Fairfax County

The following were among actions taken by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at its July 9 meeting. For more information, call 246-3151.

POT-BELLIED PIGS -- The board deferred scheduling a public hearing on a proposed zoning ordinance to allow pot-bellied pigs as pets, with a special permit. Board members said they needed more time to consider the proposal.

County staff had proposed amending the county's definition of swine to exclude the pot-bellied pigs and to classify them instead as "commonly accepted pets."

Last fall, the board directed county staff to look into the status of pot-bellied pigs as agricultural animals. The county's zoning ordinance presently classifies the pigs as swine, and as such prohibits keeping them in a house or within 100 yards of a residence.

After reviewing the issue, county staff members concluded that the domesticated animals could be considered suitable as pets, subject to some regulations.

But Supervisor Gerry Hyland, who served for eight years on the county's Board of Zoning Appeals, said he was concerned about classifying the animals as "commonly accepted pets" when county residents in the past have been denied permission or have had to get special approval to keep chickens and pygmy goats as pets. "I was arguing for animal parity," Hyland said. "If we are going to consider pot-bellied pigs, I think we have to look at other pets that people have raised in the county."

CENTREVILLE BUS SERVICE -- In a report to the board, county staff recommended that the county not fund special bus service for Centreville commuters affected by the partial closing of the intersection of Union Mill and Braddock Road for highway construction. Supervisor Elaine McConnell, representative of that area, had requested that staff members study the issue.

The report cited a "low level of anticipated ridership" and "relatively high costs" as reasons why the county should not support either of two options laid out by county transportation officials. Both options called for chartering buses from the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, to transport commuters either to a drop-off point for a Metrobus or directly to the Vienna Metrorail station. The staff report estimated that the special bus service would cost $11,000 to $27,000 for about six weeks.

Last month, the county began work to extend Union Mill Road from Braddock Road to Lee Highway. The project has required the county to close part of the intersection of Union Mill and Braddock roads, causing commuting problems for residents of Little Rocky Run developments next to Union Mill Road. Commuters previously drove 1.7 miles to board a Metrobus at Little Rocky Run Circle, but with the construction work underway, they now must drive 3.3 miles to get to a Metrobus and are faced with much heavier traffic. The intersection is scheduled to reopen in September.

SECURITY ALARMS -- The board approved a proposal to bill businesses and homeowners for excessive activation of false security alarms. The ordinance will go into effect Jan. 1.

County public safety officials proposed the fines in an effort to reduce the costs of responding to malfunctioning burglar alarm systems. The county spent more than $1 million responding to such calls last year, according to Fairfax County police.

The measure is similar to ordinances enacted in other local jurisdictions, including Prince George's and Montgomery counties and the cities of Falls Church and Fairfax.

Under the Fairfax County plan, businesses or residents with more than five false alarms a year, three in four consecutive months or three in one month will be required to have the security devices inspected. Fines of $20 to $150 will be levied for alarms that continue to be activated without serious cause, beginning with the third false alarm in a year.

Last year, 98 percent of all security alarm calls in the county were false, according to Richard A. King, deputy county executive for public safety. Of 37,383 alarms recorded, police were needed in 439 of the cases, but police personnel spent more than 15,000 hours responding to the calls.

The ordinance will be enforced by the Fairfax County Police.

The board also agreed to set up an advisory commission to advise the board on the effectiveness of the ordinance and to develop technical standards and licensing requirements for alarm companies.