A proposed teen-age discotheque in Springfield died last week before the first dance step was taken.
After hearing protests from local officials and parents, Fairfax County's Board of Zoning Appeals in a 4-0 vote with one abstention refused to allow a vacant theater to become a weekend dance club and recreation center.
The five-member zoning panel said the Westspring Plaza Shopping Center, on Rolling Road near Old Keene Mill Road, is already too congested with traffic to grant a special use permit for the teen center.
The first speaker at the evening hearing was Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity, a Republican. Herrity, who noted he was speaking as a private citizen, said, "The area has suffered a considerable amount of vandalism. I fail to believe that the addition of 400 teen-agers will help that situation."
Herrity, a resident of Kenwood Oaks, a development of single-family homes adjacent to the shopping center, also complained of creating competition for high school dances.
State Del. Lawrence D. Pratt, of the 19th District, also lives in Kenwood Oaks. Pratt derided the attempt by ETA Enterprise Inc., a Falls Church firm, to open the teens-only club as " a real film-flam operation. I guarantee they (the owners) will try to put in a saloon in a month's time."
Gary A. Glass, ETA vice president, scoffed at Pratt's remarks and said his company would comply with any restrictions imposed by the zoning board, which could outlaw the sale of beer or wine on the premises.
Although the dance club, which would have required $100,000 in renovations to the now-defunct West Spring Twin Cinema, was slated to cater to high school students aged 14 to 18 when it opened this fall, few young people spoke at the hearing.
"None of the kids are hear and the adults aren't even the ones who will use the facility," said Glass. He accused the parents of "being afraid of their own children. It's their own damn fault. They are afraid of what they've raised."
ETA attorney Thomas Nedrich, often speaking above jeers from the opposition, promised the zoning board that the club would sell only soft drinks, would control admissions through the sale of 2,500 memberships, would work with the county police on traffic and crowd control and would form a citizens' advisory board of local parents.
Christopher Gettings, of Annandale, a nervous 17-year-old speaker, said the teen center "is important to people in my age group."
Both Gettings and Alan Jackson, 18, of Clifton, complained of having little to do in the area on weekends.
"You can go up to 7-Eleven and get a couple of six packs, drive around and drink beer and that's the end of the night," said Gettings. A dance and recreation facility, he said, might "keep his younger brother and sister from making the same mistakes that I did." Jackson said the disco might "take away from vandalism instead of adding to it."
But most of the speakers complained of the site's poor location and lack of sidewalks, lighting and easy access. In addition, area business opposed the club.
James Moore, an employe of the Springfield Golf and Country Club, warned the board that the country club would prosecute trespassers who used the golf course as a shortcut to the plaza from nearby homes.
The zoning board was presented a petition with 732 signatures of residents of Rolling Valley, Kenwood Oaks and Rhygate developments who opposed the disco.
ETA president Eugene C. Schneider, a Springfield resident, said he was disappointed by the 4-0 vote against the disco. He said ETA does not have an "acceptable" alternative site after several zoning board members said they would support a teen center at a better location.