Wednesday, December 7, 2022

John ‘Til’ Hazel Jr., lawyer and developer who transformed Virginia suburbs, dies at 91

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Over 5 many years, Mr. Hazel harnessed the area’s post-World War II inhabitants increase to construct highways, suburban subdivisions and procuring facilities, perpetually altering the best way Washingtonians stay.

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Like many actual property builders, Mr. Hazel was not a public determine however had an unlimited influence. With his crew lower and Virginia drawl, he got here throughout to many as an enthralling and affable nation squire. But the Harvard-
educated lawyer was a deft politician who loved a robust and lasting affect behind the scenes for many years as Northern Virginia turned a participant in authorities contracting, know-how and increased schooling.

He cultivated highly effective associates in improvement and politics, together with Maryland developer Milton V. Peterson, his enterprise accomplice for 20 years; and Tysons Corner Center developer Ted Lerner. Local energy brokers invoked his title with awe.

“Til Hazel defined Northern Virginia,” stated George Johnson, George Mason University’s president from 1978 to 1996. “He imagined it, he brought it about, he led it and behind the scenes did more building of the community than anyone. He tried to give it an identity.”

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First as a land-use lawyer and later as a developer, Mr. Hazel stamped his imprint on a lot of the area. He argued for the precise to sentence land for the Capital Beltway and went on to develop houses now occupied by
1 in each 10 residents of Fairfax County. He received myriad authorized battles towards environmentalists and different progress opponents that reaffirmed property rights and allowed constructing to proceed.

He was a pressure behind the rise to prominence of GMU, buying land and lobbying for a college of regulation in Arlington, giving cash and marshaling the assist of Northern Virginia’s enterprise group to nurture the varsity’s growth. To the tip, he fought for a second Beltway by means of Loudoun and Prince William counties that might snake round Northern Virginia’s outer suburbs into Maryland however was stymied by a scarcity of funding and political will.

Mr. Hazel attributed his success — and appreciable fortune — to a imaginative and prescient of a future far faraway from his childhood plowing the fields of the household farm his father purchased within the Forties in a rural Virginia crossroads referred to as McLean. Mr. Hazel embodied — and was largely answerable for — Fairfax County’s sophistication as a company headquarters, cultural heart and a middle of secure suburban neighborhoods.

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“A blind man could see the potential,” he advised Washingtonian journal in 2001. “Fairfax was the frontier. It was open to ideas.”

The value of success was frequent confrontation with public officers and activists disaffected by the byproducts of the expansion for which Mr. Hazel had paved the best way.

Detractors accused him of ravaging the countryside with quarter-acre tons and vehicles caught in gridlock. In 1988, preservationists stopped him from constructing a shopping center at the Manassas National Battlefield Park, a struggle that led the federal authorities to sentence the land.

Mr. Hazel’s mantra was constant to the tip: Developers might enhance life in a area poised for progress, whereas narrow-minded civic activists (he referred to as them “antis”) and authorities officers at all times ruined issues. It made no sense for native politicians to erase future roads from planning maps to fulfill anti-growth activists if the demand for jobs and homes was there.

In 1987, Audrey Moore was swept in because the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairwoman on an anti-growth wave. But she had served as a county supervisor since 1972, when Mr. Hazel was urgent efficiently to open watershed areas to water and sewer traces for improvement.

“I went up against him as hard as I knew how,” Moore recalled. “He was playing real-life Monopoly in Fairfax, buying land cheap and getting it rezoned to the kind of development he wanted. I don’t think it was positive.”

John Tilghman Hazel Jr. was born in Washington on Oct. 29, 1930. He grew up in Arlington, the place his father was a surgeon. A grandfather was president of an Arlington financial institution, and an uncle was the Arlington commonwealth’s lawyer.

After the elder Hazel purchased a farm in McLean with hopes of elevating crops to feed the household through the Depression, Til would typically bicycle or hitchhike the eight miles from Arlington after faculty to plow the fields.

In 1947, he enrolled at Harvard University, the place he accomplished undergraduate and regulation levels, and then served a stretch within the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He returned to Northern Virginia in 1957, taking a job with a regulation agency in Arlington.

Mr. Hazel’s roommate as he crammed for the Virginia bar examination was John N. Dalton, the state’s future Republican governor. The ensuing friendship with Dalton and different highly effective Virginia figures — together with Rep. Stanford E. Parris (R-Va.), with whom he hunted in Alaska — would later enhance his entry and polish his aura of invincibility.

Mr. Hazel was married to Marion “Jinx” Engle for 41 years till her loss of life in 1995. His second spouse, the previous Anne Barnett Merrill, whom he married in 1997, died in December.

In addition to his son, of Fredericksburg, Va., survivors embody three youngsters from his first marriage, LeighAnn Hazel-Groux and John T. “Jack” Hazel III, each of Broad Run, and James W. Hazel of Charlottesville; two stepsons, R. Searing Merrill III and William Merrill, each of Tampa; 15 grandchildren; and 5 great-grandchildren.

Mr. Hazel’s agency was employed to sentence land for a highway that got here to be referred to as the Capital Beltway. Mr. Hazel argued these circumstances, changing into an knowledgeable on zoning, acquisition and eminent area.

Then, as Fairfax leaders welcomed progress, he was the go-to lawyer to get land rezoned. In the early Sixties, he served three years as a District Court choose within the county and was a lieutenant within the political machine of then-Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr. (D-Va.). At the time, the machine’s energy was held by giant landowners.

Mr. Hazel began his personal full-time regulation apply in 1966, and, by the early Seventies, he had emerged as essentially the most distinguished zoning lawyer in Virginia. He represented Lerner, who constructed Tysons Corner Center and the Tysons II procuring, workplace and lodge complicated.

Around this time, Fairfax County authorities was rocked by zoning scandals. Bribes had turn into a means of doing enterprise in lots of quarters earlier than federal and state authorities cleaned home.

One of these charged was a state senator and political boss named Andrew W. Clarke, who employed Mr. Hazel to symbolize him. Mr. Hazel argued that his shopper must be excused from trial for poor well being, a protection the commonwealth’s lawyer derided as phony till Clarke died in 1968, shortly after the fees have been dismissed.

The scandals resulted in bribery convictions of three county supervisors and deepened the considerations of many residents concerning the county’s speedy progress. By 1971, voters had elected an area board that attempted to place the brakes on improvement. Mr. Hazel, on behalf of builders, fought the politicians at each flip. He had little bother scoring victories that overturned many restrictions on constructing and necessities that builders put aside inexpensive housing.

In 1972, Mr. Hazel turned a developer himself, becoming a member of forces with Peterson, a hard-driving developer with a fame for putting offers. The Hazel/Peterson Cos. constructed Burke Centre, a deliberate group of 15,000 folks second solely to Reston. Other huge tasks adopted, together with Franklin Farm close to Washington Dulles International Airport; Fair Lakes, a residential and workplace complicated on 657 acres in western Fairfax; and Fairfax Station, a high-end subdivision off Route 123.

In 1984, Mr. Hazel turned the primary Virginia president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, a number one enterprise group. Four years later, Hazel/Peterson paid $11 million for 542 acres in Prince William County.

The plan was to develop the land right into a mixed-use complicated of houses, places of work and a shopping center. The Williams Center stood on Stuart Hill, the location of Robert E. Lee’s command through the Second Battle of Manassas, in 1862.

Preservationists and civic activists mobilized rapidly to avoid wasting the historic Civil War website. It was a bitter struggle, pitting Mr. Hazel’s view of progress towards historical past buffs, and it drew worldwide consideration. Congress finally condemned the property and preserved it as an addition to the nationwide battlefield park. The federal authorities gave Hazel/Peterson an $81 million buyout.

The actual property partnership was dissolved in 1991 as a second technology took separate paths. Mr. Hazel returned to practising regulation, and he and Peterson remained associates.

In his final years, residing on his 50-acre property in Fauquier County, Mr. Hazel noticed a political local weather more and more turned towards his views. County boards in Northern Virginia seesawed between nurturing progress and curbing it, however the tide had turned towards single-family houses in distant suburbs. “Sprawl” turned a watchword — and not one — for the empire Mr. Hazel had constructed.

He remained satisfied that native leaders had no imaginative and prescient for the place to place new folks and jobs. He dismissed the large city-style redevelopment deliberate for Tysons Corner, saying the Silver Line below building to Dulles would do little to alleviate highway congestion.

Asked to answer the criticism that he was among the many area’s largest contributors to suburban sprawl, Mr. Hazel advised The Washington Post in 2010: “I made up my mind early — better to be respected than loved. I have always had a fundamental commitment to growth, prosperity and people, and the antis are against all three.

“I don’t make any apologies, I don’t defend it, if you don’t like it, don’t listen to me.”

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