Tysons, VA

The McLean Citizens Association will continue discussing the possibility of turning McLean into a city for the foreseeable future.

The MCA board of directors approved the creation of a new community governance committee on Jan. 6 that has been tasked with studying the potential benefits and issues that would arise if McLean became independent of Fairfax County.

Chaired by William Henneberg, the ad hoc committee has been given a five-year charter that will last through December 2025, though it could be disbanded sooner if its work is finished before then.

“We’ve got a lot of investigation to do to identify issues, benefits and costs, etc.,” MCA President Rob Jackson said in an email to Tysons Reporter. “We have no preconceived notion that becoming a city or some other governmental entity is the best course. We are a ways from drawing any conclusions.”

Jackson initially proposed calling the committee a “City of McLean committee,” but the board agreed the adopted name would better reflect the open-endedness of the committee’s mission, helping avoid confusion.

“We have a lot of different things to investigate, first of all, but also a lot of other choices, including town status within Fairfax County or increased use of the sanitary district or a new county. There’s any number of things,” MCA corresponding secretary Paul Kohlenberger said.

Jackson introduced the idea of forming a committee to look at whether McLean should become a city during the board’s Dec. 2 meeting, but the question has been raised multiple times in the past.

According to Jackson, MCA previously explored issues related to McLean’s governmental structure in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’70s.

As Fairfax County’s population has surpassed 1.1 million people, community members in McLean have wondered whether a smaller form of government would give residents greater control and be more responsive to hyper-local concerns, such as infrastructure maintenance, zoning, and schools.

A moratorium on the creation of new cities in the Code of Virginia will expire on July 1, 2024.

While MCA has informally discussed the idea of turning McLean into a city with other local community groups in the past, the community governance committee will only explore the question internally for now.

“We would, of course, be open to communications with other community organizations that are also interested in investigating which form of government best serves our community,” Jackson said.

Photo via McLean Citizens Association/Facebook

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