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McLean Protesters Befuddled by Phantom Newport Academy Agenda Item

Around half the attendees at last night’s McLean Citizens Association’s Planning and Zoning Committee meeting left abruptly after discovering that the contentious Newport Academy wouldn’t be discussed at the meeting.

Kim Tomsen, a McLean community resident since 1975, spoke up early in the meeting and began asking the committee about the future of Newport Academy, which would bring a for-profit mental health care facility into a McLean neighborhood.

Her concerns were quickly shut down by Rob Jackson, the committee’s chair, who said that Newport Facility was not up for discussion or on the agenda, since there was nothing “pending” on the matter.

In May, the zoning administrator determined that the facility is a congregate living facility, which is not permitted as a by-right use at the location. Newport Academy wants to appeal the decision.

Now, the fate of the Newport Academy is in the hands of the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals, which are not likely to make a decision until September when the board is back in session.

The committee proceeded to discuss various items on their agenda including home businesses and modernization of zoning ordinances before community members decided to voice their concerns. Tomsen was among the first of more than a dozen people to leave the room after realizing that none of her concerns would be addressed.

Tomsen and a handful of people that Tysons Reporter spoke to said they saw online that the committee would discuss Newport Academy.

The brief committee agenda posted online before the event outlined three topics for discussion that evening — none of them relating to the controversial Newport Academy or commercial housing in residential areas.

“Then it’s a waste of our time to attend,” Tomsen said to the committee members and attendees.

“If someone put that online, they misled you,” Jackson replied back to her.

A Facebook user named Tom Shen, the founding member of the “Fairfax County Rehab Facility Discussion” group, posted an update in the group Monday (July 290 evening asking members to “help protest against commercial housing in residence zones” by showing up to the Tuesday, July 30, meeting.

It is unclear if this was the only message online requesting the presence of people opposed to commercial housing in residential areas. Tysons Reporter reached out to Shen to ask about the post, but has not heard back.

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