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Fairfax Forward Aims to Increase Community Involvement

An alternative to the Area Plans Review process was introduced during the Mason District Land Use Committee Meeting on Tuesday.

Fairfax County has launched a new initiative that will serve as an alternative to the Area Plans Review (APR) process for managing the Comprehensive Plan and planning activities.

Representatives Jennifer Lai and Marianne Gardner from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning introduced the initative, called Fairfax Forward, to members of the Mason District Land Use Committee meeting Tuesday night.

According to presentation, the goals of Fairfax Forward are to develop a model that will maintain a systematic approach, increase community involvement, promote logical and flexible review and emphasize plan monitoring and maintenance.

In 2011, the APR process was evaluated and input was received through community meetings and online surveys. The results showed that the existing process was too reactive to parcel-specific nominations, was too rigid and had inadequate community involvement.

The Fairfax Forward process includes updating many parts of the Comprehensive Plan. An evaluation of the State of the Plan has been completed, an amendment database has been created and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan Map and Future Development Land Classification System have been updated. The staff is currently working on editorial updates that will be available for review and comment at the end of the summer.

Lai said the new planning model, which should launch in 2013, will be a "more contemporary approach to how we will do planning in the county." The program will track planning activities over a three-year period, and review of the items on the program will occur every two years.

"This new format seeks to encourage a greater amount of general education about the Comprehensive Plan and more pro-active community involvement in planning studies," Lai said.

The goal is to get the community involved earlier in the process with the participation methods tailored to the type of amendment, Lai said.

After completing the community meeting presentations, Fairfax Forward will draft its work program. A public comment period for the plan will be held in September.

Sherell Williams (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I'm curious to know how residents are feeling about this new plan. If you attended last night's meeting, feel free to comment and offer your opinion on the presentation!
Kate June 28, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I was there and am the Land Use Chair of Mason District COuncil. This article was a one-sided version of what went on at that meeting last night and not responsible journalism. Having said that, the end game here is that the County is looking for more flexibility to further it's dense infill agenda within the County, which is something which the community by and large is against. Further, their goal to educating the public is a joke considering how they constantly side with the developers who are promising hundreds of thousands of dollars to the County in cash proffers if their developments are appoved. As citizens we know what we need and we do not need our tax dollars used to form a "Land Use College" so that the COunty can educate us on their agenda. What would be better is if the County would advocate for existing neighborhoods instead of for it's own pocketbook. Please visit us at www.masondistrict.org for more information on our community advocacy.
Sherell Williams (Editor) June 28, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Thanks for providing some community perspective on the new process, Kate.
Jono June 28, 2012 at 06:34 PM
When I think of Mason District government the words Marginalize the People comes to mind. If you want your phone call returned, if you want codes enforced, if you want your neighbors protected from abuse, if you want to make rule of law work For you, if you don't think democracy is just another venue for the game of thrones, you need to become a special interest. We need to make Us the special. Join up. Join something.

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