A Northern Virginia developer, under pressure from Fairfax County officials, has withdrawn his proposal for creation of a 825-acre "new town" complex in the western portion of the county.
John T. Hazel Jr., an influential zoning lawyer and developer, disclosed yesterday that he is abondoning his "new town" proposal and will fill the area with what some call "suburban sprawl" -- single-family houses that sell for upards of $90,000 each.
Under a new town proposal Hazel had filed previously with county officials the area would have been built with a mixture of apartments, condominiums, town houses, and single-family homes that would have been priced from $45,000 to $100,000 each. But that proposal, it was learned yesterday, came under severe attack from Supervisor Martha V. Pennino (D-Centreville) and other supporters of Reston, Fairfax's oldest "new town."
The result was a series of private confrontations between Hazel and Pennino, two of the country's most powerful figures. Pennino appeared yesterday to have prevailed.
"I wanted to protect the concept of Reston," she said yesterday "I was expressly not trying to protect the economic viability of Reston Land Corp. (the Mobil Corp. subsidiary that owns the undeveloped part of Reston). But if that happens, then so be it."
Pennino said she opposed new-town zoning for Hazel's big parcel of land located north of Rte. 50 and about midway between Fairfax City and Dulles International Airport, to protect Reston. She represents Reston and Hazel's area, about three miles to the south.
Hazel's "new town" proposal would have allowed construction of 3,300 housing units in the area, twice the number that more conventional zoning there will permit.
Pennino said good planning called for a belt of light-density development around the more densely developed Reston, and that another new town as close as Hazel's proposed town of Franklin, would violate that principle.
After receiving that word from Pennino -- who usuaully gets her way on the board of supervisors -- Hazel and his partner, Giuseppe Cecchi, developer of Watergate and a number of other major properties in Washington and Northern Virginia, scrapped their new-town concept for Franklin and decided to seek more conventional zoning.
Hazel, who usually doesn't shrink from battle when his projects are on the line, said yesterday, "We accepted the facts of life."
Hazel, whose partnership is already involved in a new-town venture -- rapidly growing Burke Centre, south of Fairfax City -- said he also had encountered difficulty selling the "Franklin" idea to residents living in the area.
"I don't think there is popular acceptance of the idea," he said. "Quite simply, there is the perception that townhouses and apartments mean more congestion. It's a syndrome -- the single-family (house) syndrome -- and that's Fairfax County."
Pennino seemed to agree. "If you want to call it urban sprawl," she said, "that's okay with me . . . The demand isn't for variety. The demand is for single-family houses . . . People love it that way."
Hazel has been criticized by Supervisor Audrey Moore (Annandale) for not actually creating in Burke Centre the housing diversity he promised."He's gone the urban sprawl route there," Moore said yesterday. "It's mostly single-family houses."
Hazel acknowledged 1,800 of the 3,000 units already built or under construction there are single-family homes. But he said there eventually will be 1,800 town houses and 1,500 to 1,800 apartments mixed with an eventual total of 2,000 single-family houses in the area.
As for more new towns in Fairfax with their mix of housing, Hazel said, "The opportunity is gone for good."