Old Milk Barn - Cherri Drive - Pimmit Hills

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Supervisor John Foust's McLean Neighborhood is Group-Home Free!

'No Group-Homes Here, Thank You!'
Foust and CSB's Top Officials Live Miles Away From CSB Facilities,
But Have No Problem Proposing Group-Homes For Other People's Neighborhoods

By The Frace-Heller Family
Updated: March 31, 2012 12:12 p.m.
Published: March 29, 2012

Contact us

The Pimmit Hills Observer
Yahoo! Pimmit Hills Moms and Dads Group

Pimmit Hills, Falls Church, VA -- The McLean cul-de-sac where Dranesville District Supervisor John W. Foust (D) resides with his family boasts 8,400 square-foot homes (average sale price: $2.7-$3.2 million) set on house lots of nearly a full acre.

<Fairfax County Supervisor John W. Foust's residence on Swinks Mill Court in McLean, Virginia.

Swinks Mill Court offers its well-heeled residents large back yards where almost half the homes have designer swimming pools.

But what Supervisor Foust's Swinks Mill neighborhood does not sport is the kind of group-home that the Fairfax County-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB) is now proposing to build in another part of Mr. Foust's Dranesville District, Pimmit Hills, a neighborhood subdivision 3 miles away from Swinks Mill, on the other side of Dolley Madison Blvd., the main drag in McLean (aka Chain Bridge Road, state highway 123).

The proposed CSB-operated group-home would be used to house adults -- the elderly and "aging" in the words of CSB officials -- including persons with severe mental disabilities, handicaps, and psychological maladies for whom the County is, in effect, the 'landlord of last resort'.

Dranesville District Supervisor John W. Foust>

Supervisor Foust, who for 26 years practiced construction law in Fairfax County before being elected Dranesville District's top official in 2007 (re-elected last November to a second term), is not alone in commending to build property-value-killing group-homes in other people's neighborhoods:
  • CSB's executive director, George Braunstein, resides in Fairfax City along quiet tree-lined Woodland Drive, yet the closest CSB group-home to Mr. Braunstein's neighborhood is 2 miles away.
  • Carolyn Castro-Donlan, CSB's deputy director, enjoys her Folley Lick Court home in Herndon, while she's more than 16 miles from the nearest CSB facility.
  • CSB's investment & development manager, Jeannette Cummins Eisenhour, doesn't reside in Fairfax County, but her Alexandria home on East Oxford Avenue is more than 5 miles from a CSB-operated property.
  • Belinda A. Buescher, CSB's communications director, lives in an Annandale cul-de-sac called Cockney Court, a stone's throw away from beautiful Long Branch Stream Valley Park, but by car the closest CSB group-home is over a mile-and-a-half away on the opposite side of the park's winding stream of the same-name.

County-run group-homes like the one CSB is proposing for Cherri Drive in Pimmit Hills are for persons whose personal histories make it nearly impossible for them to obtain accommodations in privately-owned residential and treatment facilities.

Such persons can pose a threat to the safety of a private landlord's other tenants, especially when the CSB 'client' has a history of psychotic, dangerous behaviors or criminal activities.

CSB acknowledges that a hefty percentage of its clientele includes persons who have had what CSB officials call "interaction with the criminal justice system".

By far the largest segment of CSB clientele are those beset with severe mental health problems, impairments and intellectual disabilities.

Persons exhibiting varying sub-types of Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia are common amongst CSB clientele.

Behavior of persons afflicted in these ways can turn violent, suddenly and without warning.

Private group-home operators don't want the risk inherent in dealing day-to-day with persons at such high risk, where a client's simple act merely forgetting to take medication can have serious consequences including violent confrontations.

For such unpredictable and potentially dangerous persons, the County is thus landlord of last resort.

It is for such persons that CSB builds and maintains facilities like the one it proposes to construct in Pimmit Hills.

Supervisor Foust and his fellow county supervisors have direct jurisdiction over CSB, and by political necessity a CSB facility proposed for any district must go through the respective supervisor in charge of that district, and ultimately before the full board of supervisors, before getting final approval. <<<<<

Group-Home Horror Stories:
(Links to media reports of violence at Group-Homes)
Middletown man accused of assault at group home
Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012
The Middletown Press
MIDDLETOWN, CT — A city man at a group home is facing a breach of peace charge after allegedly assaulting another resident, police report.
(Continued -- Click on above link.)

At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity
Published: March 12, 2011
The New York Times
Nearly 40 years after New York emptied its scandal-ridden warehouses for the developmentally disabled, the far-flung network of small group homes that replaced them operates with scant oversight and few consequences for employees who abuse the vulnerable population.

A New York Times investigation over the past year has found widespread problems in the more than 2,000 state-run homes. In hundreds of cases reviewed by The Times, employees who sexually abused, beat or taunted residents were rarely fired, even after repeated offenses, and in many cases, were simply transferred to other group homes run by the state.
(Continued -- Click on above link.)

Parolee Arrested in Alleged Sexual Assault at Group Home in Ferndale

Group home employee arrested in assault

Monday, March 12, 2012

Response to PHCA Editor's Libelous Editorial

Name-Calling is No Substitute for Facts
The Frace-Heller Family's response to the editorial authored by PHCA's Webmaster

By The Frace-Heller Family
Pimmit Hills
Falls Church, VA 22043
Contact us

The Pimmit Hills Observer: http://www.pimmithillsnews.blogspot.com/
Yahoo! Pimmit Hills Moms and Dads Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pimmithillsmomsanddads/

Pimmit Hills, Falls Church, VA -- That sniping, libelous rant entitled, "Executive summary of the March 6 PHCA meeting", saw publication Thursday, March 8th on the Pimmit Hills Citizens' Association Internet Web site (www.pimmithills.org) , two days after PHCA's evening 'Town Meeting' held at the Pimmit Hills Senior Center on Lisle Avenue.

PHCA's Webmaster, Cindy Kwitchoff, who doubles as editor of The Pimmit Hills Dispatch newspaper as well as the organization's e-mailed Pimmit Hills News, closes her attack with the lament: "It's a very sad time for the Association on its 61st anniversary."

When private citizens in Pimmit Hills are defamed and attacked falsely for conducting due diligence, for fact-finding, for alerting neighbors, and for inviting public discourse regarding a County-proposed project that offers no positive benefits for the neighborhood, then indeed, it is a sad time.

PHCA Parroting-Back County's Official Line
Further, after keeping up to date on what has been published thus far in the PH Dispatch, Pimmit Hills News, and on PHCA's Web site, it appears to us that PHCA's Board has all along been merely parroting back to its membership County officials' public statements and press releases without bothering to check the veracity of any of it.

Article II of PHCA's Articles of Incorporation states the following:

"The purpose for which the corporation is organized is:
To promote and advance the welfare of the residents of Pimmit Hills subdivision and immediately adjacent subdivisions. In furtherance of this purpose, the corporation shall endeavor to promote cultural, social, moral, educational and recreational activities for the benefit of the residents of Pimmit Hills subdivision and immediately adjacent subdivisions."

There is no mention in PHCA's Articles of Incorporation any notion of promoting County projects that could negatively affect Pimmit Hills' quality-of-life and property values. Also, there is no mention of promotion of projects that fail to "advance the welfare" of PH residents.

Yet, at the March 6th PHCA Town Meeting, Fairfax County Supervisor John W. Foust (D) and Fairfax County-Falls Church Community Service Board (CSB) officials admitted that the County could offer no guarantees whatsoever that Pimmit Hills residents or their relatives would ever have opportunity to reside in the proposed Cherri Drive facility, let alone have first-priority for the group-home's few available openings.

Before any judge us based on the malicious, factually incorrect PHCA Web site editorial, consider the following:

Since the County wants to place this project on the same street where our children play, and on what is now Fairfax County Park Authority land where our children also play, and since we only just got wind of the County's proposal in the weeks after that first January 11th 'informational' meeting, we decided to find out what was really going on.

First 'Informational Meeting' Not Even Held in Pimmit Hills
Please note, that the January event at Lemon Road Elementary School, labeled as an 'informational meeting', was the first public notice anyone has had about this project. This, despite the fact, as we have since learned, that this project has been in the works in County Supervisor John W. Foust's office and at CSB for as long as two years!

The Lemon Road ES meeting, sponsored by Supervisor Foust, was also noteworthy for the fact that the meeting did not take place in Pimmit Hills, but rather on the southern-most edge of Supervisor Foust's Dranesville District, in a school located nearly 2 miles by car from the proposed Cherri Drive project.

No Public Notice Posted at Barn Site
Let's be honest: how many even saw the notice Supervisor Foust's office posted regarding that January meeting?

What's more, there was never notice of any type posted at the Barn site on Cherri Drive where the project is intended to be built, as is customary practice in Fairfax County, notably on large orange DayGlo signs whenever official 'hearings' of any kind are scheduled to take place related to a parcel of real estate.

Foust Waits Til After Re-Election to Announce Group-Home Project
It seemed plain to us at the time that Supervisor Foust's office was trying to slide/sneak by the public in as quiet a fashion as possible with little public awareness of what actually was being planned, this entire matter and all its ramifications for the neighborhood.

Noteworthy as well is that though this project has been near two years in the making, Supervisor Foust waited until after his re-election this past November to let the public in on this controversial and plainly divisive project.

If this project is so good for Pimmit Hills, why didn't Supervisor Foust brag about it in his campaign and about his role in bringing it to fruition in our neighborhood?

What does all this say for Supervisor Foust's honesty and transparency?

PHCA Board Failed to do 'Due Diligence'
So, after our Family heard about the January Lemon Road ES meeting (which few actually attended -- wasn't it PHCA president Martz, speaking at March 6th's PHCA Town Meeting, who said "six people showed up"?), we decided then that it would be appropriate to perform the kind of 'due diligence' that appeared to be sorely lacking based on what we had been reading up to that point on the PHCA Web site and in the PH Dispatch.

What we mean by 'due diligence' is not accepting as Gospel that which the County says.

The first thing we did was to read, in its entirety, CSB's own '2011 Housing Needs Report' (33 pages). That document identifies CSB's 'clients' as: "people with intellectual disabilities, mental illness or substance use disorders."

It bluntly states that many CSB clients have had "Interaction with the criminal justice system," and that most of CSB's clients "(86 percent) need supervised or intensive levels of assistance."

Further, CSB's report makes abundantly clear that "CSB clients who need affordable housing require flexible housing programs with adaptations and modifications that address key housing barriers including accessibility, credit issues and criminal history."

Indeed to this day, neither Supervisor Foust nor CSB officials have been able to give any assurances nor specificity concerning just which kinds of clients would be housed in the project other than that they will be elderly or 'aging'. County officials refuse to say whether those elderly clients will have criminal histories, drug addictions, mental illnesses (e.g. schizophrenia, bi-polar), or other maladies which might lead to violent behaviors.

Group-Home Residents Free to Roam Neighborhood Day and Night?
Further, CSB officials have yet to answer questions as simple as whether clients assigned to the proposed Cherri Drive facility will be free to roam around the neighborhood without restriction, or whether they can have driving privileges and access to motor vehicles?

Yet, nowhere in any of the material being published at the time on the PHCA Web site was there any mention of the percentage of CSB's clients who had criminal histories, who exhibited schizophrenia and/or bi-polar disorder (with the inherent potential for sudden violence that such conditions can evoke) , who needed supervision to stay on their medications, and who had the kinds of dangerous mental conditions that were scaring the bejeebers out of us as we read through CSB's own 'toned-down' 33-page report.

We thought about what daily life here would be like with such persons -- and the visitors and friends they might attract -- having free reign about our Pimmit Hills neighborhood, where on an average sunny day there can be at least a dozen elementary school-age children running around within just the first half-block of where the Park Authority Barn now sits.

CSB Officials Misquote Laws Governing Their Own Field
So we started by asking CSB officials for a list of addresses of CSB's facilities around the County so that we might survey neighbors in those neighborhoods where CSB already maintains group-home facilities.

We considered this to be a minimum level of 'due diligence', which had PHCA's Board been 'promoting and advancing' the welfare of Pimmit Hills residents per the organization's Bylaws, one might expect the Board to do as well.

We telephoned CSB on January 26, 2012 and were quite clear with the official with whom we spoke as to our intent to conduct a survey of CSB's neighbors in the neighborhoods surrounding its other operating locales.

Yet, the very first thing this CSB official did in response to that good-faith request by a constituent of the Dranesville District seeking information on CSB-related matters was to deny, immediately and categorically, the request both verbally and then in writing.

Jeannie Cummins Eisenhour, CSB's investment & development manager, claimed in that phone conversation that to honor our request would compromise "the civil rights" of residents of the group-homes in those various neighborhoods. Ms. Eisenhour followed-up in an email sent the very same day, writing: "As I mentioned on our call, Fair Housing laws and Health Information privacy laws prohibit me from sharing addresses of our group homes with you."

That same day, Ms. Eisenhour e-mailed PHCA president Martz reiterating her denial of our request. That letter received prominent posting, of course, on PHCA's Web site by PHCA's Webmaster.

The problem with all this is that CSB's Eisenhour, and subsequently as well CSB's executive director, George Braunstein, were wrong.

< Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board investment and development manager Jeannie Cummins Eisenhour

Neither the Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968), nor HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) have ever contained any language whatsoever that would prohibit release to the public of information regarding location of facilities, which are, after all, government-owned and/or operated buildings.

Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board executive director George Braunstein>

CSB's Executive Director Makes-Up Own Policies
And it gets worse. Once CSB officials were informed of their error by the County Attorney, did they correct their error and produce the addresses?

What follows is the text of an e-mail Mr. Braunstein sent us Sunday, February 26, 2012 after asking for and receiving from Fairfax County Attorney David P. Bobzien his interpretation of the two federal laws. CSB executive director Braunstein writes:

"I have received consultations from our County Attorney and they are clear that while there is no definitive mention in the code about publishing addresses of our homes.(sic) Therefore, it becomes a question of where we establish our policies. Obviously we do not publish the addresses of the homes of any of the other 20,000 people we serve every year, including those that we regularly visit in their private homes as part of our effort to provide our disabled customers the same rights as any other resident of this county. To live in the community of their choice.(sic) Therefore, I am making the judgment to uphold our policy and require a submission of a FOIA request. Otherwise, we have been willing to offer you a visit to one or two of our residential sites that serve a similar population to the home we are proposing at the Pimmit Barn property. Thank you for your efforts to make sure we are accountable to the residents of your district and Fairfax County."

In other words, two federal laws quoted by two senior County officials, Eisenhour and Braunstein, did not say what they claimed the laws said, and so CSB executive director Braunstein on his own, without CSB's board voting on or even considering the matter, made up a new policy to cover his continued refusal to release requested information. CSB's board never signed-off on Mr. Braunstein's made-up new policy because CSB's board was not scheduled to meet for another month.

It finally took until March 2nd to obtain release of the information that our Family had first requested January 26th. What this goes to show is that County officials all along were either woefully misinformed regarding federal laws governing their special area of expertise, or alternatively, that CSB officials were intentionally being deceitful. Let the reader decide. Why do you think CSB officials would not want people from a neighborhood where CSB was seeking to build a facility to survey folks in neighborhoods where CSB already has facilities?

Can County Officials Be Relied Upon to Tell the Truth?
This dismal experience in getting simple information out of County officials also begs the question: Can County officials be relied upon to be forthcoming and transparent with the public regarding matters under their jurisdiction and purview?

Experience tells us: apparently not. Please note that though Supervisor Foust assured PHCA's members attending March 6th's Town Meeting that there are CSB-operated group-homes located in McLean, the list CSB provided to our Family, a list that is supposed to be 'comprehensive', shows no such CSB facilities anywhere in McLean nor even nearby. Further, none are listed in Great Falls nor in Langley.

Our survey of CSB's neighbors in the communities where CSB operates its group-homes is simply intended to inquire whether CSB is a good neighbor. We want to know whether, if a neighborhood were given the chance all over again to invite CSB to establish a group-home, would its own neighbors agree to let CSB in?

Just as important, we want to inquire as to what CSB's presence in those neighborhoods has done for neighborhood property values?

PHCA Refused to Publish Facts the Public Needed to Know
Please note that when our Family followed-up by sending letters to PHCA's Webmaster for publication on PHCA's Web site in order to keep our fellow Pimmit Hills residents informed regarding our 'due diligence', PHCA's Webmaster, except for our first letter of January 23rd and our brief update of January 26th, refused after that to publish any more of our letters.

Yet, PHCA's Web site, in a claim posted prominently by PHCA's Webmaster, continued to insist in the five-week run-up to the March 6th PHCA Town Meeting that "In this post is all the information, pros and cons, concerning the proposed redevelopment of the old barn on Cherri Drive in Pimmit Hills."

Except, that claim was disingenuous at best. Our Family was continuing to provide PHCA with more detailed information based on facts as we continued our 'due diligence', only PHCA's Webmaster totally refused to publish on PHCA's Web site any of our subsequent letters nor did the Webmaster publish any of the information contained in those letters. So if one were to be relying on the PHCA Web site for information regarding CSB's proposal, one would certainly not be getting "..... all the information, pros and cons .....".

We subsequently set up Web sites: The Pimmit Hills Observer and the Yahoo! Pimmit Hills Moms and Dads Group in order to aid in dissemination of information as we got it. We note as well that it is not just our letters that are not being published on PHCA's Web site, it appears as if no one else's are either. This, despite our having received many e-mails and posted comments pro and con on the subject. <<<<<

Horror Stories About Group-Homes:
'Chelmsford group-home resident indicted on assault charges'
'Disabled Joliet man beaten to death in group home, authorities say'
'Woman fatally attacked in Denver group home identified'
'Family of man who died following attack at a Charleston group home to receive $450,000 in settlement'
'Group home attack builds fear'

'Teen Charged With Murder In Fatal Group Home Attack'
'Man Pleads Guilty In Duluth Group Home Attack'

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

Contact us
The Pimmit Hills Observer
Yahoo! Pimmit Hills Moms and Dads Group

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'être: 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.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

PHCA Board Cancels Vote Rather Than Proceed According to By-Laws

Attempt to 'Gerrymander' Who-Can-Vote Fails
Informed Source: Supervisor Foust Intentionally Waited Until After Re-election to Let Pimmit Hills Residents in on County's Plans for Barn

by The Frace-Heller Family
Published: March 7, 2012

Pimmit Hills, Falls Church, VA -- Confronted with a legal opinion stating that the Pimmit Hills Citizens' Association board of directors would be in violation of the association's Bylaws were the board to conduct a vote that did not give all members in good standing a vote at Tuesday night's Town Meeting on a controversial County proposal, the PHCA board instead opted at the meeting to cancel the vote entirely and blame others for the board's actions, specifically those who sought legal advice that put the board on notice in the first place.

The PHCA board on Friday
just days before Tuesday's long-scheduled Town Meeting on a controversial proposal by Fairfax County officials to place a group-home in Pimmit Hills, notified its membership via notice posted to the association's web site that for Tuesday's vote, only one vote per household would be allowed. Historically, PHCA had, as stipulated in the association's Bylaws, always allowed all members to vote on issues before the membership, and families with two adults in the house counted as two members as long as annual dues were paid up.

The political maneuver to disenfranchise, known in election circles as 'gerrymandering', is the practice or process by which changes in voting rules or geography of a district are used to achieve a desired electoral result
to help or hinder a particular demographic, political purpose, or outcome -- in this case to get PHCA member approval for the group-home proposal backed by the County.

In the instant matter,
PHCA's Friday maneuver would have taken away votes from as many as 38% of PHCA's membership -- specifically spouses and domestic partners -- the very people who likely were also parents and who likely would also be counted on to vote against the County's proposal. The proposed group-home facility would be for persons the County was unable to place into private facilities because private operators do not want the liability attached to providing residence for persons with severe substance abuse problems, severe mental disorders, prior criminal histories, episodes of psychotic behavior, violence, etc.. PHCA's board posted notice of the change in voting rules on the association's Web site -- PimmitHills.org -- on Friday, four days before the scheduled Tuesday vote.

Shown below is a copy of the letter sent by Virginia Attorney Kellie M. L. Budd to PHCA board members. Ms. Budd represents The Frace-Heller Family of Pimmit Hills. Budd's letter, prompted by the PHCA board's sudden move Friday to curtail member voting rights was e-mailed Monday afternoon with more than twenty-four hours to go before the start of Tuesday's Town Meeting.

Despite Budd's clear invitation to board members to discuss the matter, n
o one from PHCA's board contacted attorney Budd prior to Tuesday's meeting.

In order to have the scheduled vote, all that PHCA's board would have had to do was to follow the association's Bylaws, post notice on PHCA's Web site that all PHCA members at Tuesday's Town Meeting would indeed be allowed to vote in accordance with those Bylaws, and then proceed with Tuesday night's vote as scheduled without fear that the voting process was in violation of association rules.

Instead, PHCA's board continued to maintain as it does to this day the message posted to its Web site, that says voting is limited to "only one vote per house".

According to Attorney Budd's letter,
".... the board cannot restrict the right of any member in good standing to vote ......"

Nonetheless, the PHCA board yesterday during its three-hour Town Meeting repeatedly offered rationalizations and excuses for not holding the vote, blaming fear of lawsuits, which statements appeared all the more self-serving and disingenuous in light of the Board's failure to contact attorney Budd in the twenty-four hours prior to the meeting as well as Budd's presence in the hall fielding periodic questions from the assembled membership.

CSB's Controversial Plans for Barn Site Kept Under Wraps Til After Foust's 2011 Re-election
In a related development, an informed source requesting anonymity claims that Fairfax County Supervisor John W. Foust has known for at least 18 months and perhaps as long as two years of the Fairfax County Park Authority's desire to sell or rid itself of its Cherri Drive parcel.

Dranesville District Supervisor John W. Foust>

Further, according to the source, Mr. Foust has been working closely for almost that same length of time with Fairfax-Falls Church Community Service Board ('CSB') officials to place a county-run group-home on the parcel, where a barn, alleged to be
the only barn left in existence inside the Washington Beltway, has stood since at least the 1940's before Pimmit Hills became a subdivision in the 1950's.

1st Hearing Held Outside Pimmit Hills Nearly 2 Miles From Proposed CSB Facility
The source further stated that Mr. Foust intentionally withheld from the Pimmit Hills community, CSB's plans for the barn parcel pending his re-election last fall due to the controversy the project was likely to create within the Pimmit Hills community, and that only relatively recently have CSB's plans been made known to the local community when Mr. Foust's office posted notice of its first informational meeting on the proposed CSB project, a meeting held this past January 11th at Lemon Road Elementary School, a school outside Pimmit Hills on the most southerly edge of Mr. Foust's Dranesville District, by car almost two miles from the proposed Cherri Drive CSB facility. <<<<<

Attached below is Virginia Attorney Kellie M. L. Budd's letter (with cover-letter) sent Monday, 5:33 p.m via e-mail, via first-class USPS mail, and also via hand-delivery to PHCA's board members.
(These letters have been edited for clarification purposes and to remove personal information but no substantive changes have been made.

From: Kellie Budd [mailto:XXXXXX@XXXXXXXX.XXX]
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2012 5:33 PM
To: sarah rock; mark kinnane; animesh gupta; matthew martz
Subject: Pimmit Hills Citizens' Association Inc.

Dear Board of Directors,

My office has been retained by The Frace-Heller Family with respect to Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association. Please find attached correspondence objecting to the Board’s purported change in the voting policy. As you will see in the attached letter, we maintain the Board does not have the authority to restrict a member’s right to vote by limiting the vote to one per household without an amendment of the governing documents.

Please review the attached correspondence and contact me to discuss.

Best Regards,

Kellie Budd

Kellie M. L. Budd, Esq.
Doumar Martin PLLC
2000 N. 14th Street, Suite 210
Arlington, VA 22201
Tel: (703) 243-3737
Fax: (703) 524-7610
E-mail: xxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx

This message may contain confidential attorney-client communication and is intended for the named recipient(s) only. Please notify us by return e-mail and delete this message if you have received it in error. Thank you.

1629 K Street, N.W.
Telephone 202-349-1674
Facsimile 202-331-3759

2000 N. 14th Street, Suite 210
Arlington, VA 22201
Telephone 703-243-3737
Facsimile: 703-524-7610

March 5, 2012


Board of Directors, Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association, Inc.
Attn: Elizabeth Hall, Corporate Secretary
Falls Church, VA 22043

Board of Directors, Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association, Inc.
Attn: Matthew Martz, President
Falls Church, VA 22043

Re: Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association, Inc.

Dear Board of Directors:

Our firm represents The Frace-Heller Family. The Frace-Heller Family has asked that we contact you regarding the purported change to the Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association, Inc. voting procedures.

It is our understanding that the Board recently notified the membership that voting is now restricted to one vote per household. However, the Association’s governing documents are very clear on member voting rights. Specifically, Article III of the Articles of Incorporation states as follows:

There shall be one class of members open to all residents, eighteen or more years of age and non-resident property owners, of Pimmit Hills subdivision and immediately adjacent subdivisions. Members in good standing, as defined in the Bylaws, shall have the right to elect the directors and officers of the corporation and to vote on all other matters presented to the members by the officers and directors.”

Further, Article I, Section 3 of the Bylaws states that voting shall be limited to all members. If the Board seeks to amend the Bylaws to restrict voting to just one member per household, in lieu of all members as dictated by the Bylaws, the Board must follow the amendment procedures outlined in the Bylaws.

Pursuant to Article XI of the Bylaws, a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting at any meeting is needed to amend the Bylaws. Further, the proposed amendment must be submitted in writing, proposed and seconded at a previous regular meeting of the membership and a copy of the proposed amendment must be delivered or published not less than ten and no more than 50 days prior to the date of the meeting.

To our knowledge, the Board has not complied with the requirement to amend the Bylaws or attempted to amend the Articles of Incorporation. Accordingly, the Board cannot restrict the right of any Member in good standing to vote at the March 6, 2012 scheduled meeting.

Moreover, The Frace-Heller Family notes that it appears their access to the Member only website has been suspended improperly and without due notice. The Frace-Heller Family are paid members in good standing and are entitled to enjoy all of the privileges of Membership, including Member only website access. Please contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX to confirm that The Frace-Heller Family membership privileges are fully restored prior to the meeting scheduled for March 6, 2012 at 7:00 pm.

I will be in attendance at tomorrow’s meeting on behalf of The Frace-Heller Family and am happy to discuss these matters with the Board prior to the meeting.
However, if the Board continues their attempt to wrongfully limit the right of members in good standing to vote, contrary to the Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation, The Frace-Heller Family may file a lawsuit in Fairfax County Circuit Court to enforce the provisions of the governing documents.

If you have any questions please contact me.

Doumar Martin, PLLC

Kellie M. L. Budd

Cc: Sarah Rock
Mark Kinnane
Animesh Gupta
(via electronic mail only)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

PHCA 'Town Meeting', TUESDAY EVENING at 7:30 p.m., Pimmit Hills Senior Center

Pimmit Hills Property Values, Quality-of-Life Threatened

WHAT: Pimmit Hills Citizen's Association `Town Meeting'.
WHEN: THIS TUESDAY EVENING, March 6th at 7:30 p.m..
WHERE: Pimmit Hills Senior Center at 7510 Lisle Avenue (formerly PH High School).
PURPOSE: To hear the County's Proposal, and also to let the PHCA Board know your views about whether or not the County should place a `halfway-house' in Pimmit Hills. PHCA's Web site says: "..... a position vote will be taken ....." of PHCA's Members.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is proposing to tear down the old barn located on Cherri Drive near Lisle Avenue, and in its place to construct a single-story, four-thousand (4,000) square-foot `group-home' facility to be operated by the County.

The facility would be used to house adults (the elderly and not-so-elderly), who, according to the County's own
`2011 Housing Needs Report,' can have "criminal" histories. These persons are also likely to have "mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, intellectual disabilities, or substance abuse disorders" (e.g.: Crack Cocaine, Heroin and Methamphetamines), according to Virginia's Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

These are persons who require near-continuous monitoring 24-hours per day, and who may be subject to anti-social behaviors, serious emotional disturbances, incidents wherein they are psychotic and out-of-control, exhibiting outbursts of violence that cause such persons to be totally unfit to be placed anywhere but in government-run facilities with on-site security personnel, as well as medical and/or psychiatric professional staff near at hand.

Privately-owned care facilities will
not accept these persons because of the risk and liability factors inherent in their daily care. That is why the County, in order to provide housing for such persons, has no other choice but to build and manage its own facilities.

The 1940's-era barn on Cherri Drive is presently leased to
McLean Youth Athletics. It is being used to store athletic equipment owned by McLean Mustang Football, McLean Youth Soccer, and McLean Youth Lacrosse.

THINK: Do you want living near you and your children a group of adults whom the County is not able to place into private surroundings, because private care operators do not want the risk of dealing with unpredictable persons prone to extreme or violent behaviors? (Further, consider as well just who may be visiting those who reside within the County's proposed Cherri Drive facility.)

County Refuses to Produce Architectural Drawings for its Proposed Project
Pimmit Hills residents are being asked to vote on and approve the County's proposed project without so much as even being given opportunity to see first on paper what the project is supposed to look like, nor what is actually being proposed. Isn't this 'putting the cart before the horse'?
The County claims the structure will be 4,000 square-feet of usable living space, 1-story high, plus space for parking. Where on paper is a simple rendering or plot plan showing the structure's proposed footprint, setbacks, lighting, outbuildings and designated parking areas?

Fairfax County's strict building code requires that, for government-paid-for construction, there be vehicle parking on-site,
not on-street, sufficient for the maximum number of persons expected to reside in the government owned/operated building, along with parking sufficient to accommodate visitors, all staff regularly on-duty (24/7 for the proposed facility), plus emergency vehicles.
FACT: It is likely that if the County gets its way, what is now a mostly grass-covered expanse with a picturesque barn set back from the street, will end-up being a big parking lot with a squat, out-sized institutional-looking building set square in the middle.

Impact on Property Values
Why do prospective home-buyers come to Pimmit Hills? Is it to find a comfortable place to live amongst nearby homes with kids playing in yards, or is it to find a government-run 24/7 care facility populated with persons from whom neighborhood children are likely to be warned to stay far away? What do
you think the County's proposed project will do to neighborhood property values?

Proposed and Future Occupancy
County officials are claiming its group-home is intended to house six (6) residents. That number does not include full-time operating staff. What happens in the future should the County face budget constraints, changes in policy, etc.? Doubling-up would be easy, but that means there would then be 12 persons in residence.
Who can predict the maximum number of persons the County may end-up wanting to place in its Pimmit Hills facility, especially if at some future time the County decides it wants to expand and enlarge the structure it then already has in place? Once the County is in situ and already operating a residence facility, it will likely proceed to do with the property as it pleases without further consultation with PHCA or anyone else in Pimmit Hills.

County officials are silent on the subject of lighting. Right now, the barn is totally dark at night offering zero impact on the neighborhood environment. The proposed facility and its parking areas will no doubt be ablaze all night with the latest high-tech lighting in keeping with the most current security protocols.

Lofty Motives, Political Realities: Follow The Money!
Lofty, altruistic motives aside about `helping people,' the politics behind creating these government-run group-homes is such that these facilities, at their core, are vehicles for which literally billions of dollars annually in federal and state subsidies
($2.222 Billion in Virginia alone) are administered, the bulk of which monies are ultimately funneled to those who run the politically-connected so-called `not-for-profit' organizations to which local governments contract-out the day-to-day operations at these facilities. <<<<<

For more information check out the following Web sites and Government documents:
The Pimmit Hills Observer: http://www.pimmithillsnews.blogspot.com/
Yahoo! Pimmit Hills Moms and Dads Group:
Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services: http://www.dbhds.virginia.gov/
Fairfax-Falls Church Community Service Board: `2011 Housing Needs Report', Published: September 2011: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/csb/reports/housing-report.pdf
VA. Dept. BHDS -- `FY 2010 Resource Deployment'; PDF pg. 16:

Friday, March 2, 2012

PHCA Board Revokes Spousal Voting Rights Days Before Controversial Halfway-House Vote

Couples Who Formerly Had Two Votes at Town Meeting;
Now Have "Only One".

PHCA Board Disenfranchises All Domestic Partners Who Planned to Vote March 6th.

By The Frace-Heller Family
Published: Friday, March 2, 2012

Pimmit Hills, Falls Church, VA -- With just 4 days to go before the Pimmit Hills Citizens' Association is scheduled to take a vote of its membership on whether or not to approve a controversial proposal by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to build and run a halfway-house/group-home facility in Pimmit Hills, the directors of the citizens' association suddenly and without notice to members that they were considering such a move, authorized disenfranchisement of potentially half of PHCA's entire voting membership -- spouses and domestic partners -- who up until now shared equal voting rights at PHCA's Town Meetings with the head of their household under PHCA's By-Laws.

Up until yesterday, a neighborhood resident applying online for "Pimmit Hills Resident Family Membership" would pay $20 entitling the applicant at that "membership level" to receive a membership "bundle" for "up to two members" for one year.

The application form clearly specifies, "This membership level is for 2 adults residing at the same address." For those two new members the application also recommends the convenience that "each can have different email addresses to log on to the website".

On another Web page, association officials tout further the benefits and privileges of membership, holding-out the carrot to non-members the guarantee that: "If you are a Pimmit Hills
resident, become a member and obtain voting rights at PHCA town meetings."
SEE: http://www.pimmithills.org/about-phca

The following reproduces the application form that for months (if not years) has served as PHCA's official online membership application:

Thank you for supporting your community!

Select membership level *Mandatory fields

* Membership level

SEE: http://tinyurl.com/89rqsam

That was yesterday's membership application form; today's is displayed below. Speaking of the term "members" as used in the above-mentioned "Bundle (up to 2 members)", it is appropriate here to cite PHCA's By-Laws and Amendments, specifically Article I, Sections 1-5:

Article I. Membership.

1. Membership shall be open to all residents and non-resident property owners of single family homes within Pimmit Hills. Pimmit Hills is defined as that area within the boundaries of Route 7, Magarity Road, the Dulles Access Road and Pimmit Run. Members shall be eighteen or more years of age.

2. Membership shall be annual and will be granted upon payment of an annual membership fee effective from September 1 through August 31 of each year. At the annual meeting each year, membership fees will be determined for the next year.

3. Voting shall be limited to members. Members shall not have proxy, absentee, or cumulative voting privileges.

4. The membership shall have the right to elect all officers and directors of the corporation.

5. The membership shall have the sole right, subject to the requirements of a quorum and majority as hereinafter provided.

a) To determine the policy of the corporation.
b) To authorize expenditure of corporate funds except as otherwise provided herein.
c) To authorize the corporation to enter into any contract, agreement or arrangement of any kind or nature.

SEE: http://www.pimmithills.org/phca-bylaws

Today Friday, writing about the March 6th Town Meeting on the PHCA Website's homepage and the upcoming vote on the County's controversial group-home proposal for Cherri Drive, PHCA officials are emphatic: there is to be "Only one vote per household."
SEE: http://www.pimmithills.org/

That defining restriction will by itself disenfranchise half of every pair of PHCA members who had earlier signed up under PHCA's longstanding Pimmit Hills Resident Family Membership 'bundle' believing they had in fact contracted for as long as they kept their annual membership dues up to date (and unless changed by a vote of the membership) to have two votes should their household contain two adults.

The following is the new membership application that online greets prospective members now seeking to join the association, including those who will likely be waiting until the last minute to become members on the day of the upcoming vote so they can have an official say in the day's Town Meeting.

Please note the glaring omission in PHCA's 'new' Resident Member & Family Membership: the 2-member 'bundle' is no longer being offered (nor even is it mentioned).
Become a member of the Pimmit Hills Citizens Association (PHCA). Membership levels are:
    • All homeowners and renters currently living in Pimmit Hills
    • Family Membership enables two different email addresses to access the website

  • NON-RESIDENT MEMBER (Yearly dues: $25)
    • Owners of Pimmit Hills houses who don't live in Pimmit Hills
    • Former residents
    • Local businesses
    • Friends of Pimmit Hills
SEE: http://www.pimmithills.org/join-phca

When PHCA board members were contacted Friday for comment about this matter, one refused to take any questions or make any statement whatsoever, and another failed even to return the call.

Voter disenfranchisement is serious business. So is wholesale violation of a citizens' association's By-Laws by members of its own board. Various laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia may apply in the instant matter: Breach of contract; violation of Virginia's Consumer Protection Act, etc.. The arbitrary actions taken this past week by PHCA's board are also sure to focus member attention on another article in PHCA's By-Laws and Amendments, specifically Article IV, Section 5, which reads as follows:
Article IV. Officers.
5. An officer may be removed from office only for cause upon the written complaint of a member or members. Such complaint shall be submitted at a regular membership meeting. A hearing on the charge or charges, before the membership, shall be scheduled for the next regular membership meeting or at a special membership meeting not less than two weeks or more than six weeks after submission of the complaint and only after notice to the membership of said complaint. Disposition of the charge or charges shall be determined by secret, written ballot of three-fourths of the members present and voting.
SEE: http://www.pimmithills.org/phca-bylaws

Contact: The Frace-Heller Family
The Pimmit Hills Observer

Yahoo! Pimmit Hills Moms and Dads Group

Thursday, February 16, 2012

County's Group-Home 'Clients' CAN'T Be Placed Privately

CSB's Dirty Secret: That's why they're in county-run facilities!
Ankle Bracelet Chíc. Is Your Pimmit Hills Property's Value in Danger?
Check Out These Links:
plus 'Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board responds'
Yahoo! Pimmit Hills Moms Group
Yahoo! Pimmit Hills Moms and Dads Group
Vote in the 'Pimmit Hills Moms' Poll
Google Satellite Image:
1845 Cherri Drive (Milk Barn)
More Links below!
Post Comments Below
What may soon be a common sight on Cherri Drive if CSB's 'halfway-house' gets built in Pimmit Hills.

Mark your calendar:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.
Pimmit Hills Citizens Association Meeting to Vote on This Matter!
Pimmit Hills Senior Center
7510 Lisle Avenue
Falls Church, VA 22043
(Yahoo! Map locator)

By The Frace-Heller Family
Published: February 16, 2012
Updated: February 20, 2012

To All Pimmit Hills Moms and Dads,

The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board ("CSB") is refusing to provide a list of the locations of its halfway-house/group-home facilities, claiming that by doing so would somehow violate the civil rights of CSB's 'clients'. CSB officials have cited 'Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968' ("The Fair Housing Act"), as well as
the 'Health Information Privacy Protection Act' ("HIPPA"), which protects privacy of an individual's specific health information. We have attempted to get from CSB the specific citations within those respective Acts which CSB is claiming buttress their refusal to divulge the locations of what in essence are government-owned and/or government-operated buildings.

Surveying Neighbors in Other CSB Halfway-House Communities
The reason we think it is important to know actual addresses for Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board's halfway-house/group-home facilities in Fairfax County is so that Pimmit Hills taxpayers may have the opportunity to inquire of people -- neighbors -- who already live nearby such facilities. How does one go about surveying CSB's neighbors if one doesn't know the exact location of CSB's facilities?

Why the big secret anyway? Why do county officials have a problem with Pimmit Hills residents surveying fellow taxpayers who happen to be living beside CSB facilities? What is the problem asking friendly questions neighbor-to-neighbor about the appropriateness, desirability, and financial impact of having such a facility in one's midst? Remember, these CSB group-homes are caretaker facilities for persons Fairfax County is NOT able to place anywhere else and certainly not into private circumstances.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors ("The County") and the Community Services Board apparently expect Pimmit Hills residents to take officials' collective word that long-term impacts of a 24/7 CSB operation in Pimmit Hills would have negligible impact on residents, on the surrounding neighborhood, on quality-of-life, and on property values.

Accepting the County's 'Assurances'
Despite assurances given by County officials, The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has ultimate legal and political jurisdiction over whether proposed CSB projects go forward -- NOT the local communities into which these halfway-houses/group-homes are inserted.

This means, for example, that Pimmit Hills Citizens Association ("PHCA") members can take a vote on the matter, but such poll is only advisory and is not legally binding upon County officials.

PH residents are also being asked to accept County officials' 'guarantees' regarding the alleged 'permanent' number of CSB "clients" that will be residing within the premises, what the place will look like once built, and just how the operation will be run day-to-day. In its '2011 Housing Needs Report' ("The Report"), CSB defines "clients" as "people with intellectual disabilities, mental illness or substance use disorders".

A big problem is that certain aspects of what county officials are presently telling the public make little or NO sense. For example, CSB claims in its Report that it is moving away from 'place-based' assistance -- meaning supervised group-homes and halfway-houses like the type being proposed for Pimmit Hills -- to a system whereby needed services are brought to CSB clients wherever they happen to be.

CSB's Report states that: "Instead of operating residential 'programs,' make supportive services independent from existing housing so clients can change service levels but retain their housing and vice versa." (SEE: Report: PDF pg. 4); and also that: "One key policy consideration will be 'de-linking‛ supportive services from existing housing." (SEE: Report: PDF pg. 24).

Yet, County and CSB officials are assuring everyone that the proposed Cherri Drive group home will be dedicated to providing full-time assistance to aging citizens in need of such assistance. Further, according to the Report, CSB's need for client housing is growing.

The Difficulty in Placing Many CSB 'Clients'
What is of greater significance, though, to Pimmit Hills residents is this: According to CSB's Report, it is extremely difficult to place CSB clients who have had "interactions with the criminal justice system" into privately-owned facilities. The same holds true for CSB clients with particular psychological illnesses that, if not consistently controlled, can result in violent or otherwise dangerous behaviors.

Therefore, government-run facilities, like the one proposed for Pimmit Hills, appear to be the only real option for persons for whom criminality, substance abuse, violence, or severe psychological problems have been a way of life. (Note: If CSB is allowed to build a halfway-house on Cherri Drive, how long before ankle bracelets are a common sight on CSB clients hanging-out around that facility on a sunny day?)

If there are no risk factors associated with the aging citizens we are being told would populate CSB's Pimmit Hills facility, then why are these people even being considered for placement in a secured government-run facility rather than in private facilities where they could just as easily and more economically be provided for with assistance services 'brought to them' as envisioned in CSB's Report, and paid for with CSB, state and/or federal subsidies?

The point we are trying to make is that if an otherwise well-behaved elderly or mentally-disabled CSB client is merely low-income and needs a place to live, there are private facilities into which CSB can place these persons, and the government (federal, state, local) provides subsidies that pay for it. The fact is private placement is preferred precisely because it is more cost-effective than having to maintain an individual in an expensive government-run facility.

A halfway-house/group-home like the one CSB is proposing for Pimmit Hills is going to end-up being for people who, even if elderly, are NOT able to be placed into private circumstances. It might be for reasons associated with those individuals having earlier in their lives had "interaction with the criminal justice system," or because they currently have severe drug addiction, or violent and/or psychotic and/or other anti-social behaviors.

Private placement for such individuals, elderly or not, is far more difficult to arrange because, frankly, private operators do not want to have to deal with such problematic individuals; they don't want the liability, the aggravation, the danger inherent in dealing with out-of-control persons with a history of violent, erratic, and/or psychotic behaviors. Would you?

Future Occupancy
Even assuming County and CSB officials' intentions are 'pure' right now, what happens in the future should there be budget constraints, 'belt-tightening,' changes in leadership, etc.? One cost-saving avenue the politicians may pursue, for example, might be placing CSB's elderly clients, the ones the Cherri Drive facility is supposedly geared to have, into more cost-effective private rentals, thereby freeing-up beds in the Pimmit Hills facility for the more 'problematic' (read: deranged or violent) clients needing the closer supervision and greater security the Pimmit Hills facility is scheduled to provide.

A similar scenario would have CSB doubling or tripling-up occupancy in its Pimmit Hills group-home, or even converting it to housing for ex-convicts and/or other potentially dangerous persons. Or worse, the county at some future date could decide to use CSB's institutional facilities as neighborhood settings for overflow 'non-violent' prisoners in pre-release from the County's possibly-overcrowded-in-the-future Adult Detention Center (formerly the County Jail).

CSB's Lack of Transparency; Failure to Provide Even Simple Architectural Drawings of Proposed Project
In a family-oriented neighborhood, due diligence to protect our children's safety is paramount. If the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and CSB have nothing to hide, then providing location information on CSB's other group-homes/halfway-houses around the county for the purpose of enabling our neighbors to interview their neighbors should not be an issue.
Transparency in a matter like this is everything.

Another curious aspect of the present proposal is that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and CSB have conveniently not bothered to present a simple architectural rendering of what is being proposed for the Cherri Drive site. So far nothing in the way even of rough drawings has been forthcoming. Yet, this glaring omission by county officials has not prevented them still from seeking community approval of CSB's proposal by asking Pimmit Hills Citizens Association officials to poll association members at the upcoming March 6th PHCA meeting. Isn't this a classic example of 'putting the cart before the horse'?

Some facts: The present Milk Barn measures 37 feet, 5 inches in depth (approx.) by 83 feet, 4 inches in length (approx.). These are the measurements we got using a surveyor's tape placed along the outer edge of the barn's cement block foundation. The Barn thus has a footprint of approximately 3,122 square feet. County and CSB officials are claiming that the proposed halfway-house/group-home will be a one-story structure with 4,000+ square-feet of usable living space.

A simple plot plan showing the proposed structure's footprint, setbacks, areas designated for parking, lighting, outbuildings, etc. would at minimum seem to be the politic thing to do for politicians and government officials claiming to be acting in good faith. Is it reasonable or even logical for officials to ask a local community to vote on a project potentially disruptive to quality-of-life in the neighborhood, and where long-term negative impact on property values is a near certainty -- and ask that all this be done sight-unseen of what the project is actually supposed to look like?

Handicap Accessibility and the 'Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990'
Regarding handicap accessibility: The 'Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990' ("ADA") is applicable to all government-paid-for construction and in the case of new construction requires that exterior and interior features be fully ADA-compliant.

In the case of new construction intended for dwelling and paid-for with taxpayer dollars, this means that every bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, hallway, and stairwell must be made fully ADA-compliant no matter the age or physical condition of those scheduled to be living on the premises.

There appears to be misunderstanding amongst the general public for just how far-reaching the requirements of ADA actually are. For example, we received just yesterday an email from a Pimmit Hills resident who follows local issues closely and who took the time to attend CSB's 'informational meeting' this past January 11th at Lemon Road Elementary School.

Here follows an excerpt from that email: "It doesn't make sense to me for the county to incur the expense of building a new-ADA compliant home for 6 elderly adults (as they are claiming they will do) just to turn around and use that home for people who have had interactions with the criminal justice system, but have no physical disabilities. I support the proposal to make the home an ADA-compliant residence for elderly disabled people with no criminal history."

Where the concerned email writer is mistaken is in the assumption that the County Board of Supervisors and CSB, once the decision has been made to construct a group-home, somehow have a choice in whether to build a fully-ADA-compliant structure or one that is either minimally or not ADA-compliant at all, in order of course to save the County the extra costs associated with building to full ADA standards. The writer also appears to presume that if the building were intended to house only persons in tip-top physical condition rather than those with disabilities, that ADA-compliance would then not be necessary at all and could even somehow be waived altogether, thus saving County taxpayers all that added ADA-related expense. The answer to all these eminently logical presumptions: Not so!

The fact is that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law, July 26, 1990, by Pres. George H. W. Bush, any and all new construction that is in any way paid for or subsidized by federal, state, or local government monies must -- repeat: MUST -- be made FULLY ADA-COMPLIANT. In the case of a residential structure paid for with government money, that means regardless of who the intended occupants are meant to be and regardless of whether or not any of those occupants actually have disabilities, the residence must still meet full ADA-compliance!

In the case of the group-home proposed for Pimmit Hills (or for any CSB-inspired residential construction anywhere in the county), that means that should the County Board of Supervisors opt to commit to the project, then Fairfax County and CSB are required, by law, to build the structure fully ADA-compliant, even if the new building is never once used by anyone with a physical disability!

Of course, this all seems counter-intuitive and incredibly wasteful of taxpayer dollars, but that is how the law is written -- and as the saying goes, "Write your Congressman". So, whether it's for old folks in wheelchairs or for 'former' M-13 gang-bangers capable of bench-pressing 350 pounds, any new residence that CSB builds is required to be fully ADA-compliant.

It also means that all things being equal, an elderly CSB client who is kindly and well-behaved, is not going to have any difficulty whatsoever being placed by CSB into ADA-compliant private circumstances, and that CSB is going to reserve its expensive security-focused accommodations like the one proposed at Cherri Drive, for those clients -- elderly or not, handicapped or not -- who CSB is unable to place anywhere else, and who therefore need to be living in closely-monitored, 'controlled' circumstances.

In re parking: Fairfax County's building code requires that there be vehicle parking on-site, NOT on-street, sufficient for the maximum number of persons expected to reside on the premises, along with parking spaces sufficient to accommodate all on-duty staff (24/7 for the proposed Cherri Drive facility), emergency vehicles, as well as visitors.

In the event CSB doubles or triples-up on occupancy in the coming years, more parking spaces per the code would have to be created on the parcel itself in order to accommodate that increased number of residents. Cherri Drive simply cannot handle that volume of street parking in addition to the needs of the taxpaying residents. It's very likely that if CSB gets the go-ahead on its proposal, that what is now a mostly grass-covered Barn site will end-up being one big parking lot with an out-sized institutional-looking structure set squarely in the middle or just to the rear.

Regarding the exterior of the proposed structure, county officials are silent on the subject of lighting. Right now, the Milk Barn is totally dark at night offering zero impact on the neighborhood's nighttime environment. The proposed new building and parking areas will no doubt be ablaze all night with the latest in high-tech lighting -- a glaringly charming addition to Cherri Drive, don't you think?

Impact on Property Values
On the matter of property values, let us be frank: What would a prospective home-buyer coming to Pimmit Hills be looking for? Is it a comfortable place amongst nearby homes with kids playing in yards, or is it living beside a government-run 24/7 care facility populated with institutionalized 'clients' from which neighborhood children are warned to stay far away?

For all these reasons, we believe it important for Pimmit Hills taxpayers to be able to survey families in neighborhoods where CSB's other care facilities are located. These other neighborhoods' folks are the ones who can be counted on -- not high-level County officials who likely live miles away from any of this -- to provide an unvarnished view of what it's like day-to-day living beside a CSB operation, and who also can be counted on to know whether or not their property values have been impacted.

Thanks to all of you for your time on this matter.

Sincerely yours,

The Frace-Heller Family
Pimmit Hills
Falls Church, VA 22043
Contact via e-mail
or Post Comment Below.