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Thursday, November 11, 2021

Community members express concerns on redistricting

The Mason District Government Center.
As the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors prepares to redraw the boundaries of the supervisory districts, community members weighed in with suggestions at a board hearing Nov. 9.

The board is scheduled to approve a redistricting plan on Dec. 7. It is considering 64 plans submitted by the Redistricting Advisory Committee.  

Many of the plans would shift the boundaries of the Mason District by moving sections to or from the Providence, Braddock, or Lee districts. Some of the plans would add one or two new districts.

Redistricting must be carried out every 10 years to accommodate the latest Census data. The population deviation between the most and least populated districts must be less than 10 percent.

Mason is likely to be expanded as it has the lowest population, 119,400, of the nine current districts. Providence has the most people, at 139,300. 

About 19 people spoke at the Nov. 9 hearing. Here are some of their recommendations: 

  • Jeff Agnew, president of the Providence District Council: Keep Holmes Run Acres and Jefferson Village in the Providence District and don’t move them to the Mason District. 
  • David Hechtman, representative of the Holmes Run Acres Civic Association: Don’t split the Woodburn precinct in half, with part of it moved from Providence to Mason.
  • Robbie Snow, executive director of the Arlington Boulevard Community Development Organization: Don’t move the Kingsley Commons community from Providence to Mason. 
  • Paul Berry, chair of the Redistricting Advisory Committee: Retain nine districts, consider minimal disruption, make as few changes as necessary, and eliminate racist names.
  • Dale Rumberger, president of the South County Federation and South County resident Larry Clark: Create a new South Fairfax district to include the Lorton area.
  • Nancy Wilochka, president of the Mason Neck Citizens Association: Form a new South County district.
  • Katherine Ward, co-chair of the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Associations and resident Cathy Hosek: Keep the Mount Vernon District intact.
  • Rev. David Miller of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax: Consider racial equity and the One Fairfax policy in the redistricting process and keep Black and LatinX communities intact.
  • John Kandel, president of the Montebello Condominium Unit Owners Association: Keep Montebello in Mount Vernon and don’t move it to the Lee District.
  • Linda Colbert, mayor of the Town of Vienna: Don’t split Vienna among two districts and keep it in Hunter Mill.

In addition to evening out the population, a new redistricting plan must be contiguous and compact as much as possible; comply with laws on racial and ethnic fairness; consider existing boundaries, neighborhoods, and voting precincts; and lead to minimal disruption of government services. 

Related story: Supervisors set Nov. 9 hearing to consider redistricting plans

The redistricting process also cannot result in diminishing the rights of racial or language minority groups to participate in the political process. 

After the Board of Supervisors adopts a new redistricting plan, it must be certified by the Virginia attorney general. That could happen in late February.

If the plan calls for the creation of a new district, there will be a special election for a new supervisor and new school board member within 45 days after the redistricting plan is approved.

The Redistricting Advisory Committee will continue to operate to consider new names of districts after the plan is approved. 

2 comments:

  1. Interesting that the first three hearing speakers don’t want their neighborhoods moved to Mason District.

    As a long-time Holmes Run Acres homeowner, I’m the opposite – I would look forward to moving HRA out of Providence (where we have virtually nothing in common with the rest of the represented areas of Tysons/Vienna/Oakton, and where our current supervisor only auto-responds to my messages), but I’d *much* prefer to move to Braddock than Mason, where we’d get personalized county-wide representation from a Supervisor who actually communicates effectively. At least 6 of the 64 re-districting plans move HRA to Braddock – those are my choices.

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  2. Holmes Run Acres asked the Board of Supervisors for Providence District representation in 1967, and many of these residents still live here.

    Acres residents wanted be included as part of plans for the Dunn Loring Metro station, the ExxonMobil site, and the Holmes Run Stream Valley parks and trails that will one day - hopefully - link up with the Metro.

    Supervisor Walkinshaw and the Braddock Buzz are great - but in terms of schools, land use, and voting rights law, we do not have a strong case for community of interest with the Braddock District.

    And while supervisors are not forever, rezonings and VDOT megaprojects are.

    Supervisor Palchik and Planning Commissioner Niedzielski-Eichner are well-versed in the zoning cases - the vast majority of which are Providence zoning cases - that affect Holmes Run Acres and Woodburn Elementary. These officials, and former supervisor Linda Smyth, were sympathetic to the concerns of Aston Street, Lafayette Village, and Holmes Run Acres residents opposing rezonings across from Woodburn Elementary.

    Providence staff reviewing these applications have served in the Providence District since Rep. Connolly was our supervisor. FCPS and planning commissioners alike were very concerned about the 2019 special exception application, and were responsive to e-mails and other communication.

    Mason District outreach is better than Annandale Blog readers may think - the Mason District Land Use Committee understands Woodburn families’ concerns and needs - but there were serious outreach problems as recently as the 2017-19 timeframe.

    Supervisor Smyth received no advance notice of Mason District plans to introduce an out-of-turn Comprehensive Plan amendment affecting our community in 2017, and FCPS school safety officials received no notice of the "Woodburn Manor" special exception case from Mason officials or county planning staff. Instead, they received word from the Providence District.

    Woodburn Elementary was an afterthought to Mason District officials as recently as 2019. Hopefully after these zoning cases, and ICE raids at Fairmont Gardens, Mason District officials will show more consideration for Providence District schools that have been Annandale residents’ home as well ever since FCPS closed Annandale Elementary.

    Holmes Run Acres, Holmes Run Woods, Pine Spring and Fairview Park will all need supportive Providence District supervisors over the next 50 years to ensure harmonious development and a coherent trail network.

    Finally, Providence District has the greatest say in land use cases that would result in bike trails leading from Hemlock Drive, through Fairview Park and across the Beltway, directly to planned playgrounds and dog parks at Inova property on our side of Gallows Road - and then through the hospital and Mosaic District into the Dunn Loring Metro station. For this reason alone, it is important for the Gallows Road corridor to have Providence District representation near 495.

    FCDOT and VDOT are more supportive of active transportation (trails, bikeshare, etc.) than in the past, but planned pedestrian/bike bridges across I-495 may not necessarily be built without our supervisor’s support. All Fairfax County neighborhoods will benefit from consistent representation that is able to advance these improvements.

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