Tysons, VA

Officials from Fairfax County Public Schools announced yesterday (Tuesday) that the county plans to expand the use of solar energy across 87 FCPS schools and facilities.

The new contracts, which are known as solar power purchase agreements (PPA), with service providers are the largest “solar PPA initiative by a local municipality in Virginia to date,” according to a press release from Fairfax County.

“Our move toward solar reinforces the School Board’s commitment to our environmental stewardship responsibilities,” said FCPS School Board Chair Karen Corbett Sanders in a statement.

The following area schools are being considered for solar modifications:

Vienna

McLean

Falls Church

Merrifield

Photo via Flickr / Minoru Karamatsu 

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A tax reduction for small distilleries across the country is about to expire on Dec. 31 — potentially leaving local businesses like the Falls Church Distillery uncertain of the future.

Earlier this year, Michael Paluzzi, the owner of the Falls Church Distillery, attended a conference and petitioned members of Congress to pass a bill that would freeze taxes on hard liquor at $2.70 per gallon rather than allowing them to rise to $13.50 per gallon.

The bill garnered 16o Republican cosponsors and 166 Democratic cosponsors, but ultimately did not inspire a legislative change.

Paluzzi said he is disappointed that his efforts with the American Craft Spirits Association didn’t get more support from Virginia politicians.

“We just don’t seem to muster their support for whatever reason,” he said. “The logic escapes me.”

As the looming tax increase approaches in three weeks, Paluzzi said he is preparing to downgrade his dreams of expansion and will focus on fostering his current market in the Virginia, D.C. and Maryland areas, instead of expanding to new states.

For now, many small distillery owners are just trying to stay afloat, Paluzzi said, adding that they will not be able to hire new employees or expand their markets like many planned.

Though he keeps up with newsletters and peers, Paluzzi said he isn’t in contact with people on Capitol Hill. 

“Not hearing anything is always a scary thing,” he said.  

Photo via Falls Church Distillers/Facebook

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After dozens of meetings on proposed changes to the zoning ordinance, a Vienna Town official proposed a solution to speed up the process.

Earlier this year, the Vienna Town Council extended the moratorium on the MAC zone to June 30 — after pushing the deadline several times.

Councilmember Steve Potter called the work on updating the zoning ordinance a “log jam” and brought forward a motion for a comprehensive reorganization and update of Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances, Chapters 17 and 18 of Town Code, by using a consulting firm.

“It is time for a process check,” Potter told the Town Council last night.

“There have been approximately 75 Town Council and Planning Commission meetings and work sessions plus six MAC ad hoc committee meetings and two community workshops on proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance since 2016,” he said.

Potter’s motion:

I move to direct planning and zoning staff to expand the scope of the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zone and other proposed commercial zone amendments, as directed by Council to date, to include: request for proposal preparation for the comprehensive reorganization and update of Chapters 17 and 18 of the Town Code; consultant interviews and selection recommendations for consulting firms with national and Virginia experience; and determination of a realistic moratorium period for the MAC zone based upon the scope of work identified.

All pertinent work accomplished to date by staff, committees, commissions, boards, and Council, as well as relevant results from public comments, surveys, and workshops shall be retained and shared with the winning consulting firm for use in development of the aforementioned reorganization and update.

“I think this gives us a chance to kind of fix things correctly,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said.

Potter’s motion aims to make the regulations organized and easy to understand by using plain language, charts, tables and illustrations, along with consistent with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.

“The project is funded, up to $240,000, through the FY 2019-2020 budget from currently allocated funds and prior reserves,” according to town documents.

The Vienna Town Council approved the motion, which Councilmember Linda Colbert called “a great way to end 2019 and a good way to start 2020.”

Image via Town of Vienna

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Starting next year, motorized scooters will be able to go up to 8 miles per hour in the Maple Avenue and Nutley Street corridors.

The General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year allowing localities to regulate motorized scooters and skateboards before Jan. 1.

The Vienna Town Council approved last night (Monday) a one-year pilot program for shared mobility devices, which include motorized scooters, ahead of the end-of-year deadline.

The devices will be able to go up to 8 mph on the Nutley Street and Maple Avenue corridors and in areas adjacent t0 schools, parks and recreation centers. On side streets, the devices will be able to go up to 20 mph.

Town staff said that it is anticipated that people will use the devices on the sidewalks on Nutley and Maple and in the road on the side streets.

Each operator will be required to be a $5,000 fee to the town and be capped at 150 vehicles per the mode of transportation — motorized scooters or bikes — for each company.

Currently, the town has not capped the number of companies.

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Mayor Laurie DiRocco announced last night that she will not seek re-election in 2020 in the Town of Vienna.

“After great thought and reflection, I have decided not to seek a fourth term as mayor,” DiRocco said at the Town Council meeting last night (Monday).

A resident of Vienna since 1995, DiRocco was first elected to the Town Council in 2009 and has been mayor since 2014.

“I have served on the council for over a decade and served on town boards and commissions for six years prior to that, so after 17 years of service to the town, I would like to start a new chapter in my life and pursue some other interests,” DiRocco said.

DiRocco said that when she was first appointed to the Transportation Safety Commission for 17 years, she did not plan to run for elected office.

“I never really thought of myself as a politician,” DiRocco said, thanking former Mayor M. Jane Seeman for encouraging her to run for mayor.

DiRocco also thanked volunteers, staffers and supporters in the town.

“I am so grateful to the many citizens who have supported me over the years,” DiRocco said. “I am very humbled by it because many of you are so active and involved yourselves.”

While DiRocco noted that there has been disagreement over commercial redevelopment in the town, she lauded the town’s operations

DiRocco did not elaborate on her plans for after her term ends, but she did say that for her last six months in office she plans to push for a parking structure for Church Street.

“The Town of Vienna is in a very positive state,” DiRocco said.

DiRocco’s term expires on June 30.

The next election for the Town of Vienna is in May 2020.

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The Town of Vienna recently bought the property of the late former mayor — and may possibly turn it into a park.

The town was the winning bidder of the Nov. 22 auction hosted by McGuire Group, LLC for the property at 124 Courthouse Road SW for $1,438,500, including a 5% buyer’s fee, according to a press release from the town.

The property was once the home of former Mayor Charles Robinson and former Councilmember Maud Robinson.

“Both of the Robinsons had an outsized impact on the Town of Vienna and contributed an enormous amount of their time, energy, and heart to creating a more personally connected and livable community,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco said.

More from the press release:

Following discussion in a closed session earlier in November, Town Council authorized Town staff to bid on and purchase the property at a cost not to exceed a certain limit. Last night Town Council officially authorized the purchase.

The nearly three-quarters of an acre property includes a single-family house and outbuildings. The property was made available via auction by the executor of Maud Robinson’s will; Robinson passed away March 11 this year at the age of 96. Her husband served as Vienna’s mayor for 24 years, from 1976 until his death in 2000…

The Town tentatively plans to use the property as parkland, but additional uses will be considered as well.

“Maud Robinson was a champion of parks and conservation,” DiRocco said. “The town felt it appropriate to keep her and Charlie’s property ‘in the family’ and to utilize it for the benefit of the entire community.”

Image via Google Maps     

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Fairfax County police arrested a woman from California for allegedly making fraudulent credit card charges at a Marriott in Tysons.

The incident occurred around 10 a.m. on Friday (Dec. 6) at 8028 Leesburg Pike.

“The victim, who resides in Florida, called the hotel to report that someone was using her credit card and making fraudulent charges at the hotel,” according to the police report.

When officers arrived at the hotel, they were directed to the reserved room and charged a 28-year-old with credit card theft, the report said.

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The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) announced today (Monday) that it has poached another one of Arlington’s economic development officials.

Back in July, Fairfax County hired Victor Hoskins, the then-head of the Arlington Economic Development (AED) who helped bring Amazon’s HQ2 to Arlington, to become FCEDA’s president and CEO.

Now, FCEDA is hiring Alex Iams as executive vice president, according to a press release.

Iams served as AED’s interim director after Hoskins left for the Fairfax County position.

“Iams has spent 13 years at AED, including five years as [an] assistant director before being named interim director,” the press release said. “The position is a new one at the FCEDA.”

AED’s bio for Iams says:

Alex Iams has spent the last 16 years working in economic development experience, including the past 12 with Arlington County. He has been the Assistant Director at Arlington Economic Development (AED) since 2014, focusing on efforts to lower the office vacancy rate and diversify the local economy. Before joining the director’s office, Iams worked on the land use and infrastructure finance plans for the redevelopment of Crystal City and the Columbia Pike area.

In addition, he has served in various leadership roles in Arlington County government, including a four-year term on the Arlington County Employee Retirement System Board of Trustees and as Acting Assistant Director of the Department of Environmental Services.

Iams has a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington.

Iams is set to begin his new job on Jan. 21.

“The EDA’s talent initiative is unprecedented in this region, and I am excited to have the chance to make a difference in such a large community and one that is emphasizing transit-oriented development,” Iams said in the press release.

Photo via Arlington Economic Development

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Former Manager of Tysons Corner Center Dies — “The mall’s former general manager worked there for only seven years in two different stints. But during the first of those, he oversaw an expansion and renovation that made Tysons Corner Center one of the largest and most successful malls in the country. Charles R. Cope, a native of Indianapolis, died Nov. 20 from complications related to a liver transplant. He was 71.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Head of McLean Elementary School — “Cherith Pierson, who currently serves as assistant principal at Cooper Middle, has been selected as the new principal of Churchill Road Elementary, effective January 2, 2020.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Vienna Fire Chief Celebrated — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recognized our very own Chief John Morrison for being named the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ 2019 Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year. [Vienna Volunteer Fire Department/Twitter]

History Behind Pleasant Grove Church — “For more than seven decades, the little white church on Lewinsville Road was a hub for the African-American community, hosting Sunday services, picnics, weddings–and funerals, like the one held for Joan Lewis’s father in 1949.” [Arlington Magazine]

Part of Tysons Highway May Become Park — The inside of the Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) and Leesburg Pike (Route 7) interchange could become a park. [Greater Greater Washington]

Future of Freddie Mac’s Tysons Space — “A joint-venture between Northridge Capital and KAMCO Investment Co. has acquired 1550 Westbranch Drive, a 151,949-square-foot office building in Tysons, Va., for $80.5 million… Freddie Mac signed a full-building lease in May, and is in the process of building out the space and moving in.” [Commercial Observer]

Layoffs Coming to Closing Clothing Store — “Lord & Taylor stores at Tysons Corner Center and Dulles Town Center will lay off 117 and 79 employees, respectively, according to Work Adjustment and Retraining Notifications filed with the Virginia Employment Commission.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Local Charging Station for Electric Cars — EVgo recently opened a new charging facility in Tysons. [NVRC/Twitter]

Polling Center Moved — “On Dec. 3, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved moving the polling place at the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church to the Lewinsville Senior Center at 1613 Great Falls Street, McLean.” [Fairfax County]

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A fire that broke out in a commercial building in the Town of Vienna earlier this week resulted in thousands of dollars of damage.

Firefighters responded to the fire around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 4) in the 500 block of Mill Street NE, according to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

More from the fire department:

Units arrived on scene of a one-story commercial building and reported fire visible from within the structure. Crews quickly extinguished the fire. No firefighter or civilian injuries were reported.

An occupant of the business next door could smell smoke. The occupant saw smoke coming from the roll-up bay door at the front of the business and called 9-1-1. No occupants were present in the business when the fire occurred. No smoke alarms were present.

Fire investigators determined that the fire started by accident inside the front door of the retail sales area after “an electrical event in a hot/cold water cooler.”

The fire did not displace anyone and caused damages worth approximately $11,000, according to the fire department.

Images via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue 

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