Glitches on Christmas Tree Lane

By Patty HardeeBy Patty Hardee
The main house at Parma (left) and barn from the Christmas Tree Lane approach to the property.

Planning officials reject Parma request (again)

She said. They said.   

She is Dr. Sadhna Singh, a Northern Virginia physician and owner of Parma in Little Washington, which operated as a three-bedroom B&B until a storm in March 2015 tore the roof and caused substantial damage inside the facility. Singh has applied for a special use permit to add two more bedrooms and a second floor to the existing, permitted three-bedroom Christmas Tree Lane property as part of the rebuilding plans. The plans also include an owner’s suite.

They are the members of the Planning Commission who expressed at their meeting last Wednesday night (March 16) that they believe Singh intends to make Parma a spa and medical-related facility, a use not allowed under current ordinances. At that meeting they refused for a second time to approve Singh’s application because conditions set by the Feb. 24 Board of Zoning Appeals had not been met.

Alvin Henry, commission member from the Hampton District made a motion “that we send the recommendation to the BZA that this application be denied based upon the current situation of unpaid real estate taxes on the property, road safety issues with increased traffic generated on this private road by a number of entities, and that based upon the evidence submitted that this is more in the nature of a spa and healthcare type of property but not a B&B.” His motion was seconded and unanimously approved, 7-0.

So for the second time, they commissioners referred the application to the BZA, which considered it on March 23, too late for this edition.

It may be difficult to argue with the Planning Commission’s perception. Parma’s own website devotes more space to spa services and health care than to the B&B operation. In a later phone call, Singh said, “The website reflects my future vision, but my current energies are to expand and run the B&B.”

Singh owns Parma LLC, which runs both Parma in Little Washington and Parma Spa in Tysons Corner.

The latter facility, characterized on its website as a Center for Health, Medicine, and Wellness, offers services from facials and Botox treatments to medical care in the areas of obstetrics/gynecology, oncology, and cardiology. Staff profiles on the website hint that both medical and Ayurveda doctors at the Tysons location could also serve the Christmas Tree Lane location.   

In rejecting the application, the Planning Commission pointed to several conditions, set by the BZA at its February meeting, that have not been met yet, including resolving road maintenance issues with the other property owners along Christmas Tree Lane, correcting errors on the website, and submitting a full site plan. But the condition that the members of the Planning Commission indicated was their first priority was the issue of unpaid property taxes and meals and lodging taxes.

In the March 16 meeting, Deputy County Administrator Debbie Keyser told the Planning Commission that earlier in the day Singh made a payment toward the overdue property taxes and said that she set up a payment plan to pay the remainder. However, said Keyser, she did not know the status of the meals and lodging taxes.

Maintenance of the gravel road just past the paved portion that serves the Rose Hill Veterinary Clinic has been an ongoing bone of contention with the residents of Christmas Tree Lane–the Little Washington Winery, Parma, and a couple of private homes. An email submitted to the BZA documents a June 22, 2014 meeting attended by the residents of Christmas Tree Lane to discuss traffic abatement on the road and an equitable plan for paying for road maintenance.

Attending the meeting were Singh and her husband, Indu Singh; Carl Henderson, owner of the Little Washington Winery; Sally-Anne Andrews, the first home owner on the road; and Rich and Peggy Spillenkothen, who own the home closest to Parma. Several actions were agreed to in what sounds like a tough but ultimately congenial meeting. In fact the email, written by Peggy Spillenkothen, begins “I think we all deserve a big pat on the back for a very successful meeting tonight!”

But in the time between June 2014 and February of this year, when Parma’s application was first considered by the Planning Commission, the good feelings dissolved. Few, if any, of the actions agreed to in the June 2014 meeting have been implemented. A series of letters and emails to County Administrator John McCarthy and Deputy County Administrator Debbie Keyser complain about the traffic on Christmas Tree Lane, contributed in large part (according to the correspondence) by the Little Washington Winery. Residents object to Parma’s application, saying it would only add to traffic on the road.

In the meantime, Singh intends to continue her fight for expansion of the Christmas Tree Lane property and has been looking for a local lawyer to represent her interests.

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