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Planning for the Future

Tim Sargeant is new planning commissioner.

Tim Sargeant has seen the rise of the South County area from the very beginning. After the former prison site came into Fairfax County’s possession, Sargeant, a seasoned veteran of homeowners’ and civic associations as well as the South County Federation and Mount Vernon Council of Civic Associations, headed the committee that directed the course of the land’s development. Sargeant, a Lorton resident, was recently appointed to replace retiring at-large member Laurie Frost Wilson on the Fairfax County Planning Commission. He is this week’s People Profile.

How long have you lived in the area and what brought you here? I’ve lived in the Northern Va. area since about 1984, when I was offered a job with the Associated Press Radio Network. My wife and I have lived in the Mount Vernon District of Fairfax County since 1991, when we moved to buy a house and have our two kids.

Family: My wife works at the Associated Press. That’s where we met, as a matter of fact. We actually met on the overnight shift. We used to kid that we were the only people we could go out with, because we could go out for breakfast. I have a 14-year-old daughter Emily and an 11-year-old son Eric.

Education: I graduated with a degree with politics and government from Ohio Wesleyan University. I had education training — which includes a senior executive course — program at Georgetown University and was in the Leadership Fairfax Class of 2003.

Job history: I worked at the AP for about 13 years as a newscaster for the network, newscaster, reporter and producer. There was an opening in Washington Gas to be in communication on the corporate side, where experience in journalism is very, very applicable. It helps to understand what journalists are looking for. I’m currently on another assignment. I’m in charge of crisis management and business continuity planning for the company, handling planning for everything from business interruptions to disasters to pandemic plights.

Activities: I’ve got a roster of things I’ve been doing over the years. I’ve been involved in civic issues and land-use issues since the early ‘90s, just at the local level with my homeowner’s association to the local civic association and then through appointments from the local supervisor for land-use issues. So in the mid-‘90s, after being involved in my local civic association and homeowner’s association for a few years, I was appointed by Supervisor [Gerry] Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) and the board to co-chair the task force that developed the comprehensive land-use plan for the 3,000-acre site at Laurel Hill, the former D.C. Department of Corrections facilities. It was very gratifying to see a new community emerge from the ground ... in 2003 I was appointed by the board to chair the task force that developed the master plan for using former prison buildings, many of which are considered to be historically significant ... a lot has occurred, that’s a mixed-use plan that calls for a variety of uses including workforce housing for police, teachers and firefighters, adapted re-use of many of the historic structures. So that’s kept me pretty busy. In the interim I also, for the Mount Vernon District, co-chaired the Area Plans Review process.

Interests/hobbies: I like golf, I like sailing; neither of which I get to do these days. As a parent you get to spend a lot of time watching your kids’ sporting events, so that’s kind of fun.

How did your appointment to the Planning Commission come about? The Mount Vernon District planning commissioner, John Byers, has retired so Supervisor Hyland was looking for a replacement planning commissioner. Subsequently, Laurie Frost Wilson, who is an at-large member, announced that she would be stepping down at the end of the year. And they really wanted to get, given the amount of growth in the South County area, given the amount of development anticipated in the next decade or so, they wanted to have additional representation of the South County area in addition to a Mount Vernon District.

What do you hope to accomplish as planning commissioner? I anticipate a lot of collaborative efforts with the other planning commissioners regarding BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure]. The placement of 18,000 personnel on the Engineer Proving Grounds and 4,000 more at Fort Belvoir will have a profound impact on this area, in more than one magisterial district. I look forward to working with the other planning commissioners very closely. Other issues such as working as closely as possible in terms of land-use planning and transportation ... issues like workforce housing, improving on definitions of workforce housing and how that equates to development.

Community concerns: BRAC, basically; the very profound impact it will have and the potential to skew transportation and land-use planning development tremendously. I’m looking forward to working with the planning commissioners. Also, coordinating land-use planning and transportation: one of the challenges for any planning commissioner, especially in an area of growth as in the South County area, is carefully balancing the plans and expectations of long-time residents with the visions of the new residents. I’m hoping to address these priorities.

What music is on your car stereo right now? Whatever it is, it’s probably outdated. My kids try to keep me updated.

Are there any community “hidden treasures” you think more people should know about? It might seem silly to refer to Mount Vernon as a “hidden” treasure, but I encourage people to go there when it’s not a national holiday, to walk along the Potomac. Being there on a more personal basis brings history alive and it is so important to our area.

If you could go on a road trip anywhere in the U.S., where would you go? I would take my kids to the West. I lived in Colorado some years. I would take them to see the Rockies, the Grand Canyon.

Personal goals? To make a difference through civic engagement, to plan for Fairfax County’s future.

— Lea Mae Rice