Fairfax Forward - Review of Planning Studies

Fairfax Forward
Background What's NewFAQ's | Related Efforts2016 EvaluationPropose an AmendmentReview Proposals  

Fairfax Forward establishes 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.

The adoption of the work program authorizes the scheduled planning studies.  Land use studies will begin with the creation of an existing conditions report and the development of a public participation plan to ensure that community issues have an opportunity to be voiced.  

  • An existing conditions report will provide information on the study geography and the 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 will help to create a uniform baseline knowledge of the area and identify other issues to be addressed.
  • A public participation plan will be developed in collaboration with the Supervisor's office. The plan will outline how and when public participation will occur, including engaging the public when the scope of work is defined, alternatives identified, analysis conducted, and recommendations developed. The approach to public participation may vary depending on the needs of the study. Engaging the public throughout the process will 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 will be included within the study based on how they meet the set of criteria.

The remaining steps and timeline for review (including public engagement, analysis, recommendation, and action) would be designed to meet the needs of the individual study, similar to the current special study format.  The study will involve developing alternatives to evaluate against planning policies, leading to recommendations by staff and other stakeholders (such as a task force or district land use committee or council). Studies will conclude with Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors public hearings with the Board taking action on the study recommendations.  The following flow chart depicts the generalized land use study process:

Generalized Land Use Study Process

  • STUDY BEGINS - Preliminary scope of work adopted on work program

  •  Gather Information

Staff drafts Existing Conditions Report and establishes web presence
Staff works with Supervisors office(s) to outline plan for public participation (expected to begin with public meeting, then to focus participation using task force, working group, or other advisory group)

  •   Finalize Scope

Staff hosts public meeting:

* Introduce study: geographic area: preliminary issues to be addressed
* Present existing conditions
* Conduct visioning exercise to solicit additional ideas for amendments (also via hard copy and online forms)

  •   Review and Synthesis

Supervisors' office(s) identity task force for study area to:

* Develop alternatives from visioning
* Review alternatives, analyze impacts, including impacts to county systems
* Draft recommendations
(Additional public comment means established through website or social media)

  •  Finalize and Present Recommendations

Task force and staff present draft recommendations to full district task force and land use committee(s), if available.

Task force and staff review feedback, finalize recommendations, and publish report.

Recommendations presented at:

* Planning Commission (PC) public hearing that leads to PC recommendation
* Board of Supervisors (BOS) public hearing that leads to BOS action

  • STUDY ENDS - Board of Supervisors Action


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