By Chris Bonner
Since the 1950s, developers have looked at productive, agricultural Southern Fauquier and the mountains, forests and pastures of Northern Fauquier and imagined a paradise for commuters seeking clean air, clean water, dark skies, less hassle and lower taxes.
And for just as long people in Fauquier have been resisting development that would erode the rural character of the county and turn it into just another suburb of strip malls and tract houses. Since 1968, Citizens for Fauquier County, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, has been reminding residents and, especially, decision-makers in government, that growth should be confined to service districts in conformity with the 50-year-old Comprehensive Plan.
Not long ago, Loudoun County was like Fauquier — rolling hills, open fields, fertile soil and a sense of place. Today Loudoun is gated communities, helipads, a furiously growing school system, expanding police and fire departments and sharply rising taxes to pay for it all. Loudoun’s board became development cheerleaders in one election, and the county will never be the same.
Fauquier’s residential growth has been incremental rather than explosive, in part because prudent landowners have placed a commonwealth-leading 100,000 acres into perpetual easement. And the county has embraced the purchase of development rights program to protect Fauquier’s farming base.
Fauquier’s success in curbing promiscuous development is a function of the political will of the people expressed through the board of supervisors. The current board is informed and even-handed when it comes to managing the public trust that is Fauquier County. While the CFFC is non-partisan, you may be sure that many of our members are actively involved in politics.
The CFFC is effective because our members are informed and involved. Experts on planning, zoning and development study complex proposals each month, attend planning and supervisors’ meetings and make our voices heard. CFFC’s highly respected Land Use Report, analyzing the pros and cons of development proposals, is distributed to the supervisors and is available to everyone who signs up at citizensforfauquier.org.