Opinion: Letter to the Editor: What’s Behind Local Support

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: What’s Behind Local Support

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is about to vote on an amendment to the comprehensive plan that would allow the development of 43 residences at 8800 Richmond Highway, an area which is not only in the 100-year floodplain of Dogue Creek, but also in the Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area, and in a Fairfax County Environmental Quality Corridor.

As a long time resident of Fairfax County, I have observed that developers usually get what they want and sometimes build in sensitive areas, despite the many protections offered such areas by a comprehensive planning process required by Commonwealth Law, approved by the Board of Supervisors, and executed by a Planning Commission supported by a staff of dedicated professionals.

Among the materials to be considered by the Planning Commission is a Resolution in support of the development from the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Associations. The Planning Commission often defers to local opinion.

The Planning Commission, and the public, should be aware that this resolution was approved in a meeting of the MVCCA General Council that included the owner of the property, the real estate agent for the property, and the lawyer for the proposed developer. These members and officers drafted the resolution and shepherded it through the several committees of the Council. Although they disclosed their interest at each phase of the process, they did not recuse themselves from it, and actively influenced the outcome.

This certainly seems to be an instance where deference should not be awarded. As Justice Scalia said about free speech (McConnell v. FEC, 540 U.S. 93, 258-259), “The premise of the First Amendment is that the American people are neither sheep nor fools, and hence fully capable of considering both the substance of the speech presented to them and its proximate and ultimate source.”

I certainly hope the Planning Commission can do the same.

Jane Earley