Old Milk Barn - Cherri Drive - Pimmit Hills

Old Milk Barn - Cherri Drive - Pimmit Hills
Old Milk Barn - Cherri Drive - Pimmit Hills

Monday, March 12, 2012

Foust-Led PHCA 'Town Meeting' Yields More Questions Than Answers

Plus: A Group-Home Real-Life Horror Story

By The Frace-Heller Family
Updated: March 14, 2012
Published: March 12, 2012

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Pimmit Hills, Falls Church, VA -- March 6th's PHCA Town Meeting at the Pimmit Hills Senior Center generated far more questions that rancorous Tuesday night than were answered by Fairfax County Supervisor John W. Foust and Fairfax County-Falls Church Community Services Board ("CSB") officials.

Questions That Won't Go Away For Foust and CSB Officials
1. Why haven't County officials been honest with PHCA's Membership regarding the likelihood that most of those who will be residing in CSB's proposed Cherri Drive group-home facility, elderly or not, will be persons with criminal histories, serious problems related to drug-addiction, and/or mental illness (bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, psychotic behaviors associated with extreme violence)?

Fairfax County Supervisor John W. Foust>
Photo Credit: Bobbi Bowman

2. Will CSB clients residing in the proposed Cherri Drive facility be restricted to the facility, or can they freely come and go at will, and roam around the neighborhood anytime day or night?

3. Will any CSB clients in residence in the proposed Cherri Drive facility have driving privileges and access to motor vehicles? If so, where will these persons be parking their vehicles?

4. Supervisor Foust's first notice of the January 11th meeting introduced the proposed CSB project as "a home for 6 disabled adults." Jeannie Cummins Eisenhour, CSB's investment & development manager, via e-mail, gave the following assurance as well regarding the proposed Cherri Drive facility: "..... we do know the home will serve no more than six individuals." (Please note Ms. Eisenhour's own use of italics to emphasize her words.)

Yet, at March 6th's PHCA Town Meeting, Supervisor Foust stated matter-of-factly that as many as EIGHT persons would be residing in the facility!

So which number is it? Is it 6, is it 8, or is it some larger number (especially if the County runs into a shortage of group-homes for CSB's clients and makes policy changes in how it decides to run these places)?

What is the absolute maximum number of CSB clients that would ever be placed in the proposed facility, and will the County agree not to expand the size of the building in the future to hold even greater capacity? (Further, as was brought up at the March 6th PHCA Town Meeting, why won't the County agree to a deed restriction as to the total number of residents permitted and as to future expansion?)

5. If the proposed facility is only to be used to house 6 (or is it 8?) elderly persons, then why the need for 4,000 square feet? (That's more space per person -- 666 square-feet -- than most Pimmit Hills homes offer today, let alone what was offered to families who originally settled in the then new PH subdivision in the 1950's.)

6. Why won't County officials produce a simple architectural rendering of the proposed project before asking Pimmit Hills residents and PHCA's Membership to approve CSB's proposal?
(For example, County officials have plans to expand Westgate Elementary School and have produced architectural drawings which have been put on display at the school. So why hasn't CSB done the same thing prior to seeking PHCA Membership approval, especially after already spending taxpayer dollars and as much as two years preparing for this project?)

7. What exactly are the benefits to neighborhood taxpayers of having a group-home placed in Pimmit Hills if County officials cannot guarantee in writing that eligible Pimmit Hills residents or their relatives will be granted first-priority for residency in the proposed Cherri Drive facility (and first-priority for open slots as they become available in the future)?

County officials failed to answer the root question, PHCA's raison d'ĂȘtre: How does CSB's proposed facility "... promote and advance the welfare of the residents of Pimmit Hills ..."?
(See PHCA's Articles of Incorporation)

8. Why, at the March 6th PHCA Town Meeting, did County officials repeatedly stress "the children's needs" when in fact County officials have all along insisted that the proposed Cherri Drive facility is not for children at all, but rather to be used solely to house elderly and 'aging' adults?

9. Why, when PHCA's Bylaws clearly state that all members get to vote at PHCA Town Meetings, were those rules suddenly changed four days before the March 6th Town Meeting to restrict the vote to only one vote per household?

10. Why were PHCA members being asked to vote on CSB's proposal the same night in which they were first being given formal presentation in Pimmit Hills on the matter, and without first being given a reasonable period of days to analyze County officials' answers to questions about the proposal?

11. In the days leading up to the March 6th PHCA Town Meeting, PHCA's Web site prominently posted the following two claims:

"PHCA President Matthew Martz spoke with Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust who assured him that the decision on whether the proposal is continued is dependent on the associations yes or no vote. Which ever way we vote is the way that Supervisor Foust will follow through with it."

(This second claim, written by PHCA president Matthew G. Martz himself, was even highlighted in yellow):
"If the community says yes, then Supervisor Foust will give the go ahead for the project and if the community has an overwhelming no, then he will shoot down the idea and the Park Service will put the land up for private auction."

Yet, according to an e-mail sent by a PHCA member who attended the March 6th PHCA Town Meeting (and who requests not to be identified): ".....by the end of that meeting the other night, Foust and the CSB said very point blank (to answer several people who'd asked the question flat-out) that basically this is a done-deal."

If that's the case, then why did Supervisor Foust and CSB officials go through the charade in the first place of coming before PHCA's Membership claiming to seek approval to proceed with the project?

12. Why did Supervisor Foust's first 'informational' meeting on CSB's proposal, the one held January 11th, take place outside Pimmit Hills, nearly two miles by car from the Barn site?

The PH Senior Center on Lisle Avenue, where PHCA's Board always holds its Town Meetings, is less than one block away from the Barn, and certainly far more convenient to those most affected by CSB's proposed project.

Further, why did Supervisor Foust's office fail to post any notice in front of 1845 Cherri Drive, the Park Authority-owned Barn property itself, site of the proposed CSB project? Isn't it customary whenever property hearings take place in Fairfax County to provide notice to the public on signs prominently placed on-site? Where was notice of the January 11th and March 6th 'informational' meetings?

13. What kinds of tax abatements are County officials prepared to offer neighborhood residents in the event the proposed CSB facility causes real estate values on Cherri Drive and surrounding streets Griffith Road, Lisle Avenue, etc. to drop?

14. What is the game plan should the County proceed with CSB's proposal? What entity would ultimately have title to and own the Barn parcel?

In other words, will the Fairfax County Park Authority transfer title to CSB, and then will CSB retain title to the property? Or, alternatively, will CSB then transfer title to a not-for-profit entity that will finance construction of the building and then lease-back the premises to CSB? If the latter, what is the process by which CSB determines which not-for-profit entity is awarded title to the half-acre Pimmit Hills property?

15. At Tuesday night's Town Meeting, Supervisor Foust claimed there are two, maybe three, group-home facilities located in McLean. Where are these group-homes located? Why do the addresses for these facilities not appear on the supposedly comprehensive list provided to our Family by CSB? Where are CSB's proposals to build group-homes in Great Falls, Langley -- and in McLean if Supervisor Foust is mistaken in his information?

16. Why Pimmit Hills? Wouldn't it be more efficient and better for CSB's clients to place CSB's facility closer to a medical center or subway station?

A Real Life Horror Story
Group home resident charged with allegedly attacking caregiver

(WHAS11.com) -- Beuchel, Kentucky -- A resident at a group home for the mentally ill is charged with allegedly assaulting his caretaker.
(Continued -- Click on link above.)

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