Some of Northern Virginia's major developers have endorsed a plan that would dramatically accelerate growth in rural Centreville, prompting sharp objections from Fairfax County officials and residents trying to control growth in the southwestern part of the county.
The plan, unveiled about midnight Tuesday toward the end of a Planning Commission meeting, was presented by a consulting firm representing seven local developers -- including the widely known John T. (Til) Hazel and the Cadillac Fairview Co. -- preparing to build major residential-commercial projects in the heart of Centreville.
The proposal surprised county officials and residents, who had expected to be presented a development report drafted by a citizens task force created by the County Board of Supervisors. The 24-member panel filed its study, which was followed by the developers' alternative study.
Some county officials and Centreville area residents sharply criticized those involved in the alternative proposal. Planning Commissioner Ronald Koch said in an interview yesterday that officials run the risk of allowing developers to "make a mockery" of Fairfax's planning and zoning process if they approve the developers' proposals.
The report prepared by the citizens task force recommended that residential and commercial development in Centreville be gradual and coincide with the development of an adequate transportation network.
The alternative report, prepared by Dewberry & Davis and supported by the developers, called for nearly double the building density proposed by the task force in some areas, according to county officials familiar with the report.
Koch denounced the developers' action as "completely irresponsible" and said their plan could precipitate traffic gridlock in southwestern Fairfax.
Richard Korink, chairman of the citizen task force, said yesterday that he was stunned by the turn of events and accused area developers of trying to "walk all over the people and the county government."
"To bring forward a major change this late in the process that only represents the economic interests of a few is an awful lot to expect people to swallow," Korink said. "We spent 18 months putting this together and now they come up with this two weeks before it's supposed to end."
"We by no means had the intent to ride in there [Tuesday night] at the 11th hour with an alternative plan," said Philip G. Yates, project manager at Dewberry & Davis. "It's not something we had in our hip pocket all along. It evolved based on our discussions with our clients over the last six or seven months."
James W. Todd, president of Hazel-Peterson Co. of Fairfax, which is involved in a joint venture with the Pomeroy Co. to develop a 408-acre tract at Rtes. 28 and 29 in Centreville, said he supports the Dewberry & Davis proposals.
"The things they [Dewberry & Davis officials] discussed with us were consistent with the planning directions we're reviewing," he said.
This week's Planning Commission meeting was one of the final steps in a three-year effort to adopt a new master plan for Centreville, one of the few remaining undeveloped areas in bustling Fairfax County.
County officials and members of the task force were particularly critical of the developers for filing their new plan so close to the final hearing dates for the report -- Jan. 28 for the Planning Commission and Feb. 10 for the supervisors. They noted that the task force included a representative from Dewberry & Davis.
Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity said the developers' plan was "totally unacceptable." He said their density requests were excessive and added that the board was unlikely to grant another postponement to placate them.
"I think we're going to move right ahead and get this thing done," Herrity said. "We're not going to delay."