New Right direct-mail wizard Richard A. Viguerie has suffered a setback in his attempt to build new headquarters for his nationwide operation in Fairfax County.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week declined to approve a rezoning plan that would have permitted Viguerie to build a 200-square-foot headquarters building in Oakton near Rte. 123-I-66. Viguerie, whose direct-mail operation raises funds for many conservative and New Right clients, now rents space at Tysons Corner. He plans to finance his new headquarters under a controversial funding plan approved by the county's economic development agency.
The rezoning request failed by a 4-to-4 vote of the nine-member board. Four Democrats -- James M. Scott (providence), Martha V. Pennino (Centreville), Sandra L. Duckworth (Mount Vernon) and Audrey Moore (Annandale) voted against the proposal, while three Republicans -- Marie B. Travesky (springfield), Thomas M. Davis III (Mason) and Nancy K. Falch (Drancesville) joined Democrat Joseph Alexander (Lee) to support it. Board chairman John F. Herrity, a Republican, abstained.
The supervisors then told their staff to come up with proposals that would make the rezoning application compatible with the county's master plan, raising the possibility that the board will reconsider the issue.
If the zoning request is denied, it could be headed for a court challenge. Zoning attorney William H. Hansbarger said after the supervisors' meeting he would recommend that the case be taken to court, where the county has lost many crucial land-use decisions in battles with developers.
Viguerie's plan first attracted attention when the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority tentatively approved a low-interest, $7 million industrial revenue bond for construction of the headquarters. Some supervisors questioned the propriety of awarding a government-subsidized bond to a political operation, but the largely autonomous authority stood by its action, and later gave viguerie additional time to arrange the financing.
Under an industrial revenue bond, a bank is able to grant a low-interest loan because it doesn't have to pay state or federal income taxes on the interest it collects as profit. The bonds have been attracting controversy -- and congressional scrutiny -- as critics claim they are being granted too liberally.