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Hyland Seeks Emergency Summit

Meeting of minds likely early next year.

Concerns over a perceived lack of communication between local jurisdictions and Fort Belvoir promoted Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland to call for an Emergency Management Summit in early 2006.

"As any of our disaster response team members who assisted in the Gulf Coast after hurricanes Katrina and Rita can tell you, open lines of communication between jurisdictions is one of the key measures of success in disaster planning and response," Hyland said during the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 5.

There, Hyland proposed the summit where elected officials, emergency managers and Fort Belvoir personnel would discuss emergency preparedness.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly will sign a letter to the Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir inviting elected officials and emergency management staff from surrounding jurisdictions to attend the summit. No date or place has been determined.

The impetus for Hyland's action was that Fairfax County's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) had been able to hold only one, "fruitful" meeting with their counterparts at Fort Belvoir.

"The second meeting has been continuously postponed," Hyland said.

He attributed this primarily to the recent departure of Fort Belvoir's emergency manager who left to take another job. The manager was a civilian employee of the military.

Donald Carr, public affairs officer at Fort Belvoir, challenged the purported the lack of communication between Fort Belvoir command and local leadership.

"It is correct that there was one meeting last summer between the County Office of Emergency Management and our emergency manager and that there have been no additional meetings between those two entities because our employee left to take a position elsewhere," Carr said. "However, we have been having informal meetings almost on a monthly basis with all surrounding jurisdictions to coordinate efforts and keep the lines of communication open."

Another impediment to the continuity of communication could be attributed to the fact that last summer Fort Belvoir went through a change of command. Col. T.W. Williams took over from Col. Brian W. Lauritzen as Garrison Commander. The change of command takes place on a regular three-year cycle.

"Col. Lauritzen wholeheartedly supports the concept of a summit on emergency management and communication and wants to talk with Supervisor Hyland about it to make sure they're in agreement," Carr said. "Everyone here is waiting for Supervisor Hyland and Col. Lauritzen to meet on this matter."

IN OTHER ACTION, Hyland also proposed three other Board Matters during Monday's meeting. The measures include:

* A proposal referring a resolution by the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens' Association to create a Residential or Community Parking District to the County Executive and Transportation Advisory Committee. The Council resolution requested the BOS adopt a "stand alone ordinance" to establish the district.

"This resolution would, in effect, seek countywide enforcement of the enabling statute," Hyland said.

* A request to authorize a public hearing on March 13, 2006 to deal with vacating of Talbert Road in the Lofax Heights subdivision in Lorton. A public hearing to vacate the road was held in 1999, according to Hyland. At that time the decision was deferred indefinitely. "Historically this proposal has been controversial but in the intervening years the community has changed," Hyland said. "Because of those changes it is time to hold a public hearing on this matter."

* Asking the Board to authorize incorporating the vacated portion of Wildwood Street located north of Midway Place in the Community of Wildwood into a rezoning application filed by Calvert Homes, Inc. That portion of Wildwood Street to be vacated is a public right-of-way owned by the county. The proposal would allow for realignment of the street by Calvert Homes, Inc.