The Vienna Town Council delayed voting on the proposed redevelopment of 380 Maple Avenue after a resident questioned if the town had notified Fairfax County about the proposed rezoning — the town hadn’t.
Resident John Pott asked during the public hearing last night (May 13) if the town had notified the county about the proposed rezoning since the property is within half of a mile from the county line. Pott said that the notification has to happen before the Vienna Planning Commission hearing.
Turns out, the town had not notified the county yet, Town Manager Mercury Payton said, adding that “this was an oversight on the part of staff.”
“This has not been a practice,” Payton said. “It was not intentionally inaction based on staff to not notify the county.”
“I’m a little bit dismayed we didn’t follow the law,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said, telling town staff that “ignorance is no excuse.”
In addition to the legal conundrum, Springsteen urged the developer and residents to work together — possibly using a mediator — to try to find middle ground on the contentious issues around the proposed project, such as safety, privacy and scale. “I would like to see if we could get a mutual, agreeable resolution to things,” he said.
The proposed project has received mixed reviews from residents.
While some people have said at previous public hearings that the mixed-use, four-floor building, which would include ground floor retail and more than three dozen multi-family residential condominium units, could revitalize the downtown area, others have argued that traffic, safety and scale issues plague the project.
Dennis Rice, the owner of J.D.A. Custom Homes, appeared frustrated when relaying to the Town Council some of the back and forth changes he’s made to make the development more desirable to nearby residents. But, he reiterated he is willing to keep working with neighbors on the project.
Mayor Laurie DiRocco told Rice to submit a written list of proffers. While proffers have been written down and spoken about at meetings, DiRocco said that Rice needs to provide the town with a comprehensive and clear list.
Town Attorney Steve Briglia advised the council to keep the public hearing open while getting in touch with the county. The Town Council voted to continue consideration of the project at the June 3 Town Council meeting and directed staff to send a notification of the proposed rezoning to the county.
Photo via Town of Vienna Planning and Zoning