F.C., Fairfax Gearing Up to Make Case for Boundary Adjustments

The first significant adjustment of the boundaries separating the City of Falls Church and Fairfax County, arising from an agreement between the two jurisdictions last year to convey the Falls Church Water System to Fairfax, is now undergoing a lot of legal and bureaucratic vetting. The agreement would bring 40 acres now in the county, including the site of the current George Mason High and Henderson Middle Schools and areas directly adjacent the West Falls Church Metro station, into the City.

All the preparations being made now are in advance of scrutiny and a recommendation by the governor-appointed Virginia Commission on Local Government (VCLG) this summer, the adoption of parallel ordinances by both sides, including the passing of a public referendum in Falls Church in November, and a petition in circuit court by both entities for the appointment of a three-judge panel, which will give final approval in late 2013 or early 2014.

Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields gave a preliminary report on these matters to the City Council last Monday, noting that the five-member VCLG will be camped at the Falls Church City Hall July 8 and 9 after touring the areas included in the boundary deal.

Following Shields’ report Monday, all the considerable complications involved in consummating the deal were sorted out and spelled out by the City Manager and City Attorney’s offices Wednesday, yielding a comprehensive press release issued late in the day, in response to a query from the News-Press.

Not included in the press release were details about the crafting of the public referendum for the November 5 ballot in Falls Church, including its language and its deadline for inclusion on the ballot.

In charge of getting everything ready, Shields told the Council Monday, the City’s Brenda Creel, Director of Public Utilities, has been tasked with overseeing the process, including ongoing collaboration with her counterparts in Fairfax County.

The agenda for the VCLG members coming here on July 8 begins with a 10:30 a.m. tour of the areas included in the boundary adjustment.

At 2 p.m. the VCLG will hear oral presentations from Falls Church and Fairfax County attorneys and their staff in support of the boundary adjustment agreement. This will take place at the Falls Church City Hall. After that, at 7 p.m., the commission will hear input from the public at a hearing, also at City Hall.

The next day, July 9, the VCLG will hold a closed meeting starting at 9 a.m., followed by a regular open meeting at 10 am., also at the F.C. City Hall.

Then, probably sometime in September, the VCLG will issue a report making its recommendations about the proposed voluntary boundary adjustment.

It is expected that with both jurisdictions in favor of the adjustment that its approval by the commission and subsequent approval by a three-judge circuit court panel should happen.

The members of the VCLG commission are all former county board supervisors, city council members or town managers. The chair is Cole Hendrix, former manager Town of Orange and former manager, City of Charlottesville.