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GFCA President's Notes

On behalf of all the members of the GFCA board, we want to kick off this new year with a heartfelt thanks for your continuing membership in GFCA.  We have a stronger voice when we have a large base of local members — currently about 1,000 — and a deep bench of talented volunteers to represent our community with county, state and federal officials. 

As you can see from the following articles, we have a lot of land use, zoning, transportation and environmental issues that we are engaged in that affect the quality of life in this community.  I am particularly proud of Fairfax County’s January 2023 recognition of GFCA’s work to protect trees along Georgetown Pike, a major volunteer team effort that is described below.  That effort, which saved dozens of trees in front of two planned subdivisions, was part of a new GFCA emphasis on protecting Georgetown Pike from rising development pressures and growing traffic.  In 2022, we also took the unprecedented step of challenging in court a county decision to allow much higher density construction on Walker Road.  Furthermore, we continue to press for sensible county and Commonwealth transportation policies that recognize the limits of our many two-lane roads. 

We have no paid staff, so volunteers are central to our ability to represent you on such a broad range of issues.  Please contact me at any time to inquire about ways in which you can help protect this beautiful corner of Fairfax County. 

Bill Canis
president@gfca.org


Deer Management Program Underway in Great Falls

Fairfax County’s Deer Management Archery Program, which began on Saturday, September 10, 2022, runs through Saturday, February 18, 2023.  The archery program is conducted in parks and other locations throughout Fairfax County under the oversight of the Fairfax County Police Department, in collaboration with the Fairfax County Park Authority, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and other public landholders.

The program is part of an integrated effort to reduce and stabilize the white-tailed deer population in Fairfax County so as to minimize safety and health hazards as well as other impacts related to an overabundance of deer.  These impacts include deer-vehicle collisions, potential spread of diseases, and environmental damage attributed to deer that can impact the ecosystem.


For more information, see the Fairfax County Police Department News blog and the Fairfax County Deer Management Program website.

ABOUT GFCA

Our goal is to preserve the semi-rural character of our community while addressing practical concerns like traffic, zoning, retail, schools, parks and the environment where problems arise and solutions must be found. 

Since Great Falls is not an incorporated municipality like the Town of Vienna, or City of Falls Church, we lack a town/city government to represent our local interests.  The GFCA acts in an unofficial capacity to represent the voices of the citizens of Great Falls on these matters, and works with county, state, and national government to get things done.  On Great Falls issues, no other organization has GFCA’s influence with elected leaders at the County and State level, or is as respected by them.

Our charter calls for GFCA to "serve as a community organization to promote all aspects of community interest accruing to a common good and, in general, to preserve the historic, low density, semi-rural character of Great Falls and its natural resources."

Fairfax County Recognizes GFCA Work to Save Local Tree Canopy

In a January 5 ceremony, the Fairfax County Tree Commission recognized GFCA with a Friends of Trees Award for GFCA’s completion of the first-ever survey of all the trees along Georgetown Pike’s right-of-way in Great Falls.  GFCA was nominated for the award by Dranesville Tree Commissioner Bob Vickers, who cited the importance of the survey in protecting the trees along the historic roadway “as an innovative conservation-based tree action in Fairfax County.” 

The tree survey was conducted from February to May of 2022 by a group of GFCA volunteers.  Each volunteer team identified the species, measured the circumference, and mapped the GPS location of every mature tree (over 36”) along Georgetown Pike from its western terminus at Route 7 to Difficult Run on the east.  The survey counted 129 mature trees representing 20 different species, including 32 eastern red cedars, 16 red maples, and 13 white oak trees.  The survey data has already demonstrated its value by protecting trees at two property development locations between River Bend Road and Boehms Court — trees that otherwise would have been cut down.

Construction Begins on New Great Falls Residential Subdivision

Area residents will soon see activity associated with another residential development in Great Falls.  Artisan Builders, developer of the Falls Farm subdivision located at 9305 Georgetown Pike, has received the final approvals to begin construction of seven single-family homes in its first phase.  The planning stages of this by-right development were closely monitored by GFCA’s “Protect the Pike” team as the project had some aspects that could have had potential impact on the historic by-way. 

GFCA Raises Concerns
There was early concern that land clearing would have threatened a number of large trees along the right-of-way of Georgetown Pike.  Plans also call for a trail to be built along the roadway frontage.  GFCA collaborated with our Dranesville Supervisor, the developer, and county staff (which included a Deputy County Executive) to arrive at a solution that would preserve the historic integrity of the roadway and permit development to proceed.  Several positive outcomes of this effort include:

  • A number of mature trees on the site that were slated to be cleared during construction will be preserved.
  • The county's proposal for streetlights along the frontage of Georgetown Pike was scaled back considerably to preserve the dark sky character of the community.  In that regard, efforts by the Deputy County Executive resulted in a decision that only one of the three light poles that the county initially proposed will be installed at the development’s street intersection with Georgetown Pike.  This reduction resulted from persistent efforts by GFCA to seek a waiver of Fairfax County’s Public Facility Manual (PFM) streetlight provisions due to the designation of Georgetown Pike as a Virginia Scenic Byway coupled with pertinent Dark Sky references in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.  This decision would not have been possible without intervention by Supervisor Foust and his support for GFCA’s position.



Controversy Continues Surrounding VDOT/Transurban I-495 NEXT Project

VDOT's 495 NEXT project will extend the I-495 Express Lanes 2.5 miles from the Dulles Toll Road in Tysons Corner to the American Legion bridge and the George Washington Parkway.  VDOT is undertaking the project under a public-private partnership with Capital Beltway Express (Transurban), the current operator of the 495 Express Lanes.  Construction on the express lanes began in March and is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

Maryland has lagged behind VDOT in beginning work, and Virginia critics of the project have expressed concern that Maryland’s transportation agency might fail to deliver on its portion of the project.  That concern has been substantially heightened because of recent political developments in Maryland.

VDOT and Transurban are also facing criticism over transparency and responsiveness.  Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, one of the few Board of Supervisor members opposed to green-lighting work on 495 NEXT without a strong Maryland commitment, said that while VDOT has been willing to address issues raised by the community in past projects like the Route 7 widening project, that hasn’t been the case with 495 NEXT.  “Unfortunately, on the current I-495 NEXT project, the VDOT team has demonstrated almost no sensitivity to community concerns,” Foust said in a recent interview.  “The lack of good faith effort by VDOT and its partner, Transurban, to address and mitigate impacts of the current project on long established residential neighborhoods, recreational facilities, and parks is unacceptable, surprising and very disappointing. ...They’re just telling the residents what they’re going to do.  Telling me that you’re going to drive a plow through my front yard is not the same thing as talking to me about what the alternatives might be and how we might mitigate that.”



Watch GFCA
Yo
uTube Channel Videos Here:

EP Committee Presentation on Fairfax County's recycling Program
https://youtu.be/_ITeR28ULAk

Town Hall re: Proposed Dark Sky Preserve at Turner Farm Park Observatory
https://youtu.be/Picv6xt8iuI
EP Committee Presentation featuring Tips on Lawn Care from Master Gardener Tony Makara
https://youtu.be/JVaAP5th7SQ
Town Hall re: Towlston Rd./Rte. 7 Intersection -
https://youtu.be/FXdel1pYOkc

Town Hall re: Milestone Towers proposed Monopole - 
https://youtu.be/QwRui2L1DNw

Town Hall re: Springvale Rd. Bridge Replacement -
https://youtu.be/npSkWpbIwcw

Deer Management Presentation - 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIV9QOiwlaw

Native Plants Presentation - 
https://youtu.be/WEoC75APda0



The Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA) is a non-profit, 501(c)4, organization based in Great Falls, Virginia, whose mission is to promote and protect the quality of life and the unique characteristics of the Great Falls community.  The GFCA is a volunteer-based organization that is open to all residents of Great Falls and the surrounding area.

The GFCA is known for its advocacy and community engagement activities, which include working with local government officials and other community organizations on issues related to land use, zoning, transportation, and environmental protection.  The organization also organizes events and programs to promote community engagement and connect residents with local resources and services. 

Some of the activities the GFCA is involved in include:

  • Zoning and land-use issues, like protecting the rural character of Great Falls from over development
  • Advocacy for traffic and transportation improvements
  • Promoting the protection of natural and historic resources in Great Falls
  • Organizing community events and programs, like educational seminars, social events, and volunteer opportunities
  • Provide information and resources to the community on issues of importance to Great Falls.

The GFCA is an active organization in Great Falls and plays a critical role in preserving the community's unique character and quality of life, through its advocacy and community engagement activities.

Great Falls Citizens Association            
PO Box 27  •  Great Falls, VA   •  2206
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