The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday approved a land swap with prominent Fairfax developer John T. Hazel, who will get county-owned property near the intersection of I-66 and Route 50 in exchange for two tracts of land he owns.
Under the agreement, the county will give Hazel 38 acres known as Pender Park, located north of I-66 in an area near the Fair Oaks mall that the county has slated for high intensity development. Hazel already owns some land surrounding Pender Park, and his request that that land be rezoned for commercial development is expected to come before the board early next year.
In exchange, Hazel will give the county more than 39 acres on Stringfellow Road in the Chantilly area to be used for soccer fields and 14.5 acres adjacent to other county-owned property in the Route 50 and I-66 region.
Based on the evaluation of independent appraisers, county officials estimated the value of the two Hazel properties at $1.5 million and the value of the county-owned land at $1.05 million.
Democratic Supervisor James Scott, who represents the Chantilly area, said, "This is a fair and equitable swap. The county's getting more than its fair share."
Supervisor Audrey Moore (D-Annandale) argued that the value of the county-owned land was substantially underestimated because it was based on the current zoning, which only allows one house per acre.
Moore said land values normally increase when developers are allowed to put up commercial office buildings--as Hazel proposes to do--rather than single-family homes.
County officials countered that appraisals must be based on the current zoning.
Moore said Hazel purchased the Stringfellow Road property for $944,000 this month specifically to trade with the county for the I-66 land.
Hazel denied that, saying he purchased the property early in 1983. He said that he was approached by Fairfax County officials in July because the parents of children enrolled in the Chantilly Youth Associates soccer league and the local civic association were interested in his lot. "I was invited to do this by Fairfax County political and government people. We feared from the very beginning that this would happen," said Hazel, referring to Moore's statements. "I've done exactly what they county officials asked us to do."
John Spencer, a real estate broker told the county earlier this year that, based on the planned commercial use of the land, the county could get substantially more money for it if bids were taken from the public--a move that Moore unsuccessfully proposed to the board.
But Kenneth L. McVearry, a real estate broker who testified at a public hearing yesterday at the request of Chantilly Youth Associates, said he thought that the county was getting a "good deal" because the county-owned land did not have utilities, zoning or good roads.
In previous years, the Chantilly Youth Association has played soccer on an empty lot owned by Oxford Development, but the Oxford group decided to develop its property this year.
Oxford negotiated in March with the Fairfax County Park Authority to create two or three soccer fields at Pender Park. But those negotiations took county officials by surprise, because they were already talking to Hazel about a land swap in exchange for the construction of a road through the area. Under the agreement approved yesterday, Hazel will construct the road, called the East/West Connector.