History & Status
Here on Kurtz Rd. in McLean, VA neighbors are working to stop Newport Academy (NA) from operating a proposed teen treatment center on the grounds that the facility, due to its large scale of operations and the medical inpatient services it provides, should be designated a Medical Care Facility rather than a Group Residential Facility. A request for determination has been submitted, logged as received, and is currently “under review.”
The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) is also currently reviewing NA’s application for a license (to operate as a Children’s Residential Treatment facility). If NA is granted the license, they can begin operations with a provisional license (good for six months and subject to inspections and other oversight). Important: According to the Virginia Code, as soon as the State DBHDS grants Newport a license to operate, Fairfax County no longer has authority to zone the facility. This means that even if the Fairfax County Zoning Office determines the 1318 Kurtz Rd. facility to be improperly zoned, unless that determination is made before a State licence is granted, it will be a legally irrelevant decision.
There are THREE ways to stall and perhaps stop NA on Kurtz Rd:
- Because Newport Academy offers “inpatient” services (nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, dietitians, counselors, etc.), a case can be made that according to the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance, the facility should be designated a “Medical Care Facility” (MCF) rather than a “Group Residential Facility,” the latter being “by right” and the former requiring much more zoning oversight. MCF’s are typically placed in commercial zones. If placed residentially, they can only be on 5+ acre estates and require an exemption. This is because MCFs – to function properly – should have more parking, broader street access, public water and sewer service, etc. A request for determination has been submitted and logged as received by Leslie Johnson and the Fairfax County Zoning Office. Because by its own self-description and licensing category NA is and offers inpatient services, it follows that according to already established ordinances they are to be designated an MCF and are thus not properly zoned for a residential zone. It is the medical profile and staffing that makes what NA is different than, say, Oxford House or other Group Residential Facilities already operating without opposition in McLean.
Email Leslie Johnson and express your support for this request for determination (submitted on 6/3/19). If you have additional arguments/ideas for why 1318 Kurtz is inappropriately designated/zoned, contact the zoning office with your concerns and consider submitting a request for determination. Your arguments need to be based on the existing zoning ordinance. If you believe the ordinance itself needs to be examined and definitions better delineated, contact Foust, Johnson, and Bulova saying so.
2. The DBHDS is mandated to examine their applicants’ past operational history but, reportedly, does not intend to investigate NA’s out-of-state performance. Call and write Jae Benz at DBHDS and request they do so.
3. DBHDS, a State licensing office, does not defer to County zoning guidance in their review of applications and will grant the license whether or not Fairfax County has finished its designation process or are reviewing “requests for determination” for the Kurtz facility. DBHDS can, however, optionally choose to pause its licensing procedure if there are grounds to do so and, when in session, the Virginia State Legislature can mandate a moratorium on licensing for NA and NA-type facilities until zoning regulations and definitions can be examined and better clarified.
3b. We can also call and write Supervisor John Foust and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman and demand that a Group Homes Focus Group be formed to review the county’s definitions and regulations regarding group homes (because they are ill-defined, inconsistent, and vague.)
Check here regularly for updated Action Items. Wherever you see a megaphone, that’s an Action Item: a 5-15 minute task everyone can do to help achieve action.
|In an interview published 6/21/19 (and linked below) Board of Supervisors Chairman, Sharon Bulova, is quoted as saying “The Kurtz Road [location] may be fine, but the Davidson ones are encircled and fenced in together. That’s something different.” Contact her TODAY and let her know why they are in fact very similar and why even one is too large and brings the problems of a corporate-owned Medical Care Facility (MCF) to a residential neighborhood for which MCF’s are not zoned: Chairman Bulova; (703) 324-2321; Chairman@fairfaxcounty.gov |
Comment, as well, in the articles’ comments section.
6/21/19 and ongoing
|Contact the McLean Citizen’s Association and thank them for drafting and passing their resolution affirming Leslie Johnson’s zoning determination regarding Davidson Rd. Encourage them to continue to follow the Kurtz Rd. zoning issues. Update: Newport Academy submitted an appeal to Johnson’s determination on 6/14/19, contact MCA and encourage them to stand by their resolution and to publicly support Leslie Johnson’s determination throughout the appeals process.|
|Call and write DBHDS, the Office of the Attorney General and your Representatives and request a stay of the State’s licensing decision on two grounds: 1) NA’s complete operational history should be reviewed by DBHDS and 2) NA may not be zoned to operate in a residential zone and DBHDS should provide the County more time to review the matter or investigate the matter themselves.|
|Email Leslie Johnson at the Zoning Office and ask: When can we expect a determination on 1318 Kurtz Rd.? Nicely remind them that if DBHDS issues a license, Fairfax County will no longer be able to zone the facility. Time is short.|
|Willing to be a Block Captain to help distribute flyers in your neighborhood or in a public space (e.g. Farmer’s Market/Giant/Parking Lots)? Sign up for FB and get on our Group Page, “Fairfax County Rehab Facility Discussion,” and volunteer.|
|Simply being connected is a huge help! Join the FB page if you haven’t already and tell your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers about the group. Numbers are crucial for getting media attention, responses from Newport and its investors, and for getting our reps to pay attention and to act.|
|Contact the press and let them know why they should be paying attention and why this is a topic you want to read about; write Letters to the Editor in local papers; be active voices in the comments sections of already published news pieces and on social media sites like Nextdoor and DC Urban Moms. Public education and support are important for both short- and long-term goals.|
Office of the Attorney General, Mark Herring; (804) 786-2071; email
Supervisor John Foust; (703) 356-0551; firstname.lastname@example.org
Chairman Bulova; (703) 324-2321; Chairman@fairfaxcounty.gov
Leslie Johnson, Zoning Administrator; (703) 324-1314; email@example.com
Jae Benz, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), firstname.lastname@example.org