GARTNER REPORT | SILENT SUPPORTERS
QUESTIONABLE METHODS ERODES CITIZEN VOICE
GARTNER REPORT | SILENT SUPPORTERS QUESTIONABLE METHODS ERODE CITIZEN VOICE
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Gartner Report: Streamlining or Steamrolling?
The Gartner Report started out as a necessary revision of an old, inefficient developer application system that needed overhaul. Developers’ time and money were being wasted. Tragically the reform went too far and now effectively enables development approval regardless of merit or community objection. It actually rewards staff with bonuses and promotions for approval of projects as fast as possible which results in sloppy or absent review of documents and plans. Worse, this biased system largely ignores negative environmental consequences.
Silent Supporters: All in the family?
The unethical, self-serving tactic of neutralizing legitimate community concerns lines up employees and relatives of the developers as strawmen to testify to the merits of the project they will benefit from without disclosing their obvious conflicts of interest. This has done much to undermine public confidence in the current Board of Supervisors. ACT members easily found reference to this practice on Fairfax County’s own website.
Silent Supporters link ref pages 4, 6, 11:
Results of Gartner and Silent Supporters:
Rather than serving us and preserving our fragile environment, citizens across the county feel disrespected and at odds with Chairman McKay, the Chair of BOS Land Use Policy Committee, Kathy Smith, most veteran supervisors, and some County staff. From leadership of this relatively new 2020 Board, we see little of meaningful inclusion and no fairness - stated goals of One Fairfax. We do not know if the new supervisors, who may have the best of intentions, even know how Gartner and Silent Supporters subverts fairness, careful stewardship of our environment and the welfare of all our people.
Members of ACT have direct experience with the foibles of both Gartner and Silent Supporters during 2019 and 2020 hearings.
Examples of flagrant abuse of process include:
CASE STUDY 1: Orr Assisted Living application in 2019
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Video link to Planning Commission:
Staff lead had former relationship with Applicant and close relative was current sub-contractor.
Staff disregarded critical environmental info on stored county maps from previous zoning change attempts on the same parcel! Instead, it accepted incorrectly drawn maps which disregarded known RPA’s and an onsite spring.
Staff revealed any citizen generated concern to applicant but did not share applicant info with public. IOW, communication was used to assist applicant vs. to correct plan to required standards.
At Planning Commission hearing, 8 random speakers got up and praised the application as a necessary and important asset to a rural well/septic community. None of them identified themselves as employees or friends/family of the applicant. This was odd since none of them lived near the proposed project but all had rave reviews for builder or his product. Voila! Unethical Silent Supporters in action. All were unmasked by subsequent speaker who looked them up on Google as they spoke. Only later did ACT learn that on the county website, Silent Supporters was a sanctioned activity.
At PC hearing, applicant, staff and applicant’s attorney all denied neighbors’ presentation of an RPA and existing spring that would have disqualified this application. (Go to timestamp: 5:29 for attorney’s erroneous statement.)
During PC commissioners questioning, the Hunter Mill home commissioner declared that he himself had walked the property (Go to timestamp: 5:38), and had seen existing old surveyor flags marking the RPA and the spring identified by neighbors earlier in the hearing testimony. Neighbors had also testified that the spring was long-standing as it had eroded enough of a gully to require a small bridge over it and questioned other details on obviously false maps submitted by a certified, licensed engineering professional and wetlands consultant.
The PC voted to defer decision. Shortly thereafter, the Orr application was formally withdrawn by applicant.
The attorney who declared the citizens were wrong about the spring still holds her license with no consequences.
The same wetlands consultant has submitted false or misleading documents in at least one other district if not more on applications that were approved and where now water problems prevail. He is still in business and has recently been appointed by the Chair of BOS Land Use Policy Committee to a prestigious environmental board in county.
CASE STUDY 2: Land Unit J and MWAA Noise Contour Updates
In 2020, dense, multi-family residential projects for 100’s of homes (Elm Street, Boulevard and Stone Bridge) were proposed for Sully's sub-district Land Unit J area. All are now approved despite serious objections from members of both PC and BOS, Dulles Airport MWAA officials, Loudoun County VIP’s and hundreds of citizens.
All three applications are to be built in close proximity to Dulles Airport.
For the preceding 40 years, both Loudoun and Fairfax Counties had protected citizens by forbidding any residential development in areas this close to Dulles, an original ‘green fields’ airport. (So named because it was located AWAY from developed areas and homes.)
In 2020, the Chair of BOS Land Use Policy Committee, Kathy Smith, forbade updating 30 year old noise contour maps to current 2019 versions which would have precluded building any housing in this still dangerous area.
Sully Supervisor Kathy Smith insisted that because the new upgraded maps were not yet approved by THIS BOS, technically old maps allowed these applications. She still denies that any harm will follow new residents from planes flying at low elevations directly overhead in known GPS- required Dulles runway landing paths.
In the July, 2020 Land Use Committee meeting, one conscientious Supervisor questioned the wisdom of retaining obsolete standards. He further requested that Dulles Airport experts -- who were present in spite of Covid -- be allowed to give information prior to the decision to proceed to hearing in the fall. The Supervisor was rudely dismissed and permission to hear concerns of Dulles officials was denied.
Go to timestamp: 2:20
Any resident inhabiting these approved developments will be required to sign rarely executed avigation agreements stating that they hold Dulles Airport harmless of any subsequent damage.
Meanwhile, the county employed Johnson Aviation to peer review MWAA's noise contour updates.
Here is what you spent on that exercise that was also ignored:
Here is what you paid for:
*Note: ACT has made PDF’s of Silent Supporters and Gartner because we anticipate the possible disappearance of these links on county website.