City of Falls Church

The following were among actions taken at the July 9 meeting of the Falls Church City Council. For more information, call 241-5004.

STREET NAME UPHELD -- The City Council, in a 5 to 2 vote, opposed a Planning Commission recommendation to rename Gresham Street, a central street planned in the Gresham Place subdivision off North Washington Street, that a developer named more than a year ago.

The commission wanted to rename the planned street Moran Street after the first mayor of the town of Falls Church, Dr. J.J. Moran, who took office in 1875.

At issue was a breakdown in communications between the commission, which can suggest street names for the council to approve, and the developer, Jennings Properties Inc., which assumed it could name the street for the subdivision it was building, as previous developers in the city have done. Construction of the subdivision is expected to be completed by the fall.

The developer named the planned street after Gresham Street in London, partly because houses on the new street will be modeled on the Georgian architectural style found on the London street. Sir Thomas Gresham, for whom the London street was named, was a noted 16th-century economist.

According to a spokesman for Jennings Properties, the developer named the planned street early in the site plan approval process and since then has referred to the street name while doing business with the city and in advertisements and other literature. Although one commissioner expressed hesitation about the name at some point in the process, she said, he did not offer an alternative name.

However, Planning Commissioner Thomas Gillilland wrote in a recent memo that last summer, when the commission gave final approval to the Gresham Place project, "at my request, {the commission} reserved the question of what name should be given to the street that serves the new subdivision."

"It's a question of honoring people who had done something for this city," Gillilland said. "I thought we ought not to give up the opportunity."

Mayor Dale Dover and council members Susanne Bachtel, David Minton, Philip Thomas and Brian O'Connor sided with the developer. "I think the developer had a right to rely on the history here" of developers naming streets in subdivisions, O'Connor said. "To have this come up as a last minute matter. . . it would be unfair to change the name now."

Council members Cynthia Garner and James Slattery sided with the Planning Commission. "I think the developer was clearly on notice. If there was any question" about the street name, "it would have behooved the developer to come back and resolve it," Garner said.