Passing judgment on 39 nominations to amend the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan throughout the south county region officially got underway Tuesday night at the Mount Vernon District Government Center with the initial meeting of the Area Plans Review Task Force.
"You are my eyes and ears," said Supervisor Gerald Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), to the 33 task force appointees assembled in the center's meeting room. "And, I am thrilled that so many people have volunteered to serve on this very important body."
"Each of these nominations represents something that someone is suggesting should be done differently with that particular piece of land. This committee can make a recommendation as to accept or deny that suggestion," Hyland said.
"This year we have something brand new that we were not expecting that will have a tremendous impact on this part of the county," he said. "Because of BRAC [Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Report] and the additional 21,000 people that will come to Fort Belvoir it will become the center of interest for industry."
Hyland predicted increased interest in office and commercial development triggered by BRAC. "There will also be a tremendous impact on transportation needs throughout this portion of the County," he noted.
One of the concerns expressed by Task Force attendees was the need to integrate county concerns such as stormwater management and environmental needs into the comprehensive planning process.
"This entire process is performed with input from all county agencies impacted. We circulate any recommendation to the agency for their assessment," said Marianne Gardner, chief, Policy and Plan Development Branch, Department of Planning and Zoning.
Gardner and Meghan Van Dam, planner for Mount Vernon District, Department of Planning and Zoning, conducted an in-depth Power Point orientation for Task Force members to initiate them into the process they will be undertaking over the next four months. Beginning Jan. 4, 2006 they will be meeting on a weekly basis through March 2006.
Hyland also thanked Tim Sargeant and Mack Rhoades for agreeing to serve as Task Force co-chairs. Sargeant previously served as chair of the Laurel Hill Task Force and Rhoades is co-chair of the Mount Vernon Council.
"Those of you who have served on previous task forces concerning nominations to the comprehensive plan know how important this process is. I also want to thank each of you for volunteering," said Sargeant, prior to turning the orientation session over to Gardner and Van Dam.
THOSE SERVING on the Task Force are all residents of the South County region. "You are the ones who know this area better than anyone," said Hyland. "It is the land next to you and your neighbors. Your input is vital."
Public participation in the process includes the following: submitting nomination for plan review; attending Task Force meetings; reviewing DPZ staff reports for each nomination; and testifying at public meeting, either in writing or verbally.
In addition to Mount Vernon District, the 2005-06 South County Area Plans Review process includes the Lee, Springfield, Braddock and Mason districts.
Those wishing to remain informed about APR developments can attend the upcoming public meetings and/or subscribe to the free email service provided by Planning and Zoning entitled, "Comprehensive Plan Announcements. To subscribe, go to the County Web site for E-Subscription at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/email/lists.