Community Engagement Committee - Fairfax County, VA
No more parties at home if you invite too many people? Maybe!

You must think the title of this blog is actually a joke, but this IS  happening in Fairfax County!  Backyard weddings, Christmas parties, family reunions, Bible studies at your own residence may ALL be banned very soon, if we do not take action! The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering a regulation to prevent such gatherings from happening.  From Pat Herrity’s newsletter, our Springfield District Supervisor:
 
County Proposing Restricting Rights of Groups to Assemble in Residential Dwellings
 
Fairfax County has proposed changes to the zoning ordinance in an attempt to curb “frequent and large gatherings at neighborhood homes.” Specifically the zoning change states “Group assembly when accessory to a dwelling unit shall be permitted, except any group assembly exceeding forty-nine (49) people in one day shall not occur more frequently than three (3) times in any forty (40) day period.”   While there have been some complaints about frequent and large gatherings creating issues such as lack of parking, noise, and traffic, I have serious concerns about such a sweeping change to the zoning ordinance. These include the following:
 
  • I believe the County is risking a lawsuit and/or a Constitution challenge by interfering with peoples’ right to assemble.
  • I do not believe the County has taken into account the unintended consequences on activities that regularly occur in the community and do not currently pose problems.
  • I believe this will impact many large families that gather on a regular basis, community group meetings and potentially holiday gatherings
  • This would be nearly impossible, labor intensive and costly for our code compliance staff to enforce, having to “catch” people in the act, including staking out an offender for more than 3 days in a 40 day period
  • We should be focusing on dealing with the issues and not restricting groups’ rights to assemble.
 
So there you have it.  Our local government believes they can dictate how many people, and how often, we can have them over at our homes, our property, paid for by our hard-earned money.  Take a read about the thoughts of other Fairfax County citizens here:
 
“I never imagined when I agreed to host a Bible study in my home that such an action may one day be a violation of law. Yet that’s exactly what my very own Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is prepared to do right here in Virginia…Because six people complained, the county is poised to violate the right to free speech, the right to religious expression, and the right to freedom of assembly.”  Read this blog authored by Matthew Clark here:http://bearingdrift.com/2014/05/05/fairfax-county-poised-to-shut-down-home-bible-studies/

 

 
 What can we DO about it?  Let your voices be heard!  Supervisor Herrity  welcomes your thoughts via an email at springfield@fairfaxcounty.gov. The County will also be holding public meetings addressing this issue on the following dates:
  • Monday, May 12, 2014 from 7 – 9 p.m. at Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA  22035 in the Board Auditorium
  • Monday, May 19, 2014 from 7 – 9 p.m. at Lemon Road Elementary School, 7230 Idylwood Road, Falls Church, VA  22043 in the school cafeteria

Last, but not least, write a comment on your thoughts ONLINE!  From the comfort of your own home, let the County know what you think about this by going to this link:  http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/zoning/groupassembly/


Hopefully reason will prevail on all this, but it will take engaged citizens to make it happen!

Posted on May 7th, 2014


 
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