Trail Waiver #026969:
Francis Scott Key Middle School and Key Center

6402 Franconia Road

  Article Prepared By Robert Michie
Sidewalk and Trails Committee, Lee District
Last Reviewed: 26 April 2007

This case has been reopened! See the Update at the bottom of the page.


The subject area is a Fairfax County middle school located in the vicinity of Springfield Mall. Substantial construction and other work are proposed in the site plan. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) plans to provide an asphalt overlay of the driveways and parking lots, and two building additions, 5,955 and 12,405 square feet respectively. The applicant is required to provide an 8-foot wide Type 1 trail along its property frontage. Applicant’s request: wave the trail requirement for the following reasons:

1.      Sidewalks already exists along the frontage.

[Francis Scott Key Middle School]

Photo 1: Photo of Subject Area


Franconia Road has substantial sidewalk on its North and South sides from the intersection of South Van Dorn Street to Commerce Street. Approximately two miles of these sidewalks were constructed with widths varying from four feet six inches to five feet. In the vicinity of Lee High School, the width jumps to eight feet.

The sidewalk on Franconia Road along the School property is a four-foot concrete construction,  approximately 2/10 of a mile in length. Interior sidewalks in the property are  seven feet wide or wider.  The Franconia Road sidewalk is aging,  and is about ten years old. Both interior and exterior sidewalks have modern features, particularly with curb cuts.

Field Check  5 June 2004

This photograph show existing sidewalks at Key Middle School:
[Trail Detail at FS Key Middle School] Photo 2: Franconia Road, North Side, facing West. The area around the old sidewalk is mostly unobstructed. A 50-foot chain link fence, beyond the second telephone pole in the rear of the picture, would have to be relocated.


Deny the Waiver  for the following reasons:

  1. The Key School sidewalk represents a significant fraction of the two mile length of sidewalk along Franconia Road.
  2. The existing sidewalk is aging.
  3. There are no major site barriers, such as masonry walls, underground tanks, or ornamental foliage in the way of the trail route.


The project was completed by the summer of 2006, but the sidewalk was not widened. Instead, a mesh fence and a peculiar sign appeared:
[ Key School is a "Forest Retention Area" Photo 3: A sign at Key Middle School claiming the six trees adorning the entrance is a "Forest Retention Area".

Photo taken March 11, 2007.

The sign reads as follows:

Forest Retention Area

Machinery, Dumping, Material Storage, and Site Disturbance Prohibited!

Violators subject to fines specified by state and local laws.

Trees For Your Future

I have reopened the case to find out why the sidewalk was not improved as specified in the original recommendations of October 10, 2004.


County Staff checked with Fairfax County Public Schools. The sidewalk will be widened in accordance with the original finding.



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