The Fairfax County Planning Commission, despite strong reservations expressed by some of its members, endorsed last night a development plan for rural Centreville drafted by a citizens' study team and vigorously opposed by some of the area's major developers.
The commission voted unanimously to recommend the study's acceptance by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which will take up the politically charged issue at a public hearing Feb. 10.
The plan, which resulted from a three-year study authorized by the supervisors in 1982, maps out a mixed residential and office-commercial development for the 3,000-acre core section of Centreville, which is in southwestern Fairfax and is one of the last large undeveloped areas of the county.
In addition to recommending building densities for specific parcels, the study team set as its chief goal the preservation of Centreville's residential nature. It also urged the county to form a historic district to preserve many of the 18th- and 19th-century buildings there.
Developers such as John T. (Til) Hazel of the Hazel-Peterson Co., the Cadillac-Fairview Co. and other prominent Northern Virginia builders with land holdings in Centreville have stepped up their efforts in recent days to persuade the supervisors to reject the citizens-backed study. Those developers have filed an opposition plan that calls for doubling the density levels proposed by the study team and changing the character of the area from predominantly residential to primarily office-commercial.
The developers have said it would be economically unfeasible for them to finance needed road improvements unless the county lets them build at the higher densities.
Supervisor Elaine N. McConnell (R-Springfield), whose district includes Centreville, became embroiled in the issue last week when she first expressed sympathy for the developers' argument, and then agreed to support the residents' plan during a stormy private meeting with civic group leaders.
It was McConnell's representative on the Planning Commission, Peter F. Murphy, who recommended approval of the citizens' study last night.
But two members, Carl Sell and commission Chairman George M. Lilly, took the citizens' panel to task for submitting a plan that lacked a formula that would pay for highway improvements in Centreville.
"This study, although well thought out, doesn't go far enough on the transportation issue," said Sell.
"I do not believe that the densities proposed in this study will provide the engine that will get the transportation improvements that will be needed here," agreed Lilly.
But other commission members, led by Rosemarie Annunziata, maintained that the adoption of the Centreville development plan should not be contingent on whether developers agree to finance transportation needs.
She said the county should adopt the best development plan and then, short of creating a countywide road funding formula, consider financing the improvements through state funds or through county bonding.