After clashing over some recent rezoning decisions and then locking horns in a lawsuit, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the county's Board of Zoning Appeals this week had a heart-to-heart talk over how to reduce conflict between the two agencies.
"I thought it was a fairly constructive meeting," said Board of Supervisors chairman John Herrity after the Monday meeting where the supervisors and the five members of the BZA aired with differences and redefined what their working relationship should be.
The supervisors said they were upset by the ZBA's apparent disregard for the land use policies set by the board and for the county's comprehensive land use plan as displayed in two recent ZBA reversals of zoning decisions made by the supervisors.
The decisions involved rezoning land under the Exxon station at the corner of Rte. 123 and George Washington Parkway and a residential lot at Annandale Acres. The supervisors susequently initiated a lawsuit against the BZA after its action on the Exxon station.
In the meeting Monday, members of the BZA said they did not intentionally disregard but that they often were ignorant of the supervisors' zoning decisions.
BZA members complained of inadequate briefings from county government staff on what the land-use plan dictated for the neighborhoods under consideration during appeals. Some participants in the inter-agency meeting talked of a "lack of communication" between the groups and one BZA member called the relationship between them "muddy as hell".
As a result of the meeting, the BZA will now receive fuller briefings from the county's office of Comprehensive Planning on the recommended land-use for specific communities under consideration by the BZA at its thrice monthly meetings.
BZA also agreed to hold at least one night meeting a month in the future. At present, their meetings are held during the day. And the supervisors will amend the ordinance governing nitification of zoning appeals to requrie widespread advertisement of BZA hearings and requested rezonings.
The meeting on Monday was held at the request of the Board of Supervisors after the BZA had asked the board for funds for legal representation to fight another lawsuit filed against the BZA by a civic association.
The BZA is appointed by the Fairfax Circuit Court for five-year terms, but it gets its operating expenses from the board of supervisors.
The two groups agreed yesterday to ask the circuit court to obtain legal counsel for the BZA.