into hundreds of affordable homes,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said, adding that she’s looking forward to a formal groundbreaking.

While it doesn’t have any commercial space, the Somos development plan included a “play and pedestrian court area,” a 6-foot-wide recreational trail and a 21,008-square-foot publicly accessible park along Old Meadow Road. The project will have a total of 1.21 acres of park space.

Construction on the first phase is expected to be 25 months, according to SCG.

“Phase B is looking towards a fall closing and will provide another 225 units,” the developer said.

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Fairfax County has 18 permanent supportive housing units at its emergency shelter in Bailey’s Crossroads (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County is taking steps to make affordable housing more accessible to people dealing with serious mental illness.

The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) will implement a major increase in rental assistance for people with serious mental illness, thanks to a $20 million agreement approved earlier this month with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS).

“The additional funding is expected to help prevent homelessness among individuals with serious mental illness, as well as reduce census at state psychiatric hospitals,” the FCRHA announced on March 15 reads.

Starting in May, the approved agreement will fund 300 new supportive rental assistance vouchers for Fairfax County residents over three years and three new staff positions to manage the program.

“The new Fairfax County program supports an identified need for permanent supportive housing as noted in the Fairfax County Countywide Strategic Plan,” FCRHA spokesperson Allyson Pearce told FFXnow, adding that funding needs will be evaluated over time.

Details on how the 300 recipients will be chosen are still coming together, Pearce said, but the program will prioritize:

  • Individuals experiencing long-term or repeated episodes of homelessness
  • Individuals and those whose housing instability frequently leads to crisis, hospital visits, or contact with criminal justice systems
  • Individuals leaving state psychiatric hospitals
  • People residing in congregate care settings with a high concentration of individuals with serious mental illness

The Fairfax County Community Services Board (CSB) will coordinate referrals from “various stakeholders,” such as state hospitals and the federal Continuum of Care program, according to the FCRHA release.

A separate partnership with the nonprofit Pathways Homes will allow the 300 participants to receive additional supportive services. Fifty of the participants will also have access to services like psychiatry and case management as well as funds for the expenses needed to lease a housing unit.

“The remaining 250 participants will be coupled with two Supportive Housing Teams under a separate contract,” the release states.

Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development Director Tom Fleetwood said in the release that increasing access to affordable housing reduces homelessness, and is essential in getting a person back on their feet.

“That is why this funding is so important,” Fleetwood said. “It provides critical support services along with rental assistance needed for people to be successful in their new home.”

Photo via Fairfax County

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Eighty new affordable homes for seniors have become available just east of George Mason University.

Located at 10055 Braddock Road, Ilda’s Overlook Senior Residences serves individuals aged 62 and over with incomes at or below 60% of the area median, developer Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) said in a press release.

Erickson Senior Living chose APAH as its affordable housing partner in 2019 for the redevelopment of the former Northern Virginia Training Center, which closed in 2016.

The developers broke ground on the $31.5 million development in late 2022. The development was primarily funded through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by Virginia Housing, along with loans from various other public and private entities.

The completion of Ida’s Overlook furthers Fairfax County’s progress toward its goal of adding 10,000 affordable homes by 2034. Earlier this month, officials announced that approximately 4,000 affordable homes have been built, are in the planning stages, or are currently under construction.

“The delivery of Ilda’s Overlook puts us at almost 1,000 new, affordable homes delivered since January of 2020,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in the release. “By the end of the calendar year, we will be close to 1,500 new homes. This is great progress and  demonstrates that affordable housing belongs in all corners of Fairfax County, and across all generations.”

The new apartment complex’s name — Ilda’s Overlook — pays homage to a community established by two formerly enslaved blacksmiths, Moses Parker and Horace Gibson. After the Civil War, Gibson bought 5 acres of land near Guinea Road and the Little River Turnpike that developed into a vibrant, integrated neighborhood.

The community took on the name of Gibson’s daughter Matilda, who was nicknamed Ilda, according to APAH.

“One of APAH’s core values is racial equity, and we lead with this lens. It’s exciting to honor local history while we build for the future and strive for a more inclusive region,” APAH President and CEO Carmen Romero said in the release. “Ilda’s Overlook is thoughtfully designed for independent seniors to age in place, foster social connections, and build a sense of community.”

Ilda’s Overlook features a range of amenities, including in-unit washers and dryers, free Wi-Fi access for all residents, communal gathering areas, a fitness studio, wellness suites and community gardens. Additionally, the development is equipped with rooftop solar panels.

“Ilda’s Overlook Senior Residences provides much needed affordable housing for older
adults in the Braddock District,” Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said in the release. “This beautiful property is one of many recently opened or under development across the County — all with the goal of improving the availability of high-quality affordable housing to older adults.”

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Upcoming affordable housing projects include One University, a new development near George Mason University that’s expected to finish this summer (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County is moving steadily towards its target of building 10,000 net new affordable housing units by 2034.

The county has roughly 4,000 units built, planned or under construction that count towards the goal set in 2022, Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Deputy Director of Real Estate Development and Finance Anna Shapiro told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a housing committee meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 27).

So far, 879 new units aimed at households earning 60% of the area median income (AMI) and below have been built since 2020.

“These are serving on kind of lower end of the income spectrum, but all the way down to 30% in a lot of cases as well,” Shapiro said. “And as you can see there’s a mix of multifamily and senior housing that we’ve delivered.”

An additional 986 units are under construction in projects like One University and Ilda’s Overlook in the Braddock District, which are set to wrap up in the summer. The county has roughly 1,100 units in its development pipeline, and another 950 units are in the planning phase.

The county is also working to encourage the development of more for-sale workforce dwelling units (WDUs). A task force submitted recommendations to the board’s housing committee in November.

The task force recommended shifting the program’s target range from up to 120% of the AMI down to 70 to 100% AMI, extending the geographic availability of for-sale WDUs and improving the mix of housing to allow for more family-sized units.

Additionally, the county wants to explore ways to preserve the existing stock of affordable housing, such as the Coralain Gardens Apartments in West Falls Church. A survey on market affordability is set to begin in the summer.

A plan amendment that would address the affordability of manufactured housing (the county’s term for mobile homes) is set to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission sometime in October, followed by board review before the end of the year.

Board Chairman Jeff McKay said he was pleased with the county’s progress thus far but asked for a more detailed breakdown by magisterial district.

“One of the things that certainly makes me happy when looking at this is that we’re building affordable housing in every corner of the county and not just in the same concentrated areas that we did for decades,” McKay said.

Shapiro noted that the numbers are fluid, particularly since the county must consider the entire life cycle of proposed projects.

“Every project has ups and downs,” she said.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw also sought clarifications on whether the county has maxed out its potential for affordable housing projects on county-owned land.

“My sense is, probably across the county, we’ve taken advantage of the easier opportunities and the larger parcels, but maybe that’s not the case,” Walkinshaw said.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity asked for more information on homeownership for affordable housing units. The county is in the midst of hiring a homeownership director, according to HCD Director Tom Fleetwood.

“It solves a number of generational wealth problems,” Fleetwood said.

Rendering via Fairfax County

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The current Franconia Governmental Center at 6121 Franconia Road (via Google Maps)

A plan to redevelop the site of the Franconia Governmental Center has been delayed again.

At Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 20, Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk formally deferred a decision to convey a nearly 3-acre property at 6121 Franconia Road to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority to May 21.

Following a three-hour public hearing on Jan. 23, Lusk said it was apparent that more community discussions were needed ahead of the decision.

“Given the interest in this property and the need to ensure that our entire community has an opportunity to voice their opinions on the property transfer, I believe more time is required before this matter returns to the Board,” Lusk said.

The deferral was approved with no discussion.

Lusk plans to begin several community conversations in April with the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services.

“This dialogue will allow residents and stakeholders the opportunity to express their ideas and vision and in a subsequent meeting receive feedback on development processes and concepts,” he said. “These in-person community conversations, along with an online engagement platform option, are expected to increase public understanding of affordable housing and general public knowledge to inform decision-making.”

NFP Affordable Housing Corp., Good Shepherd Housing and SCG Development Partners hope to develop the site into up to 120 units of affordable housing, including 25 units for qualified police, fire, teachers and medical personnel.

The development would include one- to three-bedroom units targeting individuals and families with incomes between 30 to 80% of the area median income, according to a proposal submitted by the development team. At the time the proposal was submitted, the team aimed to begin construction in January 2027, fully leasing the units by September of that year.

The Franconia Governmental Center is in the process of being relocated. Construction on a new facility that will be combined with the Kingstowne Regional Library began in 2022, and it’s expected to be ready for occupancy in early 2025, according to the project page.

Image via Google Maps

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EYA is seeking to build 174 single-family homes on the former Topgolf site in Kingstowne (via Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has teed up an approval of a residential development that could replace Rudy’s Golf and Sports Bar in Kingstowne with nearly 200 single-family homes.

Commissioners voted unanimously on Feb. 14 to recommend approval of the development proposal for 6626 South Van Dorn Street, which once hosted a Topgolf before Rudy’s opened in 2022.

The decision came weeks after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a comprehensive plan amendment to increase the housing density allowed at the proposed site from three to four units per acre to 10 units.

The Maryland-based housing developer, EYA Development, initially proposed a much larger project in 2015 that would’ve added 275 residential units and up to 70,000 square feet of retail. However, the developer had to revise its plans multiple times in the face of opposition before finally securing community support.

The latest plan would transform the 17-acre property into 174 single-family homes, 18 of which will be designated as affordable, and create several acres of public park space.

Most attendees at last month’s Board of Supervisors public hearing on the comprehensive plan amendment expressed support, but there were still some holdouts, notably the Franconia Land Use Committee. Speakers argued that the proposed increase in density was inappropriate for the site, citing concerns over traffic congestion and environmental impact.

But when Franconia District Planning Commissioner Daniel Lagana questioned Cooley LLP lawyer Mark Looney about potential traffic concerns last week, the developer representative countered that the property owner has the right to lease out the former Ruby Tuesday restaurant at any time — a move that could generate more traffic than the proposed development.

“Were that restaurant operating at its full capacity with, let’s say, two fast-food-type restaurants, it would have significantly more daytime traffic, as well as higher peak hour traffic in both the morning and evening along South Van Dorn Street,” Looney said.

Looney noted that EYA plans to construct a new underground detention vault, replacing the existing one that’s over two decades old, and multiple bioretention facilities — also known as rain gardens — to capture and purify the majority of stormwater runoff flowing into the Potomac River.

“So, everything that will leave the property at the end of the day will be much slower and much cleaner than the what the storm water is today,” he said.

The Franconia Land Use Committee was absent from the planning commission hearing, where nearly 10 individuals supported the development.

Toward the end of the hearing, Lagana praised EYA for its persistence in working with the community to design something he described as “truly remarkable” and “forward-thinking.”

“Working with this coalition of groups and building this broad alliance of people that were engaged in this for three and a half years…gave you the type of design that you needed to have for this site,” Lagana said. “I mean, it really led to the great solution that we have before us today, which I think is just a beautiful site design.”

The commissioner, however, called the actions of the Franconia Land Use Committee members “unbecoming of any appointed body in this county.”

“We reduced the [number of homes] to 100 units, we improved stormwater, we improved [affordable dwelling units] — I mean, the list goes on and on and on and on, and we’re still dealing with these, I think, fictitious problems that kept coming up,” he said. “And I just want to say the amount of frankly, vitriol and hostility personal hostility that was directed at the applicants at some points was absolutely unacceptable.”

The next public hearing on the rezoning application will take place before the Board of Supervisors on March 5, according to the county website.

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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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The Fair Ridge Residential at West Ox development would bring 35 residential units to the Sully District (via Fairfax County)

A local nonprofit organization wants to tackle homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in Fairfax County with a new project in the Fair Oaks area.

Cornerstones, a Reston-based organization that provides shelter, food and other services to individuals and families in need, is proposing to construct supportive housing on a little over 1 acre of land near the Route 50 and West Ox Road interchange.

The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority currently owns the two parcels, which would be developed with 34 residential units designed for one-person households.

County staff say a noise impact study would be a defining component in considering a comprehensive plan amendment for the project, which is called “Fair Ridge Residential at West Ox.” Initiated by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 22, 2022, the amendment is needed to allow affordable housing on the site.

Cornerstones has also submitted a rezoning application for the planned three-story building that’s under review.

The proposal was met with mixed feedback from area residents and community organizations at a Jan. 22 community meeting.

Some raised concerns about increased crime and drug use on the site. Others said they were empathetic to the struggles of individuals in need, but the impact to the surrounding community should be carefully considered.

“These people are going to be bringing in crime. How much crime do they bring in?” resident William Clerkin fretted.

Amy Lemiu, a resident of Fair Oak Estates, said neighbors are concerned about the project.

“I heard about it via NextDoor,” she said, asking why neighboring residents were not made aware of the proposal.

But others like Joshua Booth, speaking on behalf of of YIMBYs (Yes In My Backyard) of NOVA, said the project fulfills a major need in the county, which is often not affordable for residents without any complicating circumstances.

“I can’t imagine how it is for people who have difficult personal lives,” he said.

Lynn Strobel, the applicant’s representative and a land use attorney with Walsh Colucci Lubuley & Walsh, emphasized that the development is not intended to serve the purpose of transient housing.

“This is an opportunity for individuals to have stability in a very supportive setting, and I think that they are well-monitored in this setting,” Strobel said.

Cornerstones CEO Kerri Wilson also emphasized that applicants are screened for their credit, criminal background and other factors related to eligibility.

In addition to operating the Embry Rucker Community Shelter in Reston, Cornerstones owns 104 townhomes and condominiums designated for low-income families and individuals in Reston, Herndon and Centreville.

The future residents of Fair Ridge Residential — like those at any other housing development — would be allowed to have alcohol on site if they’re of legal age, according to Wilson. The development will, however, have 24/7 resident services and on-site case management referrals for people with substance use disorders.

She also emphasized that Cornerstones is a community partner that will remain active in the management of the project.

“We’re landlords that want to be there,” Wilson said.

Public hearings on the plan amendment by the Board of Supervisors and planning commission will likely take place in May. If the county approves the project, it would take another roughly two-and-a-half years before residents would be able to move into the new facility.

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has revised its comprehensive plan for Kingstowne, opening the door for potential new housing development at the former Topgolf site.

After a two-hour public hearing, the board unanimously agreed on Tuesday (Jan. 23) to boost the housing density at 6626 South Van Dorn Street from 3-4 units per acre to 10 units per acre.

The amendment sets the stage for EYA Development, a Maryland-based housing developer, to construct a single-family subdivision with 174 units, 18 of them designated as affordable, and a public park on the 17-acre site currently housing Rudy’s Golf and Sports Bar and an empty Ruby Tuesdays.

The developer must still gain the county’s approval for a rezoning and its official development plan, which are under review.

Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk noted that the currently proposed development has generally won public support, including from the Kingstowne Residential Owners Corporation, the Friends of Huntley Meadows, and Friends of Kingstowne Lake. The planning commission and county staff also recommended approval.

“I think the proposed plan provides significant opportunities to provide a new feature for this site that would integrate well with the surrounding residential communities and the Kingstowne area,” Lusk said.

EYA is seeking to build 174 single-family homes on the former Topgolf site in Kingstowne (via Fairfax County)

Originally proposed in 2015, the development aimed to create a mixed-use area with 275 single-family homes, 16 dwelling units per acre, and up to 70,000 square feet of retail.

Since then, the application has been revised multiple times, primarily due to resident and stakeholder backlash concerning traffic, compatibility with the neighborhood and stormwater management.

However, at the hearing, most of the roughly two dozen speakers expressed support for the application. Read More

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