Briefing Papers

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During the 2012 Comprehensive Plan Update process, a series of Briefing Papers were drafted that explored matters related to planning in detail, providing both a local perspective and examples of best practices that may be applicable to the City of Fairfax. In addition, the papers serve as context for the Comprehensive Plan Update discussion by providing background information and, when applicable, a glossary of terms. These papers are intended to be informative and help provide a basic level of understanding of some of the potential key topics for the Comprehensive Plan Update. Click on the name of the paper to read the document.

Comprehensive Plan Mechanics

The Code of Virginia specifies certain requirements regarding the: due diligence, format, and adoption procedure for comprehensive plans in the Commonwealth of Virginia (the pertinent sections of the code have been attached as reference). This represents the baseline to which all localities within the state must adhere. It is common that localities will go beyond the basics for research, composition of the plan, and notification procedures in order to customize the plan and the process to the needs of the individual jurisdiction. This briefing paper outlines the requirements and cites areas of particular importance to the City.

Regional Development Snapshot

Development occurring in the region can impact the City’s health and vitality. Although outside of the jurisdiction, major projects can affect the City’s market dynamics, migration patterns, traffic, and competitiveness as a business location. This briefing paper documented both recently built and planned development projects around the region. Of particular focus is the nearby development occurring in Fairfax County and at George Mason University, as well as the long range plans for those areas. Transportation projects of regional importance, including the extension of Metrorail service, are also examined.

Census 2010 Data Update

The demographic and housing data released as part of the 2010 decennial census provides important context for the comprehensive plan update. The initial data release showed that the City has grown in population and has become more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity. Data that demonstrate shifts in age and household makeup over the last two ten years will also help to inform decision-making. The paper also provides analysis and mapping for the latest data release from the Census Bureau. Analysis is conducted at sub-City level as data is available.

Public Facilities and Lands

The City has made significant investments in recent years in its public facilities, such as schools, community centers, and government administrative buildings, and in its lands, such as parks, playing fields, and open spaces. These facilities and lands are well-used and appreciated by the citizens of Fairfax. While demographic shifts in population and age of structures will facilitate the need for ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the adequacy of public facilities, the City has a very strong portfolio of properties moving into the future. In order to continue to build upon this foundation, traditional financing methods and creative development mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships, are both likely to be utilized in the future. In addition, attention to the changes over time in desires and attitudes, particularly toward recreation and leisure time activities, will allow the City to continue to provide a high level of service to its citizens. This briefing paper reviews acquisition strategies, needs and capacity analysis, economic value, current gaps in service delivery, and opportunities for linkages.

Sustainability and the Environment

Sustainable practices, which encourage the thoughtful use of resources and place value on the life cycle of products and systems, are being incorporated into wide range of decision-making models in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. Sustainable initiatives can address environmental, economic, or social issues. Of particular importance in a comprehensive plan are those values and policies related to the built and natural environments. While the preservation and protection of natural resources remain at its core, the concept of sustainability is no longer confined to these areas, and thus its principles are being considered in many facets of the physical environment, including how new techniques affect the economic bottom line. This briefing paper defines sustainability, examines how other jurisdictions are addressing it, and identifies best practices from around the country. Topics include: green building standards, low impact development (LID), stormwater management, water quality/watershed protection, energy conservation, land conservation, climate, cost-benefit, historic preservation and green building, and supportive transportation systems.

Multimodal Transportation

Due to its central location within the region, access to Metrorail and Interstate 66, and role as a hub for major thoroughfares (US-29, US-50, VA-123, and VA-236), the City has always taken an active role in transportation planning. Demand on the City’s transportation infrastructure continues to be great, while attaining funding for enhancements has grown increasingly competitive. In order to leverage scarce resources, opportunities to coordinate land development and transportation initiatives remain a critical component of the City’s future. Many jurisdictions are seeking “multimodal” solutions (those that address multiple modes of travel, e.g. vehicle, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian) to address capacity deficits. This briefing paper examines creative solutions that the City has exercised in the past, as well as lessons learned from across the county. By examining national examples of both successful projects/initiatives and those that are less so, planning for the future is better informed. Topics include: street design, roadway optimization, connectivity and linkages, transit use, and alternative transportation options.


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