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Fairfax, Va., Gets New Mayor Who Pledges Redevelopment

Updated on February 12, 2017

Fairfax City, Virginia, Heads Toward Redevelopment

Fairfax City, Virginia, residents elected Councilmember David Meyer as their new mayor this week, largely on his promise of real estate redevelopment.

The new mayor was chosen to replace Mayor R. Scott Silverthorne, who was arrested last summer and removed from office after a scandal. He was accused of trying to exchange methamphetamines for sex.

Silverthorne appeared in court this week as he faces a felony charge of distribution of methamphetamine and a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

All three of the candidates running to replace him were Fairfax City Council members. In addition to Meyer, they were Eleanor D. Schmidt and Michael J. DeMarco.

Main issues during the special election campaign were how to revitalize aging commercial corridors and reducing traffic congestion in the community of 24,000 residents.

Meyer suggested redeveloping underused real estate parcels. High on his list is redevelopment of the vacant Fairfax Circle strip mall, which is now home to members of the homeless community.

Meyer also said the city needs more affordable housing for elderly residents who risk losing their decades-long homes to rising property taxes and cost of living increases in Fairfax City.

DeMarco advocated for smart growth policies that encourage mixed-use developments. He said mixed-use projects would allow residents to walk to work or stores, thereby reducing traffic.

He mentioned Arlington County’s Ballston neighborhood as an example of how mixed-use development can revitalize urban areas.

Schmidt said she sought a more “cautious and balanced” approach to development after considering how it will affect traffic and schools. About 1,000 new apartments and townhouses are planned to be built in Fairfax City during the next four years.

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