Tysons, VA

Since 2015, the United Methodist Church and Montessori School of Cedar Lane has been trying to get inline with local zoning ordinances, and at a County Board meeting the Board of Supervisors granted another extension for the church and school to get their house in order.

The school was approved special exception in 2014, contingent on development conditions, but a staff report on the project said the school and church has been been out of conformance with the Zoning Ordinance.

“The application was approved with a requirement that a Non-Residential Use Permit (Non-RUP) be issued within 24 months of the approval date in order to establish the use,” staff said. “In addition, the development conditions mandated that certain improvements, including approval of a minor site plan (MSP) with parking lot and stormwater improvements, enhanced landscaping, removal of certain gravel surfaces, improvements to the parking lot and recordation of a reservation for future right of way dedication, be satisfied prior to issuance of the Non-RUP.”

An extension was first granted in mid-2016 for 12 months, which was eventually extended to July 2020.

A representative of the church and school said the organization is not experienced in handling development issues, which has resulted in delays.

“The applicant has been working to fulfill all development conditions associated with SE 2013-PR-021,” staff said. Ms. [Lynne] Strobel states that the applicant is a non-profit and inexperienced in the process of obtaining permits and approvals associated with zoning and land use. As a result, the implementation of the approval has taken longer than anticipated.”

Strobel told staff the applicant is working with a civil engineer to get the improvements done as quickly as possible, though the pandemic created additional financial challenges due to the school’s closure. However, staff said the applicant reported that it plans to commence the required work within the next year.

The school was approved for 18 additional months to get the needed work done.

Image via Google Maps

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In lieu of being able to serve the community in-person, members of Falls Church-based Dulin United Methodist Church started a monthly charity project led by their pastor, Dave Kirkland.

Since July, the congregation has chosen a different charity to support each month by raising funds for those in need.

“We pick up a different ministry each month and see how it hits the spirits of people and how they respond,” Kirkland said.

Though the charities range in geographic location and purpose, the July donation to Homestretch benefited people within Falls Church’s own community.

Not only did churchgoers and a variety of other donors raise $100,000 which will support the charity’s mission to help disadvantaged families find housing and sustainable lives, but the group was also able to donate $7,200 worth of gift cards and put together care packages with toiletries for 28 local families, according to Kirkland.

Many of the people which received help thanks to the donations are entry-level frontline workers, Kirkland said, and many are also survivors of human trafficking or abuse.

“We knew a lot of these folks probably lost their job and COVID has really affected their lives, so we made a plea,” Kirkland said.  “They [Homestretch] support their families through skills, knowledge and hope. We couldn’t help with skills or knowledge but we could help with hope.”

In August, Dulin United Methodist also raised $17,000 for a group called Free Minds Book Club, which is a D.C. based organization that encourages incarcerated youth to develop a passion for literature.

This month, congregation members will be supporting a charity in Sierra Leone which works to set up infrastructure in the country which was destroyed by civil war, according to Kirkland.

Anyone interested in supporting the church’s mission can donate online.

Photo via Dulin United Methodist Church/Facebook

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The Town of Vienna announced plans to buy the Faith Baptist Church — and now wants residents’ input on what to do with the property.

The Vienna Town Council last night (Monday) approved buying the 3-acre property at 301 Center Street S. for $5.5 million after councilmembers lauded the upcoming acquisition as a long-term benefit to the community.

Councilmember Chuck Anderson called the purchase a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” saying that the church is in the core governmental area of Vienna.

“Center Street is literally in the center of town,” Mayor Linda Colbert said.

Town Attorney Steve Briglia said that the church — a “vital and established part of the town for many, many years” — started internal discussions about changing its mission and possibly selling the property a few years ago.

Previous Town Councils were interested in buying the property, but the church wasn’t ready to sell it, Briglia said. The town is scheduled to close on the property on Sept. 18, using funds from the general obligation bonds issued earlier this year for the purchase, according to a press release from the town.

The town plans to rent the space to the church while the church makes its transitions.

“I’m sure it’s bittersweet whenever a house of faith decides to move into a new way of operating and I certainly wish them the best of success in the future,” Anderson said.

In the short-term, the town is looking to temporarily relocate the police department to the church for one to two years while the new station is under construction.

Police Chief Jim Morris said that the church — instead of the originally planned relocation to the town’s Beulah Road property, will allow the police station to have business hours. “People can come in and we’ll still remain in the community in the heart of all of the activity,” Morris said.

How the property will get used in the long-term is still to be determined. The building includes classrooms, a sanctuary and a full-size gym, Briglia said.

Councilmember Nisha Patel urged residents to share their ideas for how the property can get used. “It’s your property, and as town residents, I really hope you guys provide us with feedback about you’d like to see go into that space eventually and after its temporary use,” Patel said.

Colbert said that the town will do a feasibility study to help figure out how the property can get used. The Vienna Town Council will also start discussing the options during its Capital Improvement Plan work session on Sept. 21, according to the press release.

Image via Google Maps

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After delays due to the pandemic, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals approved changes that will allow a McLean church to expand its child care offerings.

The St. Thomas Episcopal Church (8991 Brook Road) wants to add a child care center that will be open from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekdays along with the current nursery school. The church would like to have up to 99 kids on-site at any one time.

“What we’re trying to do is modify the conditions to bring a nursery school that was approved almost 25 years ago to modern standards and to meet the expectations of what families are looking for in 2020 for child care,” a representative for the church said.

Currently, the zoning ordinance limits the church to having its nursery school divided into morning and afternoon sessions with 50 kids max per session and hours from 8 a.m.-3 pm.

The church representative said that there is barely any need for a mid-day drop-off, saying that parents need all-day daycare.

More from the staff report:

The proposed child care center will operate within the same building as the existing nursery school, and no exterior renovations are proposed as part of this application… In a nursery school, children aged 2-5 years old are limited to four hours of care per day, while children 5+ years old are limited to six and one-half hours of care per day. In a child care center, there are no time limits on the number of hours of care per day.

The nursery school/child care center will continue to have a maximum enrollment of up to 99 students at any one time. The children will be aged from 2 years through 5 years…  The applicant indicates that the nursery school/child care center facility will serve both parishioners and residents of the surrounding community. The facility will have 10-15 staff members…

Staff with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) raised concerns with the impact that additional vehicles would have on the afternoon peak hours of operation at the intersection of Lewinsville Road / Brook Road / Leesburg Pike…

Staff with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) estimates the intersection improvements will be completed by the end of 2022, with the construction of sound walls, streetscape, and lighting continuing to 2024… [The] applicant has agreed to, a development condition restricting the number of students to 50, for either three (3) years or until the intersection reconfiguration is complete — whichever occurs first.

The BZA was originally going to consider the changes in May, but the application was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the agenda.

The church has undergone three expansions, according to county documents. If the church proceeds with a fourth construction phase, the church would be able to offer up to 325 seats in the main area of worship and the parking spaces would increase from 70 to 90, county staff said.

“The final Phase 4, which includes a significant expansion of the main sanctuary, has not yet occurred. The Church has indicated that while they have no immediate plans to construct Phase 4, they wish to maintain their right to do so in the future and propose no changes to the previously approved layout as part of this amendment,” according to county documents.

The church currently has a fenced, 25,000-square-foot playground.

On Wednesday, the zoning board approved the proposed changes to allow for the child care center.

Image via Google Maps

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A rally will take place outside the First Baptist Church of Vienna Friday evening on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.

“Many of us have been inundated by the news. We’ve watched the reports. We are in mourning,” Vernon Walton, the senior pastor at the church, said in a video. “We are upset as we’ve watched the death of George Floyd, as we watched the family of Breonna Taylor mourn, as we’ve watched the family of Ahmaud Arbery mourn. We mourn with them.”

Participants are asked to social distance, wear masks and bring signs. The “Juneteenth Rally of Remembrance” will offer time for prayer and protest to celebrate Black lives, according to the event description.

“Come expecting to be empowered by the fellowship by the brothers and sisters of our community,” Walton said in the video. “You don’t want to miss this experience.”

The rally is set to take place in the parking lot at 450 Orchard Street NW from 6-8 p.m.

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A McLean resident and her two kids recently decided to help a local non-profit while also providing neighbors with spring flowers to adorn their yards.

Lynley Ogilvie and her two teenagers, George and Jayne, who attend McLean High School raised more than $5,000 for SHARE of McLean by selling flowers and plants to neighbors who wanted to start gardens.

SHARE is based in McLean and helps people who are struggling with food insecurity and poverty, according to its website, adding that the organization can assist with paying bills, clothing and other needs.

As a professional landscape designer, Lynley said she was inspired to start the fundraiser after receiving questions and inquiries from friends and clients asking for recommendations places to find plants.

Her kids helped her mobilize by designing programs such as order forms through Google Forms and coming up with the idea to buy in bulk from a source out of Maryland and resell the greenery — ultimately making a profit which could benefit SHARE, she said.

“People were very excited to support SHARE, and they were struggling to get donations,” Lynley said.

As a member of Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Lynley said that the church frequently donates to SHARE, and the non-profit saw a lack in donations after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy.

According to Lynley, several other religious groups around the area are also bolstering efforts to support the local organization.

“One of my good friends is actually the Rabbi at Temple Rodef Shalom,” Lynley said. “She came to my sale and said they are also trying to support SHARE.”

People who bought plants from the family paid in advance through Venmo, according to Lynley, who added that people then signed up for a pickup time slot so they could practice safe social distancing.

Throughout Friday (April 10) and Saturday (April 11), roughly 90 people came by to pick up their greenery, Lynley said.

The funds have already been delivered to SHARE, she added.

Going forward, Lynley said she hopes people will continue to build and foster gardens because they help people maintain a “sense of control” in their lives and allows them to “reconnect with nature.”

Photo courtesy Lynley Ogilvie

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UPDATED 03/23/2020 — Now includes information from Holy Comforter Episcopal Church and the Wesley United Methodist Church.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, places of worship around the Tysons area are going digital for people who are self-isolating or quarantined.

Many of the centers are closed to the public, but a few are still holding events for regular attendees. Here’s what Tysons Reporter has found in the area.

McLean

The McLean Baptist Church decided to cancel all of its services except for an upcoming live-streamed ceremony on Sunday (March 22), according to its website. People interested in watching can email the pastor to request a link to the church’s Vimeo. The digital service will begin at 11 a.m., according to the announcement.

Saint Luke Catholic Church pointed followers to a televised Mass Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WDCW-50, according to the church’s website.

The McLean Islamic Center announced on its Facebook page that it will be closed until further notice due to concerns over the virus. The announcement added that anyone associated with the center in need of help can reach out for support through email.

The Lutheran Church of McLean announced that it will not hold a service on Sunday (March 22). The website added that staff will update the website as the church makes further updates to its policies.

Vienna

Our Lady of Good Council, a Catholic Church in Vienna at 8601 Wolf Trap Road, will be open for people to participate in the stations of the cross and certain prayer services, according to the church’s website. However, Mass is canceled.

The prayer services will take place Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. until noon for prayer groups of 10 people or less, the website said.

Stations of the cross will be available for self-guided tours from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Fridays.

New Song Church in Vienna will be hosting live streams of its services every Sunday at 10:30 a.m., according to the center’s website. People with questions about the live stream can call 703-972-6688.

Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Vienna invites people to a short prayer at 12:10 p.m. every Wednesday for the next few weeks, according to a spokesperson.

Wesley United Methodist Church is hosting weekly online services, according to a church spokesperson. Links and video recordings can be found on the church’s website and Facebook page.  They are also seeking online donations to help community members in need. Services will begin at 11 a.m. throughout the week.

Falls Church

The Falls Church Anglican has also suspended in-person events but has digital sermons.

Christ Crossman, a United Methodist Church, also canceled in-person gatherings, but people can take part in Zoom sessions, which is a type of conference call software. The events will take place on Sundays at 10 a.m. and people can get online by entering the church’s phone number (7035324026) when prompted to enter the “Meeting ID.”

Photo via Aaron Burden/Unsplash

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After several months of delays, plans to redevelop the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church property in the Falls Church area may go before Fairfax County planners in the spring.

Developer Toll Mid-Atlantic LP Company is seeking permission to redevelop 10 acres of the property at the intersection of Leesburg Pike and Idylwood Road into a residential neighborhood.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission’s public hearing for the project has been postponed several times this year since the application was first submitted in April.

“The St. Paul’s Lutheran Church SPA public hearing and concurrent Toll Brothers rezoning public hearing were moved since the applicant has yet to resubmit plans to the County for review,” Senior Planner Kelly Posusney told Tysons Reporter.

The Planning Commission is now scheduled to consider the application in the spring — if the plans are resubmitted to the county, Planning Commission staff told Tysons Reporter.

Posusney said that the resubmitted plans are now tentatively expected in January.

“If they fail to resubmit in January, the public hearings would most likely need to be moved again,” Posusney said. “The project has only completed our pre-staffing review, which is the initial review by staff. They never submitted plans for a staffing review, and that is why they need to resubmit.”

Image via Google Maps

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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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The Pennywise Thrift Shop found a new home in Vienna — just around the corner from its previous location.

The shop originally resided nearf the corner of Church and Mill streets, but was forced to move after a fire ravaged the 100-year old building in January. The new location (214 Dominion Road NE) has been open for roughly a month and offers slightly more retail space, Mary Coulombe, a shop spokesperson said.

The shop sells a variety of everyday items including clothes, kitchen items, books, shoes, glassware and small furniture.

The shop is run by the Church of the Holy Comforter, and all of the proceeds go to charities, Coulombe said, adding, “We are here as a mission.”

This year marks the thrift shop’s 57th anniversary, Coulombe said. Another staff member told Tysons Reporter that the new location will be the thrift shop’s home for at least the next couple of years.

The shop plans to celebrate its new spot with a grand re-opening ceremony on Saturday (Nov. 23) from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Pennywise Thrift Shop is open from Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The shop is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

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