A major developer in Fairfax County and the county's top zoning official disagreed sharply yesterday over whether apartments must be built at Burke Centre, a new town development in the southwestern part of the county.
Claiming that Burke Centre "does not have to go broke" just to build opment plan, developer John T. Hazel said he was under no commitment to provide a broad mix of housing for the town, which has been under construction for two years.
Philip G. Yates, the county, zoning administrator, said he expects Burke Centre to adhere to plan calling for a wide variety of housing, including apartments.
The zoning administrator said that Hazel, regarded as one of the most successful zoning lawyers in Northern Virginia, "misunderstood" Burke Centre's obligation to the county if he believed he could simply refrain from building apartments.
That, however, is exactly what Hazel, one of Burke Centre's three developers, said he could do.
"We do not think we have any commitments to build apartments," Hazel said. "Nobody told me we cannot put town houses where garden apartments were intended" under the development plan."
The County Board of Supervisors Monday ordered county planners to investigate charges by Supervisor Audrey Moore (D-Annadale) that builders and developers at Burke Centre have deviated from the new town's master plan by substituting town houses for apartments, which are less profitable.
Moore cited one example in Burke Centre of an area where 58 town houses were approved by the county to be built in an area designated for 138 elevator apartments in the master plan.
Yates said the county's action was "wrong." He said the approval, which runs contraty to the planned mix of housing at Burke Centre, "would not happen again" without an amendment to the master plan. Such an amendment would require a public hearing.
Hazel said yesterday that he and his associates would like to build the apartments called for in the master plan, but that there is no market for them in Fairfax County.
"We can't provide a mix of housing if we go broke doing it," Hazel said.
Hazel accused Moore of being "out to embarrass Burke Centre and stop development by holding us to apartments.She knows that apartments aren't selling. I will guarantee you flat out that Burke Centre is not committed to build apartments."
The developer also said that Burke Centre now provides that broadest mix of housing in Fairfax, with town houses starting at $48,500 and single-family detached homes costing as much as $145,000.