Many in our community may be aware of the City of Falls Church, VA. Historically, it’s about as old as the Town of Easton, MD.
Well, at the intersection of Route 7, which leads to Tysons Corner, VA, and Haycock Road, which is a two-lane street that goes through the middle of a residential neighborhood, there’s a sign which reads, “Welcome to Falls Church, The Little City.”
Last Fall, Clark Construction began building a mixed-use development cross the street from that sign. It’s one of many projects Falls Church city planners approved during the past 10 years because they listened to calls for “badly needed growth.”
https://www.westfallsva.com/ 40 acres of “badly needed growth.”
To put it in perspective, please refer to the two progress pictures I took on April 27.
No, Mr. Boisvert. It’s not a matter of lightening up. It’s a matter of urban sprawl versus maintaining our Eastern Shore rural areas. There’s more than enough abandoned property within Easton between Ocean Gateway and the bypass to satisfy “badly needed growth” in keeping with our Comprehensive Plan.
As one who has had the good fortune of enjoying what this region has to offer since 1978, I respectfully disagree that Easton needs yet another mixed use project — especially like the one the developers of Poplar Hill Farm are proposing at the expense of 65.977 acres of Resource Conservation Area.
Letters to Editor
Jim Franke says
We have had a lot of growth already. In 1976 there were no traffic lights on the Bypass and only Stop signs at RT 50.
John Fairhill says
If Easton and Talbot County as a whole want to retain their core values their leaders must lead instead of ceding that power to developers. When the Poplar Hill Farm proposal first surfaced local government should have held public meetings before turning it over to planning and zoning staff who made their recommendation BEFORE citizens were invited to speak out at the Avalon. It’s a good bet that residents would have responded with good ideas.
Brainard Warner IV says
Total agree with Hugh. Makes to sense to try and compare them!
Clara Kelly says
Falls Church is not a comparison. It’s a cautionary tale.
Bob Selig says
I moved to Easton two years ago and previously lived two years in the Harmony area. Just being able to get out and about in the sprawling open areas over here on the eastern shore has saved my sanity. With the exception of these four years on the shore, I have lived in Northern Anne Arundel county and Baltimore City and I never want to live over there again. Please try to utilize the available areas that are already here instead of ruining what makes this area special. Thank you!
Reed Fawell 3 says
Sadly, Hugh Janis’s first comment to this thread is totally wrong, misinformed and historically incorrect. And Clara Kelly’s comment is right on the mark.
The seeds of the Massive Gridlock we see today in Northern Virginia began when Fairfax County declared the newly opened Capital Beltway to be Fairfax County’s Main Street. This act over time stoppered the Beltway as a bypass around the National Capital, turning first Northern Virginia, and then the entire DC region, into the traffic nightmare that it is today.
The final piece to this awful puzzle that sealed the traffic nightmare fate of Northern Virginia was the opening of I-66 from Rosslyn, Virginia to the Capital Beltway. I watched it happen in 1983 from the Glebe Road Bridge over I-66 when I looked west as traffic jammed up at the Fall Church intersection that jammed up the whole of I-66 where it had never happened before. I-66 there was the straw the back the Camels Back started 20 years before, as it severed off the many streets carrying local and chain bridge traffic south through Arlington County to the city of Alexandria.
The lesson there applies in spades to what will happen if Popular Hill is allowed to open the final flood gates of local traffic onto the Easton By-pass, converting that former by-pass into Easton’s Main Street, jamming up traffic for miles all around, a process started here some 20 years ago. This will destroy Easton, in exactly the same way such myopic short sighted tactics have destroyed many small towns in and around the DC Beltway, and indeed throughout America, particularly those cities and towns that are traffic constrained by rivers, bays, and creeks, such as Easton, Annapolis and yes Washington DC on the Potomac River. We must Kill this Poplar Hill Farm Project before it Kills the town of Easton and all the communities around Easton in Talbot County, and kills all the inter/intra state traffic along with it.
Reed Fawell 3 says
Correction to last sentence of 3rd para above.
“I-66 was the straw that broke the Camels Back that started 20 years before in Northern Virginia, as it severed off the many streets carrying local and chain bridge traffic south and north through Arlington County to the city of Alexandria and back again.”
Reed Fawell 3 says
It is important to remember that the developer special interests in Fairfax County had an overall plan to not only convert the Capital Beltway into Fairfax County’s main street, but to jam it up with local congestion to the point that it would force the building of a new outer Beltway that crossed the Potomac River from upper Maryland into Virginia north of Leesburg to serve not only by-pass Capital Beltway traffic but also local traffic generated by new commercial and residential cities they planned on Virginia’s horse country Piedmont region with its historic towns out there. This outer beltway failed only because Maryland refused to go along with the plan.
At least some of the Developers here have the same plans to clog up the by pass roads around Easton, Trappe and Cambridge so as to force another bridge higher up across the Choptank River to serve new north south intra and interstate highway traffic from Rt 50/301 south across the center of Talbot County to the new upper Choptank bridge. This ambition was clear the last time I read Trappe’s Comprehensive Plan.
Deirdre LaMotte says
The Hazel’s father was a country lawyer with smart sons. They bought the land which is now Tysons Corner.
One son was the builder, the other the civil engineer. Both brothers heavenly subsidized Republicans
in Northern Virginia, and voila. My friend Bill was the engineer’s son, and he grew up near Warrenton,
then far away from the damage his family influence brought. It was not until I moved to the Eastern Shore
that I realized what “raping the land” meant.
Meredith Watters says
Clara Kelly, you speak my mind as a fellow Falls City resident who left in 1971. Watched the explosion of 7 Corners, Vienna, Tysons Corner and all the new residential communities between. As in your comparison to Easton, Falls Church was a small city where everyone knew everyone and you felt safe. Having lived in the Easton area for nearly 30 years, I feel the rural, uncrowded roads, familial setting slipping away. I hope our elected and hired officials hear the pleas for retaining the lesser density, well planned community setting we all love.
Brian Griep says
Instead of developing houses that are high as hell so that anyone can afford around here ,they to develop some more roadways for people to get around here . Locals are tired of back ups in Easton.
Mark Pellerin says
Comparing 1974 to the present is ingenuous and has deceptive intent. Zoning in the 70s allowed for development with 1 and 2 Acre waterfront lots and that was changed not only via adoption and enforcement of Critical Areas law but with State mandated re-writes of Zoning and Comprehensive Plans.
When I came here more than 50 years ago, I thought “Why would a less settled and so very scenic location such as this one ever want to be or look like or become a densely settled and heavily trafficked area ?” I don’t know the answer but I know what I see and it is that Talbot Co. looks more and more like Falls Church than not, and with that, the character we hope to protect is in decline.
Tom Ledvina says
Poplar Hill was designated for priority residential development a decade ago, but that is not the end of the story. Nothing in that designation altered the fact that at that time, 66 of the 120 acres were designated as Critical Area – Resource Conservation Area. That hasn’t changed. A developer then – and now – is entitled to develop the property as a subdivision containing about 138 dwelling units, but with only 3 units in the Critical Area. The developer proposes instead to build 456 dwelling units – 3 times that amount. The proposal would put 272 dwelling units in the Critical Area alone. The developer knew that when he purchased it. If he chose to develop it according to the subdivision regulations and comply with Maryland law protecting the Critical Area (and thus the Chesapeake Bay), or possibly some reasonable number in between, we likely wouldn’t be posting to this string.
Hunt Richardson says
Jobs, tax revenue, follow the money trail
JC Kramer says
I live in Fallschurch. These projects are not designed or developed to ever create affordable housing. Tax revenue is KING..
That being said, people have been nomading since the beginning of time.
Middle class and low income spending is completely different from 50 yrs ago . People can’t afford a house so they spend spend spend for entertainment. Developers love it.
Staycations and eat at home and watch the change.
Steve Lingeman says
Easton will never become a Falls Church without an interstate highway running through it, at least in the remainder of most of our lives. So, to make this comparison is nonsense! However Poplar Hill should not be a mixed use development. Talbot County needs work force starter housing. The current design of Poplar Hill is also nonsense. Easton does not need more athletic fields. It needs houses for families. Easton and Talbot County is ripe with retirees. And, over the 10 years these retirees have pushed the cost of housing through the roof. The current design of Poplar Hill concentrates the single family housing up against the woods and tree line. Why not eliminate the proposed playing fields and add more houses, plus spread out all the houses by increasing the proposed lot size, thus giving the buyers in the development some breathing room. If the community really is serious about workforce housing, then a condition for approval of the project should include a grant program for first time homeowners.
Clara Kelly says
Steve — Does this mean you support granting the Poplar Hill Farm developers a growth allocation which will result in changing the designation of 65.977 acres of Resource Conservation Area (RCA) to Intensely Developed Area (IDA)?
Reed Fawell 3 says
“Easton will never become a Falls Church without an interstate highway running through it, at least in the remainder of most of our lives.”
Easton already already has the equivalent of an interstate and intra-state highway running through it, US 50 that serves the entire Delmarva Peninsula’s eastern bay shore from the Chesapeake’s northern Bay Bridge at Kent Island to the Chesapeake’s southern Bay Bridge at Cape Charles, Virginia, as well as numerous points on the Delaware. Maryland, and Virginia Atlantic Ocean beaches south of the Delaware Capes down to Cape Charles, Va., and many historic towns in between.
And with all this, Easton and Talbot County’s road net around Easton is already maxed out or soon will be, and the tidal wave of growing demand has only just begun, as illustrated every day here and the growing pressure to double the capacity of the existing Kent Island US Rt 50 Bay Bridge.
Given these obvious facts, to put yet another large residential home development at this Oxford Road intersection with the Easton by pass in this world class region of recreation, living history, scenery, waterfowl and fragile ecology, is urban planning malpractice in the extreme.
Deirdre LaMotte says
What is curious is that Falls Church has not been the original “Falls Church” for at least 60 years. The mall has been there since the 60s at least, Route 50 has alway had what strip highways have always had. Except in this case, it
had Best and Company, a store mother would take me to once a month. Sleepy Hollow Road has been residential for
60 plus years. This is the same story for every town in Northern Virginia. Even Middleburg used to be “country” for an hour before arriving from WDC. Now “townhome” developments abut the town.
Until people appreciate the quietness and History of an area, and fight developers and their paid Town Council
members, nothing will change. We in Kent County we’re the first County in the US to defeat Walmart from overwhelming
our town. It took deep pockets and great lawyers but we won. Talbot County? They opened their arms to Walmart.
That store acts as an anchor; once build, every other huge store moves in and then the housing developers
want a cut. It is a truly sad reality. I marvel at the English with their laws which, in many cases, allow no development outside of a town. Period.
Reed Fawell 3 says
“I marvel at the English with their laws which, in many cases, allow no development outside of a town. Period.”
Yes, Deirdre, that is what is needed now in Talbot County, and what the Poplar Hill project will thwart.
I believe the Mall you refer to is the Ballston Mall, just up the road from Falls Church. Ballston’s redevelopment, along with its sisters Virginia Square, Clarendon, and Courthouse, in the 1980’s and 90’s, revolutionized urban development in America in ways that concentrated and mixed urban growth to kill auto traffic generation and promote walk-able thriving communities. The Malls rebuilding along with Arlington’s entire downtown was necessitated by Fairfax County’s hijacking of the Capital Beltway for its Main Street. This act of urban planning Malpractice in the extreme by Fairfax sucked the life, vitality, and financial success out of Arlington’s original downtown that included the original Mall you mention, one of the first in the nation.
Hence Fairfax County’s theft of the Capital Beltway destroyed Arlington County’s downtown. This sort of Urban planning Malpractice is now being proposed for Easton with this absurd proposal to build the Poplar Hill Farm project at its location that is not only outside of Easton proper, but also outside of Easton By-pass at an inter-section that is key to the functioning of the By-pass’s ability to serve all the Talbot County lands east of Easton, including the roads to Oxford, St. Michael’s, and Tilghman Island, and all those living along those roads, or served by those roads.
This sort of Poplar Hill project is suicide by the historic town of Easton, and all the historic communities that surround Easton, and those who pass though Easton going elsewhere.
Deirdre LaMotte says
Agree totally. I just do not understand those who are elected to protect the interest of its residents and be
careful stewards of the land under their care. I hate
to be cynical, but it smacks of “feathering palms”.;
follow the money and there is the answer.