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McLean Citizens Association opposes most recent draft of downtown revitalization plan

Updated 4:50 p.m. to correctly attribute a quote to Martin Smith.

The McLean Citizens Association wants to see significant changes to the downtown revitalization plan slated to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission this month.

Members of this board focused their criticisms of Fairfax County’s most recent draft plan to update the McLean Community Business Center on parking, building height, overall density, stormwater management, and schools.

The MCA passed a resolution on April 7 opposing the document unless the county made a number of changes, including:

  • Reduce language encouraging underground and on-street parking in favor of language protecting surface parking
  • Guarantee that a developer’s proposed building height includes all above-roof features
  • Require a 10-year review midway through the plan’s proposed 20-year vision with regard to increasing density
  • Eliminate language that encourages “innovative solutions” to school overcrowding if, as density increases, schools need to expand

Multiple board members said the resolution contains emphatic language in the wake of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance Modernization project. That initiative encountered vocal opposition from many homeowners’ groups, including MCA, but was ultimately approved 7-3 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

“We took a softer, more positive approach on zMOD and I’m not sure it got us anywhere with zMOD,” MCA board member Jen Jones said. “I think this is just as important as that was, and I think taking a stronger stance makes a lot of sense.”

Martin Smith, who opposes the McLean CBC plan completely, likewise voiced support for the resolution but said he wished the language were even stronger.

“I support this because I think it’s clear that we don’t like the fact that they haven’t responded to our previous suggestions, and I just think we have to make a stronger statement,” he said.

But some members said the resolution contained language that was too strong.

“I think that this is a document which we agree with on very many points,” board member Ron Bleeker said. “There have been some very good points which have been raised and should be considered. Whether this requires us to say we oppose the entire document, I think may not be the best approach.”

Fairfax County staff recently revised its drafted plan to revitalize downtown McLean in response to a wave of public feedback.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust and Fairfax County staff say they plan to further engage with the MCA.

“The provisions of the proposed comprehensive plan are very good, but we have time to make them even better before the plan is presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval,” Foust said. “The MCA’s resolution is helpful, and each of their recommendations will be considered as the language of the draft plan is finalized.”

Leanna O’Donnell, planning division director of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development, said her department is reviewing the resolution and will be reaching out to discuss the MCA’s concerns.

The draft will go before the Planning Commission on April 28 and the Board of Supervisors on May 18.

Photo via Fairfax County

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