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Creek Restoration Flows Back to Vienna Town Council Tonight

At its meeting tonight (Monday), the Vienna Town Council is set to vote on a funding agreements for two major environmental restoration projects.

The larger project is the next phase of the Hunter Branch Stream restoration project, estimated to cost $1.92 million.

The project will restore 1,800 feet of the stream along Nutley Street SW. The first phase of the project, completed in 2016, worked to combat the erosion of another part of the stream and add native plant species. The stream is located within the Chesapeake Bay, Accotink Creek and Potomac River watersheds, with the ultimate goal of the project being the reduction of sediments and pollutants flowing into those larger bodies of water.

Design work is expected to take place throughout fiscal year 2019 with an estimated cost of $400,000.

The other funding agreement is for the Tapawingo/Kingsley Urban Bioretention Project, will build bioretention along Meadow Lane SW where it intersects Tapawingo and Kingsley roads. The new bioretention areas will extend the curb and add new environmental control measures aimed at treating storm runoff from the street.

The bioretention project is expected to cost $200,000.

The funding for the projects come from an agreement with Fairfax County.

Photo via Facebook

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Two-Alarm Fire at Marco Polo Restaurant in Vienna

The former Marco Polo restaurant in Vienna went up in flames Sunday afternoon.

A fire broke out in the vacant building at 245 Maple Avenue W. shortly before 2 p.m. A second alarm was sounded as firefighters worked for around an hour to get the blaze under control.

Firefighters from around Fairfax County and as far away as Arlington battled the flames. The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department also assisted at the scene.

Photos posted online show firefighters using latter trucks and water cannons as heavy smoke billowed from the restaurant’s roof.

It’s unclear what caused the fire as the building was reportedly vacant. No injuries were reported.

The building has been discussed as a possible site for redevelopment, though thus far no solid plans have been revealed.

Earlier today, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department career staff from Engine 402 and Medic 402, along with…

Posted by Vienna Volunteer Fire Department on Sunday, October 14, 2018

Photo (top) via Vienna Volunteer Fire Department/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Theater for Tysons Galleria? — “We’re starting to get a glimpse of the next round of change coming to the high-end Tysons Galleria, as the mall’s owner may look to replace the Macy’s there with a theater, among other tenants, according to documents submitted to Fairfax County.” [Washington Business Journal]

Sales Tax Receipts Up — “Sales-tax receipts distributed to the Fairfax County government by the state government in September totaled $14.9 million, an increase of 3.7 percent from September 2017, according to new figures from the Fairfax County Department of Management and Budget.” [InsideNova]

Transportation Projects Slowing — “The organization… projects transportation revenue growth to be flat through 2024, and VDOT construction allocations are at their slowest since 2013 when the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 2313, legislation intended to generate more revenue for transportation projects.” [Fairfax Times]

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Citizens Take Fairfax County to Court Over Airbnb Regulations

One month into Fairfax County’s new regulations on short-term lodging, a group of local citizens are suing to have the regulations voided.

On July 31, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Short-Term Lodging (STL) Zoning Ordinance Amendment aimed at regulating home-sharing inside Fairfax, most commonly carried out through the websites Airbnb and VRBO.

Short-term lodging operators must apply for a $200 two-year zoning permit, and homeowners or community associations can still prohibit lodgings within their subdivision or development.

The new requirements went into effect on Oct. 1, along with a series of new regulations on short-term lodging:

  • Homes cannot be used for STL more than 60 nights per year.
  • The maximum number of lodgers per night is six adults.
  • The maximum number of rental contracts per might is one, so all lodgers must be associated with the same contract.
  • Any events or activities like parties, meetings, or luncheons where there may be direct or indirect compensation is prohibited.
  • All advertisements must include the STL permit number and identify the location of parking.
  • STLs cannot be set up in detached structures
  • A new Transient Occupancy Tax must be collected for each rental contract by the end of each month following the reporting month. A monthly return must also filed even if no taxes are due. If receipts exceed $10,000, a Business Professional and Occupational License is required.
  • STL operators must be permanent residents of the property and obtain written consent from property owner (when applicable).
  • Maintain a guest log including name, address and telephone number of all lodgers to be made available to any County employee upon request.
  • All STLs are required to be open for inspection during reasonable hours.

The 36 Fairfax residents collectively suing the County say the Board of Supervisors overreached and the move is the latest in a two-year trend of the county targeting STL.

In 2017, the General Assembly enacted a code allowing localities to establish a short term rental registry and require operators to register annually. Localities are also allowed to charge a fee for registration.

According to the Fairfax County website, the code prompted the Board of Supervisors to analyze short-term lodging in Fairfax and make zoning changes to allow STLs while maintaining the overall character of residential neighborhoods.

But the lawsuit says the requirements that nearly all of the other regulations, like the requirement that operators be permanent residents and the requirement of a guest log book, all exceed the authorities explicitly granted by the state.

As Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, one where the localities can only engage in activities explicitly sanctioned by the state government, the lawsuit alleges that Fairfax’s actions constitute an overreach.

Among the allegations are claims that the STL ordinance constitutes unlawful piecemeal downzoning, a violation of due process, and that the requirement that homes be open for inspection constitutes authorization of unlawful search and seizure.

According to the Fairfax Circuit Court clerk’s office, a hearing for the case is scheduled for Nov. 1 at 8:30 a.m.

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Morning Notes

Weather-Related Road Closures — Amid windy weather, several roads are closed around the area due to downed trees. [FCPD]

Bank to Hold McLean Grand Opening — MVB Bank is planning a grand opening for its new banking center at 1313 Dolley Madison Blvd., Suite 100, McLean. The location opened in early September. [Virginia Business]

Vienna Conducting Resident Survey — “The Vienna town government is in the process of taking the pulse of town residents through a new survey, which is being sent to 1,600 randomly selected households.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Friday: Affordable Housing Discussion — “Join as we host Abdi Hamud from Fairfax County’s Affordable and Workforce Dwelling Units Program at this month’s meeting.  Abdi will facilitate a roundtable discussion about affordable housing in Fairfax County and more specifically in Tysons.” [Tysons Chamber of Commerce]

Heavy Rain, Wind Today — Expect heavy rain and strong wind as a cold front moves through the region, ushering in fall-like weather. Today’s rain may cause flash flooding. [Twitter, Twitter]

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Police: Armed Robbery Near Vienna Metro Station

Fairfax County Police are investigating an armed robbery near the Vienna/Fairfax GMU Metro station.

Police say a man was walking on a footpath to the station just before midnight this past Saturday, Oct. 6., when he was approached by a man who pointed a gun at him and demanded cash.

“The victim gave the man his wallet and then ran to his house to report the robbery,” FCPD said in a crime report. “The suspect was described as a black male, 6′, with a thick build.”

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Knife Fight in Vienna — “Arriving officers located a man with a laceration to his hand. Witnesses told police the man was trying to break up a fight when one of the combatants pulled a knife, cut the man, then ran off.” [InsideNova]

Fairfax Economic Indicators Look Good — Tax receipts and home prices are up in Fairfax County, while unemployment is down to 2.4 percent. [Fairfax County]

Tysons Company Makes Acquisition — Tysons-based communications firm W2 Communications is acquiring Mesh Omnimedia, a Loudoun County-based creative agency. “This acquisition transforms W2 Communications from a leading public relations and content creation firm, into a full-service communications and branding organization that delivers creative design and digital marketing services,” said a press release. [W2 Communications]

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Morning Notes

Mom Has Daughter Arrested for Theft — “A woman living in the 600 block of Gibson Circle, S.W., told Vienna police on Sept. 27 at 12:30 a.m. that her juvenile daughter allegedly had stolen her cell phone and punched a hole in a wall. The resident advised police she wished to pursue charges.” [InsideNova]

Uptick in Sexual Harassment Reports at FCPS — “The 2017-2018 Fairfax County Youth Survey found that 14.2 percent of students reported being sexually harassed in the past year, an increase of a full percentage point from the 13.2 percent in the survey issued during the 2016-2017 school year. Female students are three times more likely than male students to report experiencing sexual harassment as 20.8 percent of girls said they had been harassed compared to 7.3 percent of boys.” [Fairfax County Times]

Hurricane Michael Could Soak Region — The remnants of Hurricane Michael, which is on a collision course with the Florida panhandle, could bring an inch or so of rain to Fairfax County between late Wednesday night and Friday. [Capital Weather Gang]

Tysons Firm Announces Merger — Tysons-based Telarix Inc. last week “announced its merger with Starhome Mach, the leading global provider of SaaS wholesale and retail roaming, clearing, settlement and fraud prevention solutions.” The combined company will be headquartered in Tysons. [Starhome Mach]

Domestic Violence Awareness Month in FFX — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Fairfax County held an event to remind residents to “make the call to end domestic violence.” The county’s 24-hour domestic and sexual violence hotline is 703-360-7273. [YouTube]

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Founder of Falls Church-Based Kiddar Capital Arrested on Securities Fraud Charges

Todd Hitt, the founder of Falls Church-based Kiddar Capital and a member of the prominent construction family, has been arrested by the FBI and charged with securities fraud.

Earlier this year Kiddar made several announcements to some fanfare in the local business press: bringing on the son of a well-known local real estate developer to head the company’s venture capital group, making plans to invest significantly in homebuilding projects, and planning to relocate to a new office building in Falls Church.

Today, however, Hitt is due to appear in federal court in Alexandria, facing charges that come with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The company’s Twitter and Instagram accounts have been shut down. Its Facebook page remains active but has not posted new content since August.

More on the charges via a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia:

A Fairfax man surrendered to the FBI on an outstanding arrest warrant today in connection with being charged with having committed securities fraud.

According to court documents, Todd Elliott Hitt, 53, is alleged to have committed securities fraud in connection with his ownership and operation of Kiddar Capital, a self-described asset management firm based in Falls Church. According to the allegations, Hitt falsely claimed that Kiddar Capital managed $1.4 billion in assets and had offices located in Houston, Palm Springs, and London. The complaint further alleges that Hitt raised more than $16 million from investors by misrepresenting that Hitt would invest $6 million as a general partner as part of a planned $33 million purchase of a Herndon building adjacent to a future stop on the Silver Line of the Washington, D.C., Metro. According to the complaint, Hitt further failed to disclose to investors his extravagant spending, which included the leasing of private jets and the purchase of sports tickets and jewelry, among other things.

Hitt, who will make his initial appearance today at 2 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, is charged with securities fraud, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the charges were unsealed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lytle is prosecuting the case.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with significant assistance provided by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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