You're a bunch of clowns if you accept this project," Alexander Methdin shouted at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors as he flashed a slide of a foolish-looking clown across the board room wall.
"And I'm hopping mad," growled Methdin, a resident of the Tysons Corner area. He pulled a small wooden kangaroo from his coat pocket and plopped it on the podium.
Some supervisors snickered at the show. Others rolled their eyes. Still others didn't flinch.
But after three hours of verbal assault Monday night from residents against the proposed Tycon Towers--the $100 million, 20-story twin high rises to be built at Tysons Corner--the supervisors began to bend. And in the end, they ordered developers to redraw the building plans on a shorter scale and present them during another public hearing Feb. 22.
The residents haven't won yet, however. The developers, Tycon Developers Limited Partnership, warned the board that reducing the height of the office buildings would force them to expand the complex at the bottom, eating into some of the valuable "green space" that local environmentalists have advocated.
"It's a political dream," board chairman John F. Herrity said sarcastically. "You're wrong either way."
The controversy surrounding the proposed towers has ballooned into more than the usual big business versus little man battle. Residents, who say they have watched the Tysons Corner commercial area encroach into neighboring residential communities, are hurling years of frustration at the developers.
"I've watched the unfolding of Tysons Corner," said McLean resident Howard Ball, one of about 60 persons who attended the hearing. "It's been a disaster area since inception."
Tycon Developers counter that they have spent two years hashing out problems with community groups and county planners. They say the residents are ungrateful for the concessions the developers have made:
* A four-lane bridge that would be built from the complex over congested Rte. 7. "It not only offers service to our site, but benefits the entire area," said Tycon attorney Robert Fitzgerald. Besides that, it will cost the developers $2.5 million to $3 million, he added.
More than five acres of park-like landscaping on the 11.7-acre tract, "a damn expensive" concession to environmentalists, said Fitzgerald. He said the landscaping would cost developers an additional $1 million to $1.5 million.
* Efforts to shield the 20-story buildings from most of the residential areas on the fringes of the Tysons Corner commercial developments. The buildings would be erected behind the Tysons Marriott between the Capital Beltway and Rte. 7. Fitzgerald also noted that the developers have changed their original plans from 300-foot, 25-story buildings to 240-foot, 20-story towers.
Homeowners across the beltway from the buildings say the "green space" at the base of the towers will do them little or no good.
"I will be staring out of my kitchen window at that building all the time," said one homeowner in the Pimmit Hills community. To illustrate their point, residents showed the supervisors pictures of placid scenes of tree-lined streets with two glass towers looming over the treetops in the background.
About half the residents who addressed the board recommended cutting the height of the buildings to 204 feet, or about 17 stories. They said the building would be barely visible to their neighborhoods at that height.
Fitzgerald argued that the developers' primary goal in constructing the buildings is to "provide a gateway from the beltway . . . to identify Tysons Corner as the economic center of Fairfax County."
"Who says there must be a cathedral to commerce at Tysons Corner?" asked resident Howard Ball. "It looks to me very much like a headstone to the quality of life in Fairfax County."