The Fairfax City Planning Commission, preparing for a review of the land-use section of the city's comprehensive plan, took a look Monday night at the results of a development questionnaire sent to more than 7,300 city residents and 1,000 businesses.
According to the results of the questionnaire, which had a 32 percent response rate, ensuring the high quality of development and protecting residential neighborhoods from commercial encroachment are the top two priorities of city residents. Planning commissioners and city staff working on the survey called the response rate "excellent."
Asked to rate the importance of controlling the quality and impact of development, 71 percent of those responding said it was a "very high priority" and 19 percent listed it as a "high priority." On the issue of protecting existing neighborhoods from traffic and commercial encroachment, 79 percent gave that a high or very high priority.
Maintaining current tax rates was rated third on the list of priorities in the questionnaire with 45 percent giving it a very high priority. The city's tax rate as of July 1 will be $1.08 per $100 of assessed property value.
Lowest on the list of priorities was the construction of housing. Only 22 percent of those responding said new housing was a very high or high priority while 50 percent said it was not a priority or a low priority.
Surprising to some members of the commission was the response to the widening on Rust Curve, a short, winding, wooded stretch of road on Rte. 123 just north of the city's downtown area. Maintaining Rust Curve as two lanes was listed 14th out of 15 priorities as determined by the survey.
"I thought there would be more interest in Rust Curve," said Dorris H. Reed, a member of the city council and liaison to the planning commission. In addition to asking residents about priorities for development, the questionnaire also inquired about preferences. Not suprising for a community that is composed largely of single-family detached houses, 89 percent of the respondents said they would like to see single-family detached houses on vacant residential properties in the city while only 44 percent approved of town houses and only 23 percent said they would like apartments.
Asked about commercial development, 76 percent of the respondents expressed a preference for small-scale offices. Only 22 percent said they would like to see shopping centers and just 8 percent wanted high rise offices.
Many of those responding to the questionnaire provided additional written comments, the vast majority of them focusing on traffic and transportation.
One hundred seventy-three people providing written comments suggested that Chain Bridge Road (Rte. 123) be widened while 122 persons suggested that a bypass be built around the city.
Planning Commission Chairman Dee Schmidt and others expressed interest in reading the comments, which were not provided to the commission members at Monday night's meeting.
After the meeting, commissioner Mary Petersen said she didn't foresee the commission making any radical changes in the plan. "I don't see any dramatic changes from the last plan," said Petersen. Petersen and commission member Mary Balserak said that Fairfax City is largely developed and that there were few large open tracts of land remaining to be developed.
Peggy Wagner, director of community development and planning, said the commission and staff hope to complete an update of the city's current comprehensive plan by early next year. The plan was last updated in 1982.