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MCA Issues Resolution Expressing Support for County Review of Tree Commission Recommendations

Barbara Ryan | Published on 11/10/2021

At its meeting on November 3, 2021, the MCA Board considered and approved a resolution, prepared by the Environment, Parks, and Recreation Committee, requesting that the Board of Supervisors (BOS) express support for Fairfax County review of a set of six recommendations regarding the land development process and tree preservation submitted by the Tree Commission (Tree Commission) to the BOS on September 2, 2021. The Tree Commission’s six recommendations raise a set of broad potential policy options regarding tree preservation in the county that could be implemented under existing legislation. The approved MCA resolution further asks that the BOS request County Staff to undertake a study of potential additional incentives for developers to retain mature, healthy, trees; to report to the public on the status of these efforts; and to do so in a timely manner given the rapid pace of development and mature tree loss in McLean.

While expressing support for county review of all six of the Tree Commission’s recommendations, the approved MCA resolution expresses concerns with the two of the recommendations that could affect setbacks and building heights since they could require revision of the new Zoning Ordinance adopted by the Board of Supervisors in March 2021, have implications for building-generated shadows over adjoining properties, and could have adverse effects if applied in residential areas or residential areas that are adjacent to urban areas. The resolution recommends that any proposed option for increased setbacks, building heights, or density only be available to the extent that it is consistent with the relevant Comprehensive Plan for that property; and that any proposed option for increased building heights for detached single family residential structures be consistent with the existing 35 foot single family residential building height limit. The resolution further requests that the County undertake the review of the effectiveness of the county’s 10 year tree canopy requirement to determine if it is being effective in achieving its goals and in advancing the health of new and existing trees that are planted or maintained to satisfy the requirement.

This resolution follows the MCA’s October 19, 2021 public forum on Changing Neighborhoods: Infill Development and Tree Preservation, which included informative presentations on the existing rules regarding land development and tree preservation in Fairfax County and candid discussions about developer and homeowner observations on (and concerns with) the current processes.  To view the Resolution Click on EP&R Resolution - Tree Preservation