Zoning committee puts rink proposal on ice (for now)

Due to some public backlash, unresolved issues and a legal publicity snafu, on July 13, the Fairfax County Zoning Appeals Board (BZA) postponed until September its decision on whether to allow temporary ice and roller rinks in the Mosaic district of Merrifield.

Rink Management Services Corp. operated an outdoor roller rink from June 24 to July 14 at Mosaic, using an administrative permit issued March 30 by the county’s Zoning Administration Division.

The applicant is now applying for a special permit to continue operating the rink until September 30 this year and from April 1 to June 30 in 2023 and 2024. (Because the BZA has not approved the special permit, the rink will have to possibly cease operations this summer until council acts or zoning officials extend administrative permit.)

The 36-by-76-foot roller skating rink proposed by Rink Management Services would have a rubber surface and be located in a gated section of Merrifield Towne Center Drive adjacent to 2985 District Ave.

Adjacent to the rink would be two 49-square-foot sheds for skate rentals and ticket sales; Poles 10 feet high around the rink would provide lighting and six speakers.

The Applicant would also like the Special Permit to authorize the operation of a 50 foot by 100 foot skating rink along a closed section of District Avenue adjacent to 2980 District Avenue. The company wants to operate the rink from November 1 to March 15 for the next three winters.

The rink would have an ice-carpet floor surrounded by a 3.5-foot-tall enclosure and a 1,000-square-foot admission and skate rental tent to the east. A portable air-cooled chiller would be located to the west and between this and the rink would be stored a Zamboni for ice resurfacing.

Hours of operation for both rinks would be Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. to 11:15 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. and Sunday 9:45 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. The rinks would be limited to 50 skaters per session and between two and five staff on site, depending on the day and the season.

“Skateland provides a fun and affordable experience for everyone, bringing positive activation to an otherwise underutilized space,” said plaintiff’s representative Greg Dercach. “Skateland is a proven draw. It supports a vibrant neighborhood, a thriving commercial center and ultimately an attractive community gathering place for residents and visitors alike.”

The roller rink would take up five parking spaces and the rink 18 – a minor impact for the Mosaic District, which has 150 street parking spaces and about 2,500 more in its five parking garages, transportation officials said. County.

From June to September 2021, the Claimant operated an outdoor roller skating rink along Strawberry Lane between District Avenue and Yates Way in the Mosaic District.

Hin-Kin “Ken” Lam, representing the Mosaic District Townhome Homeowners Association Board of Directors, opposed the rink proposal.

“We believe the rink layout will negatively impact the daily lives of our owners in the community,” he said. “In particular, the ice rink will create very serious traffic jams and confusion in the surrounding streets.”

Diverted traffic around the rinks will head into parking spaces shared by Mosaic residents and retailers, Lam said, adding that there was already a shortage of parking spaces on District Avenue and Penny Lane.

Amy Willis, who lives in the Avalon apartment complex in the Mosaic district, objected to the amplified noise from the rinks and the potential impacts on traffic.
County staffers proposed a condition that would ban amplified music at rinks after 10 p.m. each day.

Another neighbor was concerned about the extent and noise level of the rink and wondered why she couldn’t replace the roller rink during the winter months. The resident also expressed concern about access to nearby homes while the rinks were in operation.

Dercach responded that Mosaic District was designed with seasonal events in mind and incorporated alternative means for residents to access their homes during these times. As for placing the rink on the same footprint as the roller skate, Dercach said the former was envisioned as a larger facility.

After postponing their decision until the end of the meeting, the BZA members learned that the application had a legal publicity problem because the streets of Mosaic have their own tax identification numbers, which were not indicated on the supporting documents.

“From a technical standpoint, the board cannot act today,” Brent said.
Krasner, section chief of the Planning and Development Department.

The August BZA meeting was canceled due to the upcoming construction of the Fairfax County Government Center, so the board had to postpone its decision until September 14. The BZA vote was 5 to 0; members Rebeccah Ballo and Donté Tanner were absent.

BZA Vice Chairman James Hart decided to delay a decision on the matter to give county planning staff and fire officials time to clarify 10 public safety conditions for the request.

“If we want to do it, we have to do it right,” Hart said. “But I don’t think we have the details of those 10 things.”

BZA members also wanted fire and rescue officials to list all emergency calls that occurred on or near the rink while it was in operation this summer.

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