During a three-hour public hearing this week, Fairfax County citizens showed strong support for the county moving its government headquarters out of Fairfax City. But the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors delayed until April 11 any decision on the move.
The supervisors also are considering whether to include the county courthouse in the move, although a blue ribbon citizens committee studying the relocation issue has strongly recommended against building the new courthouse outside of Fairfax City. A new courthouse, for which voters approved $18.6 million in bonds last year, is now scheduled to be built on the present governmental site adjacent to the county administrative offices and to the new jail.
"Right now I'm of a mind to let citizens make the decision through the referendum process," said Board Member Alan H. Magazine (D-Mason) after the hearing. "Certainly it's something to which we have to give more thought."
Board Member Martha V. pennino (D-Centreville) noted that although speakers did not support moving the courthouse, she would favor moving it. She said thought should be given to putting the issue to referendum.
The board-appointed citizens committee claims the county could save as much as $50 million during the next 40 years by moving its administrative offices out of the towering Massey Building in the center of Fairfax City to a proposed 154-acre site west of Fairfax City at routes 66 and 50, called the Pender site.
The country's expanding government and the increasing need for the Couty to lease space in Fairfax City office buildings make the move necessary, the group reported.
If the board decides to move the courthouse with the administrative offices, county voters would have to approve of the move through a referendum. The board must make a decision before April 14 for the courthouse location issue to be put to countywide referendum on the June primary election ballot.
The board voted to remove two donated sites from a list of six that includes the Pender site as the number one choice of the citizens committee. A 150-acre site offered by Gulf-Reston Inc. in Reston and another tract of Compoarble size in Lee District offered by the Lehigh Portland Cement Company were turned down by the board after several speakers cautioned the baord against accepting free gifts.
"There's no such thing as a free offer in my book," said William Kolling who lives in Lee District. "The question's not if there are strings attached, but what the strings are."
Several speakers later, Allen Morrisey of 10318 Beaumont St. in Fairfax, representing Irvin Payne of 3505 S. Caryln Spring Rd., offered the county "free and clear" 150 acres of a 406-acre tract Payne owns west of Centreville south of routes 66 and 28. Morrisey said Payne offered the land with the condition that land around the government center would be available for the businesses and offices that often follow.
The board made no response to the offer.
Harley M. Williams, president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, was the only one of 25 speakers at the public hearing who spoke against the move, saying that county taxpayers "cannot afford the luxury of going into move debt to finance new administration headquarters for county bureaucrats." Williams said there are too many county bureaucrats and their number should be drastically reduced."
Other speakers generally supported the move. Several questioned whether the Pender site was the best choice, and others urged the supervisors to study many locations for a government site before choosing a new headquarters. Most of the speakers also favored keeping the courthouse on the current site in Fairfax City.