2020 Vienna Town Council Election: Meet Ray Brill, Jr.

(Updated 4/27/2020) Ahead of the Town of Vienna’s election this year, Tysons Reporter asked the candidates to answer the following questions and also submit a short biography. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. We are publishing the Q&As this week in the order we received the responses. 

Featured here is Ray Brill, Jr., who is running for one of the councilmember seats. 

Bio: I spent a lifetime solving difficult issues with practical, common-sense solutions as a corporate CEO, the COB of a Salvation Army chapter and a church leader. My leadership experiences are ideally suited to solving issues facing Vienna. I graduated from Air Force Academy, served as Air Force pilot, earned MBA /UCLA, JD/Florida, MDiv/VA Theological Seminary.

Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth?

We do not want to be a mini-version or extension of Tysons. Every effort should be made to maintain the small town character of Vienna — well-maintained and safe residential areas, parks, walking and bike trails, sports and community activities, and thriving small business community.

The development along Maple Avenue should be modest in scope and provide a sufficient buffer to residential neighborhoods nearby. Appropriate modifications to the Town Code will ensure our small town character is maintained. It is what sets us apart and makes us such a desirable place to live. We consistently rank in the top three of the best places to live in Virginia and our future decisions must insure that doesn’t change.

What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?

The town needs to complete the installation of traffic light sequencing system using adaptive signal controller technology that provides better sequencing of lights and movement of vehicles through our 14 light signals along Maple Avenue. We should ensure the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and neighborhoods by using traffic calming measures and enforcement as needed.

We should also consider:

  • Reducing or relocating commercial driveways and curb cuts of which there are more than 100.
  • Permitting inter-parcel connections so cars can drive to adjoining commercial areas without having to travel on Maple Avenue.
  • Traffic calming on residential streets to reduce traffic cutting through neighborhoods.
  • Restricting turns into traffic during rush hour Monday-Friday from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.

Should Vienna keep its “small town feel”? If so, how? If not, why and what do you propose?

The MAC should be replaced, and the Town Zoning Code should be reviewed and modified as needed to remove inconsistencies and ensure that residential neighborhoods are preserved and that reasonable and realistic height, density, and buffer requirements are incorporated in new developments. The input of residents is essential in this process.

I support a three-story height limitation, less dense development along Maple Avenue, and increased green space. There needs to be a buffer between the residential areas and commercial development. Developers should consider a terrace effect on the side of the development facing the homeowners.

Vienna has a long history of being named a “Tree City USA.” What steps would you like to see Vienna take to become greener and more sustainable/environmentally-friendly? 

Vienna has been designated a Tree City by Tree City USA for more than 15 years. Our trees are an essential part of our neighborhoods and are a priority. A new tree should be planted for every tree that is removed. When new homes are built, developers should save as many existing trees as possible. Sec. 17-15.1.A of the Town Code states the preliminary plat shall provide a plan for the planting and replacement of trees that are removed during development. A 20% tree canopy of mature trees is required within 20 years in the RS-16, RS-12.5 and RS-10 zones.

There appears to be a major exception in Sec. 17-15.1.E which states “The Town Council may grant reasonable exceptions or deviations from the requirements of this section when strict application of the requirements would result in unnecessary or unreasonable hardship to the developer.” The Town Council should use this power sparingly.

What do you want to see happen for parking when Patrick Henry Library gets moved and rebuilt?

I want the new library to look like a library and not a 220 foot long box-like structure 25 feet from the road that dominates the corner of Maple Avenue and Center Street. We do not need another massive building on Maple. Most of the new Fairfax County libraries have exterior designs that are innovative and creative. The design drawing I saw has neither.

We must get it right because it will be there for 50 years. No one has shown there is a demand for 84 public parking spaces in addition to library parking (option 1: two levels $4.5 million), much less 188 spaces (option 2: three levels $9 million) in the next 15-20 years. There is a third option; namely, build a charming, small town library with 90 parking spaces. Vienna should not spend money on parking located blocks from most businesses. We must be practical and realistic.

What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance?

I support a three-story height limitation and less dense development along Maple Avenue. There needs to be a buffer between the residential areas and commercial development.

When I led the mediation effort between the developers of the 380 Maple Avenue project and homeowners, I proposed a terrace effect on the side of the development facing the homeowners. That approach has been incorporated in the Sunrise development on that same piece of property.

I support a review of the MAC (currently suspended) and our zoning code to insure that reasonable and realistic height, density, and buffer requirements are incorporated in new development. The input of residents is essential in this process.

People interested in learning more about Brill’s campaign can check out his website.

Photo courtesy Ray Brill

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