Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, meeting yesterday to discuss problems with the county's new land-use plan, which will guide future transportation and development, indicated they may delay deciding on its most controversial aspects until spring.
The board is scheduled to adopt the first phase of the plan Monday. It was unclear yesterday whether it will do so, but a strong push was made for delay until at least May.
The Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the 399-square-mile county, last revised in 1975, has undergone an 18-month, $1.5 million review that many people say has left it riddled with contradictions and conflicting goals.
The Board of Supervisors met for more than seven hours with its staff yesterday in a workshop designed to air complaints and fashion compromises.
The board was split, generally between supervisors who favored the plan's proposed crackdown on development as a way to ease future traffic congestion and those who said new development restrictions would be unwise while the region is in an economic slump. Others complained the plan was too stringent and could have unwanted side effects, such as halting new development and discouraging redevelopment in the county's older, deteriorating communities.
Delaying adoption of the plan could postpone decisions on whether to widen certain roads. Dozens of citizens and civic groups have called for deleting from the plan some road widenings designed to relieve traffic congestion on grounds that they would disrupt their neighborhoods and harm the environment.
County Executive J. Hamilton Lambert suggested that the board "accept the plan in concept" Monday, rather than formally adopting it in all its specifics. That would allow the first phase of the plan, which outlines broad goals for dealing with development, transportation and other issues, to be merged with the second phase, which is to be a much more specific, parcel-by-parcel review of the county.
That would delay approval of controversial new devleopment and transportation actions until the end of phase 2, scheduled for May.
Board Chairman Audrey Moore (D) said she thinks the supervisors will be unable to approve the plan Monday although she favors doing so. Trying to fashion a complex compromise, she said, "could stall the process. I don't think decisions get any easier next May, but to let things get stalled at this point would be very unfortunate."
Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Annandale) said she found it hard to believe that some of her colleagues favor more development when so many county roads are choked with traffic.
Supervisor Joseph Alexander (D-Lee) responded that the county should allow more growth in some parts, such as the Route 1 corridor, to encourage redevelopment.
"I don't think some board members understand the economic situation in this region," he said after the meeting. "When the board adopts a plan that restricts development, which could bring more tax revenues in, I think it sends the wrong signal."