City of Falls Church

The following were among actions taken at the Aug. 27 meeting of the Falls Church City Council. For more information, call 241-5004.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR -- An advisory committee representing local businesses urged city officials not to delay hiring a new economic development coordinator, arguing that the city needs to fill the position soon to attract businesses and help manage growth.

The request by the Business Development Commission was prompted by City Manager John Doane's decision to further delay hiring a new economic coordinator to replace David Cardwell, who left almost a year ago. The city's economic development office was effectively shut down this month when the final employee, a secretary, was transferred to another department.

"It is the wrong time" to dissolve the economic development office, said Paul Barkley, a member of the commission, "and sends the wrong message, when we need the support of the business community. . . . Economic development. . . should not be by accident."

In a letter to the council, the commission warned that the city needs more businesses to broaden the real estate property tax base, and argued that an economic development coordinator could help to boost these efforts, to define a vision of growth for the city and to update the city zoning ordinance. It will become increasingly difficult to attract businesses to the city, the letter said, because Falls Church is in competition with stepped-up economic development in neighboring Fairfax County.

Cardwell resigned last fall, partly, he said later, because the political climate in the city had become hostile toward economic growth. A year before, city voters elected three new council members who advocated a more conservative stance toward development. Since Cardwell left, the council has been divided about whether to replace him.

A few weeks after Cardwell's resignation, the city planning director also resigned, citing personal reasons. The City Council, in drawing up the budget for the current fiscal year, allocated money to fill only one of the two positions and decided to leave the choice up to the incoming city manager.

Doane, who was hired as city manager in the spring, announced this month that he planned to hire a planning director immediately and would consult with that official about filling the position of economic development coordinator.