ACLU of Virginia Sues Over Optional Mask Order — The civil rights organization filed a lawsuit against Gov. Glenn Youngkin yesterday (Tuesday), saying that his executive order making face masks optional in schools “shows a reckless disregard for students with disabilities.” The move comes as Fairfax County Public Schools prepares for a hearing in its joint lawsuit in Arlington County Circuit Court at 1 p.m. today (Wednesday). [WUSA9]
County Launches Black History Project — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and public school system are collaborating on a Black/African American Experience Project to capture, share, and preserve those aspects of the county’s history. The effort includes collecting oral histories, supporting student activities and research, and identifying options for new historical markers. [Fairfax County Government]
Tysons Software Company Expands — “Tysons’ Appian Corp. has been on a fierce hiring spree, and now it’s adding more space to accommodate those new employees. The low-code software company, which has seen demand for its products grow during the pandemic, is taking on two additional floors at its headquarters in the former Gannett building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]
Funding Approved for Vienna Stream Restoration — “The second phase of the Bear Branch stream-restoration project in Vienna will move forward, following unanimous approval Jan. 25 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The project…is designed to reduce nutrients and bolster water quality in the Accotink Creek watershed.” [Sun Gazette]
Metro Offers Hiring Bonus to Bus Drivers — “Metro is offering up to a $2,500 pay incentive as part of a new campaign to hire more bus drivers. Metro, like transit agencies and other industries nationwide, is facing a staffing shortage due to the pandemic and is looking to hire nearly 70 bus drivers needed to meet the current bus service schedule.” [WMATA]
Local Elected Officials React to Mask Lawsuit — Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) and Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn (D-31st) and Marcus Simon (D-53rd) were among the Congressional and General Assembly representatives who expressed support for the Fairfax County School Board’s lawsuit seeking to stop Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order prohibiting mask requirements in schools. [Twitter]
Metro Seeks Public Comment on New Budget — “The public comment period for Metro’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget is officially open, and Metro’s Board of Directors wants the public’s input. Metro is encouraging the public to share feedback before the comment period ends at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, February 15.” [WMATA]
Redistricting Committee Meets to Talk Name Changes — “Lee, Mason, Mount Vernon, Springfield and Sully Board of Supervisors’ Districts could be getting new names. The Redistricting Advisory Committee is meeting virtually on Tuesday, Jan. 25, to begin discussing these possible name changes.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]
Students Sought for MCC Governing Board — “If you are a high school student who lives or attends school in the Langley or McLean high school boundary areas and you’d like to gain leadership skills and serve your community, consider running for a seat on the McLean Community Center’s Governing Board.” [Fairfax County Government/YouTube]
FCPS to Highlight Need for Safe Gun Storage — “Fairfax County Public Schools will notify parents and guardians about Virginia’s new secure firearm storage law, why secure storage is essential, and other ways to prevent gun violence or seek help for a child who could be a threat to themselves or others. The communication will be sent in January and then annually before the start of each school year.” [Karl Frisch]
Lawsuit Accuses FCPD Officers of Sexual Assault and Complicity in Sex Trafficking — “The woman, who is referred to only as Jane Doe because she is a trafficking victim, alleges that the Fairfax County, Virginia, police department, including its former chief Edwin Roessler, knew that some officers were possibly participating in and protecting the ring, but allowed the officers to retire with full pensions rather than prosecute them.” [Reuters]
County Awarded for Mosaic Autonomous Shuttle — “The @fairfaxcounty Relay Shuttle project was presented the Fairfax County TAC Transportation Achievement Award on December 7, 2021. The award is given to the person or group that has made the most significant contribution during the year. The Relay project team accepted the award” [Virginia DRPT/Twitter]
Meet the Tysons Corner Center Santa — Tennessee resident Mike Graham has been serving as Santa at Tysons Corner Center for the past 34 years. He was first sent to the mall by a photo company that was looking for more Santas, and that initial appearance got such “a tremendous response” that the management team asked if he’d like to work with them exclusively. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
McLean 7-Eleven and Merrifield BMW Center Burglarized — Two men entered the 7-Eleven at 8110 Old Dominion Drive around 1:36 a.m. on Dec. 11, implied they had a weapon, and took property. Another commercial burglary was reported on Dec. 12 at the BMW Collison Center at 2730 Dorr Drive after someone forced their way into the business and took property around 10:30 a.m. [FCPD]
Winners of Vienna Holiday Lights Contest Announced — For the 2021 Light Up Vienna contest, first place in the business category as voted on by the town business liaison committee was split between Vienna Rexall Drug Center and Judd Tile. Public voters awarded the People’s Choice prize to Vienna Pet Spaw on Church Street, and 121 Casmar Street SE (also known as Casmar Street Lights) came out on top in the residents category. [Town of Vienna/Facebook]
Joint Statement Released on Settlement of FCPS Disability Lawsuit — As first reported by The Washington Post in late November, Fairfax County Public Schools has settled a lawsuit over its use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities. The students and disability advocacy organizations that filed the case say they hope “this resolution will ensure that no other student will ever have to experience such trauma.” [FCPS]
Thousands Donate Child Face Masks to County — “Thank you to the community for coming together to donate child face masks! We have collected 12,065 masks! Thank you to @FairfaxCountyPD for hosting the donations bin and @VolunteerFFX for all your help putting together donations!” [Ready Fairfax/Twitter]
Metro to Testify on Safety Issues in Congress — Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th) says he will call on Metro’s top leaders to testify at a congressional hearing about the safety issues spotlighted by October’s train derailment, which have kept more than half the transit agency’s fleet out of commission for almost two months now. Connolly, who represents Fairfax County, calls Metro’s failure to report the issues when they were discovered years ago “a mortal sin.” [NBC4]
Fairfax Stands Alone With Court Records Paywall — “While all other Northern Virginia jurisdictions provide free, remote public access to basic docket information for individual criminal and civil cases in circuit court, Fairfax County’s CPAN system costs $150 per quarter, or $600 per year.” [WTOP]
I-495 Lane Closures in Tysons Continue — “Lane closures and ramp closures on I-495 North and I-66 East will be implemented during the overnight hours again this week, December 13-17, as bridge beam installation for a new flyover ramp from I-495 North to I-66 West continues at the I-66/I-495 Interchange as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project.” [VDOT]
Let speculation about the future of the Sheraton Tysons Hotel begin, as the conclusion of a tax dispute that ended up in court could allow the property to move forward.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed to accept a settlement agreement following a closed-door meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 7) to resolve lawsuits filed by the owner of the 449-room hotel (8661 Leesburg Pike), which permanently closed in April 2020.
Constructed in the mid-1980s, the Sheraton was one of a handful of union-run hotels in the Commonwealth, which contributed to higher operating costs, including for employee benefits.
Sheraton property owner JBG Smith, a Maryland-based real estate development and investment firm, filed lawsuits against Fairfax County in 2019 and 2020, contesting years-old property tax assessments.
The company’s lawyers argued that the county’s mass appraisal process failed to take the site’s higher operating costs into account. The suits had been headed for trials in 2022.
The county declined to comment on whether it has changed any appraisal policies or procedures due to the error. Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay’s office deferred questions to a county attorney, who cited a tax law, arguing settlement details couldn’t be released due to confidentiality.
The county also said the matter “remains in litigation.” The county suggested yesterday (Thursday) that the property’s assessments in 2016 and 2017 would be modified.
A county property database has stated the owner’s annual real estate taxes were around $252,092 for 2021.
Court records indicate that JBG Smith, identified as JBG Tysons Hotel LLC, sought compensation between $100,000 and $500,000 for each case.
Crescent Hotels & Resorts, which managed the Sheraton, issued a layoff notice for 171 workers, effective April 3, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the U.S. hospitality industry. Later that year, the hotel launched a liquidation sale of furniture and other items.
John Boardman, a representative for Unite Here Local 25, a union for D.C. area hospitality workers, said employees received closing pay as part of their now-expired collective bargaining agreement around six months ago.
“Our contract also provides that if all or part of the property is reopened as a hotel operation, then individuals who were formerly employed have a right to return to work in their previously held jobs,” Boardman said, adding that while the contract is no longer in force, the return-to-work provision runs in perpetuity.
The former Sheraton building occupies 5.8 acres of prime real estate off of Route 7 in Tysons West. JBG Smith has not publicly shared its future plans for the site, but rising property values could make it ripe for redevelopment.
Photo via Google Maps
Warmer Winter Expected — “According to the National Weather Service (NWS), we will see above normal temps this winter w/ an equal chance of above, near, or below normal precipitation. We urge you to be prepared for #WinterWeater to keep you and your family safe!” [Ready Fairfax/Twitter]
Pandemic Prompts Change at Fairfax County Meals on Wheels — “Roycraft said that he, along with about 480 volunteers, used to deliver meals to elderly people in Fairfax County about three times a week. When the pandemic struck, this changed…But then, even as pandemic restrictions eased up, the county decided not to return to a volunteer-based delivery system.” [Fairfax Times]
McLean Student Bakes Way onto Food Network — “What started as a pandemic hobby has evolved into a small business for Finley, who estimates she has completed 20 orders to date, including cakes, cupcakes and cookies. Her skill caught the attention of the Food Network, which offered her the chance to compete in its Kids Baking Championship, premiering Dec. 27.” [WTOP]
Why Johnny Depp Sued Amber Heard in Fairfax County — “Despite the subtle language, the tenuous connection to Virginia, and the previous loss in court on a stronger claim, Depp sued Heard in Fairfax County — and has won four motions to dismiss in three years. On October 13, 2021, a Fairfax County judge ruled that because the processors and ink cartridges that delivered the words to the public were located in Virginia, Depp could sue Heard for libel in the state.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Local Church Collects Food Donations With Drive-Thru Nativity — For a second year in a row, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in McLean will hold a drive-thru Nativity event next week that will double as a food drive to support the nonprofit SHARE of McLean. Last year’s event drew over 1,000 cars and brought in enough donations to last the food bank two months. [Patch]
FCPS Settles Lawsuit Over Treatment of Students with Disabilities — “Three disability rights organizations…and the families of six students with disabilities had sued in 2019, alleging that students with disabilities in Fairfax schools experienced discrimination, trauma and physical harm through the excessive and improper use of seclusion and physical restraint. As part of the agreement reached Tuesday [Nov. 23], Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will ban all seclusion practices and curtail its use of physical restraint by the next academic year.” [The Washington Post]
Black Friday Shoppers Return to Tysons Corner — Traffic and sales at Tysons Corner Center were roughly on par with 2019 for Black Friday, according to a senior marketing manager for the mall. She said the return of pre-pandemic crowds wasn’t surprising, since the shopping center has seen a steady increase in traffic over the past three weeks. [WTOP]
Fire and Rescue Department Offers Hanukkah Safety Tips — “Hanukkah starts this evening [Sunday] and runs through December 6. It is a joyous time, so please ensure you and your loved ones stay safe as the holiday season is the peak time of year for home candle fires. Get in S.T.E.P. (Safety Takes Every Person) With FCFRD This Holiday Season and candle with care!” [FCFRD]
McLean Rotary Club Recognizes Front-Line Service Workers — “Under the leadership of president John McEvilly, the Rotary Club of McLean has initiated a new program — ‘Dignity of Work’ Award. According to former McLean Rotary President Lynn Heinrichs, who chairs the initiative, the award ‘is designed to recognize and promote the great people working in the McLean community.'” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Retirement Puts Vienna Tree Assessments on Hold — “Due to staffing shortages stemming from a retirement, the Town is temporarily unable to conduct tree assessments on private property. Tree assessments on private property are expected to resume in March 2022 after appropriate staffing levels have been restored.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Lorton Pharmacy Gave Adult-Sized COVID-19 Vaccine Dose to Kids — The Fairfax County Health Department advises families whose children got the vaccine between Nov. 2 and 10 from the KC Pharmacy in Lorton to monitor for side effects and talk to a health care provider. The pharmacy is under investigation by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy and has been removed from the state and federal vaccination programs. [FCHD]
Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against FCPS Proceeds — A federal appeals court ruled in favor of a girl who filed a Title IX lawsuit against Fairfax County Public Schools over its handling of sexual harassment and rape allegations from when she was a student at Rachel Carson Middle School from October 2011 until February 2012. The lawsuit is one of two facing FCPS, which also has three outstanding federal investigations. [Inside NoVA]
NoVA Public Health Officials Urge Caution During Holidays — “Although Northern Virginia localities have some of the highest vaccination rates in the state, there is still substantial transmission of COVID-19 in the community, and we must remain vigilant to protect those who are not eligible for vaccination and those at higher risk for serious illness.” [VDH]
Public Meeting on McLean Sidewalk Project Tonight — “The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will hold a virtual community meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, at 7 p.m., to present updates on the Chesterbrook Road Walkway Project from Maddux Lane to North 41st Street. The project is intended to provide a continuous pedestrian facility along the south side of the roadway from Maddux Lane to 41st Street.” [FCDOT]
Local Restaurants Generate Heat — “Tysons restaurants, Wren and Leila were recently featured in ‘The 16 Hottest New Restaurants Around D.C.,’ according to @Eater_DC. Both restaurants offer a variety of eclectic cuisine and specialty cocktails, perfect for any occasion.” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]
Fairfax County Settles Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit — Fairfax County will pay $390,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by former D.C. firefighter Elon Wilson, who spent almost two years in prison after a police officer arrested him during a traffic stop in 2018, his lawyers said Monday (Oct. 11). A Circuit Court judge vacated Wilson’s conviction in April after police investigators uncovered then-Officer Jonathan A. Freitag’s history of pretextual traffic stops. [The Washington Post]
Pedestrian Hospitalized After Falls Church Crash — “Officers on scene of crash involving pedestrian in 6100 blk of Leesburg Pike. Pedestrian, a man, was taken to hospital w/ life-threatening injuries. Driver remained at scene & taken to hospital for non-life threatening injuries.” [Fairfax County Police Department/Twitter]
Personalized Sample Ballots Coming for Voters — “The Fairfax County Office of Elections is mailing a sample ballot beginning this week to each of the county’s 727,000 registered voters. The mailer also offers other helpful information, including: ways to request a mailed ballot, early voting locations and hours for those who choose to vote before Election Day, [and] each voter’s assigned polling place on Election Day.” [Fairfax County Government]
Vienna Halloween Parade Returns in Full — The Vienna Halloween Parade will be back at 7 p.m. on Oct. 27 after being revamped as a drive-by event last year. The parade will return to its normal route along Maple Avenue and surrounding streets with “The Roaring Twenties” as its theme and Rustic Love Vienna and the Vienna VA Foodies as grand marshals. [Patch]
Vienna Contractor Settles Federal Lawsuit — IT company Sage Consulting Group, Inc. agreed to pay $4.8 million to settle allegations that the company and its owner Robert Pleghardt paid kickbacks to obtain subcontracts on set-aside contracts intended for small businesses owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged citizens. The settlement was announced yesterday (Tuesday) by Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia. [U.S. Attorney’s Office]
Capital One Plans Technologist Hiring Surge — “Amid cloud growth, banking giant Capital One plans to add 3,000 new roles for technologists by the end of 2021…Almost 75% of the hires will be in engineering roles, focusing on machine learning, software development and data work to advance the company’s natural language processing. Capital One said ‘hundreds’ of positions will be open at the company’s headquarters in McLean, Virginia, with others will be at locations across the country.” [Technical.ly]
Language Barriers Challenge Those Seeking Unemployment Benefits — “Many non-English speakers who lost their jobs during the pandemic had to rely on their children, family or friends to help them file unemployment insurance claims with the [Virginia Employment Commission]. The state agency does not provide claimants with any language translation options other than English and Spanish on its website.” [Inside NoVA]
Wolf Trap Adds More Summer Concerts — Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts has added five more shows to its 50th anniversary season lineup, including singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, “Star Wars: A New Hope” in concert with the National Symphony Orchestra, and a “Broadway in the Park” musical theater showcase featuring “Hamilton” star Renée Elise Goldsberry and Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell. [Patch]
Photo by John Lee/Twitter