The COVID-19 Pandemic has had an unforeseen impact on the schedule and approval process for this project. The pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of the May 4th, 2020 Planning Commission Meeting. In consultation with the Planning Commission Chair, staff has scheduled this item for administrative action, as allowed under the City’s site plan ordinance.
The City is requiring Washington Gas to relocate its existing gas regulator station on the west end of the city to accommodate the economic development project proposed at the current George Mason High School (GMHS) site. City staff identified and recommended a portion of West End Park that is acceptable to Washington Gas. A site plan amendment is required per Sec. 48-1134 of the Zoning Code. Washington Gas also requires an easement to relocate the gas regulator station to this location.
The easement area is approximately 175-foot long x 20-foot wide (2,970 SF) along the western park boundary and adjacent car wash building at 1050 West Broad Street. The proposed gas easement will provide space for the installation of required equipment (two above-ground boxes), underground line connections, and future access and maintenance of the gas regulator station and gas line by Washington Gas.
The proposed site plan indicates the removal of existing trees, shrubs, and ground cover and replacements of new shrubs and groundcover in the proposed easement area. Additional design changes include:
A semi-circle brick pattern at the entrance of the park;
Replacement of the concrete paver design as is in place today;
Replacement of the asphalt path;
Relocation of the bench to just outside the park entrance; and,
Replacement of entrance signs as shown.
A site plan amendment is required for the Washington Gas regulator station relocation and related construction at West End Park, as the existing park landscaping will be disturbed and then replaced in an adjusted design. A site plan amendment application was received March 5, 2020 and a staff review completed. A revised application was submitted on April 17, 2020. The site plan amendment documents the new easement and landscape changes to the city’s previously approved site plan MUNIS 2009-0407, which reflected West End Park improvements approved in 2009.
The City Council held a work session on the easement request on February 3, 2020. The city’s Urban Forestry Commission and Recreation and Parks Advisory Board met February 19, 2020 and March 4, 2020, respectively, to review and comment on the gas easement request. The Planning Commission met on March 2 and 16, 2020 to discuss the easement required for the gas regulator station. At the March 16, 2020, Planning Commission meeting, the Planning Commission recommended approval on the regulator station easement. At the October 26, 2020, City Council meeting, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 2026-36 approving the easement and authorizing the City Manager to execute an associate deed.