Of all the powers that be in Fairfax County, none arouses such awe as John T. Hazel Jr., zoning attorney, land developer and all-around mover and shaker. In a county where growth itself is an industry, Til Hazel's name is attached to one after another major undertaking.
A new town of 5,000 to 6,000 people, to be called Franklin, is planned in western Fairfax. One of the three principals is Til Hazel.
Burke Centre, on which Franklin is to be modeled, is praised at a West Coast planners conferences as one of the few new towns to have succeeded. One of three developers is Til Hazel.
Shopping center magnate Theodore N. Lerner wants to build a Tysons II that would make the Tysons shopping center one of the largest such complexes in the country. His attorney for the difficult but successful rezoning effort - Til Hazel.
The county publishes a list of "persons having an interests in pending rezoning applications" in the county. The attorney with the most - 23 - is Til Hazel.
A major court decision demolishes the county's attempt to keep development at a low density in the South Run area south of Fairfax City. The attorney for the developer who sued the county for a higher density - Til Hazel.
Control Data Corporation, hamstrung by restrictions, gives up on 10 years of efforts to develop a 53-acre industrial site at the centrally located intersection of the Capital Beltway, Dulles Airport access road, Dolley Madison Boulevard and Lewinsville Road. The new owners get the project moving less than a half year after they buy the land. One of the two main principals - Til Hazel.
How does Hazel do it? A close look at the Control Data deal offers some revealing clues.
Eleven years ago, the Minneapolis-based computer company got the 53-acre McLean site rezoned for a "campus-like" complex for its booming computer business. To modify the many critics in the community who wanted industry confined to the other (south) side of the Dulles road, Control Data agreed to a number of restrictions on how its site could be developed.
As the go-go 1960s gave way to the econonically somber 1970s, Control Data retrenched. By 1974 it had totally abandoned its original plans in favor of a project calling for office buildings that would be more conventional and would be leased to other corporations. It then claimed the restrictions it had accepted originally no longer applied.
But the county zoning adninistrator and, later, the Board of Zoning Appeals upheld the citizens. Control Data seemed to be stuck with its real estate. In a tantamount admission of defeat, it put the land on the market last year.
The buyer, at what some observers consider a bargain price - $3,750,000 - was Til Hazel, with his partner in many other ventures, Milton V. Peterson. Late last December they closed the deal. By the end of June they had done what had eluded Control Data for so many years - reached an agreement with the citizens that almost certainly will permit them to go ahead with development.
How? To get things moving, Hazel made a cunning maneuver that served notice to the citizens - no pushovers - that they would not be able to tie him up as they had Control Data.
With partner Peterson, Hazel purchased not only the 53-acre Control Data site but two tiny parcels adjacent to it. Then he applied for industrial zoning for the two small parcels, which totaled less than two acres.
What Hazel was hoping to get was a county staff recommendation that would support industrial zoning for the two small parcels but with none of the conditions on development that were attached to the Control Data site. If that happened, then Hazel could go to court in the Control Data case and argue that, if the conditions didn't apply to the two small parcels, they shouldn't apply to the larger site. Virginia courts have ruled - in suits brought by Hazel - that you can't treat adjacent landowners unequally.
Hazel's ploy paid off. The county staff did recommend a somewhat more restrictive industrial zoning than Hazel had sought, but - more important - it did not say that the 17 conditions on the Control Data land should apply to the two acres adjacent to it.
The McLean Citizens Association, which had tied up Control Data in knots for so long, got the message. If the continued to play their delaying game, they might lose everything. Furthermore, the association said it was getting vibrations that, though the county supported the 17 conditions on the Control Data site, it had no clear plan to enforce them.
Hazel, with his partner Peterson, did make some important concessions, among them agreeing to leave an extensive greenbelt around the Control Data property.
But the stalemate was broken. Control Data's loser has become Hazel's and Peterson's winner. The two developers will be able to build up to 900,000 square feet of office space - 200,000 more than Control Data would have been permitted - in a prestigious area that is dearly short of industrially zoned laned.
As Fairfax County power watchers like to say, when Til Hazel wants something, he gets it.