Note from Wayne. This entry was written by Betsey Krumholz of the Planning Commissioners Journal staff. Betsey was able to join me for three days in the Washington, DC, area.
Fairfax County, Virginia, is home to over one million residents. With more folks, jobs, and development issues than the entire State of Vermont (where we're from), Barbara Lippa, Executive Director of the Fairfax County Planning Commission (third from right in photo) is one busy lady.
I joined Barbara, and also Ken Lawrence, Frank de la Fa, and Walter Alcorn -- three Fairfax County planning commissioners -- to talk about some of the challenges and opportunities they face in their beautiful section of Northern Virginia.
Fairfax County seems to have a little of everything, and a lot of a couple of things.
Take Tysons Corners, with its more than 25 million square feet of retail space, 4 million square feet of office space, and nearly 20,000 people. (insert photo with Chima restaurant) Or Dulles International Airport, with more than 23,000 parking spaces and (at full build-out) the capacity to serve more than 55 million passengers each year.
Managing growth in this still developing county is the biggest challenge, says Ken Lawrence, the planning commissioner for Tysons (see the Commission website for details about how this commission operates). With a rapidly growing job sector, great schools, and vast commercial resources, building enough housing for the folks who want to live here is problematic. Keeping everyone moving is even more so.
One solution that is being used with great success is "TOD" -– transportation oriented development. Using the Interstate 66 highway corridor, with its related rail lines and metro access, Fairfax County has vigorously promoted development of housing and appropriate commercial uses close to the places where people embark and disembark on the transit lines. Here's one example under construction in Merrifield.
Reston’s planning commissioner, Frank de la Fa, is proud of Reston Town Center, a business and commercial hub for the well-known planned community. New development there will include transit upgrades at the Wiehle Avenue/Reston Parkway Metro station. Traffic improvements and better access for riders is a focus of this ongoing study.
Fairfax County's planners are trying to provide a balanced approach to issues of transportation and development. They know full well what brought folks to their county in the first place -– and they are working hard to make sure the county continues to be an excellent place to work, live, and raise a family.