FAIRFAX LAND DISPUTE
Not Only Is All Politics Local, It Can Start In Your Driveway
Sunday, May 21, 2006
When Democrats look for votes in southern Fairfax County, one of the people they're likely to come see is John Fedorshik.
He's hard to miss. As a member of the Mount Vernon District Democratic Committee and the board of the South County Federation, an umbrella group of civic and neighborhood organizations, Fedorshik is wired into virtually every important community issue. As a Fairfax County firefighter for 23 years, he's a member of a public employee union with deep pockets for candidates that it favors.
In the 2003 race for Fairfax board chairman, aides to Democrat Gerald E. Connolly, eager to boost his profile in the south county, asked Fedorshik, a burly, crew cut New York City native, to hold a "meet and greet" at his Lorton home.
These days Fedorshik is at war with his neighbors over a small strip of county-owned land that he wants for his driveway. Residents say the land is needed for a new street to improve access to their Lorfax Heights subdivision and complain that Fairfax officials seem more interested in accommodating their politically connected neighbor.
Fedorshik says it is neighborhood politics, not his political connections, that underlies the dispute.
"It's really easy to find a reason to oppose something," Fedorshik said.
The result has been a lengthy and increasingly nasty feud. More than 90 of 125 homeowners in the neighborhood have signed a petition opposing Fedorshik's request for the county to give up the 6,200 square-foot tract, an undeveloped portion of Talbert Road.
At a Board of Supervisors hearing last week, the county's planning staff took the unusual position of declining to offer a recommendation on the request to the supervisors. Instead, County Executive Anthony H. Griffin endorsed turning over the land. After several residents spoke against the measure, the board deferred action until June 26.
"Why is it so important to give this land away?" asked Karen Yoon, a leader of a neighborhood group opposing such a property changeover.
At issue is Fedorshik's winding gravel driveway on the 9000 block of Ridgely Drive, which crosses the public right-of-way. When he bought the land for his home in 1995, he had to post a $14,000 bond with the county to build and maintain the driveway -- the main access to his house -- although he is barred from paving it.
Fedorshik says he does not object to extending tiny Talbert Road, but it is not in the county's master plan and not likely to ever be built. He would like the tract so he could get his money back and pave his driveway.
He has an ally in the Lorton-area supervisor, Gerry Hyland (D), who says that with all the unfunded road projects in the county, the extension of Talbert will never be a priority. And at 30 feet, Hyland said, the right-of-way is not wide enough for a decent road.