Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

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Mason District is blessed with two – Annandale and Bailey’s Crossroads/Seven Corners – of Fairfax County’s seven designated revitalization districts. All seven were the subject of discussion last week when the Board of Supervisors’ Revitalization Committee met to review the proposed FY 2015 Revitalization Work Plan.

Collaboration worked well in developing the Tysons Plan and can be scaled to share the lessons learned and best practice solutions that worked. Additionally, some Zoning Ordinance (ZO) provisions are not synchronized fully with current Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) recommendations. Often, (ZO) parking requirements, open space, and urban design issues are in conflict with the Comp Plan. Interestingly, both the Comp Plan and the ZO have had extensive community input, but disconnects come to light when a new application is presented for staff review. Any proposed changes will be the subject of advertised public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

A more efficient review process for applications in revitalization areas will be aided by assignment of site plan reviewers for specific revitalization areas. A “Revitalization Coordinator” in the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) will be a liaison for policies, codes, ordinances, and DPWES operational issues and decisions that impact revitalization areas. This new initiative will assist both applicants and our community revitalization stakeholders in moving projects forward.

A large part of the committee discussion centered on the need to enhance maintenance of infrastructure. Brick walkways, street amenities, planted medians and verges, often part of bonded projects approved by voter referendum, must have regular maintenance. Revitalization and DPWES staff will complete an inventory of maintenance needs in the fall, with specific recommendations to follow. Most revitalization projects include street and roadway improvements, so coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the state agency that controls and maintains roadways in Fairfax County, is imperative. Discussions between VDOT staff and Fairfax County staff resulted in a draft review process; moving toward finalization is expected later this year.

Other areas of discussion included on and off-street parking management, code compliance, and signage. I raised the issue, once again, about the difficulty of regulating commercial vehicles parking in our downtown areas. We have been successful in banning dump trucks, 18-wheelers, and other large vehicles from parking along some service drives or roadways where they create sight distance issues, but the effort has been piecemeal. Banned from one area, the hated vehicles migrate to nearby streets, creating problems for a new group of neighbors. Illegal signage on commercial property creates a visual and economic impact to adjoining businesses and residents. The program authorizing the Community Labor Force to remove illegal signage from the VDOT rights-of-way has been very successful, but signage on buildings, on parked cars and trucks (essentially another illegal sign), and those “rooster tail” pop-up signs continue to vex. Department of Code Compliance staff will meet with business groups this spring to promote compliance with the county’s sign ordinance. Log on to www.fcrevite.org for more information.

 


 Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.

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