Hospital expansion starts squabble with local residents
Some residents in Fairfax County's Gum Springs neighborhood worry that the planned expansion of a local hospital will bring more traffic to their historic community.
“Gum Springs is an extremely important neighborhood, there's nothing older in the area, other than the mansion in Mount Vernon,” said Ronald Chase, president of the Gum Springs historical society.
Chase says the historical value of his community has being ignored, as discussions move forward on expanding Inova Mount Vernon hospital. The hospital is located just next to the neighborhood.
“What are the considerations that are being given to have this community go into continuum, to be in continuum,” Chase asks.
In 2008, the hospital announced its $14 million expansion and renovation. Last week, the planning commission voted to endorse those plans with certain conditions, like carrying out the improvements in three phases.
Residents like Queenie Cox worry that this growth will also mean more traffic.
“I strongly feel and other residents feel that they have not taken into consideration whether or not the infrastructure is in place to support the increased traffic,” Cox said.
One area of concern is widening Sherwood Hall Lane into a four-lane road.
“Our current language states that it's only to be two lanes, and Fairfax County decided they would push this through without Gum Springs’ consideration,” Cox says.
According to county supervisor Gerry Hyland, the first construction phase will not require those changes, and if they were implemented down the road, there would be enough time for community input.
“Even though staff suggested that we do that, we're not doing that, and if that's ever considered in the future the community will have a large say as to whether or not that happens,” Hyland said.
Hyland says planning has remained transparent, and will stay that way until the project is complete.
“To be frank -- I'm a bit surprised, that there are those who feel that the community has not been involved in this application,” he said.
On Tuesday, the board of supervisors will vote on Inova's request for a special zoning exception, a requirement for building in a residential area.
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