main banner

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gross agrees to strengthen community input on land use issues

In advance of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ hearing on Fairfax Forward next week, representatives of the Mason District Council of Community Associations (MDC) met with Mason Supervisor Penny Gross to express their concerns with potential changes to how land use decisions are made.

Fairfax Forward revises the procedures for updating the county’s Comprehensive Plan. The MDC wants to make sure that the new processes ensure plenty of opportunities for citizen input and that Mason District is not overlooked in planning and development activities.

The hearing on Fairfax Forward is July 9, 4 p.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax. Citizens who want to speak at the hearing need to register in advance.

The meeting with Gross included residents of the Parklawn, Lincolnia Hills/Heywood Glen, Hillbrook-Tall Oaks, Ravenwood Park, Annandale Acres, and Sleepy Hollow communities. Following the meeting, the MDC sent a letter to Gross June 27 outlining the issues discussed and points of agreement.

The MDC representatives told Gross they were concerned that Mason District is underrepresented on the current Fairfax Forward planning map and appears to be neglected in the first several years of upcoming planning activity.

Gross told the neighborhood leaders they can recommend additional areas for review. As a result of the meeting, the letter states, “We agreed that the Mason District Council leadership will meet and decide whether to recommend a specific area in Mason for immediate inclusion in the Fairfax Forward plan.” If the MDC leadership decides to make such a recommendation, they agreed to put it in writing before the July 9 hearing, so Gross can present it to the Board of Supervisors and Fairfax Forward team.

The MDC also raised concerns about the future of the Mason District Land Use Committee (MDLUC). Gross explained that the MDLUC will remain in place and will primarily deal with special exceptions and rezoning—not the Comprehensive Planand therefore would not be affected by Fairfax Forward. Gross agreed to reach out to the MDC in filling vacancies on the MDLUC and said she will consider appointing people recommended by the MDC.

Gross also agreed to consider names submitted by the MDC for filling slots on task forces that might be organized to review land use proposals as part of Fairfax Forward.

Several Mason residents have expressed concerns to the MDC that the land use process seems weighted toward developers. The MDC strongly believes that the communications process needs to be improved so residents have timely information about requests for zoning changes and other development proposals.

In response to those concerns, Gross agreed to develop within in the next month a draft proposal, for discussion with MDC, on strengthening communications.


  1. Until the Mason District Land Use Committee has on board an architect or an urban planner, it will be business as usual.

    The board needs to be composed of at least one person that has experience in the built environment.

    The Mason District's downtrodden architectural make-up as well as its context has gone from arbitrary suburban planning to something out of a bad Home Depot commercial.

    With changing economies, demographics and needs, we need to be smarter and more savvy as to how we plan for the District's future.

    1. Nice thoughts!

  2. @12:29 PM

    Very well said.