Trail Inquiry: Reroute of Proffered Trail
Gunnell Estates
KSI Development, Inc.

 
  Article Prepared By Robert Michie
NMTC, Lee District
Last Reviewed: 27 July 2003
 
 

Summary:

The subject area is located in Fairfax County Grid 81-2. Gunnell Estates is a half-mile north of Franconia Road and Rose Hill Drive, and is reached by Bush Hill Drive. The Trail was proffered by the developer, KSI Development, and accepted by the County.

[ Map of Proposed Trail Routes in Gunnell Estates ]

Map 1
Gunnell Estates
North is up.

This map is based on a sketch and is not definitive. The Red Route is the trail location proffered by the developer and accepted by the County. The Yellow/Red Route is an alternate alignment suggested by a new homeowner. Note that the trail is running inside a flood plain next to a creek. The trail has not been constructed as of the date of this article.

Citizen's Request: Use the Yellow/Red Route to keep the trail as far away from backyards as possible.

Discussion:

A subsequent meeting with the resident occurred on June 29. The Zoning and Land Use (ZALU) Officer of Brookland-Bush Hill Civic Association (BBHCA) said that the trail as shown in Map 1 was not what BBHCA proposed back in 1997. BBHCA is interested in regional access to the Van Dorn Street Metro Station.  BBHCA advocates coordination with property owners so that residents in Gunnell Estates, Clermont, and Bush Hill have an easy walking path to Metro. The wishes of BBHCA are better shown in Map 2:

[ Gunnell Estates and Surrounding Properties on the West ]

Map 2
Gunnell Estates and Adjoining Properties
North is up.

Note that if Oakwood Road (Route 843) is extended eastward, it skims the northern edge of the Gunnell Estates property line.  This relationship is shown in Photo 1 (below). The area marked Reserved Path is a gap between Lots 67 and 68 that aligns with Clouds Mill Drive. This, according to the BBHCA ZALU Officer, is destined to be a connection between Gunnell Estates and the future development to the north. It can take several forms. It could be a simple pedestrian access path, or it could be a gated driveway for Gunnell Estates residents. The last option is to not build anything there.

[ A future route for Oakwood Road (Rt 843) extended into Gunnnell Estates ]

Photo 1
Gunnell Estates Construction Access
Looking west to connection to Oakwood Road (Rt. 843)

The resident drew our attention to the area in Map 2 marked Present Boundaries at Oakwood Road. Development north of Gunnell Estates may be years away. Could a pedestrian trail that connects to Oakwood Road be placed in this location?

The answer is probably "Yes, But." There are many stakeholders that need to be polled:

bulletKSI Development, which is presently building in this area;
bulletThe future property owners (KSI pre-sells its products);
bulletVirginia Department of Transportation, which owns Oakwood Road;
bulletProperty owners in Oakwood Section 3, particularly Lots 36 A/B and 37.

Map 2 shows that the property alignments do not allow a "clean" connection between Gunnell Estates and Oakwood Road in this area. Another stakeholder is going to have to make an accommodation. Yet, it is possible that the resident's suggestion could be carried out. The time to organize the Gunnell neighborhood is now, and negotiations with the stakeholders should begin without delay. A walking path in this location should not preclude using the reserved path in the future, once Oakwood Road is extended eastward.

There is language in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan for the Rose Hill Planning District that weakly supports this trail design. It is not very specific about details. Gunnell Estates is part of Land Unit E in the Van Dorn Transit Station Area. (Click here to see a popup map of what is included in the Transit Station study area.) Most of Land Unit A shown on the popup map are reserved for future improvements to the Van Dorn Beltway Interchange. Land Unit C is already built out as a hotel. Land Units B and D are scheduled for industrial and office use. The Plan encourages parcel consolidation in order to get permits for higher density development. In order to manage traffic that is likely to be attracted by such development, the County encourages the developers to make a "substantial contribution" to a new bridge across the Beltway to connect Oakwood Road to Vine Street. This future bridge is generally supposed to be in the vicinity of the Boundary Area shown in Map 2. No features of the bridge are specified.

The higher elevations of Land Unit E are to be developed as single-family homes at a density of two to three homes per acre. This is a good description of Gunnell Estates. The eastern part of Land Unit E has significant terrain and stream issues that more or less require it to be undisturbed. The northern part of Land Unit E is scheduled for low to medium office use. The plan also calls for no connections south to the residential areas. It is in this place that the trail plan comes into play, because a pedestrian/bicycle trail is not usually considered to be a connection. The plan does mention the desire for non-automobile access throughout the Study Area to the Metro Station.

Recommendations:

bulletThe stream valley trail shown in Map 1 is an internal matter for the residents of Gunnell Estates. Whether it is built or not, and what route it uses, should be decided by this community.
bulletBrookland-Bush Hill Civic Association needs to document its support for a connection through Gunnell Estates to Oakwood Road. A review of BBHCA newsletters from 1994 to 2000 finds a lot of discussion of the connection, but the newsletter articles do not explicitly say what the community is in favor of. The reserved path shown in Map 2 may have come into being through the actions of the Lee District Land Use Advisory Committee.
bulletGunnell Estates and the BBHCA must research the status of all proposed access points along Oakwood Drive from the neighborhoods to the south and east. Corrective action should be well underway by the next Area IV Comprehensive Plan Review, scheduled in the next four years.

 

 
 

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