Impressed by Concord In Deal Worked Out to Sell F.C. Water System
The grand deal cut between the City of Falls Church and Fairfax County to transfer ownership of the F.C. Water System to the county, first agreed to by the two parties last November, took a first major step toward fulfillment this week with the Virginia Commission on Local Government’s day-long visit to Falls Church on Monday. While the commission won’t issue its formal recommendation until late September, the commissioners expressed open support for the plan Monday, based on the degree of unanimity between the parties involved.
The five-member commission and two of its consultants spent the day in the City Monday, beginning with a bus tour of the areas where the City and Fairfax County have agreed to a boundary adjustment to bring 38.6 acres of county land into the City. They sat in on a lengthy briefing by the City and County attorneys on the nature of the voluntary, mutually affirmed adjustment — related to the sale of the City’s water system to the county — and then held a public hearing in the Council chambers of the F.C. City Hall tonight.
Tasked with reviewing and making a recommendation on whether the boundary adjustment is in the interests of both the parties involved, and the commonwealth, the commission, speaking through its chair John Kines tonight, said, “It is impressive to see agreement put together in which all parties agree on all parts. It is rarely if ever seen like this, and makes our job a lot easier.”
“Tremendous work went into this,” he added. “A positive project like this, and the work that has been put into it will pay dividends in the future.”
The commission will issue its formal recommendation in a report due by the end of September and while not having the force of law, when a three-judge panel is convened later in the year to officially rule on the boundary adjustment, it will be strongly influenced by the commission’s review, report and recommendation.
Commission members told the News-Press after Monday’s hearing that in most cases, with some 180 county and city jurisdictions in the state, there is some contention and controversy, including a huge one involving Clarkesville in the southern part of the state earlier this year when scores of angry citizens showed up to oppose an annexation deal that the jurisdictions involved had agreed to. The commission has yet to make its final recommendation on that one.
Testifying at Monday’s hearing were F.C. School Board chair Susan Kearney, who told of the unanimous support of the F.C. School Board for the adjustment, Ryan Scarborough of the Poplar Heights Citizens Organization in the county who, speaking for himself, said he supported the agreement, saying, “I’d like to think this would be one of your easier decisions,” and Falls Church Vice Mayor David Snyder, who reported that the entire Falls Church City Council “strongly supports the agreement.”
With a public referendum on the ballot in November for City of Falls Church residents to ratify the sale of the City’s water system, it remained unclear this week whether the Council as a collective body or as individual members could “take sides” on the referendum, it was noted Monday. City Attorney John Foster is looking into the matter and is expected to let the Council know in the next couple weeks.
Meanwhile, commission members commented on the hospitality and “very pleasant experience” of spending the day in Falls Church. They had lunch together at Mad Fox and dinner together at Ireland’s Four Provinces.
They noted that the record will be kept open for receipt of written or other comments from the public until July 22. Written comments can be sent to the Commission on Local Government, 600 E. Main St., #300, Richmond, Virginia 23219.