The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday endorsed a plan that would require Tysons developers and landowners to fund billions of dollars worth of transportation improvements to help the area become the county’s new urban center.
But support of the plan is split among stakeholders. About half of the 25 speakers during a two-and-a-half hour public comment period Tuesday night vocally opposed the plan, which sets up a special tax district that will require some residential landowners to pay higher taxes along with developers.
The Board’s 7-2 vote to approve the plan brings the special tax district one step closer to fruition. With a tax hike of 7 to 9 cents per $100 of assessed value, the district is expected to generate approximately $250 million over the next 40 years.
Supervisor Lynda Smyth (D-Providence) made a motion to try to exempt residential properties from the tax increase after hearing opposition from residents, but her colleagues killed it for fear the General Assembly wouldn’t support such a provision when the plan gets reviewed in Richmond.
“This is a major step in the right direction for realizing the Vision of Tysons,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said after the vote. “Investing in Tysons is an investment in the future of Fairfax County. Never before has such a long range, comprehensive plan been developed to support a major redevelopment initiative.”
Many of the plan's detractors were Tysons residents who didn’t want to see their property taxes increase.
“It’s a nightmare of endless taxation that goes on for 40 years for the residents and the small businesses of Tysons,” Michael Bogasky, president of the Rotonda Condominium Association, said of the plan.
David Lee, another Rotonda resident, echoed similar sentiments.
“I think you pay for what you get in real estate, and we don’t want to pay twice for what we have,” he said in his testimony.
Lucille Weiner, a recently widowed Tysons resident, urged supervisors to protect residents like her, who would likely have to move if property tax rates go up.
“I’ve read that the people who benefit the most get taxed the most,” she said. “But who is benefitting the most? It sure isn’t me, who will have to move if this happens.”
Developers were more supportive of the Board’s action and the plan as a whole.
Tom Fleury of Cityline Partners, a company that has development applications pending, was one of those in favor.
“We’re very much in favor of this proposal,” he said. “If I ever there was a day that I would come and ask you to approve $13 a square foot in transportation proffers and ask you for a 7 to 9 cent tax on top of that, I probably should have retired, but that’s what it takes to get the job done.”
Other speakers called the plan fair and praised it for taking all of the stakeholders into account in an equitable manner.
Smyth and Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) voted against the endorsement of the plan. Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) was not present for the vote.
Herrity wanted to see a reduction in workforce housing and for developers to fully fund the transportation improvements. He too made a failed motion to nix the tax district.
A vote to officially establish the tax district is expected later this year. The Board will hold a public hearing on the issue between now and then.