Fairfax County

The following were among the actions taken by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at their Oct. 19 meeting. For more information, call 691-3187.

STREET SIGNS -- The board voted unanimously to install new, larger and easier-to-read street signs at most of the county's 16,000 intersections, following a trend in Washington area counties to eliminate small street signs.

The new signs will be 30 to 48 inches long and nine inches wide, with white, six-inch letters on a blue background. The signs are to be mounted on poles 10 feet above the ground. Current signs are on eight-foot poles and are 24 to 36 inches long and six inches wide, with four-inch, white letters on a green background.

The new signs are not required in 10 subdivisions that have their own special signs. But officials told residents they could have the new ones if they wanted.

Officials expect it will take at least three years to replace the small signs with the new larger ones. Some major intersections, such as those along the Rte. 1 corridor, already have large signs.

BOWMAN DISTILLERY SITE -- The board voted 8 to 0 to reduce the amount of office development permitted on the 30-acre site of the Reston-based A. Smith Bowman Distillery, maker of Virginia Gentleman bourbon. The distillery's decision a year ago to move from its Sunset Hills Road location to Fredericksburg left open for development a site that officials call "among the most prestigious available in the county."

The extent of development to be permitted on the site has led to extensive debate in the community. New-York based developers Galbreath-Ruffin have proposed to build an office building encompassing more than 900,000 square feet. But civic leaders said they wanted less office development.

The board action amends the county's Comprehensive Plan, allowing construction of about 650,000 square feet of office space, or a total of about 900,000 square feet of mixed office and residential space, a compromise approved by civic leaders. The board has not approved any specific plans from developers for the site.

ROBINWOOD LANE PARKING -- The board approved Residents-Only parking on Robinwood Lane in the Baileys Crossroads area southeast of Falls Church, overruling a staff recommendation and a plea by a worker at a nearby federal office who said he sometimes had no other place to park.

About 20 residents of Robinwood Lane attended the meeting to support the the Residents-Only restriction. Irene Rooney, of 5705 Robinwood Lane, said commuters working at nearby buildings at times block driveways and interfere with leaf collection.

County staff members said only 54 percent of the street spaces on Robinwood Lane are occupied during peak weekday hours, less than the standard of 75 percent usage for a Residents-Only parking district.

But Supervisor Katherine Hanley (D-Providence) responded "maybe there's something wrong with the rules," implying that the 75 percent standard is too high if most of the parked cars do not belong to residents.

ACCESSORY STRUCTURES -- The board voted 7 to 0 to introduce civil penalties and eliminate most criminal penalties for residents who violate zoning ordinances restricting some free-standing structures in front yards, such as basketball hoops.

"As it stands, anyone shooting baskets in the front yard after a certain time is a criminal," said Supervisor Nancy Falck (R-Dranesville). She said existing criminal penalties often seemed excessive and difficult to impose.

STATE HIGHWAY OFFICE -- The board asked the Virginia Department of Transportation to make its northern Virginia highway district office in Fairfax City a full-service facility to help speed highway construction in the area. The present office has limited space and staff, forcing employes to commute between Fairfax City and the department's regional office in Culpeper County.

The Fairfax City office has offered only partial service since 1985 when the northern Virginia district was created. Northern Virginia formerly was served by the Culpeper office.

Transportation officials already are considering expansion of the Fairfax City office, but board Chairman John Herrity said the office, which is responsible for planning, designing and surveying roads, needs more than just minor expansion.

"They're not bringing the staff in here," said Herrity, who called the lack of a full-service office a "serious impediment" to completing construction projects quickly.