Tysons Corner, VA

Updated at 2:30 p.m. — The crash was cleared at 2:26 p.m., 511 Northern Virginia tweeted. 

Earlier: A crash on I-495 in McLean is causing travel delays for drivers headed toward the American Legion Bridge.

The crash is located just south of the Georgetown Pike. Around 2:05 p.m., a nearby traffic camera showed a car on a tow truck.

The north left lane is currently closed, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Drivers can expect delays, according to VDOT. As of 2:10 p.m., northbound traffic is slowly moving from Route 738 to the bridge.

Image via Google Maps

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Former Vice President Joe Biden has taken up a new residence in McLean.

Biden and his wife Jill are renting a Georgian-style, nearly 12,000-square-foot home in McLean, according to the Washington Post.

Built in 1989, the two-story house features five bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen and a gym. The monthly rent for the house is about $20,500, according to Zillow.

The house was previously owned by former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, according to county documents. Investor Mark Ein bought the house in 2016 for more than $4 million, according to the Washington Post.

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Fairfax County police are investigating a burglary at a McLean pool and tennis club over the weekend.

Police said that two men broke into the Hamlet Swim and Tennis Club (8209 Dunsinane Court) around 1 a.m. on Sunday (June 23) and stole a safe.

“Both suspects are described as white and in their late teens,” according to the police report.

Other crime incidents over the weekend in the Tysons area include a burglary in a home in the 7400 block of Old Maple Square around 4 a.m. on Friday (June 21).

In a separate incident on Friday, police said a man grabbed a woman from behind and stole her wallet around midnight in the 2600 block of Avenir Place by the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station.

“The man was described as Asian, in his 20s, 5’8″ and skinny,” according to the police report.

Image via Google Maps

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In its appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), group home operator Newport Academy said county staff overreached in its determination against a planned facility in McLean.

There have been more than a few stories recently on the Newport Academy’s planned opening of a for-profit therapy program in a McLean neighborhood, but as Fairfax County Board Chairman Sharon Bulova pointed out, it’s an issue that could set precedent in Fairfax.

In May, Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson issued a letter saying that because the Newport Academy’s three adjacent properties at  1620, 1622 and 1624 Davidson Road shared staff and resources, they were not individual properties eligible for by-right development but as a congregate living facility.

But in the appeal filed to the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Newport Academy laid out its argument that it had been the unfair victim of public backlash and a selective zoning ruling.

“The Newport Academy has been deprived of the right to operate each of the Davidson Properties… as a residential facility for up to eight individuals with mental illnesses as permitted and consistent with [Virginia code],” the company said in the appeal.

The appeal also lays out a timeline of events starting with Newport Academy purchasing one property at 1624 Davidson Road and another at 1318 Kurtz Road. In August, the company sent a series of questions to the Zoning Administrator regarding the prospect of opening multiple homes at Davidson Road, to which zoning answered that the group residential facility may occupy a dwelling unit without any proffered or development conditions and that there was no limitation on the number of group residential facilities.

After this, the appeal says Newport Academy invested millions of dollars on the purchases and renovations for the other properties. Now, the Newport Academy is saying Johnson’s ruling is inconsistent with Virginia law and other codes.

The appeal also alleges that the Newport Academy was the victim of a “sophisticated campaign to turn elected and appointed public officials against Newport Academy’s efforts to provide appropriate mental health services to adolescents in McLean” that included dozens of letters, emails and phone calls from local residents.

The Newport Academy reiterated that it is a group residential facility, defined in zoning ordinance as “a group home or other residential facility with one or more resident or nonresident staff persons, in which no more than eight mentally ill, intellectually disabled or developmentally disabled persons reside… or eight handicapped persons reside.”

Newport Academy alleges in the appeal that Johnson employed external factors without a statutory basis.

“The Zoning Administrator considered factors including common ownership, physical proximity, and programmatic elements of the proposed use at the Davidson Properties, factors not found in either the Virginia statue or the Zoning Ordinance,” the appeal said. “This ‘single facility’ analysis is foreclosed under [Virginia code], which unambiguously invests [the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services] (VDBHDS) as the sole authority to determine whether a home meets the requirements of being considered a ‘residential facility.'”

The Newport Academy argues repeatedly throughout the appeal that Johnson stepped on the VDBHDS’ role as the licensing agency.

The appeal also points to other group residential facilities in Fairfax, like the properties at 8333, 8337, and 8341 Lewinsville Road, which share a driveway and programming across the three facilities.

When, or if, the appeal will be heard by the BZA is still to be determined. The appeal was received on Friday, June 14, and must be scheduled within 90 days if accepted unless other arrangements are agreed to. Brian Worthy, a Fairfax County spokesman, said that county staff are currently going through the application before the county officially accepts it — a standard procedure for every application.

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“Battle of the Brews” Voting — Several Tysons-area breweries are featured in a beer bracket to determine the best brewery in Northern Virginia. Voting for the second round begins today. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Metro Study Looking for Infrastructure Solutions — “Metro is launching is a two-year study of the Blue, Orange and Silver Line in order to find long-term options to meet future regional needs.” [Reston Now]

Falls Church Student Shares Story — “Junior Niharika Singhvi has attended Falls Church City Public Schools since 2006. In April of 2018, her parents’ work visas expired, and she was forced to return to India. Four months later, she arrived back at George Mason High School.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Local Restaurants Make Washington Post List — Fahrenheit Asian and Amoo’s in McLean made the “The 25 best casual restaurants in the D.C. area” list. [Washington Post]

Tysons Bartender Included in Photography Pop-Up — Shakara Ellison, a bartender at the Founding Farmers in Tysons Corner, was included in a photography project highlighting bartenders of color. [Washington City Paper]

MicroStrategy Sold Domain Name for Millions — “Tysons-based MicroStrategy Inc. (NASDAQ: MSTR) has struck a deal to sell the “Voice.com” domain name to a blockchain-based company for $30 million in cash — and that could be just the beginning of a domain name selloff at the business intelligence software firm.” [Washington Business Journal]

Little Library Memorializes Falls Church Kids — Lemon Road Elementary School opened a little library to remember three Falls Church kids who were killed in a collision with an alleged drunk driver. [NBC4]

Photo via Caboose Brewing Company

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Updated 2:45 p.m. — Bulova’s Office noted that the interview does not represent an endorsement of the Kurtz Road property and that an official letter from the Zoning Administrator is still pending.

What started as residents upset over a series of group homes slated to move into a residential cul-de-sac has ballooned into a contentious issue that could set precedent in Fairfax County.

The Newport Academy, a for-profit therapy program for teens with mental health or addiction problems, wanted to turn its three purchased homes (1620, 1622, and 1624 Davidson Road) into a treatment facility. The plan hinged on the buildings being a by-right use, meaning no zoning approvals would be required, but a letter from Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson said this wasn’t the case.

The issue seemed settled. The Facebook group that had been the bastion of local resistance disbanded. But yesterday, Fairfax County staff confirmed that Newport Academy had filed an appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).

Outgoing Fairfax County Board Chairman Sharon Bulova weighed into the discussion to lay out next steps and take a stance on the issue.

TR: We received confirmation that Johnson’s decision is being appealed to the BZA – does it end there or could it move up to the Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors?

Bulova: If they deny it — if the BZA says “no, county staff is correct” — then they could file a special exception, which is what she said they needed to do. I’m assuming BZA will agree with county staff, but that doesn’t mean it’s over for them because they could file a special exception. Then it would go to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

They’re appealing this decision probably because they don’t want to move forward with a special exception faced with the kind of opposition they’re getting from the community.

TR: I saw in your letter to the residents that you have concerns about the facility. I was wondering if you could lay out what parts of this facility are concerning to you?

Bulova: I have been very supportive of group homes. I think they’re important, they provide an important service in our community, where people get the kind of support and help that they need, whatever the disability or need.

My concern about the Newport Academy is that this isn’t just a group home, this appears to be a little campus being developed out of a single family neighborhood. This is not a group home, but a [cluster] of individual homes being turned into a complex. That, to me, is a different situation than an individual group home where someone is able to live in a community and get the kind of supportive help they need.

The Kurtz Road [location] may be fine, but the Davidson ones are encircled and fenced in together. That’s something different

TR: In your experience as Chair, have there been other instances of projects or controversies like this?

Bulova: Group homes come up all the time, and back in the olden times group homes used to cause some concerns within a community. I remember back in the olden days, there were community days about the group home. Federal law stepped in and said “you can’t do that, group homes have to be treated like a family moving in.”

Generally, they are welcomed into the community. We’ve never dealt with something in my experience where someone seemed to have consolidated the properties and is trying to create a complex or campus of buildings. I’ve never seen this before. I see this not as being about a group home, but about something very different that changes, I think, the nature of the residential community.

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Updated 11 a.m. — The lavish McLean home where much of Alexi Balmasov’s art is currently on display is a pretty far cry from the Siberian village it came from. But there’s a fairytale-like quality to both the cottage home a stone’s throw from downtown McLean and the pastoral scenes of Russia inside.

Local art seller Ruzanna Danielian is inviting the public to her home at 1178 Randolph Road for a gallery exhibition on Sunday, June 23 from 1-7 p.m. Drinks will be provided and Danielian said the public is invited to meet interesting people and enjoy good artwork.

“This is a passion for me,” said Danielian. “I choose [to display] what I fall in love with.”

Danielian said she got into the gallery scene by choosing art to display between books at a store she managed in Moscow. While Danielian said at first it was just art to fill in the gaps, she said customers began to take more and more notice of the artwork and soon curating artwork became her career.

In McLean, Danielian said she got started hosting galleries when she put some on display for a friend, but now Danielian says she makes it her mission to find lesser known artists from places and cultures people in the area may not be familiar.

Inside her McLean home, the walls are covered in a carefully curated selection of art from Balmasov, from still-lifes around the kitchen to scenes from rural Siberia along the hallway. It’s a selection Danielian said took her a year of traveling and careful selection to put together.

Danielian said what drew her to Balmasov’s artwork was the unique approach to layers. Oils, acrylics and other paints are all mixed one on top of the other in a single eight or 10-hour session, giving the pieces a unique sense of depth. The styles range from more surreal and impressionistic to realism.

The prices range from $300 pieces sold without frames to larger ones just under $2,000.

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After a seeming defeat, the for-profit therapy program Newport Academy is fighting back against a zoning ruling that would keep it out of a McLean neighborhood.

The Newport Academy, a for-profit therapy program for teens with mental health or addiction problems, wanted to turn its three purchased homes (1620, 1622, and 1624 Davidson Road) into a treatment facility.

Newport Academy’s plans to open the McLean facility hinged on it being a by-right use, which wouldn’t require approval by the Board of Supervisors. Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust has previously said that he would oppose the development if it was brought to the county board for a vote.

In May, Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson determined that facility at Davidson Road would not be permitted as a by-right use and would require approval from the Board of Supervisors.

On Friday (June 14), Newport Academy filed an appeal to that ruling, staff at the Board of Zoning Appeals told Tysons Reporter. Zoning policy stipulates that the case will be scheduled within 90 days of the appeal being accepted unless staff and the appellant agree to something outside of that timeframe.

Brian Worthy, a Fairfax County spokesman, said that county staff are currently going through the application before the county officially accepts it — a standard procedure for every application.

While the zoning official’s ruling seemed to be a win for neighbors opposing the controversial treatment facility, Newport Academy’s push to appeal the zoning determination signals a possibly longer fight ahead for both sides.

Currently, Newport Academy has three jobs listed for McLean: a part-time fully licensed adolescent therapist, an LPN licensed practical nurse and a housekeeper.

Newport Academy also has plans for another project at 1318 Kurtz Road — a standalone property that was not considered in Johnson’s review. What will happen to the Kurtz property remains unclear.

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Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) have joined the call for answers in the shooting of a Tysons man by U.S. Park Police in 2017.

Bijan Ghaisar, a 25-year-old, was shot on Nov. 17, 2017 by two U.S. Park Police who fired into his Jeep Grand Cherokee. Three days after the shooting, the FBI took over the investigation, but there’s been virtually no update on the case.

“We write today to once again request an update on the status of the Bijan Ghaisar investigation,” Grassley and Warner said in a joint letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI has failed to provide information on this investigation, which has been ongoing since November 2017, to us, our colleagues, or the public. The FBI’s slow pace and lack of transparency are weakening the trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

The letter notes that family members and the press have had to rely on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for simple details like whether or not Ghaisar had a weapon when he was killed — which he did not, according to FOIA documents obtained by Ghaisar’s family.

The senators are not the first to call for answers. Last November, on the anniversary of the shooting, the McLean Citizens Association also issued a resolution demanding answers.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) also pushed for answers in 2018. The Grassley and Warner letter notes the FBI has previously responded that it would not discuss an active investigation.

Grassley and Warner also sent a joint letter to Dan Smith, the acting director of the National Park Service, with questions about the agency’s policies on the use of force.

The letters to the FBI and NPS demand an update from both organizations no later than July 2.

Image via Fairfax County Police Department

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

You may walk by Wine Outlet everyday when you’re on Church Street and assume the prices are outrageous, so you never go in. However, each store located at 114 Church Street NW Vienna1137 Walker Road Great Falls, and 6727 Curran Street McLean, you’ll find a small, friendly wine and beer store that features reasonably priced wines, cheese, breads, desserts and a small selection of meats paired nicely with a friendly staff!

I didn’t know they have a cheese counter or that on Friday’s and Saturday’s they have fresh baked goods delivered.

Here’s some more useful info:

  • Wines as cheap as $6 per bottle
  • Beer on tap
  • A large selection of USA Wines, along with imported bottles as well
  • Great selection of craft beers
  • Tastings: Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday 1-4 p.m.
  • Free delivery within 5 miles, or delivery outside of 5 miles for a small fee
  • They make gift baskets
  • They will price match!
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