On July 24, 2019, Supervisor Principi invited Marumsco residents to a town hall to hear about new development, traffic calming and road improvements coming to the area. Below are the Supervisor’s highlights of key issues discussed, along with some updates based on audience questions.
An application is moving forward to construct Masjid Alfalah Mosque, at 1381 East Longview (behind Marumsco Plaza, next to the Bayvue swimming pool). Under the Federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, religious institutions are allowed to develop “by right,” meaning without a public hearing or approval from the Board of County Supervisors. However, I know that you have questions about any development coming to your neighborhood, and wanted to give the opportunity to speak directly with those working on the project. The mosque will be 6,000 sf footprint on three levels, 36.5 ft. high structure (lower than the allowable 45 ft. height), with 191 parking spaces. Buffer and landscaping plan calls for over 300 plants and shrubs, a 6 ft. perimeter fence and gate between apartment and mosque. The site plan is on track to be approved in approximately 90 days, with a groundbreaking in 2020, opening between 2022-24. The mosque purchased the 2.4 acre property in 2014 and has been working with County and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to minimize development impacts resulting in the following changes:
- A traffic study was conducted and approved
- Stormwater management was changed to an underground system
- Primary entrance moved to increase site distance for safer egress
- A total of three entrance/exit points thanks to shared agreements with adjoining properties located at the swim club entrance behind Marumsco Plaza and Bayside Avenue, lessening traffic impact on East Longview.
- Drivers can make a left into mosque from East Longview; but cannot make a left onto East Longview from the parking lot.
The audience had a number of questions, primarily around traffic concerns. We learned that:
- Changes to the East Longview/Route 1 intersection will help to improve traffic safety and flow entering the neighborhood (more information in the next section)
- Services take place on Friday afternoons, ending prior to rush hour. Majority of traffic will take place between 12-2p, with 200 people per services. Attendance could be staggered by offering two or three services rather than one.
- With access changes made, traffic study met minimum standards. If it becomes worse, VDOT can be brought in to mitigate.
- Additional uses for the building include possible scout groups and family gatherings. No day care is planned; a request for one would require a Special Use Permit and Board approval. The Iman emphasized that the space will be available to all in the community as needed.
- Given the residential setting, there will be no outward speakers for call to Allah.
- East Longview sidewalks will be closed while building, but not the road. With two other points of egress, the construction traffic can be routed more than one way.
- Best practice is to avoid moving equipment during rush hour—it slows down their work and adds to cost. However, the County cannot restrict construction hours to avoid rush hour.
- A noise ordinance limits work hours. If there are other issues with noise, Development Services can work with applicant.
- The mosque has been fundraising for 3 years, and will continue throughout construction. They anticipate being able to keep the project funded and built within the 24 month schedule.
- County collects escrow and deposit from applicant, which it would use to stabilize site and landscape in case of project abandonment.
- Currently, there are no plans to use the parking lot for alternative uses (such as commuter parking), but mosque leaders are open to a discussion.
- There is not the ability to provide entrance/exit to the front side of Marumsco Plaza.
East Longview is a “legacy road” that has been outpaced by development. This busy road carries 8,500-9000 vehicles daily and has a history of accidents. Working with PWDOT, VDOT and Police, my office has developed a traffic calming plan for East Longview. As part of that plan, we have upgraded a crosswalk at East Longview and Aiden to make it high visibility, installed 3 “Bus Stop Ahead” signs and upgraded all 23 streetlights to LED lights to improve visibility. Other Traffic calming measures under consideration or in progress include:
- Due to the high volume, VDOT will not allow speed tables. Instead, the County will install pole mounted speed displays that let drivers know to slow down; they have been effective in other areas. Expected installation is in 6-8 weeks. Temporarily, the police have a flashing speed sign in place. The displays will be located at:
- Coming from Route 1, just after Bayview, eastbound
- Coming from Colchester, shortly after the turn from Colchester near Harrison
- Additional $200 fines along all of East Longview; VDOT will start public comment process. A public meeting will be held at the September 6 Board of County Supervisors meeting.
In response to concerns raised at the Town Hall, Supervisor Principi will look into a crepe myrtle on Aiden that blocks line of sight for drivers, and have County staff contact the owners about trimming. The County cannot cut trees private property, but can cut what grows into public space.
From Annapolis Way to Neabsco Mills Road, the widening will expand the roadway to 6 lanes, put utility lines underground, add wider turn lanes and bring pedestrian improvements. The project is broken into three phases. While the County’s goal is to make these improvements to all of Route 1, financing is not yet secured for sections south of Cardinal Drive.
Phase III, Mary’s Way to Featherstone, is County managed. Currently, a duct bank for burying utilities is being installed. By 2020, the utilities should be undergrounded. Bad weather, even in other states, could delay timelines, as utility crews can be deployed to other areas to fix storm damage. Road construction will be advertised in 2020, with expected completion in 2022. Once set, the construction schedule will be listed on www.VirginiaDOT.org. Improvements to the intersection of E. Longview and Route 1 will include:
- Former Citgo site will become a slip lane; these allow vehicles to turn at an intersection without entering it, so they do not interfere with through traffic..
- Receiving lane (lanes that drivers turn onto as they first enter E. Longview) will be modified into two lanes.
- A 400’ sidewalk will be constructed on the south side of E. Longview Drive.
- Modification of the westbound approach of the intersection approaching Route 1 to include a dedicated left turn lane, two through lanes, and a right turn lane. Currently there is only a shared through-left lane and shared through-right lane.
PWDOT provided additional information based on audience questions:
- 74 buildings were demolished with the widening; no more will come down as part of the project. Bank of America is relocating. There are no current plans to demolish.
- The “No Left Turn” sign coming out of Marumsco Plaza onto E. Longview was removed in conjunction with road improvements that took place when the store pad sites were added. My office has requested that VDOT assess whether or not the sign is still needed.
The abandoned building at Jefferson Plaza has been on my Top 10 Blight List for years and is the subject of two court cases: a county property maintenance case and commonwealth public nuisance case.
It has had over 50 property maintenance and building code violations. In a one year period, police received over 60 calls to this address; half for serious safety threats including assaults and disorderly conduct. With assistance from my office, the Woodbridge Civic Association petitioned the Attorney General empanel a grand jury empaneled, which declared the building a public nuisance.
As a result, the half that is fenced must be demolished. The building owners, the Garrett Companies, secured financing for the tear-down and removed asbestos this past spring. While Garrett continues to delay demolition, there should hopefully be movement prior to court dates on either August 22 (property maintenance) or September 13 (public nuisance.)
The McDonald’s on Route 1, down by Dawson Beach Rd, is relocating to Jefferson Plaza, on the pad site next to World of Omelettes. While I, and many of you, would have preferred to not see the one McDonald’s location discarded for another, I have been able to work with our Planning Department and the restaurant owner to mitigate impact, with McDonald’s agreeing to:
- Abandon its SUP at the current location, so that another drive through cannot open there without going through a public hearing and vote.
- Remove signage after they move out from the current location.
- Monitor the old property for graffiti and provide property maintenance.
- Add a pedestrian and bicyclist circulation site plan and bicycle racks.
- Pay for construction of a right turn lane, built in conjunction with the Route 1 widening project.
The McDonald’s is also working with the property owner to get the shopping center repaved. The Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing September 18 and then it will be going to the BOCS for a vote. If you have any concerns about this development, I encourage you to speak at the public hearing.
I do not know what will replace the old one; the County cannot control the private sector or property. We are creating and environment that is more likely to draw businesses we want over time. The North Woodbridge Small Area Plan outlines the type of building and usage we’d like to see in each parcel. But it takes a willing developer and market forces to make it happen.
The interchange at North Woodbridge is designed and engineered, and VDOT bought of right of way. Now we are seeking $80M to build it. Discussions are taking place with Fairfax about widening the Route 1 bridge that connects the two counties; it is owned by Fairfax.