Urges Council to listen to the community following Planning Commission’s approval
Chevy Chase, MD – The Planning Commission this week hosted a public hearing on the rezoning and Master Development Plan of the Northfax West property. Significant concerns were raised by the Audubon Naturalist Society and the public, with nearly three-fourths of the 20 speakers asking for a delay to allow for alternative proposals that preserve more of the natural area. Monday’s vote was 6-1 vote in favor of approval.
At the Tuesday, June 23 City Council meeting, several important public hearings scheduled for that evening were postponed until July 14th, including Northfax West and the Farr Avenue road extension.
“This delay is a wise decision by the City Council. It was our chief ask. We hope this means Council members will leave themselves enough time to fully absorb the public’s concerns and explore alternatives to putting this living stream in a culvert underground, while still shaping a valuable Activity Center for the City of Fairfax,” said ANS Northern Virginia Conservation Advocate Renee Grebe. “This project has been underway for a long time and taking a few more months to respond to public input is prudent given the new information we have uncovered.”
City Council discussed a variety of environmental concerns in regards to the Northfax Small Area Plan, particularly in regards to the assumed culverting of the North Fork of Accotink Creek, however, the Council ultimately unanimously approved the Northfax Small Area Plan, paving the way for the Northfax West development plan to now be in line with the City’s vision document which supersedes the Comprehensive Plan.
“This is an unfortunate scenario of the tail wagging the dog. This Small Area Plan should be guiding the City towards a vision, not having a developer guide the City to a vision,” Grebe said.
Additional Background on the Project
Tucked away from a sea of parking lots and close to a major road intersection is a five-acre patch of forest and stream that hosts a variety of life, from barred owls to salamanders. This same area, Northfax, is projected to be an area of economic growth within the City of Fairfax. But to grow, redevelopment of the current activity center is needed.
Northfax West is one of the last properties in this area to be rezoned and it includes this portion of the North Fork of Accotink Creek and its associated forested Resource Protection Area. After many years of consolidating over a dozen individual lots, and a few years of planning the proposal, the Northfax West proposal came before the Planning Commission and City Council for a vote.
About ANS: Throughout its history, ANS has championed nature for all by playing a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS‘s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.