Fairfax Forward - Review of Planning Studies
Fairfax Forward proposes a new method to conduct planning studies that increases public participation and seeks more effective outcomes. The method capitalizes on the successful aspects of recent planning studies, particularly related to review and evaluation. Other improved features of the process include more focused study parameters and greater community outreach, and a more organized approach to the overall Plan review.
Once an individual study has been authorized for review on the work program, action would be taken to finalize the scope through a public input process and develop the remaining steps and timeline for review (including public engagement), recommendation, and action. The steps would be designed to meet the needs of the individual study, similar to the current special study format.
In general, the groundwork for the studies should include the creation of an existing conditions report, if the study involves land use decisions, or an assessment of current policies. A public participation plan also should be developed to ensure that public input is received throughout the process.
The existing conditions report should provide information on the study
geography and the existing, planned, and zoned development potential,
if the study involves land use questions. Policy issues also may have
an existing conditions report that explains county goals, objectives,
and current implementation strategies. This information should help to
inform staff and the public about the current consideration for the
study and whether other issues should be addressed.
A public participation plan also should be developed in collaboration
with the supervisor's office. The plan should outline how and when
public participation should occur, including engaging the public before
finalizing the scope of work, during review and analysis, and when
developing recommendations. The approach to public participation should
vary depending on the needs of the study. Engaging the public
throughout the process would increase awareness of the study, provide
an educational component, verify that the scope of work includes
community issues, and allow for public input on decisions. Suggestions,
such as density or intensity changes, made during the public input
process on the scope of work should be included within the study, if
they meet the work program criteria.
The remaining steps of the study would involve developing alternatives to evaluate against planning policies, leading to recommendations by stakeholders, such as staff and the community. Studies would conclude with public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors with the Board taking action on the study recommendations.