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Fairfax Forward Ups Community Input in Planning

Planning and Zoning officials presented the program Tuesday.

Fairfax County has launched a tour to present its new alternative to the Area Plans Review (APR) process for managing the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Representatives from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning explained the new initiative, Fairfax Forward, in a presentation to Lee District residents this week. According to the presentation, the goal of Fairfax Forward is to increase community involvement in amending the Comprehensive Plan, the county’s guide for making land-use decisions.

It’s a new alternative we are proposing to replace the area plans review process,” said Kimberly Rybold, a representative from Fairfax County Planning and Zoning.

“It will involve better community education about what the comprehensive plan is and why it’s important.”

During 2011, Rybold’s office conducted a series of surveys and public meetings with residents to review the APR process. Rybold said that many residents the APR process was too restrictive and that there was a lack of community involvement.

The new model, which could launch in 2013, will track planning activities over a three-year period, with items on the program being reviewed every two years.

Rybold also mentioned “land-use colleges,” a series of online or group sessions that would educate residents on how land is planned and zoned in the county.

Doug Boulter of the Virginia Hills Citizens Association said that the program was too broad as presented.

“I guess this sounds okay, but it’s so amorphous and lacks so much detail,” he said. “It sounds like you’ve heard a lot of what we said, but I can’t tell until we see more.”

Rybold understood his concern and clarified that the new program was still being refined.

“The reason this seems so amorphous is the fact that we are still working through some of the details in terms of process,” she said. “We hope by the time we have a work program published, we’ll have a better idea of those next steps.”

After completing this series of community presentations, officials will draft the Fairfax Forward work program. A public comment period will take place in September.

Rita July 12, 2012 at 10:03 PM
By what means will members of the community learn about the "public comment" period planned for Sept....date/time, etc.?
Terry July 14, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Maybe Fairfax County show up during crisis like their no-show during the storm cleanup. No police checking up on darkened streets, 911 down for days and no word from the County Executive or county board during the crisis!

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