Railroad Cottages, a proposed pocket neighborhood in Falls Church, Virginia, has its admirers and its detractors. On one hand, the neighborhood will enable downsizing for senior residents, with a common house and ten private homes. The 1500-square-foot average house size provides a middle ground between luxury homes and less personal condos. The development is a short walk from stores and the Washington, DC metro. It also abuts the Washington & Old Dominion Rail Trail (hence the “Railroad” in the name), promoting active and car-free lifestyles.
On the other hand, the Railroad Cottages are quite dense with the ten homes squeezed into 1.5 acres. Cottages are allowed to be 20 feet from the street instead of the 30 feet for regular residential, and parking requirements are relaxed (one spot per resident plus three total for guests), which might cause some residents’ vehicles to take up space on neighboring streets. Opposers fear the development will lower nearby property values.
It seems the greatest concern rests on future development, not necessarily this specific project. A new city ordinance, which legalizes the Railroad Cottages development, specifies a one-year wait between pocket neighborhood projects. Some residents argue one year is too short a gap; the impact of one project should be measured before the next project gets approved. That’s a valid concern, especially for the first pocket neighborhood in the area.