Impose Fines on Builders
For Illegal Tree Removal
The recent article on redevelopment in Fairfax County ["From Lost Trees, Foes of Growth Take Root," front page, Oct. 14] aptly illustrates the continuing disconnect between the Board of Supervisors and residents in many parts of the county.
As an involved Fairfax landowner, I'd like to thank you for giving this important emerging issue the coverage it deserves. I think the solution is for the county to begin fining builders $100,000 for each tree they remove illegally. (In the case of the goat farm development mentioned in the story, the tractor went right over the roped-off area protecting the trees to deliberately remove them.)
Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) seems to be under the mistaken impression that the people joining the group called FairGrowth in record numbers have a political agenda, that we are disgruntled Republicans. This could not be further from the truth. We are unhappy with the questionable relationship "Condo Connolly" appears to have with major developers and with how little he listens to his constituents. It's as simple as that.
As for the Hunter Mill project now on the table, according to the article, David DeMarco, an executive with K. Hovnanian, one of the project's developers, said the land was purchased "with an understanding" that a rezoning for higher density would follow. If this statement is true, I hope you will let your readers know who gave him that impression.
Democrats on the Board
Act Against Party Values
So board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly thinks that the Fairfax residents fighting to save trees and protect our streams and parks are Republicans with an obvious political agenda? This demonstrates something that has become clear over the last two years: The Board of Supervisors is increasingly out of touch with its constituents.
Like most registered Democrats, I was pleased in the last election when the Democratic Party was able to retain control of the board. Since then, I have watched with dismay as decision after decision goes against core Democratic values, such as respect for the individual, fiscal responsibility and environmental protection. Nor was I surprised, unfortunately, by Providence District Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth's criticism of community activists. Assertive criticism of those with opposing opinions has become an all-too-common part of board public hearings.
With Democrats like Connolly and Smyth in charge, who needs Republicans?
Neglect Affected Citizens
As the only Republican candidate for county office endorsed by the Sierra Club in 2003, and as a candidate endorsed by the Fairfax Smart Growth Caucus, I spent the better part of a year discussing these same issues with voters when I ran for Mason District supervisor.
Many believed, as I did and still do, that the county neglects the views of the most-affected residents in making redevelopment or infill decisions and frequently does not take into account how increasing zoning density in a certain neighborhood will change the quality of life that attracted residents to Fairfax in the first place.
Furthermore, many residents I spoke with believed that the county did not adequately analyze the impact that infill would have on schools, traffic, fire and rescue, police and other public services.
The article mentions that Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth (D-Providence) "sounded exasperated as she told opponents that land use was more complicated than they seemed to realize." True. The Dillon Rule giving the state broad authority over the actions of localities does play a role in this discussion.
Nevertheless, counties such as Fairfax have wide discretion over development issues and the rezoning of communities for infill. Just as important, county supervisors have a duty to follow the wishes of the people who live in their communities first and foremost, as opposed to other interests that do not as accurately reflect the community's needs and wishes.
H.V. "Buzz" Hawley Jr.
Are Not Anti-Development
Thank you for highlighting citizens' concerns about the need for careful and comprehensive growth planning in Fairfax County.
On behalf of the groups that founded FairGrowthNetwork.org, we wish to stress, however, that we are not reflexive foes of development. Rather, we believe in responsible growth, as the name "FairGrowth" implies.
To date, growth in Fairfax has been like concrete kudzu, spreading rapidly in individual locales not necessarily thought to be connected, until suddenly the region is overrun.
We and many residents want our elected leaders to look carefully at the bigger picture -- the collective impact on our environment (such as watershed effects) and on vital systems (such as transit, roads, sewers, schools, parks) -- and to respectfully include the citizenry as our region's future is planned. We also believe that there is need for a clear, community-endorsed compact, one that properly defines and limits transit-oriented growth.
Finally, FairGrowthNetwork.org is not a group. Member organizations retain their autonomy. But our concerns about traffic, environment and citizen inclusion have resonated in all corners of Fairfax County. We want development by informed choice and careful planning. We don't want to wake up to find Fairfax choking on the worst elements of urban density and suburban sprawl.
for Responsible Growth Inc.
Vienna Should Emulate
Process for Oakton Park
We are concerned about the process followed by the town of Vienna in developing the comprehensive plan and in particular about the future of the property at 442 Beulah Rd. NE, commonly known as Beulah Road Park.
The controversy between the residents and the town about management of this property has dragged on for several years. This summer, the Board of Zoning Appeals ruled in favor of the town and issued a conditional use permit allowing the town to continue leaf mulch operations at the site during the coming year.
With the view that this is an excellent time to plan for the long-term use of the property, we forwarded to Mayor M. Jane Seeman and other officials a proposal for the future of Beulah Road Park adapted from the successful plan for a similar park in Oakton. We learned about the Oakton park in a Post article, "Officials Approve Plan for New Oakton Park" [Fairfax Extra, Aug. 4]. We suggested that this proposal be considered as part of the town's comprehensive plan.
Under the Oakton plan, half of the 9.8-acre site will be developed. The other half will be preserved as a woodland park. This plan was developed by area residents and parks officials, who collaborated through a task force and public hearings. The developed area will include an unlighted field for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse; a playground; a picnic area; a trail loop; two small pavilions; and a parking lot. Residents are working on a plan to move a historic school building to the park.
A similar plan for Beulah Road Park could be developed following a process modeled on that used in Oakton, with the residents and the town working together. This collaboration would be a good first step to restore the amicable relations for which Vienna has been noted and which have been soured by the controversy over the mulch operations.
It was our view that the comprehensive plan would eliminate the sense of crisis and controversy that has clouded discussions concerning use of the property over the past two years.
Several proposals advanced by citizens in the past could be taken into account in such planning. For example, an area for environmental field trips; the need for a soccer or multipurpose sports field (unlighted, so as not to disturb nearby residents); and possibly a suitable location for the Moorefield House now in storage. The eight acres available at 442 Beulah Rd. NE should be suitable for an array of uses comparable to those approved in Oakton.
We recently reviewed the draft comprehensive plan. We were disappointed to learn that our proposal was not accepted.
Even more serious, there were no provisions in the plan that addressed the property, apart from outlining it in blue -- the designation for government use. Each of the other areas marked for government use was discussed. Its functions are described and explained. The same is true for other types of property in other portions of the plan. There is no mention of the current leaf mulch operations. There is no discussion of future use of this property.
We wish to protest this continued arbitrary action by the town, which ignores regularly expressed concerns and proposals of Vienna residents addressing continued mismanagement of Beulah Road Park.
We have a right to know in the comprehensive plan what the town intends for the future of this eight acres in the heart of our neighborhood.
Betty Ann and Ray Collins