June 9, 2004 Minutes - Trails and Sidewalks Committee

Non-motorized Transportation Committee Meeting

June 9, 2004 - meeting minutes by Dan Iglhaut

Members Present- Wade Smith (Dranesville), Bruce Wright (Hunter Mill), Robert Michie (Lee), Christoper O'Brien (Mason), Mary Flowers (Clifton Horse Society), Walter Brodtman (WABA), Dan Iglhaut (NVRPA), Rebecca Cate (FCFCA), Jenny Pate (FCPA)

Staff Present - Sheng Leu (DPZ); Chris Wells (DOT), Ahmed Rayyan (DPWES)

Guests Present - Bruce Nassimbeni (DPWES), Charlie Strunk (DOT)

Call to order - Chairman Bruce Wright called the meeting to order at 7:37 p.m.

Approval of Minutes for May 12, 2004 - Minutes approved unanimously as corrected.


Site Plan Review Process - Invited Speaker Bruce Nassimbeni, Director, Environment and Facilities Review Division, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services



Mr. Nassimbeni discussed the site plan review process as it relates to trails and trail waiver requests. Trails are required per the Countywide Trails Plan and by authority of Chapter 101 of the County Code and Article 17-201 of the Zoning Ordinance. Plan and Development Control routes plans and waiver requests through Planning and Zoning, which are coordinated by Sheng Leu. Plan review includes analysis of adjoining trails, existing and proposed topography, trees, utility issues, culverts, stream crossings, and VDOT projects. Staff obtains input from the NMTC prior to recommending a final decision on waiver requests. Staff recommends either denial, approval, or approval with conditions.


Trail improvements may be escrowed for equal cost. The waiver action is included in construction documents. A trail is required when one lot is being subdivided into two. When one dwelling is being constructed on an existing lot of record and that lot is not subdivided, a trail is not required..


The committee discussed the waiver process in detail and had several questions for Mr. Nassimbeni. The committee noted the need to take adjacent trail escrows into account and providing a mechanism for the County to do that. The committee asked where the final decision on waivers are recorded. Mr. Nassimbeni stated waiver decisions are microfilmed; however sometimes the waiver is approved without a reason noted, which is sometimes done at the request of the Supervisor's office. The committee noted the problem with project sponsors not wanting to build a trail that doesn't connect to another segment but that “we need to start somewhere”.


The issue of waiver requests being affected by VDOT's projects was discussed. It was suggested that the NMTC could provide guidance to VDOT on impacts on future trail projects and VDOT could provide more information on the timing and details of their projects. The committee asked if site reviewers consider adjacent properties when dealing with proffer requirements. Mr. Nassimbeni answered that his office enforces existing proffers but initiating proffers is the responsibility of Zoning Evaluation. However they will ask developers to go off site to complete a connection and project sponsors must show evidence of a denial of the offsite connection.

The committee asked if site reviewers are working to get cooperation of by-right developers for easements on their properties for future trail segments. Mr. Nassimbeni estimated that 95% of the time they do not get what they recommend to by-right property owners. The committee suggested that plan reviewers use the trail plan to identify trails on by-right developments and notify the NMTC representative and the supervisor's office when this is an issue. The committee suggested that Sheng Leu be notified so that he can then notify the representative.

The issue of waiver conditions not being met was discussed and the fact that representatives do not see the final approval. Mr. Nassimbeni said that the waiver action with conditions is included on the approved site plans and he will begin sending final waiver actions to Sheng Leu to be shared with the representative. He also noted that the Director of DPWES makes the final decision on waiver requests. Mr. Nassimbeni invited follow-up questions or comments by email at: bruce.nassimbeni@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Staff Reports

Department of Plannning and Zoning Sheng Leu reported that there are only 157 sets remaining of the existing trails map (of the original 1,800 sets published). He has been updating map data using the 2002 aerial maps. The committee discussed reconsidering the design and content of the map including using different colors to differentiate between the two maps (north and south); distinguishing trail surface type, width, and use; correcting erroneous information such as utility corridors shown as trails; and updating trail routes. Bruce Wright suggested the committee meet on this issue within the next two months.


Sheng Leu also noted that the North County Area Plans Review comment period has ended and that the County does not accept trail recommendations during the Area Plans review process.


Department of Transportation Chris Wells reported that the Pedestrian Task Force is preparing for a public meeting on July 26, 2004 and will forward information to the committee via Sheng Leu.


Chris Wells introduced Charlie Strunk (DOT) to the committee who reported on progress being made, such as the County having a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, more bicyclists in the county, and that DOT continues to pursue missing trail sections. DOT is involved with the Governor's Congestion Relief Plan and FHWA's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). CMAQ has $300,000 to $400,000 available for transportation improvements and DOT is looking at 1) identifying excessively wide roadways for pavement marking and signage improvements and 2) identifying areas for actual physical improvements. He said that a pet project of his is connecting Tysons to the W&OD. He stated that VDOT is becoming more receptive to bicycle and pedestrian issues through its Smart Traffic Group. He noted that FHWA is close to signing off on the trail project under I-66/ Route 29. Chris Wells noted that the Beltway hotlane proposals include Beltway bridge accommodations for bicycles and pedestrians.


Department of Public Works and Environmental Services Ahmed Ryyan reported that he is working on a list of projects for the fall bond referendum and the Pedestrian Task Force that includes recent requests from citizens; requests from supervisors; the Police Department's ten locations with the highest number of accidents; high density areas around Metro and VRE stations; Chairman Connolly's list; and active projects that need funding ($2.7 million). Committee members noted that the referendum list should include Wade Smith's list; Michael Shannon's list (Springfield); Metroped's list; and the NMTC's priority list (less trails that are soon to be completed). He will present a preliminary list to the committee at its July meeting.

Chair Report


Bruce Wright reported on the newly formed Pedestrian Safety Board Pilot Project whose focus will be the Route 1 corridor in the Lee and Mount Vernon Districts. A meeting is being held on June 21, 2004 with Deputy County Executive Robert Stalzer and the two district supervisors. Chris Wells will give the committee more information about the time and place of the meeting. The committee noted that it will be good to have another group looking at safety issues but has concerns about overlap with the NMTC, the Transportation Advisory Committee, and the Pedestrian Task Force. Kevin Brugman (Mount Vernon) has contacted Supervisor Hyland's office to possibly coordinate the project with the Pedestrian Task Force.


New Business


Robert Michie reported on a trail waiver request for Franconia Elementary School along Beulah Street. The applicant is requesting a 5-foot wide trail section instead of the typical 8-foot section. He noted that trail waiver requests in his district are on his website: personalpronouns.org/trails. Charlie Strunk commented that in this case, a 3-foot wide on road bike lane was chosen, which in turn reduced the trail section to 5 feet instead of 8. He stated that the money saved by the applicant on the reduced trail section should be placed in escrow.



Bruce Wright reported that Larry Butler (Sully) will no longer be on the committee and that a new representative for the district is needed.



Walter Brodtman reported that he was asked by a citizen why a trail along Burke Station Road near the Fairfax Memorial Park has a sign stating that the trail is for pedestrian use only and not for bicyclists or roller bladders. The committee thought that the trail section is probably on private property and the sign is for risk management.


Old Business


Wade Smith reported that he testified at the Post Hearing Conference for the Tysons West Station of the Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit Project. He and many others testified that the station entrance should be on the east end of the station instead of the west end.



Jenny Pate reported that the National Trails Day event was postponed due to rain; however an event will be scheduled at Riverbend Park in July. FCPA won “Best of Braddock” for Long Branch Stream Valley Trail as a Public Amenity. The Accotink Trail at King Arthur will go out to bid this fall.



The committee decided not to meet in August. The next committee meeting will be July 14, 2004.


Adjournment - 9:17 p.m.


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