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F.C. Planners Advise Vs. Density Limits on Mason High Campus Site

THE FALLS CHURCH Planning Commission took action Monday in favor of placing no restrictions on the density of development that might be welcomed onto the 10 acres set aside for commercial development on the high school campus site. (Photo: News-Press)

Monday night in a unanimous vote, the Falls Church Planning Commission recommended to the City Council that language in the Comprehensive Plan concerning the 10 acres set aside for commercial development on the Mason High School site not be encumbered with any reference to density limits. The draft language for the new location set densities at FARs (floor to area ratios) of “2.5 to 4,” but the commission was in unanimous agreement that two words be added to that formulation: “or more.”

Their intention was clear, with the City moving toward opening up to bids on development of the site, the commission thought it unwise to place any limits on how dense the project could be. “This document is to provide a limit on the lower end of the FAR range, not the higher one,” Commissioner Tim Stevens said. “It’s the opposite of what we would want for most of the rest of the City in which we would want to place an upper limit on density,” he said, “But in this location, it is the other way around. We want a lower limit, but don’t want to predispose an upper limit.”

The other change the commission made was in language defining the purpose for the 10 acres of dense economic development. The draft language said it is for the purpose of covering the cost of the new high school planned for elsewhere on the site of an overall 36 acres. “But is is also for other purposes, so we would not want language to restrict it to that purpose,” the commission concurred.