Metro West Approved – A Victory of Statewide Import

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved a proposal by Pulte Homes to build 2,250 townhouses, condominiums and apartments near the Vienna Metro station, overriding vocal opposition by neighbors who feared an increase in localized traffic congestion. This is arguably the most important zoning decision that Virginia will see all year.

Details at the Road to Ruin blog.

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5 responses to “Metro West Approved – A Victory of Statewide Import”

  1. Ray Hyde Avatar

    I don’t have any stake in this, so I don’t see it as all that impportant. It probably will make my lot with actual land around it with natural flora and fauna still more rare and valuable. I regard this as a real opportunity to settle some issues with a rare real life experiment.

    This approval is hardly a surprise, though. The supervisors have demonstrated their disdain for real public input by holding hearings in rooms too small (this is hearsay) and refusing to appear at meetings called by the opposition. The staff report on the project opened with a litany of smart growth homilies, stated as goals for the project, but nowhere was there any evidence as to how those goals would be achieved.

    As you say, Virginia has some excellent modelling capabilities. Let’s hope that someone will take the initiative and do a total, comprehensive traffic and business analysis for an area as large as five or ten miles from this place right away, and then repeat the process five and ten years from now.

    We should do the same for Albemarle Place and some other locations with strong growth restrictions, such as The Plains, VA, for comparison.

    Then we will be able to tell if this is really one of the most important zoning decisions of the year. If the results prove out as promised, I’ll concede I’ve been wrong in my skepticism.

    I’m not too worried about having to eat the humble pie, though, because I doubt the evidence will ever surface.

    It is probably incorrect to put the neighbors fears about increased congestion in the past tense just yet.

  2. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Can we create city living in the suburbs? I think that’s the question.

    My suspicion is that many of these new residents will be just as dependent on cars as their single family home neighbors.

    We’ll see.

  3. Ray Hyde Avatar

    It seems to depend on which investigator you believe: I think the jury is still out.

    Some claim there are substantial reductions in auto use based on density. New York has higher transit use than anywhere in the US and it is still only 10%.

    Others claim the apparent reductions in usage are not real or not dependent on density, but other factors.

    Others claim it is real: after other factors are accounted for there is still a small reduction evident.

    Others claim that if walkable locations are available, they are used in addition to and not instead of driving trips.

    Others claim the overall pattern of driving is driven by so many things it has never been adequately understood. Two jobs, chosen hobbies, job changes, school zone changes, dozens of factors that are not related to density at all.

    Still others claim we have an innate travel budget: we like to travel and will do so.

    If you are right, and all this new congeston was foisted on existing residents against their will then we may see that the supervisors did not do the right thing. Or as TMT notes the residents may explain it to them at the next election.

    We’ll see.

    I would really like to see someone disinterested take the data, not the government, not Pulte, not the smart growth alliance. then we might really see.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Interesting review of “Sprawl, A Compact History” by Robert Bruegmann in the “Weekly Standard” of March 20, 2006.

    First sentence of the second from last paragraph says: Sprawl is messy, chaotic, and sometimes annoying. In short, it is everything one expects from a free and democratic society.

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Right, we have spent the last hundred years watching and helping in the demise of centrally controlled economies and societies. Meanwhile, we are incrementally legislating ourselves into totalitarianism.

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