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County Rejects ResTown

Officials say incorporation could lead to other splits in county.

County Executive Anthony Griffin left no question about Fairfax's opinion on the Reston incorporation proposal when he replied to a inquiry sent by Del. Ken Plum (D-36) and state Sen. Janet Howell.

"The Board of Supervisors does not appear disposed to Balkanizing the county," he wrote in a reply dated Nov. 27.

Whenever the idea of Reston becoming a town is broached among the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, questions about precedent surface, he said in the letter.

"Why should the unincorporated sections of other districts, many of which predate Reston by scores of years, not also be able to become towns? If Reston, then why not incorporate McLean, Centreville, Burke, Springfield, Annandale, Mount Vernon, Franconia and Merrifield to name a few?" wrote Griffin.

IN LATE OCTOBER, the Reston Citizens Association announced it had collected over 3,600 signatures in support of a referendum that would allow Reston residents to vote on whether to incorporate. The association has also posted a proposed town charter on its Web site.

The General Assembly has to approve such a referendum on town status and Reston’s local state legislators would normally be the Assembly members tapped to carry such a proposal.

The Reston Citizens Association has made no formal request to Plum to introduce the legislation on their behalf, though the delegate and Howell met with the community to discuss the issue in late October, said Plum.

Before he considered introducing the referendum proposal, Plum said he would want to be assured that all of the affected parties had been involved in discussions about Reston’s town incorporation. He and Howell sent a letter to several entities that would be impacted by the change, including the county.

"We need to have the affected organizations involved. … I sent the letter to find out what role they had in developing the proposal," said Plum.

IN HIS RESPONSE to Plum and Howell, Griffin stated: "The county staff has had no formal or informal role in the preparation of the present proposed legislation and charter, and I have not had any correspondence with the Reston Citizens Association in their preparation of the proposed Charter."

He added that the county considered Reston’s proposal for a town referendum illegal since it violated Virginia laws that do not allow large unincorporated areas like Reston to become a town. It undermines the premise of the urban county executive form of government where services are to be delivered by a single unit of a municipality, he wrote in the letter.

Griffin also listed other problems with Reston’s incorporation plan including that it would reduce county revenue, seize a valuable property governed partially by the county and disrupt local land use and regional transportation planning.

Legislation for a Reston town referendum should not be introduced during the 2008 session if for not other reason that it might disrupt the delicate plans for MetroRail through the Reston area, said Griffin in the letter.

"In short, this is a radical proposal that has not been given the careful analysis that any such proposal should warrant," wrote Griffin.

The county’s response may have put it at odds with several Reston residents. After seeing Griffin’s response, Reston Citizens Association vice president Marion Stillson said: "I think the Board of Supervisors is out of step with what several of their constituents in Reston want. … They are misdirected and wrongheaded in numerous ways."

Since the county had not been involved in the discussions about incorporation, Plum said the proposal for a referendum needed more study and review.