Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:
The Books Are Back — “The Mary Riley Styles Public Library’s temporary location in Falls Church [opened] this Monday, March 9 at 9:30 a.m. The trailers outside of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, 160 S. Oak St. will be home to the library while its permanent location on N. Virginia Ave. undergoes an expansion and renovation.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Firefighters Honor Owner of Little City’s Oldest Business — “On Friday, we presented Brown’s Hardware in Falls Church with a fire helmet honoring Mr. Hugh Brown… Mr. Brown’s father, Horace E. Brown, was one of the original trustees of the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department in 1925, and we can think of no better place to say ‘thank you’ than at Brown’s Hardware Store, our city’s oldest business at 127 years old, founded by Hugh’s grandfather in 1883.” [Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department/Facebook]
McLean Group Reviews Tysons Redevelopment Plan — “The McLean Citizens Association board of directors got down to business quickly March 4, approving resolutions that touched on a redevelopment proposal and a proposed county-government plan amendment… The MCA board approved a resolution supporting plans by the Tamares Group to convert the former Gannett/USA Today headquarters building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive in Tysons into a commercial building with restaurants, retail, conference spaces and a fitness center.” [Inside NoVa]
New Coronavirus Cases in NoVa — “The Virginia Department of Health announced Monday night that two Virginia residents, the wife of the patient in Fairfax City and an unrelated patient in Spotsylvania County, have tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus COVID-19.” [Inside NoVa]
Small Fire at Tysons High-Rise — Sprinklers extinguished a “small fire” on the 11th floor of a high-rise in Tysons in the 1500 block of Anderson Road on Friday, March 6. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter]
Oh deer! Earlier today Station 13, Dunn Loring, B-Shift worked with @FairfaxCountyPD Animal Control to free this little doe who got caught between fences. Once removed the uninjured doe was free to happily scamper away. #FCFRD #FairfaxCounty pic.twitter.com/S3sDDxBrtl
— Fairfax Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) March 7, 2020
The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) is supporting a recent request for federal funding for work on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
MCA sent a letter on Feb. 17 to the Department of Transportation, urging support for the National Park Service’s grant applications.
The funding from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program would help rehabilitate 8 miles of the parkway from Spout Run Parkway to I-495.
NPS is looking to:
- repave the road
- repair stormwater management systems and walls
- rehabilitate two historic, scenic overlooks
- replace guardrails
- construct new curbs
- build emergency turnarounds along the north end
“The condition of this stretch of the GW Parkway has been deteriorating, and urgent action is needed to perform reconstruction of this portion of the road system,” the letter notes.
More than 33 million vehicles per year travel on the GW Parkway, according to Fairfax County. Last year, emergency work had to fix the cause of a sizable sinkhole on the GW Parkway, disrupting traffic for months in the area.
Noting that the grant program is “highly competitive,” the letter goes on to say that the work will also improve the “historical and cultural characteristics that make the Parkway one of the most scenic roadways in the country.”
Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors is also backing the federal funding ask.
Image via Google Maps
A Tysons citizen group recently sent a list of concerns to Fairfax County officials.
The Greater Tysons Citizens Association was founded in 2008 and is made up of residents and organizations in the Tysons area, including the Vienna Town Council and McLean Citizens Association.
In the letter dated Jan. 29, the association noted that with the upcoming 10-year-anniversary of the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, the group is worried about the impact of Tysons’ transformation on surrounding communities.
The letter was sent to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and School Board.
The letter goes on to outline four main concerns:
- traffic congestion
- reaching the goal of 20 urban athletic fields in Tysons
- infrastructure funding and Tysons school planning
- recent interpretations of the Tysons Comprehensive Plan
The association then provided requests for each item.
For traffic congestion, the association would like the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to look into short- and long-term solutions with community members.
As the athletic fields, the group would like the Board of Supervisors to revisit a follow-on motion decision that allowed a developer of The View to make a monetary contribution to be allocated to a community center.
“We urge investigating and pursuing other funding sources for construction of the Tysons community center,” the letter says. “We urge the PC and BOS to return to the long-accepted practice of requiring in-kind contributions rather than monetary contributions when the calculated field contribution exceeds 1/3 field.”
The association had several suggestions for the school issue:
- complete the revamp of the methodologies used in the capital improvement and proffer formula for better school population projections
- increase staffing in the facilities branch of FCPS
- identify and implement new options to acquire land and fund construction of new schools
Finally, the group requested that the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission have an in-depth review regarding interpretations of the comprehensive plan and any “potential ramifications.”
Tysons Reporter received a copy of the letter from the McLean Citizens Association (MCA).
Sally Horn, the chair of the Greater Tysons Citizens Association, is set to discuss the letter with the MCA tonight.
The MCA meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue).
It’s been two years since the fatal shooting of a Tysons man by U.S. Park Police, and McLean residents want answers.
The FBI has been investigating the Nov. 17, 2017 shooting where two U.S. Park Police fired into a Jeep Grand Cherokee and hit Bijan Ghaisar, a 25-year-old.
Tonight (Wednesday), the McLean Citizens Association is set to discuss a draft of a resolution that would urge the Park Police and FBI “to disclose urgently the findings from their investigation, in the interest of transparency and accountability to our community.”
MCA made a similar effort last year to obtain new information, according to the draft resolution.
“The Park Service and FBI have disclosed little information about the shooting despite numerous requests from Mr. Ghaisar’s family, elected representatives in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, state and local government representatives, the Washington Post, and our community,” the resolution says.
The MCA meeting is set to take place at 7:30 p.m. at the McLean Community Center.
As conditions worsen on GW Parkway, some McLean residents question when they will see repairs.
Charles Cuvelier, the new GW Parkway superintendent, told attendees at the McLean Citizens Association (MCA) meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 10) that the parkway will need work to maintain structural integrity.
“After 60 years, the brick and mortar has become porous,” he said.
A community member at the meeting said that she finds the road frightening to drive on. In terms of repairs to potentially dangerous areas, the superintendent said that data about traffic and other roadway incidents are used to identify which areas of the roadway need immediate attention.
He noted that one of the worst areas in terms of damage is Route 123 near Chain Bridge.
In March, a giant sinkhole opened in the region, causing havoc and closures for those who frequent the roadway. To repair much of the road, crews will need to solidify the ground up to 50 feet under, Cuvelier said.
The next steps are unclear since community leaders rely on grants from the federal government for repairs, Cuvelier said. They will submit the next round of grants in 2020, and if approved, construction will likely begin in 2022 to be completed in 2023, he added.
Until now, the National Park Service and Virginia Department of Transportation have been relying on grants of $30 million or less for small maintenance projects, Cuvelier said. He referred to the funding allowance between federal and state funds as a “regional formula.”
Cuvelier said the National Park Service is working with VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration to find solutions for repairs. When a community member asked if they could see the correspondence, he replied that they have nothing to hide and community members are free to file a Freedom of Information Act request.
Louise Epstein sits on the MCA board as the chair for the budget and taxation committee. She is also the president of her neighborhood homeowners association, which backs up to GW Parkway.
“The problem is that we are relying, unfortunately, on hope. I’m sort of a cynic and I don’t like to rely on hope,” Epstein said, “Things are falling apart, and we need to figure out what’s going on.”
She added that she doesn’t think federal grant money will be enough to fix the problem, saying that the community needs to begin brainstorming new ways to come up with funding to fix the highway.
“We have to look for other ways to get that money sooner,” Epstein said.
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
Around half the attendees at last night’s McLean Citizens Association’s Planning and Zoning Committee meeting left abruptly after discovering that the contentious Newport Academy wouldn’t be discussed at the meeting.
Kim Tomsen, a McLean community resident since 1975, spoke up early in the meeting and began asking the committee about the future of Newport Academy, which would bring a for-profit mental health care facility into a McLean neighborhood.
Her concerns were quickly shut down by Rob Jackson, the committee’s chair, who said that Newport Facility was not up for discussion or on the agenda, since there was nothing “pending” on the matter.
Now, the fate of the Newport Academy is in the hands of the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals, which are not likely to make a decision until September when the board is back in session.
The committee proceeded to discuss various items on their agenda including home businesses and modernization of zoning ordinances before community members decided to voice their concerns. Tomsen was among the first of more than a dozen people to leave the room after realizing that none of her concerns would be addressed.
Tomsen and a handful of people that Tysons Reporter spoke to said they saw online that the committee would discuss Newport Academy.
The brief committee agenda posted online before the event outlined three topics for discussion that evening — none of them relating to the controversial Newport Academy or commercial housing in residential areas.
“Then it’s a waste of our time to attend,” Tomsen said to the committee members and attendees.
“If someone put that online, they misled you,” Jackson replied back to her.
A Facebook user named Tom Shen, the founding member of the “Fairfax County Rehab Facility Discussion” group, posted an update in the group Monday (July 290 evening asking members to “help protest against commercial housing in residence zones” by showing up to the Tuesday, July 30, meeting.
It is unclear if this was the only message online requesting the presence of people opposed to commercial housing in residential areas. Tysons Reporter reached out to Shen to ask about the post, but has not heard back.
The vote is the latest push in a fight led by neighbors against plans to open a series of new group homes in a residential neighborhood by McLean High School.
MCA voted last night (June 5) to oppose a special exception that would allow the Newport Academy, a for-profit therapy and rehabilitation program for teens, to open a facility at Davidson Road.
The group also voted to support Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson’s determination that the facility would not be permitted as a by-right use and would require approval from the Board of Supervisors.
MCA members shared a common sentiment at last night’s meeting: this is not the last time they expect to hear about Newport Academy.
“The MCA will revisit this case if new facts become available or circumstances of the proposed use change, including but not limited to additional facts becoming available about the proposed use at Kurtz Road,” the draft resolution said.
Rob Jackson, the chair of MCA’s Planning and Zoning Committee, said that the vote on the resolution is possibly the beginning, rather than the end, of MCA’s involvement in the Newport controversy.
“We’re just taking one bite of the apple,” Jackson said. “I think we need to wait to see where the next shoe drops.”
The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) could finally be weighing in tomorrow night regarding the group homes controversy, but the fight may already be over.
A draft resolution planned to be discussed at MCA’s Wednesday (June 5) meeting would oppose a special exception that would allow the Newport Academy, a for-profit therapy and rehabilitation program for teens, to open a facility at 1620, 1622 and 1624 Davidson Road, located in a residential neighborhood near McLean High School.
But the proposed resolution comes late in the game — local residents started protesting the issue more than two months ago.
A grassroots group opposing a rehabilitation facility recently claimed victory, although the sourcing for that win remains unclear.
An administrator on the Davidson and Kurtz Road Rehab Facility Facebook page — a nearly 500 member group that had been a discussion board for residents opposed to the development — said last Tuesday (May 28) he received the following statement from the Newport Academy:
Newport Academy is the nation’s leading provider of mental health residential and outpatient treatment for teens and young adults. As such, we have received direct requests from parents, clinicians, insurance companies and other referral sources to bring our well-recognized adolescent mental health treatment program to the Northern Virginia market. To that end, we acquired multiple properties to extend our reach more formally into the McLean community. Although these group homes are fully legal and protected under the Fair Housing Act, as well as other applicable federal, Virginia and Fairfax County laws, Newport Academy has listened to the community’s feedback and has opted to modify its expansion plans by ceasing planned openings on Davidson Road.
Our commitment to service the Northern Virginia market remains intact. We look forward to opening these much-needed services in McLean in the near future and hope to keep the lines of communication open with the community and its elected officials as we seek to contribute in a positive way towards addressing the mental health crisis in the greater DC area.
After repeated calls to the main company line and to the group’s community liaison in McLean over a week, Tysons Reporter was unable to confirm the source of the statement.
Staff at Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust’s office said they received an identical statement, but could not get confirmation from the Newport Academy that they were the source.
Two weeks ago, Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson wrote in a letter that the facility would not be permitted as a by-right use and would require approval from the Board of Supervisors. Foust had previously said he would oppose the development if it was brought to the Board of Supervisors for a vote.
The Facebook group shut down one day after the statement allegedly from the Newport Academy was posted, though some members have already started another splinter group to continue discussing the facility and other community concerns.
What will happen with the other proposed group homes not addressed in Johnson’s letter — like the one at 1318 Kurtz Road — remains unclear. The MCA resolution states that the group will revisit the facts regarding the Kurtz Road property.
The MCA meeting starts at at 7 p.m. in the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue).
The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) is mulling a call for more local police funding in the face of rapid development in Tysons.
MCA is set to discuss the funding resolution at the group’s Board of Directors meeting this Wednesday (April 3). The proposal calls for increased funding to Fairfax County Police Department’s McLean District starting with the next county budget.
The station’s McLean name can be a bit misleading — the McLean Police District covers not just McLean, but Tysons, Merrifield, and the Wolf Trap area near Vienna.
In the Fairfax County proposed budget’s five-year staffing plan, police staffing in Tysons is scheduled to gradually increase in the urban areas, but the implementation of this staffing increase is set to be deferred from the upcoming Fiscal Year 2020 budget.
The MCA resolution argues that the county needs to act more quickly:
County Police Department assesses that the McLean Station needed 6 more officers by 2019, 29 more officers by 2024 and a total of 65 additional officers by 2029 just to keep pace with the growth… given that it takes nine months for new officers to complete training, it is critical that the County take steps in the very near future to make a ‘down payment’ on implementation of the McLean Station staffing plan.
The resolution urges the Board of Supervisors to begin implementing the McLean Station staffing plan, including reassigning some newly-trained recruits to the McLean District’s “Tysons Urban Team,” starting later this year.