By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
FAIRFAX, Va. — Bowing to a public backlash, Fairfax County officials likely will kill a proposal limiting the size and number of gatherings at private residences.
“The results of the first two hearings were overwhelmingly against,” Supervisor Pat Herrity told Watchdog.org.
“I believe the board will shut it down on June 10.”
Herrity was the first to call attention to the staff-written plan that would restrict “home assemblies” to no more than 49 people. The proposal also would limit gatherings to a maximum of three in a 40-day span.
Watchdog.org’s coverage of the controversial plan garnered nearly 1,000 online comments — almost universally opposed. The story was picked up nationally.
“If people hadn’t shown up (at the public hearings) and spoken out, I don’t know that this wouldn’t have moved forward,” Herrity said in an interview Monday.
Adding to concerns raised in the original report, outraged citizens speculated the county limits would prevent school groups from meeting at homes.
Fairfax resident Adam Hiatt called the plan “a direct attack on religion, family and the political freedom to assembly granted by the First Amendment.”
John Whitehead, president and attorney at the civil-libertarian Rutherford Institute in Charlottesville, Va., termed the Fairfax gambit “nefarious.”
Opponents argued that any problems stemming from home assemblies could be addressed with existing or enhanced county ordinances covering parking, noise and regulation of commercial activity.
Kenric Ward is a national reporter for Watchdog.org and chief of the Virginia Bureau. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward