The Washington Post

Fairfax board endorses urban design guidelines for Tysons Corner

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted a sweeping array of guidelines Tuesday to flesh out the vision for a new urban landscape in Tysons Corner.

The guidelines touch on best practices for aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly building designs, signage, paint schemes, street furniture and pocket parks. The guidelines build on broader aims described in the Comprehensive Plan, which was amended in June 2010 to transform the suburban crossroad into an urban center. But the guidelines also offer more detailed verbal and visual illustrations of the new urban landscape county planners hope to create in there.

“I love this document. I think it’s really, really well-done,” said Board Chairman Sharon S. Bulova (D).

The draft guidelines were developed by staff, along with volunteer landscape architects, planners and members of the Tysons Partnership, and then submitted to the public for its review. The guidelines are not binding, but they also give developers a better idea of what county planners hope to see when reviewing applications for rezoning.

Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth (D-Providence), whose district includes Tysons, said similar guidelines have been beneficial in the redevelopment of Merrifield.

The board adopted the guidelines unanimously, but not before Supervisor Patrick S. Herrity (R-Springfield) received assurances from county planners that guidelines were meant as that only.

“I just want to make sure that these don’t become the force of regulation when they are intended as guidelines,” Herrity said.

Barbara A. Byron, director of the Office of Community Revitalization and Redevelopment, said the guidelines explicitly embrace the idea that they are flexible — “our mantra in Tysons,” she added.

The guidelines can be viewed here.

Fredrick Kunkle runs the Tripping blog, writing about the experience of travel. Freddy's also covered politics, courts, police, and local government. Before coming to The Washington Post, he worked for the Star-Ledger and The Bergen Record.

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