Stung by complaints from their constituents that they are anti-wildlife, Fairfax supervisors this week defended the county's decision not to give the National Wildlife Federation's Virginia site tax-exempt status.
They are suggested that the county staff prepare a list of tax-exempt property in the county. The public needs the information because "it's the poor old tax-payer who pays to keep them in the county," said supervisor Marie B. Travesky (R-Springfield).
In addition, supervisor Martha V. Pennino, (D-Centreville), charged that the Federation "circumvented the usual (zoning) process when it came into the county" and Supervisor Audrey Moore (D-Annandale) said "they violated every siltation measure we ever had."
John A. Brownridge, administrative vice-president of the National Wildlife Federation rejected Penino's charges saying, "We did not know we did anything wrong." He said that when the Federation asked the Board of Zoning Appeals for a rezoning from residential to industrial in order to build its three-story facility, the board "welcomed us with open arms." There was not a single voice of opposition at the zoning hearing, he said.
The discussion of the Federation's tax status came after board chairman John F. Herrity proposed that the Federation look into the possibility of dedicating its 43 acres that straddle the Dulles Access Road as "open space in perpetuity." This would give the Federation a large tax break and the county would be guaranteed open space in that area.
Brownridge said he did not know why the tax question had come up now since the Federation, which paid the county $50,000 in taxes last year, has been asking for tax-exempt status since it came to the county five years ago.
"We really don't think it's fair (to be denied tax-exempt status) because we maintain a 43-acre park and an education center," Brownridge said. Two full-time naturalists are among the 325 employees at the Virginia operation.
Brownridge said that the Federation wants to expand and is now studying various options open to them, including one for moving the Fairfax operation to Montgomery County or Loudoun County. Montgomery County has offered the Federation tax-exempt status, and on land they own in Loudoun, the annual tax bill is only about $2,000, Brownridge said.
In other matters, supervisor Alan H. Magazine, (D-Mason) asked the county department of consumer affairs to study auto repair shops in Fairfax and prepare information for consumers so they will not "be at the mercy" of mechanics.
Magazien said he took his car to four different repair shops and got four different estimates ranging from $165 to $46 for the same repairs. "I was at their mercy - I don't know a good resonator from a bad resonator," Magazine said.
Supervisor Pennino asked the staff to determine what could be done to prevent vandalism on commuter cars parked at Tysons Corner. "I don't think energy-conscious passengers, who park and ride the bus, should suffer like this," Pennino said.
Pennino also asked the board to endorse the concept of a Metro rail line to Dulles airport. The board complied noting that this possibility is already included in Metro's on-going alternative analysis program.