Girl Scout warehouse plan upsets Fairfax neighbors

OAKTON, Va. (AP/WJLA) - Girl Scouts officials are asking for special permission to build a storage facility on their property in Oakton, but neighbors say it would be an eyesore.

The Washington Post
reports the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital, which serves more than 60,0000 girls across the region and in parts of West Virginia, wants to build the warehouse to hold camping gear and other equipment including tents, lanterns, tie-dye kits and ice-cream sticks that are used to make photograph frames. The 6,000-square-foot metal warehouse would be located on the organization's Camp Crowell property and ringed by trees and shrubs.

“We have tried very hard to make sure that we are very responsive to any of the concerns from our neighbors and that we do it in a way that Girls Scouts do, which is to do it right and to take everybody's concerns in to account,” says Lidia Soto-Harmon, the CEO of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital.

Girl Scouts officials say they've been paying for off-site storage and it simply makes more sense to use their own site. They point out that they’ve amended their plans, promising to reduce deliveries to one van run per day and paint and landscape the facility to blend into the wooded area.

“That’s going to mitigate some of the aesthetic appeal, but it still is just not nature,” says neighbor Paul Kavitz. “It’s not the wild, which is what the camp really is about.”

“All the things needed from that warehouse, to West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, D.C., all these jurisdictions, in one van per day? Do you really believe that?” asks neighbor Newt Wood.

Neighbors say rather than use the entrance to the camp on a cul-de-sac on a residential street, they want the Girl Scouts to use a busier street – Vale Road.

"Every summer you have new parents and they’re in a hurry,” says Kathy Whitcraft. “One of the ways to reduce that is to reduce some of it and make it a little more equitable and put some on the other side.”

The Girl Scouts say the entrance on Vale Road is a gravel road not suited to what they need, but residents, some of who are volunteers and send their daughters to the camp, say they already deal with almost 500 campers being shuttled in and out of the cul-de-sac street during the busy camping season.

Residents opposing the structure say the storage facility would also lower property values. They have filed an appeal with the county zoning board, retained a lawyer and built a website.