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News Briefs

<sh>Smyth Returns $10,000 Contribution

<bt>Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) has returned a $10,000 campaign contribution she received from a nonprofit organization late last year, saying it had the appearance of impropriety.

Chosen Generation, based in Fort Washington, Md., contributed the cash to her 2007 re-election bid, supporting her efforts in bringing an African-American cultural and performing arts stage to Falls Church.

An official with the organization had said the $10,000 check was intended to influence the project's rezoning process for the Falls Church property.

"Campaign contributions have no influence on rezoning," Smyth said. "This is not the way the zoning process works."

The contribution may also have been in violation of Chosen Generation's 501(c)3 tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Service code.

Sandra Ruffin, Chosen Generation's general counsel, said the organization will now give the money to the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, an organization formed to establish the African-American center in Falls Church.

"We regret the misunderstanding of the purpose and intent of the donation," she said. "But we are still wholeheartedly in support of the Tinner Hill project, so we will be giving the donation to the Tinner Hill (Heritage) Foundation."

<sh>Haz-Mat Ban Sought for Hunter Mill Road

<bt>The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to ask the Virginia Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of banning trucks carrying hazardous materials on Hunter Mill Road.

The action, introduced by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), is a key step toward halting haz-mat trucks from the road connecting Reston and Oakton.

Two bills introduced in the General Assembly would have banned haz-mat cargo on the road, but were killed in committee after VDOT officials said legislation was not necessary to achieve the intended result. The board's action Monday was the first step in that process.

If VDOT accepts the board's request, it will begin analyzing what alternate routes trucks carrying haz-mat cargo would take through the area.

<sh>Area Plans Review Public Hearing

<bt>The proposals to change the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan will go to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing. These proposed changes were first heard during the Area Plans Review process last fall.

On April 20, the hearing is scheduled to hear the nominations form the Sully, Dranesville and Hunter Mill magisterial districts. The hearing for the 14 nominations in the Providence district is set for April 21.

The hearings are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Any items that do not begin before midnight will be heard at a carryover meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 27 at the same time.

Residents who wish to speak at the public hearings may register to do so. Call 703-324-2865 or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/gov/planning.

The Planing Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposals at a "mark-up" meeting on Wednesday, May 18, at 8 p.m. The meeting will be open to the public, but no testimony will be heard.

<sh>Titanic Society Comes to Tysons

<bt>The Titanic International Society hosts its convention from April 29-May 1, at the Holiday Inn, Tysons Corner, 1960 Chain Bridge Road, McLean. Activities include a bus tour of Titanic-related sites, a cocktail party, movie night, lunch and evening banquet. Cost per person is $160. Separate pricing for each event is available on request. Registration deadline is March 30. Visit www.titanicinternationalsociety.org, call 814-899-5438, 814-440-2422 or send e-mail: dshuttle401@aol.com. Include "TIS Convention" in the subject line.

<sh>Hudgins Hosts Lake Anne Meeting

<bt>Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) is conducting a community meeting concerning the Lake Anne Village Center Revitalization project on Wednesday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m., at Lake Anne Elementary School, 11510 North Shore Drive. Jim Prost, principal, Basile Baumann Prost and Associates, Inc. presents the Economic Analysis and Initial Revitalization Concepts for the revitalization of the Lake Anne Village Center. Copies of the executive summary and final report are available by accessing the Fairfax County Revitalization Web site at www.fcrevit.org/lakeanne/main.htm.

<sh>Program Offers Rides on St. Patrick's Day

<bt>The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) sponsors the SoberRide program on Thursday, March 17, from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., as a way to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers on St. Patrick's Day. Area residents 21 or older celebrating with alcohol may call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free ride (up to $50 fare). For more, visit www.soberride.com.