The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors killed a move by Board Chairman John F. Herrity yesterday to require that the board hold hearings on all proposed public housing projects in the county.
Moments later, however, the supervisors voted to have a subcommittee study the issue and come back in two weeks with a recommendation, possibly one similar to Herrity's motion.
"I think the board is trying to play games," Republican Herrity said after the Democratic-controlled board voted to table his motion and pass one sponsored by Supervisor Audrey Moore, a Democrat from Annandale.
Herrity accused the board of "lacking the guts" to try to get some control over the semi-independent Fairfax Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which he said has "tried to ride roughshod over the citizens."
Board Vice Chairman Martha V. Pennino, a Democrat from the Centreville District, countered that she had "just as much guts" as Herrity, and said it is easy to kick the authority, even when a private developer is at fault.
The controversy that spurred the debate involves Circle Woods, a Fairfax County town house development, where a developer failed to tell prospective homeowners that a public housing was included in the project.
Moore's motion yesterday asked the housing subcommittee to make a a recommendation within two weeks, taking into account promises made in 1965 when voters passed a referendum establishing the housing authority.
County-prepared literature said at the time that the board would approve the specific amount, location and type of redevelopment the authority would undertake. Herrity argued that, although the literature is not legally binding, it constituted a county promise to the public.
"Fairfax County has lived up to its commitment on this specific issue," Pennino argued. The supervisors, officials said later, hold hearings on subsidized housing projects during rezonings and review the county's housing assistance plan every three years.
Herrity said the board can kill a public housing project during those two stages. But after it is approved as part of the assistance plan, he said that the board lacks authority to kill a housing project.