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City Updates Comprehensive Plan With an Eye to the Future

Post Date:02/20/2019

It took three years and a cast of hundreds —city government staff, municipal leaders, community members, and the Planning Commission — and on February 12, the City Council approved the city’s primary land use and development policy guide, The 2035 Comprehensive Plan.


The Comprehensive Plan is the city's official policy guide for future development-related decisions that will inform zoning and budget decisions for the next two decades. As a policy document, the plan provides a framework for residents and decision makers to conceptualize how the city should look and function, as well as the best methods and strategies for achieving those goals.


Naturally, the content has changed — but so has the design. “We wanted to make the plan more user-friendly,” notes Community Development and Planning Director Brooke Hardin. “It has a clear organizational structure with helpful supporting graphics. When community members read it, they will better understand what comes next for the city, and the basis for how decisions are made.”


City Manager Rob Stalzer noted that the plan is done, but the work continues. “While the plan helps steer the city’s future, it only does part of that job. We will soon begin small area plans for the city’s five ‘activity centers’: Fairfax Circle, Kamp Washington, Northfax, Old Town Fairfax, and the Pickett Road/Main Street intersection.”


The decision to update the plan is not only good practice, says Mayor David Meyer, but required by the Commonwealth of Virginia every five years. “We have experienced demographic, lifestyle and business change here in Fairfax and throughout Northern Virginia.  The simple passage of time has led to noticeable changes. An up-to-date plan ensures the community’s priorities are being implemented and can better address the evolving nature of development patterns and real estate market forces.”


Some of the biggest changes to the plan, which was last updated in 2012, include:

  • Updating the land use plan, and providing more guidance for the five identified activity centers
  • Broadening housing priorities, including market rate and affordable housing, and developing tools to help increase the city’s affordable housing stock
  • Focusing on multimodal transportation and strengthening the connection between land use and transportation
  • Formalizing the strong town-gown relationship with George Mason University


Among the key findings of the plan, and changes the city is preparing for, are:

  •  The regional economy is evolving from the federal government as the economic driver to technology-based and innovative businesses
  • With many aging and dated commercial properties and little developable land, Fairfax is focusing on redevelopment of existing buildings and facilities
  • Roadway expansion opportunities are limited so the city must also support other means of transportation
  • The regional economy is evolving from the federal government as the economic driver to technology-based and innovative businesses
  • Consistently changing housing trends and needs will impact demands for all types of housing in the future
  • Evolving technologies and stronger government policies are broadening the city’s ability to implement environmentally sustainable practices

Click here to check out the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Information: 703-385-7930.


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