April, 2017 - Subdivision on Mashie Drive, Vienna VA
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Mashie LLC. would like to subdivide 4 lots on Mashie Drive into 7 lots which is allowed under the R16 zoning rules. In addition, their request is to remove the access road between Maple Avenue and the current two houses that sit and face Maple Ave. Their plans are to create three with driveways off of Follin Lane and one driveway directly off of Maple Avenue with the remaining 3 homes facing Mashie Drive.
Many concerns have been raised by the community if the Vienna Town Council approves their current plan as is. Safety, guest parking, and proper drainage are just some of the concerns that have been raised. A letter has been drafted for the Planning Commission meeting this Wednesday April, 26th regarding this issue. If you agree with the statements in the letter below please provide your name and address to show support for the community's concerns.
Dear Town Council,
As neighborhood residents impacted by the current Mashie Drive Subdivision request filed by Mashie LLC, we have enclosed our concerns in this letter. We ask that Mashie LLC work with the Town of Vienna to address these concerns in order to balance their intended economic gain with the long term interests of the neighborhood and its residents. The surrounding residents who have signed this letter ask both Mashie LLC and the Town of Vienna to address these concerns as outlined, below.
The proposed plan is to create 3 driveways along Follin Lane and one driveway along Maple Avenue while also removing the existing access road that runs parallel to Maple Ave. This concerns us for a few reasons.
First, Follin Lane is one of heaviest traveled roads in Vienna, especially with the additional office space being built by the Credit Union. Placing 3 new active driveways on this road which will be in close proximity to the traffic light will be unexpected for most drivers and dangerous, especially knowing that drivers try to speed up to make the lights onto Maple Ave.
Second, one of the driveway entrances begins at the curve of the right turn lane. This is problematic as it can be a possible blind spot for people driving down Follin. Additionally, when the construction of Follin Lane was being negotiated by the neighbors of Mashie Drive, the Vienna Town Council ensured residents that there would not be any additional driveways added off of Follin Lane.
Third, driving from downtown Vienna, Maple Ave bends right before Follin Lane and people start to speed up as they are leaving the “downtown” area. For this reason the proposed new driveway on maple avenue should also be considered a blind spot if the access road is removed. Overall, both for drivers and the residents (including new home owners who would live in the subdivided lots), the placement of these driveways should be more cautiously evaluated to ensure the safety of our community.
Fourth, the request for a bus shelter poses more concerns with safety. Placing a bus stop creates a blind spot for those leaving Mashie Drive and turning onto Maple Avenue. Unfortunately, Mashie gets a great amount of traffic as people cut through to either avoid the lights at Follin Lane, or go to and from Our Lady of Good Council. When pulling out of Mahsie onto Maple, there is a bend in Maple that makes oncoming traffic difficult to see until the last minute. Also, the drivers coming around that bend are often speeding to get out of downtown Vienna which doubles the safety concerns with having a bus stop blocking a driver’s vantage point.
We request the Mashie LLC and Town Council consider a few alternative options to the current proposal:
1. Build only six houses as opposed to seven, thus eliminating the need for one of the three driveways off of Follin Lane. By removing the proposed house on the corner of Follin and Maple, this reduces the safety and traffic concerns that would be imposed by having a driveway directly in the right turn lane of Follin.
2. Do not remove the existing access road, it was originally built for a good reason as a safety buffer and the neighbors who live here understand the benefits of this road. This is more fully explained in a separate section of this letter.
3. Adjust the driveways so two houses facing Follin Lane share one entrance off of Follin Lane and the two houses facing Maple Ave also share one driveway off of the access road.
As mentioned earlier, we view the access road as a “safety buffer” for this development. Another concern is this road is used for guest parking and often has a lot of cars parked there. Westwood Country club also uses it for overflow during events they hold throughout the year. By taking away this road you create a parking issue as no one can park on Follin Lane nor on Maple Ave. Additionally Mashie Drive is a relatively narrow street so cars that park on the street often park partially on our front lawns and partially on the pavement. Since the builder is proposing to build four additional houses, all of which face either Follin Lane and Maple Ave, this access road is even MORE imperative to keep.
The removal of the access road also creates maintenance issues. Since the land is owned by the Town of Vienna but visually appears as if it belongs to the houses facing Maple Avenue, who will be obligated to take care of this property? This will be the one of the first streets people see as they officially enter the downtown portion of the Town of Vienna. As residents, we have observed firsthand how the Town of Vienna doesn’t maintain the 5 feet that currently exists between the sidewalk and the access road. Converting this space into green space then creates confusion and issues between the Town of Vienna and the new homeowners.
The builder may use the argument that it will create a sound barrier between Maple Avenue and Mashie. The residences living next to the proposed development currently don’t have sound issues and 12 additional feet of grass is not going to create any additional coverage. The only benefit to succeeding the land over to the builder is to make the houses they are trying to sell look like they have more land to make the sale more appealing to the market. The access road change creates huge safety concerns in return for financial upside for the builder. It also changes the feel of the neighborhood that the residents who do not want this change.
The builder is proposing five water gardens and two gravel detention trenches between the seven houses. Given the existing drainage issues in this area, there is concern if the current proposal provides sustainable and adequate long term drainage.
There has been a significant amount of new home construction on Mashie Drive over the past 10 years. In fact, seven new houses were built in the past three years alone. Needless to say, the turnover rate has been exponential on our tiny street. Those of us who are in these newly constructed homes have had to install additional drainage beyond that of which the builders were approved to install. On average, homeowners have had to spend $5,000 to $10,000 to install additional drainage solutions beyond what the Town of Vienna enforced with the builders. Obviously these builders were in compliance with the town of Vienna’s drainage ordinances otherwise their plans would not have been approved. Given this proposal to take four homes and replace with seven, we believe the drainage issues will only be exacerbated. Especially given the Roby’s property (203 Mashie) that would abut to the new subdivided lots and the existing french drain that resides on 201 Mashie. Removing this french drain in conjunction with the higher elevated lots will create issues and poses a big concern.
Additionally, for Mashie LLC to build seven homes on the existing lots, requires the removal of most of the existing trees. Some of these trees are 100+ years old and contribute to the sanctity of our neighborhood. These old trees have been helping this tiny block soak up the excess water since Mashie Drive was initially developed. One large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air in a day. By removing them and adding younger trees, the drainage issues will only increase. We do not believe that the builder’s proposal for five water gardens and two gravel detention trenches will be sufficient.
Separately, the 20% canopy coverage is not based upon each individual lot rather the entire disturbed area. By placing the majority of the 20% canopy along Maple Avenue this leaves the remaining 2 acres of property with little help.
Under the Town of Vienna’s water management requirement code there is no mention as to the feasibility of the maintenance of these water gardens. For example what happens as the foundation of these cement basins start to crack and leak as foundations often due. What is entailed in to repair these water gardens and the cost associated with it. Will homeowners be willing to pay the cost as it will no longer be the builder's responsibility? If not we might have additional drainage issues 10 years down the road. Therefore ask that the maintenance requirement for a SWM facility is transferred in the deed to the new homeowners.
Lastly, will these water gardens create a breeding ground for mosquitos and other bugs? We already have a major mosquito issue during the summer and stagnant water only encourages the breeding of these bugs. Will this create a concentrated area for these pests to breed like that along the Wildwood Park Trail?
The plans propose a house whose address is Follin Lane yet the house appears to sit on Maple Avenue. Also, the builder is pressing the limits on many of the required / allowed building restrictions such as lot size, minimum setbacks, and building heights. Couple these points with the the builder’s inexperience with this degree of construction and the lack of community outreach and communication to this community, residents are becoming increasingly frustrated.
It is clear that Mashie LLC is not interested in working with the residents but more interested in maximizing their profit. Keep in mind that none of the Mashie LLC owners live in Vienna yet they want to completely change the density, character, and feel of our neighborhood.
Finally with the removal of all the old trees the power lines will be more prominent and noticeable. Most of downtown Vienna already has these lines buried underground but not in our neighborhood. Since the builder will be disrupting the area, we believe now would be a perfect time to place these utilities underground as it will save the Town of Vienna money later on from having to dig up new sidewalks etc. Please note the lines in question are separate then those that we know will be buried underground to each individual house.
Ultimately we know there are limitations the Town Council has in such matters as the builder appears to be compliant with the R16 housing regulations but as a community we need to address our concerns as it's everyone’s duty to ensure the safety of our neighbors and to keep the integrity of the neighborhood. Once the subdivision is completed the developer is gone leaving us in to deal with any potential problems that arise from their financial gain; many of which will be irreversible once completed.
Neighbors of Vienna
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