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Subdivision Planned for Historic Land in Fort Hunt

The 11-home subdivision is planned for historic land on Sherwood Hall Lane.

An subdivision consisting of 11 homes is in the works for a historic plot of land on Sherwood Hall Lane.

The subdivision, called Little Hollin Hall, will be located at 1901 Sherwood Hall Lane. The land is privately owned and it is a by-right development, which does not require a public hearing.

William H. Gordon Associates has filed a preliminary subdivision plan with Fairfax County Department of Parks and Environmental Service on Jan. 2.  According to Project Manager Scott Peterson, the preliminary subdivision plan preserves the historic house and cottage, as well as a number of large trees on the property.

George Mason III built a home on the land in 1721; the home was eventually called "The Spinning House," which then became an outbuilding for another structure later on that first used the name "Hollin Hall." "The Spinning House" was destroyed by a fire in 1793. It was later added onto and was named “Little Hollin Hall.”

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland said he has been contacted by residents concerned about preserving the historic site. Hyland said that an archaeological survey of historic sites is usually performed before construction commences on historic land.

“It’s up to the landowners whether they want to go through and require an archaeological survey of the site before the developers begin construction,” Hyland explained.

The subdivision plan for the project may be seen at the Site and Addressing Center, located at 12055 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax.

ET1221 January 31, 2013 at 11:38 PM
This is a particularly urgent situation for our neighborhood. We would have hoped that a conservation easement could have been put in place or some other solution. I know that if a private owner who would keep the property intact could be found, that the owners would probably prefer that solution. Do know that they have been approached numerous times by developers and could see the future writing on the wall for the six acres. This may be the only way for them to maintain some control over the development. Having an archaeological assessment of the site is critical in my opinion, as I've learned from outside sources that there may be slave outbuildings, wells and grave sites on the property which have yet to be found. The main problem is that this is a By Right development which leaves few options. Can anyone better explain to me what a By Right development is and how it can be claimed? Seems it is peculiar to Commonwealths.
Melissa Brall Keenan February 01, 2013 at 03:11 AM
These owners should be ashamed. They stand to destroy history in favor of greed if all historic features of this home are not considered in an archeological survey, as well as the effect of their planned excess on the land and people surrounding them.
Wildermann February 02, 2013 at 05:25 PM
By right development is a consequence of current use and zoning. It is not at all peculiar to the Commonwealth and permits developers a road map to development without having to address surrounding community concerns. The only way a community can have a say in the outcome of a development proposal is if a developer proposes a project that is outside of the zoning or recommended uses for the land under consideration and requires a rezoning or plan use amendment. As long as the developers of this property stick to what is permitted for this residential zoned property you have no legal say as to the outcome. The nearby Lamond property as you may recall a few years ago was a by right development. Enough citizen outcry was heard that the Supervisor found county money to buy the property from the developer (at a considerable profit) and to then turn it over to the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Supervisor has responded in the past to select Mount Vernon communities when there is broad community support via petitions and community pressure but not always. By right development is upheld because Virginia is a Dillon Rule state. It limits government intervention & legal authority to undertake a disputed action. In county functions, like planning, zoning, and taxation, there are a number of statutes that give the county clear direction and authority to act, but in new areas of governmental concern, the Dillon Rule can serve as a constraint to innovative governmental responses.
ET1221 February 02, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Martin, Thank you for the additional information. I have only seen it mentioned in Virginia & Pennsylvania reports so assumed it was a Commonwealth thing. And yes, I am very aware of the Lamond property situation being dear friends with people on both sides. Mrs. Lamond is doing very well and have recently visited with her. When citizens choose to make improvements and repairs to their property, why do we have to jump through all the zoning and planning clearances, rather than claim a By Right status as well? Just trying to learn more about it... Thanks!
Wildermann February 02, 2013 at 11:19 PM
ET1221, When developers do by right development they have plenty of P&Z clearances with which to cope. Homeowners doing improvements need to show plans that can be checked to make certain that said improvements don't violate local zoning ordinances. Developers & homeowners alike must also obtain permits & pass inspections. There is much bureaucracy required of developers and property owners although developers are better rehearsed at gaining support and completing a process more familiar to them than the average homeowner. Every few years there is an Area Plan Review ( APR) process where the local Supervisor sets up a committee that examines and can make or consider nominations for plan changes and amendments. These are open meetings and if you ask the District Supervisor to consider you as an appointee to the committee, you might be granted your wish. Being a participant on or attending the committee meetings will teach one a great deal about planning, zoning and development processes. Good Luck

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