Trail Waiver #024572:
St. Mark's Episcopal Church Virginia Hills Area

  Article Prepared By Robert Michie
NMTC, Lee District
Last Reviewed: 21 August 2002


The subject area is located on South King's Highway, near the intersections of Stoneybrooke Court, and The Parkway. The site is occupied by the Church itself. St. Mark's is adding a new freestanding building to the site and expanding its parking lot, thereby triggering the trails requirement.

[ Site of Trail Waiver 024572, St. Marks's Episcopal Church (arrow) ]

Applicant's Request: Wave the construction of a trail because of the following issues:

  1. The County does not specify which side of the street the trail has to be on.
  2. There is already a sidewalk on the opposite (south) side of South King's Highway.
  3. Building the trail on the north side of the Highway (i.e., the Church's side) runs the trail into Lee District Park. There are steep grades to contend with, and mature trees to remove.


The red stripes that parallel South King's Highway on the map is the code for a Major Paved Off-road Trail along frontage in this area. The 8', Type I trail required by the Comprehensive Plan is a major paved trail suitable for multi-uses including biking, while the existing sidewalk on the south side is more suitable for pedestrian use. Going East towards Alexandria, the communities between St. Mark's and Mount Comfort Cemetery were developed sometimes ago without providing sidewalk or trail, and will be difficult now to acquire easements to build the trails. Going west towards Huntley Meadows Park, a significant part of the north side of the Highway is owned by the U.S. Government.

Field Check  11 August 2002

These photographs present views of the north and south side of South King's Highway in the St. Mark's vicinity. The camera is pointing west towards Hunley Meadows Park:
[ Waiver 024572: North Side of S. King's HWY looking west. ] Photo 1: North (Church) side of South King's Highway, looking West towards Hunley Meadows Park.
[ Waiver 024572: South Side of S. King's HWY looking west. ] Photo 2: South (opposite) side of South King's Highway, looking West towards Hunley Meadows Park.

The south side does in fact have a sidewalk. Like many sidewalks in Fairfax County, it is too narrow for bicycling in two directions. This particular one has intrusions and obstructions, as are represented Photo 2. A steep unprotected drop-off on the left begins about 50 yards beyond the end of this fence. Like many concrete sidewalks getting along in years, it is uneven and broken. The asphalt segment begins in the vicinity of the U.S. Government property. It is slightly wider, and in better condition. It is not up to Type 1 standards.

The north side has a gulley and a retaining wall along the length of the St. Mark's property. Photo 1 also shows a tree line that is the boundary with Lee District Park. Building out the length while staying on St. Mark's property may require tree removal on Park property in the future. The alternative is doing considerable work in the VDOT right-of-way. This has future complications. In Photo 2, the distant white blotch on the opposite side of the road from the fence is a substantial retaining wall buttressing Park property. The north side has one other problem: it is in full sunlight during the entire day, while about half of the south side gets at least some shade during morning hours.


Grant the waiver on condition of a suitable escrow payment for future construction for the following reasons:

  1. The trail segment at St. Mark's needs to connect to the intersection of The Parkway and Stoneybrooke Court to be accessible for any conceivable use. That connection strip needs land acquisition and right-of-way waivers from several private homes. There is no mechanism at this time to accomplish either task, or to build the connecting strip.
  2. The segment on St. Mark's acreage will terminate at Fairfax County Park Authority property (i.e. Lee District Park). FCPA is not in a position to continue the trail west to the U.S. Government property line. The St. Mark's trail segment, therefore, will go nowhere for the foreseeable future.
  3. A proposal several years ago to provide a much simpler trail for the residents of St. Mark's Court to Lee District Park met considerable resistance.



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