Featured News

  • 05 Apr 2021 5:59 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    The zoning ordinance (Article 2, Part 5) limits how many people can live in a single residence. In general:

    • No more than one family, plus two renters, may live in one house.
    • Or, no more than four unrelated people may live in one house.

    However, the rules define that more than one person can live in a residence:

    1. One family, which may consist of one person or two or more persons related by blood or marriage with any number of natural children, foster children, step children or adopted children and with not to exceed two roomers or boarders.

    2. Two single parents or guardians with not more than a total of six of their dependent children, including natural children, foster children, step children or adopted children, functioning as a single housekeeping unit.

    3. A group of not more than four persons not necessarily related by blood or marriage functioning as a single housekeeping unit.

    4. A group residential facility.

    5. Any group housekeeping unit which may consist of not more than 10 persons as may be approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

    6. One person or two persons one of whom shall be elderly and/or disabled, and one or both of whom own the dwelling unit, plus one family, which may consist of one person or two or more persons related by blood or marriage, and with any number of natural children, foster children, step children or adopted children.

    7. A bed and breakfast, as may be approved by the Board of Supervisors. 

  • 05 Apr 2021 5:57 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    Site development in Fairfax County must conform to county codes and standards, including the Public Facilities Manual, with respect to the quality of new public infrastructure, control of erosion and sedimentation, storm drainage, storm water management, tree preservation and protection of public waters. Land Development Services provides support to religious and community groups, the development community, residents and other county agencies throughout the site development process.

    Use the Land Development System (LDSnet) to research zoning cases, site plans, grading plans and waivers. You may also visit our Online Building and Land Development Information page to find information on building and site-related activities.

  • 05 Apr 2021 5:31 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    Fairfax County updated its 42-year-old Zoning Ordinance to bring it into the 21st century. On Tuesday, March 23, the Board of Supervisors approved the modernization project which goes into effect on July 1, 2021.

    A More User Friendly Zoning Ordinance

    The multi-year project, called zMOD for short, was launched in 2018 to update the overall ordinance, in order to: make it easier to understand and navigate; to update and modernize land uses; and creating simpler, more general zoning use categories.

    Extensive public outreach was a key part of the zMOD process. County staff held over 100 meetings both in person and virtually over the course of three years to directly engage the community. The new Zoning Ordinance was developed in multiple installments allowing the community to provide feedback that helped staff develop the final Ordinance.

    In addition, staff made the Zoning Ordinance more user friendly by reducing redundancies in the text and using language that’s easy to understand. These combined efforts cut the size of the Zoning Ordinance in half.

    A new website is being developed that will launch in the summer to help everyone access zoning regulations in a simple format. The website will use tables, graphics and hyperlinks and be accessible on multiple platforms.

    What Regulations are Changing

    The new modernized Zoning Ordinance updates regulations around certain residential uses, including accessory structures, accessory living units, home-based businesses, and flags.

    kid playset in yardNotable changes include:

    • Allowing accessory structures, such as sheds, children’s play equipment, and gazebos, up to 12 feet in height to be located five feet from the side and rear lot lines.
    • Removing the age and disability requirements for accessory living units (previously known as accessory dwelling units) and changing the process from requiring special permit approval to an administrative permit for interior units.
    • Modernizing home-based business use and permitting customers with special permit approval.
    • Adding a maximum flagpole height of 25 feet for lots with single-family dwellings or manufactured homes and 60 feet for lots with all other uses, with the ability to request a special permit for an increased height. The limit of three flags per lot was carried forward from the previous Ordinance. No limit on the size of flags was added.

    Stay Up to Date

    The Board also passed a number of follow-on motions, including a motion directing staff to monitor and evaluate accessory living units and home-based businesses. A report on these two topics will be provided to the Board within 18 months of the July 1 effective date.

  • 07 Dec 2020 2:47 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    • ·         GFCA recently launched a survey that was distributed within targeted areas of Great Falls through Homeowners Associations concerning the one-lane bridge situation on Springvale Road and to query the community that would be affected by introduction of two-lane bridges. The majority of GFCA survey respondents favor retention of the one-lane Springvale Road Bridge and also expressed concerns over increased traffic volume and safety risks.
    • ·         GFCA now seeks the support of the Board of Supervisors to submit a letter of support to its efforts to obtain a waiver from the VDOT State Bridge Engineer in order to have the replacement bridge designed as one lane.
    • ·         GFCA’s concerns focus partly on the lack of consideration by VDOT of the impact simultaneous major road construction projects would have on the communities like Great Falls that lie within close proximity to the Route 7 Corridor and the Capital Beltway and that communities like Great Falls are uniquely situated to bear the burden of high volumes of traffic seeking alternatives to congested roads undergoing construction. I-495 HOT lanes expansion and associated construction-related road closures will also create traffic chaos in the Northern Virginia region.
    • ·         Also, that Great Falls’ one-lane bridges on Springvale Road and Walker Road serve as an effective means of discouraging commuter traffic seeking to avoid bottlenecks on Route 7 due to construction and lane reductions approaching the area of Tysons.
    • ·         GFCA is aware that the VDOT plans to replace the one-lane bridges are based on recent inspections that describe deficiencies in some parts of the bridge components.  GFCA believes that these deficiencies are not substantial and could be repaired at a significantly lower cost than total bridge replacement.
    • ·         Although VDOT has repaired and replaced two other one-lane bridges in the Great Falls community that exceed the VDOT average daily traffic guidelines of a maximum of 400 vehicles, they’ve stated they do not intend to repair the single lane bridges on Walker Road and Springvale Road only to replace them.
  • 07 Dec 2020 2:20 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    The Special Committee on Schools met and assembled the following options to consider presenting to the Fairfax County School Board at a Meeting scheduled for December 7, 2020:

    Feedback ideas/questions:

    - Prefer the smallest boundary change option with the Colvin Run ES split feeder area and a potion of Wesbriar ES. Because a) it offers some relief b) it solves a split feeder problem at Colvin Run c) it leaves room for growth at Langley - because of the concern about the accuracy of FCPS student enrollment forecasts

    - Question to submit: Are boundary adjustment options based on no growth/negative growth FCPS forecasts or on Fairfax County’s high growth forecasts for the McLean/Langley school pyramids?
    - Leave room for growth at Langley (Fairfax County demographics reports forecasts addition 4000 housholds in 2025 for zip codes 22102 and 22066 that primarily feed Langley HS)
    - Do not overcrowd Cooper
    - Include Mclean HS expansion as part of any boundary change plan
    - Add McLean HS expansion to the next CIP (Capital Improvement Plan)
    - Offer grandfathering at least for 8th graders but 6th graders is preferred for affected families
    - Offer also an opt-in option, if students want to switch ahead of the grandfathering period.
    - Explore program placement solutions
    - Add overcrowding as reason for Transfer Requests per Regulation 2230

  • 05 Jun 2020 1:31 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

     GFCA has been working with the National Park Service (NPS) on ways to mitigate the backups that occur sporadically near the park entrance on Georgetown Pike and Old Dominion.  NPS will soon launch a tool to address the traffic congestion near the park by piloting three variable message signs, one of which will be in Great Falls. The idea is to alert would-be visitors about full parking lots and wait times before they reach Great Falls National Park so that they might temporarily delay their arrival or go elsewhere.

    One sign will be located adjacent to the eastbound lane on Georgetown Pike near the rear entrance to Great Falls Center and across from the Great Falls Library. The other two are in McLean, one near the Old Dominion/Springhill Rd. intersection and another just west of the I-495 exit to Georgetown Pike.

    As there is no law or regulation regarding traffic control signs on Virginia Byways, and because these signs are temporary, the NPS pilot provides an opportunity to determine whether traffic near the park can be reduced. The signs will be lit only when needed and will be turned off at night when the park is closed. The signs will be removed in the fall. As required by VDOT, orange traffic barrels will be placed in front of the Variable Message Sign (VMS) units.

    The signs are similar to the one that the park has been using on Old Dominion. At about 4 ½ feet wide by 7 ½ feet high, the NPS  solar powered sign is smaller than the typical VDOT VMS. Messages will be controlled and changed remotely by NPS.

    GFCA’s Transportation Committee will continue to coordinate with NPS, McLean Citizens Assoc. and Fairfax supervisor Foust's office on the evaluation of this pilot.  We look forward to your feedback on this initiative:contact Transportation@GFCA.ORG

  • 29 May 2020 12:06 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    (Great Falls Connection - Mercia Hobson, May 27, 2020)  

    In its first survey since 2007, the Board of Directors and Committee Chairs of the Great Falls Citizens Association, a 100 percent volunteer 501(c)4 organization without paid staff, released findings of its Looking Forward to 2025 Survey, meant to gather feedback from the community on what was important to them and where the Association should direct its efforts and resources now through 2025. Rather than Great Falls being described any longer as a semi-rural community, findings from the recently completed survey lean to the concept of Great Falls as "a community that seeks to preserve its environmental and aesthetic character."

    BILL CANIS, President of the Great Falls Citizens Association, said that member Pam Grosvenor acted as the project manager for the survey that identified key interests and issues in the community. "What came through loud and clear is maintaining the more green character, the natural environments that Great Falls has still. We're losing it bit by bit, piece by piece," said Grosvenor. "We want to use the survey as a tool, a guide, to point to with our elected officials, and as I see it, make changes."

    #Since Great Falls is a census-designated place, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors governs the locality. "We interact with our supervisor's office quite a bit, and we keep pushing forward and advocating for what we want. But that's the best we can do with not having a pound," said Grosvenor. Canis explained that the Association also works extensively with the County Planning Commission. They had been open to many suggestions as had former Chairman Sharon Bulova, as seen when issues with the Virginia Department of Transportation arose for the widening of Route 7 at the intersection of Georgetown Pike.

    "We also have close relationships with our delegate, Kathleen Murphy and our state senator, Barbara Favola. We are in contact with them when there are issues in Richmond that can affect the agenda items we have there too...For example, we worked with both of those offices on some legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Northam about a year ago, that could be a way to help control traffic, (an Act to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 15.2-2022.1, relating to turns into or out of certain residential areas; resident permits [H 2033] Approved)...If necessary, we work with our members of Congress as well," said Canis.

    IN ANALYZING RESULTS from the survey data, the Association found the ever-growing volume of commuters brought new challenges for transportation, and increasing residential density and infill development raised new environmental and land use issues for residents. On the other hand, many interests and concerns brought forth in conjunction with the 2007 survey continued to be important in 2020, particularly those related to development and how they might affect the community's quality of life.

    A reported 327 residents participated in the circulated survey. They will be among the first to receive the results, as will the 1000 members of the Association. While the Association will also post the report on the organization's webpage, when it does its annual community wide mailing to every household in Great Falls, Canis said that when that goes out, the survey results would be a prominent feature. "The work of GFCA goes on through our committees," said Canis. "They're all mentioned in that report- Environment, Planning and Zoning, Long Range Planning and Transportation and a Special Committee on Schools... Those are the pillars of our committees... Whether they're a member or not, any resident can attend any of our committee meetings. We will most likely be discussing these survey results and applying them through our committee structure," he said.

    The Association advertised its survey in the local media, mentioned it at public meetings and events, included it in the monthly newsletter, Dranesville Happenings by Supervisor John Foust (D- Dranesville) and emailed notifications to local nonprofit organizations and PTAs/PTOs/PSTAs. Out of the 5,391 households in Great Falls, 327 residents participated according to the survey.

    Highlights of Findings/Next Steps

    Source: Great Falls Citizens Association Looking Forward to 2025 Survey Executive Summary

    Many issues and initiatives cross-cut, in that they affected other areas, particularly those regarding development. Initiatives with the highest priority spanned land use, transportation, environment and infrastructure.

    • Limiting density and infill development, i.e., managing growth (79 percent)

    GFCA will continue to engage in and monitor local development projects and advocate to preserve what residents value about our community. In addition, GFCA will be investigating the feasibility and ramifications of designating Great Falls as a special planning district.

    • Reducing cut-through and commuter traffic (73 percent)

    GFCA supports VDOT's plan to redesign the Georgetown Pike/I-495 intersection and advocates for improvements to I-495. We will also continue to encourage our elected representatives to work with Maryland on widening the American Legion Bridge and exploring other alternatives to address increasing congestion on roads in Northern Virginia.

    • Advocating for development conditions to preserve trees and landscaping requirements in perpetuity (66 percent)

    GFCA will continue to engage in and monitor local development projects and advocate to preserve what residents value about our community. In addition, GFCA will be investigating the feasibility and ramifications of designating Great Falls as a special planning district.

    • Calming traffic and improving safety on local roads (64 percent)

    GFCA continues to push for crosswalks that would connect the library to the commercial areas. In addition, GFCA plans to reexamine other recommended improvements and pursue those that are felt to be the most viable; other ideas for calming traffic will also be examined.

    • Ensuring a reliable energy infrastructure (63 percent)

    Although undergrounding across the entire community at Dominion's expense is unlikely because of the high costs involved, it may be possible if everyone in a particular neighborhood, or along a road, agreed to have an undergrounding fee added to their power bills for a specified number of years...Given the interest in this issue, GFCA will continue to pursue undergrounding, reaching out to both residents and Dominion Energy to discuss options.

    #Additional High Interest Initiatives

    • Setting limits for, and monitoring, stormwater runoff (46 percent)
    • Monitoring underground storage tanks and harmful waste to protect well water and septic systems (44 percent)
    • Ensuring property maintenance (42 percent)
    • Creating an interconnected trails system and sidewalks in the commercial area (41 percent)
    • Controlling the deer population and managing other wildlife (41 percent)
    • Lighting and sign policies that support businesses while limiting light pollution and signage clutter (41 percent)

    Visit https://gfca.org/Looking-Forward-to-2025-Survey for more information.

  • 26 May 2020 10:59 AM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    BRIAN TROMPETER Staff­ Writer, Sun Gazette May 21, 2020

    Preserving Great Falls’ quality of life – largely by preventing over development, tamping down traffic and preserving the environment – is the top priority of the village’s residents, according to the Great Falls Citizens Association’s (GFCA) recent community survey.

    The resulting 23-page document, titled “Looking Forward to 2025,” was produced entirely by the association’s leaders, and is loaded with data and graphics.  “It continues our marching orders to serve the community,” said GFCA president Bill Canis.

    The group most recently undertook such a survey in 2007, and board members thought it was time to take the public’s pulse again. GFCA initially targeted the online survey at the group’s 985 members, then fanned it out to the larger community. A total of 327 residents from 5,391 households responded, with 60 percent of results coming from GFCA members.

    The survey showed that 79 percent of respondents placed highest priority on managing growth in Great Falls by limiting density and infi­ll development.

    Great Falls residents cannot do much on that front in cases of by-right development, but can influence proceedings if the matters involve rezoning or special exceptions, according to the report.

    For example, GFCA managed to get a reduction in the number of houses, and implementation of numerous environmental protections, in the Rivermont development, the report noted. In addition to continuing to monitor development applications and advocating on residents’ behalf, GFCA leaders will examine potential bene­fits and drawbacks of designating Great Falls as a special planning district.

    Seventy-three percent of survey respondents favored reducing cut-through and commuter traffic. “Traffic congestion is a big thorn in the side of everyone who lives here,” said GFCA board member Pamela Grosvenor, who helped write the survey report.

    GFCA leaders expect some traffic benefi­ts following the widening of Route 7 between Reston and Tysons, but also hope that a partial interchange can be built at that road’s intersection with Baron Cameron Avenue/Springvale Road. GFCA also favors efforts to widen the American Legion Bridge and supports the Virginia Department of Transportation’s plans to improve Interstate 495 and redesign that highway’s interchange at Georgetown Pike.

    Sixty-six percent of survey takers sought implementation of development conditions to preserve trees and landscaping requirements in perpetuity. GFCA, in a joint effort with Fairfax ReLeaf, each year distributes 500 free saplings to residents. The association also recently worked with the Fairfax County Park Authority to plant ­five white oaks near the playground at Grange Park.

    Reducing traffic speeds and improving roadway safety would benefit motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, according to 64 percent of survey respondents. GFCA made some progress on that front in 2013 when it conceived of the Walker Road “diet” project, which narrowed that road from ­vehicle traffic lanes to three in the village’s center and built bumpouts, which were landscaped by the Great Falls Garden Club. The association also is advocating for crosswalks to link Great Falls Library with adjacent commercial areas. People currently making that crossing must be agile and fleet of foot, given the volume and speed of traffic on Georgetown Pike.

    Sixty-three percent of survey respondents favored ensuring a reliable energy infrastructure.

    A key objective on that front would be undergrounding utility lines to protect them from wind, ice and tree damage, thus preventing power outages. Power failures especially are disruptive in Great Falls, because the community’s many wells and septic systems need electricity to function, Canis added.

    That process sometimes can be derailed, however, if just one homeowner refuses to grant an easement for Dominion Energy to perform that work, GFCA leaders said.

    Survey takers also expressed interest in monitoring and setting limits for stormwater runoff. Stream erosion has been increasing because of global climate change and many local roads, often poorly lighted, are subject to flooding that endangers motorists, Canis said.

    The survey also found residents wanted wells and septic systems protected from harmful waste and leaks from underground storage tanks. This concern is more acute in Great Falls than in much of the rest of Fairfax County, where residents have access to public water and sewer systems, GFCA leaders said.

    Survey respondents also wanted community leaders to ensure property maintenance; create an interconnected trail system; provide sidewalks in commercial areas; control the local deer population and manage other forms of wildlife; and support businesses with lighting and signs, but in a way that limits light pollution and visual clutter.

    During the current pandemic, the group has held virtual board and committee meetings via Zoom, and may continue holding virtual meetings even after the emergency ends.

    “I think they’re an effective way to get people involved,” Grosvenor said. “It’s so easy.”

  • 11 May 2020 10:00 AM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    One of the challenges confronting a community organization like GFCA in the midst of a pandemic, where social distancing and quarantining rules prevent the usual interaction of its membership and the community-at-large, is how to engage and maintain an effective line of communication. GFCA, like most organizations, was suddenly faced with the prospect of cancelling its regular in-person meetings and radically changing the way it conducts its business this past March.

    GFCA leadership responded to the challenge by immediately investigating the options for effective alternative methods of communications to serve both its internal and external communications needs. GFCA selected ZOOM for its meeting and conferencing requirements. Several meetings have been held over Zoom including the April GFCA Board meeting, and going forward, GFCA expects to sponsor GFCA-wide webinars on important topics in the broad cross-section of issues affecting the community of Great Falls.

    In addition, GFCA is also examining other technology upgrades to enhance internal board functioning, such as document collaboration, storage, and access in the face of our “new normal”, with an eventual eye toward building on the quality and timeliness of information GFCA can share with its members. In this regard, GFCA is searching for volunteers and members with proficiency in SharePoint, Salesforce, and web design who would be willing to lend their expertise to the GFCA Communications Committee as it works through technology options.

    If you are interested in volunteering, please contact: Peter Falcone, Co-Chair GFCA Communications Committee; Communications@GFCA.org

  • 11 May 2020 9:59 AM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)

    Rivermont, the Basheer & Edgemoore Residential development on Forest Lake Drive, has been the focus of GFCA and community interest in the management and control of issues involving damage to the environment caused by storm water runoff and, more recently because homes are being constructed and occupied, outdoor lighting and compliance with Dark Skies Proffers.

    Meetings to monitor compliance with County stormwater management requirements have been held on a monthly basis: initially, in-person, and now via Zoom virtual conferencing. The meetings involve representatives from Fairfax County Land Development staff, Ben Wiles from Dranesville Supervisor Foust’s Office—who proposed these unique monthly meetings, representatives for the developer, GFCA, the Forest Lake Drive Home Owners Association, as well as Walker Lake Drive residents John & Melonie Sullivan representing neighboring homeowners affected by runoff. While stormwater management is a county-wide problem, the mitigation of the problems at Rivermont remains a challenge for the developer.

    Through the diligent efforts of all concerned parties, Fairfax County personnel and the Sullivan’s have expressed optimism as a result of the recent efforts that have been undertaken by the developer to prevent further stormwater runoff into the downstream Walker Lake.

    The developer made progress in retrofitting outdoor lighting fixtures to bring those non-conforming residential fixtures previously installed in the development with new, non-glare, dark-skies compliant shrouds, and it is working to ensure all new installations are following County standards.

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

Great Falls Citizens Association
PO Box 27  •  Great Falls, VA  •  22066 

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