Switching station to get homey facade

Sometimes it pays to speak up. A Verizon switching station in Dale City will be getting a complete makeover, thanks to three residents who decried the buildings shoddy appearance at a recent public hearing.

Joe Johnston and Bill Sabbagh angrily addressed the Prince William Planning Commission at the hearing in November, when Verizon presented plans to expand a switching station at the corner of Princedale and Photo drives.

The plain, squat building houses Verizon equipment and is not normally occupied. It is boxy and windowless and residents in the upscale area said the grass on the corner lot gets knee-high at times.

In November, Verizon asked the Planning Commission to approve plans to more than double the building in size.

After Johnston, Sabbagh and Charles Woodley complained that the station was an eyesore and a potentially dangerous site for children, the commission ordered Verizon officials to meet with residents and make serious concessions before resubmitting their plans.

On Wednesday, Verizon presented revised plans, which call for the remodeled building to look like a two-story brick house that will blend into the neighborhood.

The station will have a green front door, fake windows with shutters and a chimney. Residents will be able to choose the brick and roof shingles of the “house.”

The new station also will be smaller than planned, going to 877 square feet. Verizon originally wanted to expand the 405-square-feet building to 1,085 square feet.

“Its been a really hard fought battle but weve both agreed. We worked out the details and Verizon was very, very nice,” Johnston said.

He and Sabbagh told the Planning Commission how pleased they were with Verizons new plans.

The neighbors, who live on Photo Drive, said they didnt expect such a good outcome when they first spoke out against Verizons plans.

“This is really the way these public hearings are supposed to work,” said Planning Commission Chairman Billy W. Isbell, who commended the residents for voicing their concerns and getting the results.

Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of the public facility review of Verizons plans, which does not require further approval from the Board of County Supervisors.

Verizon officials said the station expansion is needed due to growth in the area. It will provide more reliable phone service and DSL Internet service to Dale City.

Staff writer Kate Bissell can be reached at (703) 878-8068.

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