Council Moves Ahead on Renovations

Council Moves Ahead on Renovations

Draft of budget presented; proposed tax rate is $0.87.

After weeks to wrangling, the Fairfax City Council was able to approve a plan for renovations to the City Hall and Police Station. City voters approved a $20 million bond in 2001. However, even the lowest construction bid came in over that budget amount — after all expenses were included — leaving the city with an approximate $3.87 million shortfall.

Through a package of $700,000 in cuts to the proposed construction, a $1.2 million transfer form the city’s water and sewer fund, payments from the annual city budget over the next few years, and other budget cuts, City Manager Robert Sisson was able to present the council with a way to finance the project.

Mayor Robert Lederer addressed a perception held by some city residents that the project took so long to get started because of a change in the location of the police station. In the initial plan, the council had proposed putting the police station in a wing to the renovated City Hall complex. That plan was changed and the station will now be built where the John C. Wood Center currently stands.

While Lederer acknowledged that the change of locale contributed to the delay, "I think it is also safe to say that there’s many areas," he said. "There’s a lot of things that I think are open for debate."

Councilmember Jeffrey Greenfield agreed with Lederer’s comments. "The important thing is that we’re moving forward tonight," he said.

THE COUNCIL also approved unanimously the construction of four new houses on Chain Bridge Road, just north of Rust Curve.

The developer, Fairfax Homes, Inc., proposes to leave the existing home on the 2.7-acre property and construct a small cul-de-sac for the four new homes. In order to accomplish the project, the developer is being permitted to fill in a portion of the flood plain of the Tusico Branch (a tributary of the Accotink Creek). By filling the flood plain the buildable area of the property is increased, which allows more houses than would otherwise be permitted.

The development will be clustered on the eastern portion of the parcel, while the western end will be dedicated to the city for open space. The open space, however is very difficult to access without going through private property.

"It’s a lovely piece of property, but without proper access, I just wonder how useful it is," said Councilmember Joan Cross.

The developer had offered to put in a left turn lane off of Chain Bridge Road onto the new street. That lane would need to be built with respect to an existing turn lane for southbound traffic on Chain Bridge Road to go onto Kenmore Drive.

Greenfield suggested that the money be put into escrow until the homes have been occupied so the city can better assess the need for a turning lane, and that suggestion was accepted.