Tysons Corner, VA

The McLean Citizens Association would like a little more space between neighbors on corner lots.

Currently, homes built on corner lots fall under a special set of zoning parameters. While the zoning law says the home must be at least 25 feet from the front and side streets, homes can be built with as little as 12 feet between them and rear lots — though some in the MCA said there are lots with as little as 8 feet of distance.

The result are tiny back yards on homes built at an angle and very little space between the corner lot and their catty-corner neighbor.

In a resolution approved on Wednesday (Sept. 4), MCA calls for Fairfax County to change the regulations so the setback is at least 18 feet if at an angle or 25 feet if set squarely.

“In recent years redevelopers have increasingly been targeting corner lots in order to take advantage of Fairfax County’s unusual corner-lot rear setback requirement… by placing large houses with square footprints squarely onto corner lots, with only a rump ‘rear yard,'” the resolution said.

The resolution noted that the unique corner lot calculations mean homes on street corners can be 25 percent larger than interior lots within the same subdivision. The MCA said recent corner lot permits with inadequate setbacks have resulted in increased stormwater runoff, reduced natural light and reduced privacy.

It’s a problem county staff are aware of and have been making efforts to amend. As part of Fairfax County’s efforts to modernize its zoning regulations — called zMOD — the county has a section specifically about corner lot setbacks:

Corner lots need to provide the minimum front setback adjacent to both streets, but in the referenced districts, the rear setback can take the dimension of the side setback. For instance… a corner lot is required to provide a 35-foot front setback from the lot lines which abut each street, and a 15-foot setback from the lot lines which abut both adjoining lots, in lieu of providing a 25-foot setback from the rear lot line.

The zMOD document notes that in older residential areas experiencing redevelopment, older homes are being replaced with new homes that maximize the lot’s space, “leaving limited usable rear yard area.”

“Staff has received comments about this setback provision, noting that the additional lot width required for a corner lot as compared to an interior lot more than off-sets the additional front setback requirement,” staff said in the document. “The attached draft now requires that a 25-foot rear setback be provided.”

The MCA resolution also includes information about technical changes requested, like adjusting where the “front lot line” is located for the corner lots. But the resolution also encouraged Fairfax County to act more swiftly on the issue than the framework of the zMOD ordinance would indicate.

“County staff are aiming for public hearings in spring or summer of 2020 on the new Zoning Ordinance arising from zMOD, and effectiveness of the new ordinance is expected to follow enactment by an interval of some months,” the resolution said. “The MCA urges Fairfax County to enact and implement such reform by the end of the first quarter of 2020.”

Image via McLean Citizens Association

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After flooding in early July washed two dumpsters into Pimmit Run, the stream bed is now dumpster-free.

On Wednesday, Tysons Reporter found the two dumpsters — washed up on the bed of Pimmit Run near Old Chesterbrook Road.

Fairfax County officials said the bins that washed up on the stream bed roughly eight weeks ago and belonged to American Disposal Services and Republic Services.

The county alerted the companies about the dumpsters in July, Judy Pedersen, a spokesperson of the Fairfax County Park Authority, told Tysons Reporter.

“Over the past few weeks we have contacted these two companies six times in an effort to get them removed,” Pedersen said.

One Nextdoor user said they reached out weeks ago to Fairfax County Park Authority, DPWES, law enforcement and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust about the dumpsters.

“Admittedly, removing the dumpsters is going to be difficult,” the user wrote. “There’s no easy access for heavy equipment to reach them.”

Both bins were removed today (Sept. 5), according to Nathan Geldner, a spokesperson for Republic Services.

Geldner did not answer Tysons Reporter question about why it took so long to respond to the requests from governmental officials.

American Disposal Services promised to have both bins removed after the county’s Department of Code Compliance pressured the garbage companies to make changes, Matthew Kaiser, the spokesperson for the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES), told Tysons Reporter.

Kaiser said a contractor removed the bins. Tysons Reporter has not been able to confirm which company hired the contractor.

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Fairfax County wants community input as it looks ahead to the next 20 years.

To solicit ideas and feedback, the county is hosting six community meetings around the county this month. The county will use the input to identify priority areas and success metrics for the county-wide strategic plan.

The Tysons and Falls Church area meeting will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Marshall High School (7731 Leesburg Pike) on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

The county is especially interested in these nine areas:

  • cultural and recreational opportunities
  • economic opportunity
  • education and lifelong learning
  • effective and efficient government
  • health and environment
  • housing and neighborhood livability
  • mobility and transportation
  • safety and security
  • self-sufficiency for people with vulnerabilities

“Whether you are new to Fairfax County, have lived here all your life or are somewhere in between, we’re interested in your vision for the future of the county and your community,” according to the county website.

People interested in attending who need childcare, transportation assistance, interpretation services or ADA accommodations can reach Angela Jones at 703-324-5302, TTY 711, or [email protected]

Photo via Facebook

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and American Disposal Services have reached a settlement after reports of missed trash pick-ups prompted an investigation.

Back in May, John Cook and Kathy Smith, the district supervisors for Braddock and Sully, said that the solid waste and recycling collection company’s failure to make “many trash pick-ups in the county” was causing health, safety and community enjoyment issues.

The county board then started an investigation to prepare to take legal action.

Ultimately, the county decided not to sue, Matthew Kaiser, the spokesperson for the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES), told Tysons Reporter.

American Disposal Services signed a consent agreement with the county on June 10 to bring the company into compliance with the county’s law saying that waste and recycling need to get picked up at least once a week, Kaiser said.

American Disposal also paid a $2,500 civil penalty in a settlement regarding code violations, Kaiser said.

Kaiser said that for compliance verification, American Disposal Services must:

  • provide daily reports to compliance staff for review
  • review and follows up on incoming complaints from residents on a daily basis
  • have ongoing weekly meetings to discuss compliance with the consent agreement

Based in Manassas, American Disposal Services is the primary private trash service company for county residents.

Kevin Edwards, the general manager of American Disposal Services, previously told Tysons Reporter was “aggressively hiring and recruiting” to address a truck driver shortage, which Edwards said was the reason behind the delays.

Staff from DPWES, Consumer Affairs and the Health Department had been working with American Disposal Services earlier.

Now, Solid Waste Enforcement and Compliance staff will continue to work with American Disposal Services to “maintain compliance with the code and deliver adequate service to the residents of Fairfax County,” Kaiser said.

“The situation with American Disposal Services has improved with the number of daily complaints significantly decreasing,” Kaiser said.

Image via Facebook

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Tysons may soon get a rebranding to encourage economic growth.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering investing up to $1 million dollars in the Tysons Partnership, which plans to rebrand the area while establishing a “sustainable business and funding model” for the nonprofit association.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth introduced the proposal, which also is backed by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, to the board on Tuesday, July 30.

“The Tysons Partnership is implementing a multi-year, place branding strategy and campaign for Tysons. They have engaged with a design firm to develop a place branding strategy to elevate Tysons and create a shared message for the diverse range of stakeholders,” according to the proposal.

Tysons Partnership hopes to have the strategy development done by December, so that it executed next year, according to the proposal.

The board tasked County Executive Bryan Hill to examine the potential use of these funds between $500,000-$1 million before it decides if the investment would be worthwhile.

Any funds granted by the board would also be matched by private donors, according to the proposal.

Image via Fairfax County

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Damage from flash flooding that hit Fairfax County earlier this month will require millions of dollars for necessary repairs.

Seamus Mooney, the director of the Office of Emergency Management, gave the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today (Tuesday) an update on the damage assessment nearly a month after the region experienced about one month’s worth of rain during a couple of hours on the morning of July 8.

Fairfax County retroactively declared a local emergency about a week later to seek federal disaster aid. (The board voted to terminate the local emergency today.)

After giving an overview of the “catastrophic rain event,” Mooney broke down the estimates for how much repairing the damage will cost.

Kirby Road Facing $4 Million Repairs 

Mooney said that some people were landlocked when severe weather damage closed the 1300 block of Kirby Road. Another McLean road — Swinks Mill Road — suffered extreme damage.

The Virginia Department of Transportation told Tysons Reporter that both roads are facing months of repair work.

Mooney said that the Virginia Department of Transportation recorded about $4 million of the $6 million recorded road damage was just at Kirby Road. Because the roads are funded through state highway funds, Mooney said that they are not eligible for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust called for proactive measures to ensure that the road improvements speed up.

“As a county, we need to put pressure on VDOT,” Foust said. “They’re telling us it’s going to be months [for Kirby Road]. That’s not acceptable.”

Storm’s Impact on Residents and Businesses 

As for residents and businesses, Mooney said that the 277 entries in the county’s Disaster Damage Database as of yesterday (Monday) total about $6.8 million for a “significant amount of damage.”

Money said that state and federal programs can provide individual assistance — Fairfax County is currently waiting to hear back about

Mooney said Fairfax County has been working with surrounding jurisdictions including Arlington on damage assessments to determine eligibility for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which gives loans to disaster victims.

Since Arlington exceeded the 25 damaged properties requirement, Mooney said that Fairfax County should expect to hear from SBA by this week or next week. “[It’s] contiguous — if one gets it, we all get it,” Mooney said.

Fairfax County has chosen the Tysons Pimmit Regional Library as the location for a Disaster Loan Outreach Center and has the space reserved starting next week.

“As soon as we get the notice we can work with OPA and get it open for residents,” Mooney said, adding that residents will have up to six months to fill out the applications if they want a loan.

“Could Have Done More”

While the Board of Supervisors praised the quick response by emergency personnel, several board members — especially Foust — voiced frustration about preventing future damage of this magnitude.

Foust said that the county “could have done more” to prepare, including:

  • investing in infrastructure that protects people’s homes
  • pressuring VDOT to prioritize local road improvements
  • having packages prepared in advance for residents with information on emergency and disaster next steps
  • strengthening “grossly inadequate” stormwater management requirements
  • focusing on tree preservation

“It’s been difficult on a lot of people, and we have to step up,” Foust said.

The board also voted today to designate September of Emergency Preparedness Awareness Month.

“It doesn’t take much for someone to have a very bad day,” Mooney said, adding that the designation might “make sure people become more resilient to these types of events.”

Additionally, Mooney said that the county is utilizing social media, Fairfax Alerts and other avenues to share information with residents, adding that the county also added people who entered their information into the Disaster Damage Database to Fairfax Alerts.

“Of note, between July 8-12, we sent out 1o2 storm-related tweets and Facebook posts,” he said. “We’ve been using that to make sure anyone who has submitted information, that we’ve been sending them updates as it’s available as well,” he said.

First photo via @SteveML9022/Twitter

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave The Mile, a proposed mixed-use development in Tysons, their stamp of approval at their meeting Tuesday (July 16).

The massive development aims to transform 38 acres of offfices in the North Central neighborhood into 10 mixed-use buildings with residential, retail, office, hotel and storage locations. The project is unique with its six planned parks spanning more than 10 acres.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said that the development’s largest park — a roughly 5-acre park with a large open lawn area, a performance stage, gaming areas, picnic areas, a children’s play area and trails —  will fulfill the county’s plan to have a central park in Tysons.

More from the county about the project:

Five buildings are residential along with supporting retail, and another four buildings include options for either residential, office or hotel uses, plus retail. The 10th building is a 5,000-square-foot retail kiosk planned for The Mile’s Signature Park. The approved plans also allow for an option to include 300,000 square feet in mini-warehouse or storage in one of the residential buildings.

The board also approved final development plans for The Mile’s first building — a seven-story apartment building with ground-floor retail on Westbranch Drive near the intersection with Westpark Drive.

Smyth thanked the developers for “coming up with something I think will be a lasting achievement in Tysons.”

Image via Fairfax County Planning Commission

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The Tysons area might see fewer panhandlers in the future now that Fairfax County is looking to discourage them on medians and intersections.

On Tuesday (July 16), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a board matter that would prohibit “curb to curb” interaction between drivers and pedestrians.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity and Braddock District Supervisor John Cook, who jointly brought forward the board matter, argued that panhandling increased in the last two years county-wide mostly from rings attracted to Fairfax County’s wealthy residents.

“[Panhandling] has become massively greater,” Cook told the board, adding that it is dangerous for both the panhandlers and drivers. “It is a public safety issue.”

Several of fellow supervisors agreed, including Chairman Sharon Bulova.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth pointed to examples in Tysons for how panhandling is becoming more frequent along more roads in the county.

“I see it daily at Nutley [Street] and Lee Hwy,” Smith said, adding that panhandlers along major roads undergoing work could pose safety hazards to drivers.

“And this is just another complication to have panhandlers there when people are trying to figure out [how to drive around construction on] Route 7 in Tysons,” she said. “People have complained about the fact that it isn’t safe for [panhandlers] to be out there.”

More from the board matter:

The board has sought to help those panhandlers in need by committing a significant portion of the county budget to providing services for those residents who are down on their luck. The board has encouraged residents to direct panhandlers to these county resources including shelters, food banks, health and job matching services, instead of giving small amounts of money. It is vitally important that we connect those in need with the right services and disincentivize panhandling.

Although homelessness in the county is shrinking, panhandling by roadways is becoming more and more prevalent. In 2017 alone, the Fairfax County Police department received over 2,100 calls related to panhandling and many more have been received by district offices. These calls detailed traffic issues, concerns about panhandler safety, and fears about a suspicious person at an intersection. As a county we devote significant resources to helping our residents in need and to keeping all our residents safe.

This isn’t the first time concerns about panhandling have popped up in Fairfax County. Commenters on a Reddit thread last year bemoaned a seemingly increasing number of panhandlers in Tysons.

Fairfax County Police Department has encouraged people to not give panhandlers money. “While we may get a good feeling by providing money to a panhandler, the reality is that panhandlers who are truly in need require more resources than small amounts of money,” according to the county’s website.

Cook and Herrity also pointed to other nearby jurisdictions, including the City of Winchester and Clarke and Frederick counties, for their “curb to curb” rules that restrict people on medians and intersections interacting with drivers.

The Board of Supervisors approved the board matter, which directs the county staff to create a proposed ordinance that would prohibit “any engagement of pedestrians with cars while on medians or intersections.” It notes that the ordinance would not restrict people’s free speech rights on sidewalks or affect kids’ advertising car washes.

The board will consider the proposal at the Public Safety Committee meeting on Sept. 17.

File photo

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(Updated at 11:45 a.m. 7/19/19) Fairfax County declared a local emergency as it seeks federal disaster aid to help with flash flooding damage.

In a board matter approved at the Board of Supervisors meeting today (Tuesday), Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said, “The McLean-Falls Church area was particularly hard hit. Today, more than a week later, there are roads in the county that remain closed with no estimated date for reopening.”

The flooding caused extensive disruption to the area from water rescues to road closures last week.

The region experienced about one month’s worth of rain, making it the heaviest one-hour total rainfall since at least 1936, according to the Washington Post. The City of Falls Church and Arlington County both declared a state of emergency just days after the storm.

More from a copy of the board matter that Tysons Reporter received:

Fortunately, despite the intensity of the storm, no one was severely injured or worse. The Office of Emergency Management and the county’s public safety and public works staffs were great! I commend them for reacting promptly and very professionally to emergencies that occurred throughout the county.

Since the storm, my office has received dozens of emails and phone calls from residents who experienced devastating damage to their property. Many residents had several feet of water and mud in their basements. Others experienced even worse damage. Some residents have estimated the cost to repair the damage will be as high as six figures.

The Office of Emergency Management has asked residents and businesses to file damage reports so that the county can evaluate whether we will pursue federal disaster aid… [Residents] are anxiously inquiring whether Fairfax County will do the same. They also need to know what federal aid might be available to them if a federal disaster is declared.

Residents are also learning that their property insurance may not cover their damages. Some residents believe that a lack of adequate infrastructure to convey some or all the stormwater contributed to the damage they suffered. Some have inquired about filing potential claims against the county and/or the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Now, County Executive Brian Hill will need to let the board know about the status and timing for determining whether or not the county will receive federal disaster aid after the county retroactively declared a local emergency.

“Many asked why we didn’t do a declaration the day after the storm like Arlington,” Hill said.

Hill said that he had several conversations with Foust about the process and that meetings are scheduled with the county’s stormwater management crew. “We will probably need to change how we do our engineering going forward,” Hill said.

The county’s Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney is set to update the county in the last week of July, Hill said.

Additionally, Foust’s board matter directed the county to create an informational flyer or brochure about how residents can submit damage claims to the county and the Virginia Department of Transportation, along with a list of county services and resources that could assist residents experiencing storm damage.

Chairman Sharon Bulova said that it’s also important to push information on social media on what people should report and why.

“We will likely have additional storm and water events in the future,” Bulova said, adding, “We’ve gotten really good at snow and not so much with water.”

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A massive development proposed for Tysons and the Defense Health Agency’s expansion plans in Falls Church are set to go before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors later today (Tuesday).

According to the agenda, the board will hold public hearings on the two proposals. If approved, both of the projects would come to areas of the county facing urbanization.

Proposed for Tysons’ North Central neighborhood, The Mile would transform 38 acres of office park into 10 mixed-use buildings with residential, retail, office, hotel and storage locations.

Unlike some developments recently proposed and built in Tysons, The Mile aims to add six new parks totaling more than 10 acres.

Signature Park, the largest park in the development, would encompass an entire block in the development — about 5 acres — and include retail, a performance stage, areas for games, trails and more. A dog park, linear park, recreation park and two urban parks are also planned for the development.

Over by Pine Spring Elementary School, the Defense Health Agency wants to add an L-shaped office building to its Falls Church headquarters.

The government agency oversees health care to active duty and retired U.S. military personnel and their families.

In addition to the roughly 195,000-square-foot building, the plans also include an 815-space parking garage. The new space would allow for about 600 more employees, according to county documents.

Images via Fairfax County

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