Newsletter
Town of Vienna sign on Maple Avenue (file photo)

Vienna residents’ next property tax bills won’t be quite as high as anticipated, even as the town commits to raising employee salaries and other additional costs.

The Vienna Town Council voted unanimously last night (Monday) to adopt a $48.7 million budget for fiscal year 2022-2023 with a real estate tax rate of 20.5 cents per $100 of assessed value — a 1.75-cent cut from the current rate. The new budget will be in effect from July 1 through June 30, 2023.

This will be the 10th consecutive year that the town has reduced or maintained its real estate tax rate, according to a news release.

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Raindrops collect on tree buds in Fairview Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for Fairfax County and the rest of the D.C. area.

The alert is set to take effect at 5 p.m. today (Friday) and last until 2 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday), though current forecasts indicate that rain is likely to continue throughout the weekend.

“Widespread rainfall totals of 1-3 inches are expected through tonight,” the NWS said. “This may lead to localized instances of flooding.”

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Dozens of people will rappel down the Hilton in Crystal City for charity (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Later this afternoon (Thursday), Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay will descend by rope down a 14-story hotel in Arlington County.

McKay is among over 70 volunteers and VIPs participating in a charity rappeling event at the Hilton (2399 Richmond Highway) in Crystal City to raise money for New Hope Housing, a Northern Virginia nonprofit that provides assistance for people experiencing homelessness.

The event will unfold over two days, with elected officials and other VIPs rappeling down starting at 4 p.m. today. Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti has also been confirmed as a participant.

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Vienna Police SUV (via Vienna Police Department/Facebook)

In a sequence of events that could’ve been ripped out of a pulpy crime thriller, a man in Vienna was reportedly taken for a ride and robbed at gunpoint — potentially by a trio spotted patronizing a local gun shop earlier that day.

Around 2:40 p.m. on April 9, the man was picked up by three men in a vehicle, one of them an acquaintance, at the Giant shopping center (359 Maple Avenue), according to the Vienna Police Department’s recap for the week of April 8-14.

“While they were driving around, the three men displayed handguns and announced a robbery, taking the citizen’s belongings,” police said. “The men allowed the citizen to exit the vehicle on Cabin Road where he ran to the nearest residence for assistance.”

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U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria (via Google Maps)

A McLean resident who ran a concessions business that worked with local schools will serve 18 years in prison on multiple child pornography charges, federal prosecutors announced today (Friday).

Zackary Ellis Sanders, 27, engaged in sexually explicit conversations with at least six different minors between 2017 and 2020, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

He was convicted by a federal jury of possessing, producing, and receiving child pornography on Oct. 27.

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The weekend is almost here. Before we at Tysons Reporter prepare to officially launch our countywide site, FFXnow, and you head to bed for some much-needed sleep, let’s revisit news from the Tysons area that you might’ve missed.

These were the most-read stories on Tysons Reporter this week:

  1. Attempted traffic stop on I-495 leads to high-speed police pursuit
  2. Roberto’s Ristorante Italiano now open in Vienna
  3. NEW: Tequila Grande demolished, paving way for Vienna’s 444 Maple development
  4. The story of Tycon Courthouse, the ‘ugliest building in Virginia’
  5. Famed D.C. chef ventures into Vienna with upcoming Italian restaurant

Ideas for potential stories can be sent to [email protected], [email protected], or submitted as an anonymous tip. Photos of scenes from around the community are welcome too, with credit always given to the photographer.

You can find previous rundowns of top stories on the site.

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February has been a hectic month for McLean’s high schools.

While Langley High School drew some heat this week for a slightly cheeky book display sign in its library, rival McLean High School was shaken earlier this month by a different kind of conflict over messaging.

An unidentified individual defaced a rock in front of the school used by clubs and athletic teams around 9:23 p.m. on Feb. 8 by painting “ALM” — an acronym standing for “All Lives Matter,” the student newspaper, The Highlander, reported.

The rock had been decorated a week earlier by the school’s Black Student Union, which painted phrases like “BLM” — Black Lives Matter — and “I’m Black and proud” in recognition of Black History Month.

McLean High School Principal Ellen Reilly said in a newsletter on Monday (Feb. 14) that the school was “disheartened” to see the BSU’s message “met with vandalism.”

“At McLean High School, we believe unequivocally that Black Lives Matter,” she said. “We are invested in creating a culture in which all students and staff experience belonging as Highlanders. As such, we will address all issues of racism and discrimination at our school.”

According to The Highlander, school administrators have identified the person behind the “ALM” message, which has now been covered by white paint, but it was unclear what discipline they could potentially face.

Fairfax County Public Schools declined to comment when asked to confirm if a culprit had been identified.

The Fairfax County Police Department said it was aware of the incident but ultimately determined that no crime had been committed, since the school allows anyone to paint on the rock.

“The school took care of it internally,” an FCPD spokesperson told Tysons Reporter.

McLean High School’s Black student population has marginally grown in recent years, from 73 students in September 2017 to 103 students, as of January. That’s still just 4.4% of the school’s 2,370 students.

The isolation that the school’s Black students experience inspired them to create the BSU this year, according to The Highlander.

The day after the defacing incident, BSU President Jasmine Andresol, one of the group’s founders, delivered a message to students that FCPS shared with Tysons Reporter:

Martin Luther King stated that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” On February 2nd our Black Student Union painted the rock in celebration of Black History month. It was vandalized last night.

As we walked to paint the rock last week, there were mixed emotions of joy and pride, but also fear. The fear was that someone would misunderstand the reason and meaning of why we decided to paint BLM on the rock. When you hear or see the words Black Lives Matter it does not mean that other lives do not. These words bring awareness to the struggles, injustices and racism that black people have endured in this country for far too long. The words that were meant to be a reminder to celebrate black history were seen as an opportunity to discourage our efforts.

We must continue as a school community to support, embrace and be kind to one another.

McLean High School students and staff also gathered at the rock after school to “stand in solidarity” with Black students, according to Reilly.

“We were uplifted to see how our student body came together to support one another,” Reilly said in her newsletter. “We are committed to keeping students at the center of our decisions and working alongside them to find a solution. As a school community we must continue to support and embrace one another. We are committed to learning and growing and building the best McLean High School for everyone.”

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Morning Notes

Mistrial Declared in Sexual Abuse Case Against Former Thoreau MS Teacher — A Fairfax County Circuit Court jury acquitted Matthew Snell on one count of inappropriate sexual relations with a teenager after 13 hours of deliberation. The jury failed to reach a verdict on two other charges, likely prompting a retrial. [The Washington Post]

Tysons Auto Investment Company Sold — Investment firm Ares Management Corp. closed a $3.8 billion deal yesterday (Thursday) to acquire Capital Automotive Real Estate Services Inc., which gives financing to automobile dealers for buying new locations and upgrading facilities. Based at 8484 Westpark Drive, the company has recently been selling land that it owns for the Dominion Square West development. [Washington Business Journal]

Tysons Steakhouse Plans Second Fairfax County Location — The Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão plans to open a new location in Reston Town Center this spring. The company’s restaurant outside of Tysons Galleria is the only one it currently has in Northern Virginia. [Reston Now]

Funding Recommended for Local Transportation Projects — The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board approved a $7.2 million plan on Wednesday (Feb. 16) to support bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure upgrades. The recommendations include the Vienna Metro station bicycle improvements and Shrevewood Elementary School Safe Routes to Schools project requested by Fairfax County. [WTOP]

Vienna Nepali Restaurant Gets Thumbs Up — “You will not find a dish quite like Royal Nepal Bistro’s fulbari naan in its homeland. Yes, co-owner Sunil Chaudhary says that the breads in parts of southern Nepal are sweet, but this creation exists only in Vienna.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

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After years of debate and stagnation, construction has become a common sight along Maple Avenue in Vienna.

Among the most visible of the ongoing projects, thanks to a crane towering over the low-lying commercial corridor, is the Sunrise Senior Living facility emerging at 380 Maple Avenue — just one building east of the redeveloping Vienna Wolf Trap Hotel and Tequila Grande.

Construction on the assisted living facility began with a groundbreaking in June and is expected to be completed in 2023, according to Andy Coelho, the senior vice president of construction, facilities, and design at Sunrise Senior Living.

“Potential residents and community members will be able to get a first look at the offerings when the off-site sales gallery opens in late 2022,” Coelho told Tysons Reporter.

Approved by the Vienna Town Council in January 2020, the project consists of an 82,000 square-foot building with 85 assisted living units and 950 square feet of space on the ground floor for a cafe or restaurant.

The new building will be 54 feet tall with four stories. In addition to assisted living, it will have a “Reminiscence Neighborhood” that serves residents with memory care needs as well as options for short-term stays, Coelho says.

The road to last summer’s groundbreaking was long and convoluted for Sunrise, which originally proposed building the facility at the Center Street corner but faced concerns about parking and the planned retail space.

The town council rejected that plan in July 2019, prompting Sunrise to sue the town. The lawsuit was resolved in March 2020 after the project relocated to 380 Maple Avenue, which had been set for a mixed-use development that encountered similar skepticism.

Sunrise’s Vienna facility will be its 22nd in Virginia, joining existing sites in Tysons, Falls Church, Reston, and more.

Coelho says Sunrise of Vienna will support not just its residents, but also the surrounding community.

“This community will provide a high-quality senior care option to the surrounding area while building strong connections with that region through partnerships and events,” he said by email. “As we continue through the construction phase of this project, we look forward to sharing more about the differentiators of this property.”

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Morning Notes

(Updated at 9 a.m.) Bill Ending School Mask Mandates Signed — Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed legislation yesterday (Wednesday) letting parents opt their children out of mask requirements, adding an emergency clause that sets a deadline of March 1. Fairfax County Public Schools said in a statement to Tysons Reporter that it’s reviewing what this means for the district, which sued to keep its mandate. [Patch]

Wind Advisory Takes Effect Tonight — The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, that will be in effect from 10 p.m. today (Thursday) to 10 a.m. tomorrow. The alert warns that winds could reach 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, potentially blowing down tree limbs and creating power outages. [NWS]

Tysons Area Schools to Hold Graduations in D.C. — Langley, Madison, Marshall, and McLean high schools will have graduation ceremonies at DAR Constitution Hall on May 31 and June 1 after the events were previously moved due to D.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement, which ended Tuesday (Feb. 15). FCPS said the rule “would have prevented a number of students and families from attending.” [WTOP]

Seven Corners to Get New Fire Station — Fire Station 28 personnel moved to temporary quarters yesterday as Fairfax County prepares to tear the existing station down and build a new one in its place. The new building will have two levels and 13,500 square feet of space, and the current estimated occupancy is mid-2024. [FCFRD/Twitter]

Vienna Inn Named Top 10 “Lovable” Dive Bar — DC Eater ranked the longtime Town of Vienna staple as the 10th most lovable dive bar in the D.C. area: “Around since 1960, this Northern Virginia neighborhood institution is famous for its chili dogs and its convivial vibe. During the pandemic, the chill bar debuted curbside takeout, delivery, and heated outdoor seating.” [DC Eater]

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