Montessori School

In response to the 23 Jan meeting with HRVCA,  MSNV has met with county officials to discuss means for improving the vegetative screening at the front of the school.   MSNV and the county were able to identify a number of opportunities to relocate and add plants in the spring.   MSNV provided a description of the results of their discussion with the county in a 12 Feb e-mail sent to Jim Mason, HRVCA president.  The text from that e-mail is reproduced below.

Text from MSNV e-mail:  “Two representatives from Urban Forestry were able to meet with us recently, and we discussed the screening concerns in the front of the building with them.  They feel that with the replacement of the plants that are in decline, the screening overall meets the landscaping plan requirements.  Both Foresters reasoned that salt spread on the sidewalks during the icy periods of the winter has played a part in the death of some of the plants, and suggested other areas of the landscape where such plants may grow to a healthy size.  In answer to our questions about the county’s expectation of the desirable screening timeline, the Foresters pointed out that the transitional screening requirement was calculated as being targeted at 75% aerial coverage over ten years at the time of the SE, and continues to be so now.  Of course this doesn’t speak directly to your concerns about sight lines, but it is important to keep in mind that we are unlikely to achieve ideal coverage in the very near term – the plants simply need additional time to grow and fill in, especially horizontally.

We discussed a variety of species as screening possibilities, including some that Jacke and you suggested. UF felt that our goals will be accomplished largely by making changes in placement and usage of our existing species.  Bayberries may be more suitable in some of the areas where we currently have inkberries (and vice versa). Also, as our camellias are doing very well (and are evergreens, unlike the inkberries), the Foresters suggested swapping some key inkberries and bayberries out for camellias to provide targeted coverage. 

In addition, they said that two areas could support some additional small eastern red cedars (5 total) without overcrowding or damaging the existing trees. We mapped out a few potential spots for them that we think would help with sight lines. 

Again, while these will offer some immediate improvement, their full benefit will only be achieved several years in the future. We will make a concerted effort this spring to improve and increase our screening beyond the county requirements and our current plantings with the understanding that this is a long-term investment that will require patience from all parties before the desired and planned screening can attain its full effect.”


The Montessori School of Northern Virginia operates the school at 3433 Rose Lane under a special exception.  A copy of the SE can be found on the Montessori School page of this site.

The Holmes Run Valley Citizens’ Association met with MSNV at the school on Jan 23 principally to ask MSNV to improve the screening at the front of the school.

Meeting participants for MSNV included Betsy Mitchell, Head of School, and Nancy Smith, Campus Director.  Participants for HRVCA included Jim Mason, President, and Jacke Zeiher, Secretary.

Screening:  MSNV has worked to maintain landscaping at the front of the school in accordance with the plan approved by the county.  There are two significant issues: (1)  The landscaping does not provide an effective vegetative screen at the front of the school.  As planted, the screen is insufficient and its effectiveness has been further degraded by the removal of unhealthy plants.  (2)  Some of the plants that MSNV is required to maintain per the landscaping plan have died.  MSNV continually is replacing them.  It was agreed that MSNV would contact the county and ask about the possibility of modifying the landscaping plan to address both issues.

Traffic and parking issues:  MSNV said that they work hard to assure that parents obey the transportation procedures at the school.  Betsy and Ann asked that we notify them if we witness violations.  License plate numbers, vehicle descriptions, and photos of offenders would help the school correct problems.

MSNV said that they are operating at capacity (86 students against their ceiling of 90).  They do not expect any increase in enrollment.