F.C. Council Punts on Ward Changes, OKs New Traffic Calming Regime

It took the Falls Church City Council an hour and a half of essentially agreeing but poking around details of a plan to reduce the number of voting places in Falls Church from five to three before tabling a vote to give final approval to the plan until Dec. 12.

The proposal from the F.C. Electoral Board and chief election officer had earlier sailed through a “first reading” approval, and election chief David Bjerke said tonight he was surprised “at the lack of outspoken push back” from the public, but the Council sought still more information tonight before making a final decision. Vice Mayor David Snyder, among other concerns, questioned whether enough thought had gone into a second option, which would be to reduce the number of voting wards from five to four, instead of three. The electoral board and what Bjerke referred to as the “elections community” expressed concern that a delayed vote might wind up impinging on the City’s ability to put a new arrangement into play in time for the March 6, 2012 presidential primary date. Electoral Board chief Renee Andrews noted that there will be three elections in close time proximity in the early months of 2012 that will present a challenge for that reason only. After the March 6 presidential primary, there will be May 1 Falls Church City Council and School Board election and then a June 12 primary for U.S. senate and congressional races.

Following a thorough briefing at its work session last week on change proposals recommended by the Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation (CACT), the City Council spent only a short time reviewing and voting unanimously on a resolution to endorse the CACT’s planned revisions tonight. The key components of the changes are the utilization of a “scoring system” for determining if a street warrants calming measures, and the reduction from 75 percent to 67 percent of the number of residents of a street required to agree on calming measures for implementation.

The Council agreed, 4-1 (Robin Gardner opposed, Ron Peppe and Johannah Barry absent) to modifications in the current fiscal year budgets of expenditures and revenues of the general fund, the water fund and the capital improvement fund to appropriate grants, bond proceeds and use of fund balance as it had discussed at its work session last week. It unanimously OK’d a consent motion to purchase up to $200,000 in technology solutions under a National Joint Powers Alliance contract, and went into a closed session to discuss land acquisition issues and legal issues pertaining to the City’s water system.