Featured News

  • 04 Feb 2016 8:41 AM | Anonymous

    On Feb 3, GFCA's President Eric Knudsen sent a letter to the Fairfax County Planning Commission  expressing continued concerns about the current proposed development on the Brooks Farm property.

    "The GFCA and its membership have been raising meaningful concerns for many many months about the proposed plans including the re-zoning, and while the developer has been responsive in some areas we believe the plan and proffers offered by the applicant are insufficient to address the numerous concerns expressed by the community", said Mr. Knudsen, explaining the reason behind the letter.

    The letter details GFCA's continued concerns about the Brooks Farm development:

    1. The application and Staff Report do not acknowledge or address the significant existing erosion and storm water damage to the Pond Branch Stream Valley

    2. Although the applicant purports to propose state-of-the-art storm water management techniques, GFCA is concerned about the long-term  maintenance of  these facilities

    3. The  proposed development's proximity to, and negative effect  upon, nearby Walker Lake is not being adequately addressed

    4. Proffers should be specifically allocated for funding the restoration of Pond Branch Stream Valley in Great Falls

    5. The County Staff réport has not given enough attention to the construction  effects on trees in the proposed conservation easement and adjoining  properties

    6. The County is relying almost entirely on HOA enforcement and maintenance of the proposed environmental control systems without HOA plans in place to do so.  The developer should be required to submit the  proposed HOA manual to the County for public comment three to four weeks before the Board of Supervisors considers this application

    7. Homeowners near the development remain concerned that their existing wells may be impacted. Some potential step such as indemnification by the developer for this risk should be put in place.

    The full text of Mr. Knudsen's letter can be found here.
  • 01 Feb 2016 4:29 PM | Anonymous

    Following the recent battle to influence the development of Brooks Farm, another large parcel is up for sale and likely development. Marmota Farm is the largest still-undeveloped parcel in central Great Falls.  It is located on the north side of Georgetown Pike just east of the Old Schoolhouse.

    GFCA will host a TownHall meeting for residents interested in learning more about Marmota Farm.  It will be held Feb 9, 7:30 p.m., at the Great Falls Library.  GFCA’s Land Use & Zoning Committee will moderate the program; speakers will include representatives from the group 'Save Marmota Farm', the Fairfax County Park Authority, and Supervisor John Foust’s office.  The property owner's representative and residents from a nearby neighborhood may also speak.

    There will be a Q&A period for individuals at the end of the session and GFCA will provide short updates on other local land use issues.  The public is invited; please watch www.gfca.org for more information. 


    Marmota Farm, located at 9800 Georgetown Pike, is privately-held, zoned residential, and currently for sale.  It could be subdivided for individual home lots and developed, on a by-right basis.  Many area stakeholders have raised concerns to GFCA about the fate of this property and what may become of it if it is sold.  A local group – 'Save Marmota Farm' – has proposed that the Fairfax County Park Authority purchase the property to preserve it as a semi-rural park.
  • 01 Feb 2016 4:13 PM | Anonymous

    Following the county staff's recent recommendation to approve the development plan and zoning exception requested by the developer of Brooks Farm, two important community meetings were held.

    Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust hosted a public meeting at the Great Falls Elementary School, on January 19, to articulate the current facts about the application as well as address questions or concerns from audience members. The meeting was well attended, with nearly 100 residents in addition to members from the applicant's team and other county representatives, and lasted well over 2 hours. All interested residents were given an opportunity to speak and ask questions.

    Subsequently, on January 21, the Fairfax County Planning Commission held its public hearing on the matter at the main auditorium at the Fairfax County Government Center. After affirmation of the application and opening remarks from the developer's attorney, public testimony was heard. 14 pre-registered speakers addressed the Planning Commission, with some speaking as individuals and others representing larger groups such as HOAs. Eric Knudsen (Pres.) spoke on behalf of the Great Falls Citizen's Association. The Planning Commission deferred its formal vote and recommendation on the matter until 04 February, 2016.


    Brooks Farm, a 50+ acre property located between Walker Road and Springvale Rd. in Great Falls, is currently under consideration for re-zoning and development. Basheer and Edgemoor Brooks, LLC has applied to Fairfax County to re-zone the property from R-A (Rural Agricultural) to R-E (Residential Estate) and develop in into 20 single family homes in a cluster subdivision. 

    The staff report and development plan can be reviewed here:  Planning Staff Report

  • 15 Jan 2016 1:39 PM | Anonymous

    The Fairfax County zoning staff has recommended approval of the rezoning and cluster development of Brooks Farm, between Springvale Road and Walker Road in Great Falls.  GFCA members voted in May 2015 to oppose the cluster rezoning and recommended homes be developed on five-acre lots, with adequate environmental controls.

    Next week, there will be two important meetings on the fate of this 50 acre property.  We encourage your attendance and comments at these important sessions:

    • Supervisor John Foust is holding a public meeting next Tuesday, Jan 19, at 7:00pm at the Great Falls Elementary School. The developer will present its most recent proposal and the floor will be open for community questions and comments.  Supervisor Foust is holding the meeting to inform the community and to hear more from Great Falls residents about their opinions and concerns.
    • Fairfax County Planning Commission is holding a public hearing next Thursday, Jan 21, at 8:30 pm in the Board Auditorium of the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax.  At this hearing, the commission will take comments from the developer and the public preparatory to making a decision at a later date.  Its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors will carry weight with the supervisors.  Speakers should register in advance here:  www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning/speaker.htm
      (Application #: RZ 2014-DR-022).  No registration is required if you simply attend the hearing.
    • Written comments are also sought.  You may provide written comments to the Planning Commission either:
    1. by email to plancom@fairfaxcounty.gov or
    2. by letter to Fairfax County Planning Commission, Government Center, 1200 Government Center Parkway, Suite 330, Fairfax, VA 22035. 
      In your communication, we advise you ask that your email or letter be distributed to all commissioners.

    The Fairfax County staff report can be found at the following link:  
    Consolidated Staff Report for Brooks Rezoning - RZ 2014-DR-022.pdf

  • 30 Nov 2015 3:51 PM | Anonymous

    Support for trails and paths in our community is great – in a GFCA survey last year 70% of Great Falls citizens supported a system of paths that would connect our community, and allow people to go from neighborhoods to nearby parks, schools, other neighborhoods and even the Village.  The concept is for primary paths along major roads to be usable by both pedestrians and bicyclists.  Families, children and adults should no longer be trapped in their neighborhoods unable to get anywhere except by car or truck.

    GFCA’s Special Committee on Trails (which includes GFCA members, GF residents, and GF Trailblazers leadership) has been discussing the challenges of building such a system of paths – something Trailblazers has been working on tirelessly for a long time.  In November, GFCA’s Executive Board adopted a new policy reversing a long-standing GFCA policy of supporting only stone dust trails throughout Great Falls.  Stone dust has long been supported by many Great Falls residents.  However, stone dust may not be best for every path.  Stone dust trails require active maintenance and repair, which must be done by a community group since the County will not maintain stone dust.  In the absence of proper maintenance, stone dust trails and paths can deteriorate.  Stone dust trails built in many parts of Great Falls by developers have literally disappeared, taken over by vegetation growth.  As a result of these and other factors, support for exclusively stone dust trails has been declining among residents over time.  This mirrors Fairfax County’s general experience, where they describe a strong trend of continually increasing voter support for usable and practical trails (that most often are built with surfaces other than stone dust.)

    GFCA’s new policy sets a “whatever surface is best” philosophy.  It encourages stone dust for those trails where, based on use and topography, stone dust is optimal such as in flat pastures and meadows where the trail use will be largely hikers or horses.  Similarly, the new policy allows the use of asphalt for major paths designed for residents to walk or bike from their neighborhoods to points of interest around Great Falls.  For the most part, these must follow major roads or right-of-ways that may have grades in places that make stone dust impractical.  And the heavier use which many of these these paths will get (compared to hiking trails) may also favor asphalt.

    This new policy is pragmatic.  It gives new flexibility to those designing trails and paths around Great Falls to use the most practical, pragmatic, and sensible surface for a particular trail segment.  The Special Committee is working on design criteria to ensure that environmental and aesthetic factors are established and uniformly applied in the design and construction of these trails – whatever the surface. 

    To read the new policy please click here:  Surfaces Resolution (adopted 11172015).docx

    Please also feel free to comment and dialog about the new policy, or trails in general, at:  Suggestion Box   (look for the Trails link)

  • 31 Oct 2015 12:47 PM | Anonymous

    Both candidates for Dranesville supervisor expressed a willingness to look into a stronger role for the community in the management of the Grange.  On October 22, a number of community groups held a general discussion about how to make the Grange a more actively used resource for Great Falls.  Jorge Adeler has restarted this inquiry to explore both ideas for more robust activities and for how the community might manage the Grange and Schoolhouse.  At the meeting, 12 community groups (including GFCA) discussed how to best pursue this objective.  Two working groups were set up: (1) one to look into current management cost & revenue facts and see how other county community centers are managed, (2) the other to survey Great Falls residents and learn how groups might like to use the Grange facilities.

    If you are involved in a community group that would like to express an interest in using the Grange, or to contribute to this process, or simply for more information, please contact Laura@pigpenpottery.com

  • 07 Oct 2015 1:22 PM | Anonymous

    GFCA held an educational townhall on October 6 to bring new attention to the community’s longstanding policy of encouraging dark skies for astronomy purposes, especially at Turner Farm, where the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) is making a major investment in a new roll top astronomy building.  Speaking at the forum were representatives from the Smart Outdoor Lighting Alliance, FCPA and the Analemma Society (which operates the Turner Farm observatory).   It was pointed out that Fairfax County’s lighting ordinance has not been reviewed or updated since 2003 and that many of the county staff once trained to evaluate lighting  for proposed building permits may have left.  The speakers laid the ground for further work by GFCA in 2016:   to encourage a county review of the current ordinance and updating where necessary, as well as a examination of current lighting in Great Falls with an eye to reducing growing light pollution.   

  • 29 Aug 2015 3:30 PM | Anonymous

    GFCA is sponsoring four debates between key local political candidates on Tuesday, September 29, commencing 6:30 pm, at the Great Falls Grange.   The public is welcome.

    On this evening, candidates for key County and State elected positions will debate:

    1. County Board of Supervisors Chairman - between incumbent Sharon Bulova (D) and Arthur Purves (R).
    2. County Board of Supervisors Dranesville - incumbent John Foust (D) and Jennifer Chronis (R). 
    3. 34th District House of Delegates - incumbent Kathleen Murphy (D) and Craig Parisot (R). 
    4. 31st District Virginia Senate - incumbent Barbara Favola (D) and George Forakis (R).
    Great Falls residents wishing to submit questions for consideration by the GFCA Debate Committee may send them via Email to ralph.apton@gfca.org before Sep 21.
  • 29 Aug 2015 2:53 PM | Anonymous

    Remediation of MTBE (a gasoline additive) in groundwater from the now-closed gas station at 9901 Georgetown Pike has been underway for over a year.  GFCA’s Special Committee on Groundwater Contamination reviewed the most recent quarterly remediation report submitted by the property owner to the state Dept of Environmental Quality (VADEQ). 

    Encouragingly, contamination is being (so-far) successfully reduced in the contamination plume to the south of the site (along Walker Rd towards Wells Fargo bank), although end points have not yet been reached at most locations.  Less encouragingly, there has not been seen a reduction in groundwater contamination in the plume toward the east (across Walker Rd in the BF Saul parking lot), supporting GFCA’s long-standing position that pumping of groundwater in that plume is necessary.  GFCA has commented to VADEQ that concentrations at all remediation wells should be cleaned to the lower end point concentration, about 10 times less than today, and that a recovery well to the east across Walker Rd is needed to pump and reclaim MTBE from that plume.  At least an additional year of groundwater filtration will be required, followed by two years of further monitoring.

    For more details, as well as a map of the current estimated contamination plumes, see: Exxon Spill News

  • 29 Aug 2015 11:45 AM | Anonymous

    GFCA will host a townhall meeting in October with a program to review our community’s long-standing commitment to keeping our skies as dark as possible so that star-watchers, students and residents in general can view the planets, stars and constellations which are often difficult to see elsewhere in the metro area.  The Great Falls Analemma Society hosts regular astronomy observation sessions in Turner Farm Park for the public (see Civic Organizations for info on Analemma).  In most parts of the Washington metro area, the skies are 'washed out' by night lighting that destroys our ability to see the skies.  By contrast, the policy in Great Falls for decades has been to avoid such lighting allowing us to view the glory of the nighttime sky.

    Speakers will discuss:

    • History and benefits of the Dark Skies policy, including how light pollution affects the observation of stars and planets
    • New lighting technology that reduces energy consumption, cost, and light pollution - protecting both safety and the nocturnal environment   

    • Analemma Society's plans to pursue children and adult science education on astronomy, including the new observatory being built in Turner Farm Park
    For more information on the Town Hall program, see GFCA Town Hall Meeting - Dark Skies

The opinions expressed on these pages are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of the Great Falls Citizens Association

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