Featured News

  • 02 Sep 2016 3:31 PM | Phil Pifer

    GFCA is partnering with an organization called ReLeaf to provide seedling trees to individual homeowners in Great Falls – at no cost to the homeowner. ReLeaf is a private non-profit organization of volunteers formed in 1992 to plant and protect trees in and around Fairfax County, preserve native habitat and educate the public about the benefits of trees. ReLeaf has supplied and planted thousands of trees throughout the County.

    This GFCA program is for individual Great Falls homeowners only, and you do not have to be a member of GFCA (although membership is appreciated to support programs like this!). While the trees are free-of-charge, homeowners must commit to plant all the trees ordered and then maintain them - especially during their first year or two. Seedlings of the following species will be available: Silky Dogwood, Elderberry, Red Chokeberry, Willow Oak, Northern Red Oak, White Oak, and Loblolly Pine.

    You can easily order your seedlings on the GFCA website by clicking here.
    You can also pick up a printed order form at the Great Falls Library from September 12 -23rd.

    Trees ordered will be available for pickup at the library on Saturday Oct. 29 and 30. Orders must be placed by Sept. 23. Directions for planting (directly into the ground) and protection collars will be provided at time of pickup.

  • 17 Aug 2016 4:43 PM | Phil Pifer

    By the end of August, the groundwater processing system operating on the old Exxon Station property at the corner of Walker Rd and Georgetown Pike will be temporarily removed. Initial site preparation for TD Bank construction will begin this fall with paving. The actual bank branch construction will occur early in 2017. 

    The groundwater processing system was installed 2 years ago to remediate groundwater contamination on the site.  The system will be returned in about two months to resume processing.  At present, groundwater contamination MTBE levels in groundwater on site are nearing cleanup goals. As shown in the attached graphic, the contamination that remains is mainly to the east of Walker Road, under the Safeway shopping center parking lot (BFSaul property). The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) has ordered recommendations from the owner of the old Exxon site for cleaning this MTBE contamination.  This situation is being closely monitored by GFCA, and the recommendations for cleanup of contamination east of Walker Rd. will be evaluated by GFCA once submitted to VADEQ.


  • 02 Aug 2016 3:38 PM | Phil Pifer

    On July 26, over the opposition of many in the community including GFCA, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the Brooks Farm cluster rezoning and cluster development.

    Citing GFCA member opposition and community environmental and density goals that were not met by the proposal, Bill Canis, GFCA President, provided testimony at the BOS meeting, which you can read here.  Several other residents spoke or wrote against the proposal.  At the meeting, a few speakers supported the proposal, including a consultant to the developer.

    After the speakers concluded, Dranesville Supervisor John Foust introduced a motion to approve the project, which was then passed unanimously by the BOS with no debate. 

    After the vote, Canis said:  “We are disappointed by the Board’s decision.  We are not opposed to appropriate development that preserves the environment and our community’s semi-rural character.  However, there are meaningful issues about this project that could have been improved, especially in the areas of storm water management for major storms, tree canopy protection, road access, and project density.

    GFCA and community volunteers spent thousands of hours over the past two years on the evaluation of this development.  Discussions with both county staff and the developer led to meaningful changes from the original design, and 12 iterations of the proposal.  There were concessions by the developer, including reducing the number of homes from 20 to 19, and improved storm water management features.  GFCA and community representatives placed significant pressure upon the County to raise the bar on managing development runoff, and to stay true to County rules and regulations designed to protect the community against environmental and other negative impacts.   GFCA found areas where the county missed pertinent aspects that were not addressed until residents brought them to the county’s attention.  In the end, GFCA believes the final approved proposal is better than the original, though still deficient in the key respects mentioned above.

    Brooks Farm is a lesson for our community.  Great Falls still has other developable properties.   The pace of development is picking up – it has been many years since GFCA has had as many active land-use projects under study as we do today. Our wells, septic fields, woods, meadows and two-lane roads give us a special country-like ambiance that has, in the past, been protected by low-density development.  GFCA will continue to resist efforts by developers and the County to change the character of semi-rural Great Falls to that of more suburban areas. 

    Most developers seek to build at the highest density possible, through cluster and other approaches. Too often we have seen that such projects, fully endorsed by the county, result in neighbors facing long-term costs and challenges of dealing with storm water and other issues not appropriately addressed by the development.  Once new projects are built and sold, the developer is gone leaving the community impact permanently in place.  The current system makes it hard for residents to influence the outcome and ensure a fair and balanced consideration of community concerns.

    However, Brooks Farm shows the value of community perseverance in development projects because our two+ years of work produced a much-improved final plan.  The experience also highlighted the difficulties and pitfalls of going toe-to-toe with developers’ highly paid attorneys and consultants, compounded by the limitations of county staff resources.   GFCA believes it is essential that our community understand the importance of community/resident involvement in development, assisted where necessary by attorneys and consultants working on the community’s behalf.  GFCA will redouble our efforts to work together with all parties to thoroughly evaluate future development projects in Great Falls for which community input is permitted or needed, and press developers and County officials alike to appropriately address and remedy valid community concerns.


  • 12 Jul 2016 9:46 AM | Phil Pifer

    GFCA will hold a special TownHall meeting on Monday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Great Falls Library to update residents on three important proposed developments impacting all corners of our community.  Land Use and Development is one of our core activities as part of our Mission to preserve and enhance the quality of life in Great Falls and to defend our semi-rural environment.  GFCA has been deeply involved in all three proposals:  

    1. Cluster rezoning at Brooks Farm (in central Great Falls)
    2. Cluster rezoning at Hill's Nursery (in southern Great Falls) 
    3. A new CVS and retail commercial development (at Seneca Road and Georgetown Pike).  

    Two of these will have major county decisions made in the next two weeks:  the Brooks Farm application is scheduled for a vote by the Board of Supervisors on July 26 and the the Hill's Nursery application is scheduled for consideration by the County Planning Commission on July 21.  The Seneca Road development will be considered by the Planning Commission sometime in the fall. 

    GFCA board members involved in evaluating these proposals will brief residents on the status of the three proposals and touch on how GFCA and other community groups have sought to address the land use, environmental and transportation issues presented by each of these proposals.   

    Brooks Farm especially has been an active concern in Great Falls for over a year.   GFCA members and the public are welcome at this meeting.   Please encourage any interested friends and neighbors to attend.


  • 30 May 2016 1:37 PM | Phil Pifer

    A tradition that began as a Great Falls Volunteer Fire Department fundraiser in the early 1960's, the July 4th fireworks were held every year until the summer of 1985, when house construction made fireworks near the Fire Station unsafe.  Local organizations banded together and brought the fireworks back in 1996.  After two decades, in 2014 a lull in support and volunteers left the skies dark again.  Our community responded and the effort was made to light up the skies again.  Last year's July 4th celebration was a welcomed return of this Great Falls tradition and a huge success, thanks to generous people like you!

    As every year, the Great Falls Fireworks needs your help again.  The support of money and time by local residents and businesses make the fireworks possible each year.  The organizers want to make this year's fireworks even better!  Small changes have been made to the sponsorship packages to further improve the VIP experience.  Please consider one of the sponsorship options, or make a donation of any amount.  Volunteers are also needed for the weeks leading up to and on the night of the big event!

    For information please visit: www.celebrategreatfalls.org.  Or contact Adrienne West at themrswest@hotmail.com or Eamon McCrann at emccrann@lpc.com with questions.

  • 28 May 2016 8:41 AM | Phil Pifer

    The County Planning Commission has deferred a decision on Brooks Farm to allow the applicant to address certain issues with the project.  On May 9, GFCA sent Supervisor Foust and the Planning Commission a letter of opposition to the project, citing several unresolved concerns.  (see related news story earlier in this blog).

    On May 19, Supervisor Foust responded to GFCA's letter with the following:

    "Thank you for your letter of May 9 regarding the Brooks Farm application. Thank you also for all the efforts you, the GFCA and other community members have made to work with my office, county staff and the applicant on the proposal. All of us have worked long and hard on this application. I think we have made progress along the way, however, I agree that there are still issues that must be addressed.

    I have made it clear to the applicant that I believe your letter identifies legitimate concerns. John Ulfelder has deferred the Planning Commission decision to provide the applicant with a relatively short time to address those concerns. I think everyone agrees this process has gone on long enough and everyone, especially the neighbors around Brooks Farm, deserves resolution. I do not expect any more delays and I believe the applicant understands that the most recent deferral is the final opportunity to address the remaining issues that the GFCA has identified.

    John W. Foust
    Dranesville District Supervisor
    Fairfax County"

  • 10 May 2016 7:56 AM | Phil Pifer

    On May 9, GFCA President Eric Knudsen sent letters to Supervisor John Foust and the Fairfax County Planning Commission, reaffirming GFCA's continued opposition to the development as currently proposed.  In the letter, Knudsen cited the GFCA's opinion that the applicant has failed in multiple ways to meet the objectives of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, which (among other objectives) establishes that the County "should encourage a land use pattern that protects, enhances, and/or maintains stability in established residential neighborhoods", which includes protecting and enhancing "existing neighborhoods by ensuring that infill development is of compatible use, and density/intensity, and that adverse impacts on public facility and transportation systems, the environment, and the surrounding community will not occur" (Objective 8(a), Comprehensive Plan).

    Knudsen cited many inadequacies of the proposal from GFCA's perspective, including that it:

    • fails to sufficiently address environmental and storm water management concerns raised by experts engaged by GFCA and the community
    • contains and unacceptable plan for tree preservations and fails to address likely damage to trees on adjacent properties
    • includes requests for several waivers of county requirements, which seem unacceptable in an application for cluster development
    • fails to address the potential negative consequences of an existing easement for access to Springvale Rd, which easement was not voluntarily disclosed
    The full text of the letter is available here:
    Foust_Brooks_05092016.pdf
  • 05 May 2016 5:10 AM | Phil Pifer

    GFCA will hold an important Town Hall meeting on Brooks Farm on Tuesday, May 10 at 7:30 pm at the Great Falls Library.  The program will feature presentations by Great Falls residents who have been involved recently in the negotiations over certain issues arising from a proposal to rezone Brooks Farm as a cluster development;  these issues include storm water management, tree preservation and road access.  The developer, Basheer & Edgemoor, has revised its original development proposal several times in the past year in response to discussions with Fairfax County and Great Falls residents.  The Fairfax County Planning Commission held a hearing on the proposal on January 21, 2016 but has deferred a decision while several remaining issues are addressed.  These issues will be covered at this GFCA meeting.  

    GFCA continues to oppose approval of the current proposal.

    All GFCA members and Great Falls residents are encouraged to attend, both because of Brooks Farm’s importance and also because this meeting will provide a window into how the County evaluates rezoning and development proposals, and how the opinions of neighbors, HOAs, civic organizations and residents factor into their decision.


  • 31 Mar 2016 4:38 PM | Phil Pifer

    The demolition of the old Exxon station was finally started today, promising the correction of a multi-year eyesore as the site is cleared for the eventual construction of a TD bank location.  The old Exxon station site has been the focus of groundwater contamination clean up efforts for the past few years.  Those efforts will continue at this site, as well as across Walker Road underneath the shopping center parking lot to which the contamination has spread.

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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