Time to Shift Focus on Waterline

Time to Shift Focus on Waterline

GFCA met without a quorum and continued to discuss the controversial waterline.

Without enough members to have a quorum and conduct any official business, the Great Falls Citizens Association continued to discuss the contentious waterline issue.

The meeting started with good news, however: the proposed zoning amendment that was slated to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission last Tuesday evening has been postponed until Feb. 2, allowing for a public work session to be held on Jan. 31 to discuss residents’ concerns.

“This is one of those issues where, if you haven’t already been involved in the issue, it’s hard to get caught up,” said board member Joan Barnes. “That’s why (the Planning Commission) felt the public information session would be held. No public hearing has been held on this at all.”

She said the Planning Commission “wasn’t trying to put one over on the citizens. It was the time that the legislature was convening” that caused the issue to come up so quickly.

“If you go on the county Web site and read the reports, it’s been broken down into sections to simplify it,” said board member Jan McCarthy. “The increase in fence heights and setbacks and reduced yard widths (part of the proposed amendment) are the kinds of things people are concerned about,” she said.

“MAYBE WE SHOULD WAIT and discuss this at the Building and Zoning meeting so we can go into more details,” said GFCA president David Olin. “We already got the good news that we don’t have to act on the issue tonight.”

He also informed the board that Colvin Run Mill is in consideration to be named to the National Registry of Historic Properties.

“Hopefully by March it’ll be ready for recognition,” he said.

In February there will be a regular meeting of Fairfax Water, and “during one of those meetings, there will be a chance to bring forward the construction phase of the Riverside water main project,” Barnes said.

“I think we need to think of the direction we’re going to take this,” Olin said of the water main project. “I think the GFCA is an organization to poll the community, but I don’t think the executive committee are the people to do it.”

There was a great deal of concern following an information session presented by Fairfax Water at the Great Falls Library the previous Saturday, which Fairfax Water organized to answer questions and address concerns of residents regarding the water project.

“I was at the meeting, and they were totally unresponsive to the point of stonewalling,” said Riverside Manor resident Rick Weidman. “They’re putting in a pipeline that no one wants. They say they’re spreading the costs to all customers, but they won’t have customers pay for the water aeration system, which is less expensive. There’s one reason they want to put the pipeline, in and that’s because they want development.”

“I don’t think they want development necessarily. They just don’t want to operate the wells,” said board member Eleanor Anderson.

“You know there’s something more behind it,” Weidman said. “I think this is a war that’s developing here. Where there’s water, there’s development.” He went on to suggest the GFCA start a public relations campaign to raise awareness and questions throughout Fairfax County over Fairfax Water’s motivation behind the pipeline in Riverside Manor.

“I was at the meeting on Saturday as well, and it seems to me you had a lot of passionate people against this project,” said Anna Krell. “Why can’t we get a list of attendance” to ask those at the meeting to help drum up support against the water line, she asked.

“In order to get and keep people involved, you have to draw them in and keep them in and delegate duties,” she said.

“There are a number of residents at Riverside that simply want well water,” Olin said.

“ABOUT HALF the residents of Riverside were at the meeting at the library, but most of the people there were not from Riverside,” said Henry Miller, a Riverside resident and GFCA board member. “The sentiment I heard was people don’t want the pipeline north of Georgetown Pike because they don’t want development or septic service. Perhaps we need more data. They (Fairfax Water) keep talking about radon levels, but it’s not an issue here,” he said.

“We need to start putting pressure on them regarding the construction of the pipeline,” said GFCA vice president Kathleen Foley. “When are they going to put the pipes? Where are they going to put the porta potties? Where’s the storage going to be? We need to take control of that and start asking questions,” she said.

When Weidman asked Foley why she wanted to give up and let the water come in, she said there was a possibility that nothing could be done to stop the pipeline, but at least something could be done to minimize the effect it had on the Great Falls community, and that the focus of the energies of the GFCA might need to be shifted to that aspect of the conflict.