Because of two other time-consuming items, the Fairfax County Planning Commission public hearing on the proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment for Embark Richmond Highway began shortly before midnight on January 25, and ended at about 1:30 AM on the 26th.

Meghan Van Dam of the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning gave a short presentation on the basics of the Embark Plan, which was created using eight guiding planning principles (revitalization, parks and open spaces, multimodal transportation infrastructure, urban design, economic development, stabilizing residential communities outside of the Community Business Centers, the environment, and heritage and cultural resources). The Plan incorporates the goals of the One Fairfax policy to support economic growth and prosperity through sustainable, diverse and accessible mobility solutions, and supports Goal 2 of the Strategic Plan to Facilitate the Economic Success of Fairfax County which is to “Create Places Where People Want to Be” by crafting new approaches to placemaking, repositioning and branding.

Several community residents spoke in favor of the Plan, on behalf of themselves and organizations such as the Mount Vernon Council of Civic Associations, Friends of Historic Huntley, South County Human Services Task Force and the Audubon Society. I was there to speak on behalf of the SFDC Board of Directors, which had voted to endorse the Plan. Former SFDC President Walter Clarke spoke for the Embark Advisory Group, which he co-chaired through twenty-four committee meetings and six community open houses over the course of two and a half years.

The speakers advocated addressing additional issues and adopting some new county policies, particularly in the areas of the environment and affordable housing. Mount Vernon Commissioner Earl Flanagan asked that all comments also be submitted electronically. The Commissioners and the county staff will sift through and address the remarks. At-Large Commissioner James Hart cautioned that not all the issues may be appropriate to be written into the Comprehensive Plan, but it is expected that the Board of Supervisors will make several follow-on motions to address those issues separately. This was the process used for the Tysons Plan.

In the end, the Planning Commission decision was deferred to February 22 to allow time for staff to tackle all the comments. The record remains open for submission of written and electronic testimony; to submit remarks, email Plancom@fairfaxcounty.gov or send mail to 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 330, Fairfax, VA 22035.

A public Hearing at the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for 4:00 PM on Tuesday, March 20.

Edythe Kelleher,

Executive Director,

Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation