Tysons, VA

Your days of parking your boat and camping trailer in the Idylwood neighborhood may be numbered.

If advertisement for a public hearing coming up on Tuesday, Oct. 6, is approved tomorrow, the Board of Supervisors will consider a potential ban on certain large vehicles in Idylwood — a residential neighborhood south of Tysons, sandwiched between I-495 and I-66.

According to County documents:

Fairfax County Code Section 82-5B-2 authorizes the Board to establish a CPD for the purpose of prohibiting or restricting the parking of the following vehicles on the streets in the CPD: watercraft; boat trailers; motor homes; camping trailers; and any other trailer or semi-trailer, regardless of whether such trailer or semi-trailer is attached to another vehicle; any vehicle with three or more axles; any vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of 12,000 or more pounds, except school buses used on a current and regular basis to transport students; and any vehicle of any size that is being used in the transportation of hazardous materials as defined in Virginia Code § 46.2-341.4.

The ordinance would not apply to vehicles parked to discharge passengers, utility generators mounted on trucks, or vehicles parked for less than 48 hours to load up for a trip.

The new parking district is the result of a petition from residents of Idylwood.

Top photo via dave_7/Flicker, map via Fairfax County

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Fairfax County and the Town of Vienna are moving forward with plans for public parking as part of the redevelopment of Patrick Henry Library.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the Town of Vienna on Tuesday for a design and construction agreement.

The redevelopment aims to replace the aging library, which is one of the oldest and busiest of the county’s libraries, according to county staff. Meanwhile, Vienna officials are looking to increase public parking along Maple Avenue.

The redevelopment of the library, which is operated by the county and located in the town, will include a public parking structure. Three ideas were proposed for the number of parking spaces.

The chosen option would have two levels of structured parking with 125 spaces for the library and 84 for the town. The county’s fall back option would offer only 90 surface parking spaces, according to county staff.

The project is included in the FY 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Program. County staff said that the partnership between the town and county on the redevelopment will help meet both localities’ needs in a “more cost-effective manner.”

More from the county:

The project design is scheduled to commence in January 2021 with construction completion at the end of 2024, contingent on the approval of the 2020 Library Bond Referendum. The library project will be designed to meet the pending Green Building Policy updates for LEED and energy performance improvements.

The Town’s contribution for the design phase will not exceed 30% (with a cap of $850,000) of the total design costs, which will be paid to the County in a lump sum after appropriation from the Town’s 2020 Bond Referendum, and prior to the start of the design phase. In addition, the Town will be responsible for 19% (with a cap of $4.2 million) of the total construction costs for a 2-level structured parking garage, payable in three equal payments to the County starting in calendar year 2022.

The upcoming fall 2020 Library Bond Referendum includes $23 million in library bond funding for the Patrick Henry Library. This bond amount is sufficient to address the County’s cost share for the design and construction of the library and either Option A or B1 for the parking structure.

Now that the agreement has been approved, the county and town can move forward on figuring out how to jointly fund the project.

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Fairfax County planners support proposals to construct a mixed-use building — rather than two residential towers — over a parking podium in the Scotts Run development.

The developer, Cityline Partners, is looking to have the newly proposed 25-story building contain roughly 450,000 square feet of residential ground floor area and 15,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor. The building would have 447 residential units, according to the staff report.

Cityline also wants to modify the parking podium by adding retail along with the above-grade parking, according to the staff report. Proffers limit the parking to 80 feet, and the developer plans to stay within the allotted height range, the report said.

“With the use of glass and masonry, the podium is designed to suggest occupied space rather than a parking garage,” the report noted.

The proposals would tweak some aspects of the Scotts Run development, which will span approximately 40 acres near the McLean Metro station. The overall development will add retail, office and residential spaces along with a new grid of streets.

While the county’s planners support the proposal, the staff report noted ways the developer could improve the project’s aesthetics, like “additional attention to architectural features, such as canopies.”

More from the staff report:

Staff continues to recommend that the applicant refine the vertical banding on the building façade to create a continuous line between levels and further compliment the backlit podium treatment in order to accentuate the impression that those levels are occupied space and de-emphasize that they are structured parking.

The staff reported noted that the change from two towers to one building would not significantly impact Tysons’ skyline.

” Staff believes that the proposed changes do not present any substantial land use issues and the proposal remains in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan,” the report said.

The Planning Commission will consider the proposed changes on Wednesday, July 8.

Image via Fairfax County

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The Vienna Town Council has a full agenda — from the upcoming budget to solar panels to public parking for Patrick Henry Library’s renovation — for tonight’s meeting.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the items the officials will consider.

Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget, Tax Rate

The Vienna Town Council will consider adopting the proposed $41 million budget and real estate tax rate of $0.2250 per $100 of assessed value for FY 2020-2021.

The town staff and officials revised the budget due to challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, expecting lower revenues and “a return to more normal circumstances by Dec. 31,” according to town documents.

The changes included decreasing the General Fund by $2.5 million.

Parking at Patrick Henry Library

The councilmembers are set to vote on a design and construction agreement with Fairfax County for the public parking included in Patrick Henry Library’s renovation.

In the agreement, the town would contribute funds for the design and construction of the parking spaces with options to terminate the agreement if the town decides to not move forward with the parking spaces.

More from the town documents:

The design costs for the Town are now capped at the lesser of 30% of the total design costs or $850,000, as compared to draft agreement with the lesser of 35% of the total design costs or $1,000,000. The construction costs for the Town are now capped at the lesser of 19% of the total construction costs or $4,200,000, as compared to the draft agreement with the lesser of 25% of the total construction costs or $4,500,000.

The Town has included funds for the design phase of this project in the 2020 CIP. The intention is to fund the construction phase of the project, at least in part, with transportation grants related to commuter parking. The Town currently is in the process of applying for grants.

The county’s Board of Supervisors also needs to vote on the agreement.

Solar Panel Push

Vienna officials will decide whether or not to approve offering Solarize NOVA this year.

The program, which informs residents and businesses on how to purchase solar energy, first arrived in the town in 2015 and is run by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and the nonprofit Local Energy Alliance Program, according to town documents.

“Since 2015, 29 Solarize contracts have been signed in Vienna for over 230 kW of power. Vienna is the highest zip code for solar kW within the Solarize NOVA campaign,” according to the documents.

The dates for the program are still being finalized, but people can expect the campaign to run from June to September.

COVID-19 Challenges

Vienna officials will also consider re-adopting an emergency ordinance that makes it easier for businesses to use outdoor space.

The ordinance lets Town Manager Mercury Payton allow temporary waivers of zoning regulations to businesses so that they can operate outside.

“Under normal circumstances, business owners would be required to pursue a formal process-delaying their ability to reopen and impeding support for [the] revitalization of the local economy in Vienna,” according to town documents.

The meeting is set to start at 8 p.m.

Image via Town of Vienna

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When Metro kicks off its summer work tomorrow (Saturday), drivers can find free parking at three Orange Line stations in the Tysons area.

The free parking will be available at the West Falls Church, Dunn Loring and Vienna stations during the shutdown. The West Falls Church station’s parking will be cut in half, but the other two stations won’t have capacity limits, according to the project’s website.

People who have reserved parking spots will still be billed for their spots, the website said.

The East Falls Church station will be closed for the summer work and won’t offer any parking, although the Kiss & Ride will allow pick-ups and drop-offs.

For cyclists, bike racks and lockers will still be offered at the stations during the summer work, except for at the East Falls Church station where some racks have been moved.

All Orange and Silver line stations west of the Ballston station will be closed starting tomorrow. The work, which is expected to last through the fall, includes platform reconstruction on the Orange Line and the connection of the upcoming stations to the Silver Line.

Image via Google Maps

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It’s been almost five years, and Sweet Leaf in McLean is still working to resolve a zoning violation caused by too few parking spots.

The Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals decided today (Wednesday) to defer Sweet Leaf’s appeal of its zoning violation for at least the 14th time.

“It’s been a long time, but we’ve been working through this process,” Sweet Leaf co-founder Andre Matini told the board today.

The restaurant has been operating in violation of the zoning code since late 2015, county staff said today.

Over the last few years, zoning changes have affected the cafe, which was originally slapped with zoning violations in 2015 following a complaint about a lack of parking.

One of the zoning violations is now “moot” after the Board of Supervisors adopted changes to the zoning ordinance in 2018, staff said.

When those changes were made, however, the cafe’s other zoning violation became more challenging to fix.

The cafe was incorrectly issued a non-residential use permit (non-RUP) for retail sales but not for food, staff said.

In order to qualify for the correct permit now, the cafe needs to have at least 14 parking spaces with an approved parking reduction — but it only has 12.

Getting the two extra spaces has been more challenging than expected, Matini said.

The county rejected a nearby church’s offer for diners to use its parking lot, Matini said. Now, another neighbor will let the cafe rent two spaces, he said, adding that county staff has been asking for more information.

If the parking reduction fails, then the cafe would need to decrease the square footage of the building.

One of the new changes to the zoning ordinance altered how the number of parking spaces is determined. The building’s square footage — instead of the number of tables at the food establishment — is now used to calculate the parking requirement.

So far, Land Development Services thought the information submitted for the parking reduction request has been “insufficient,” according to the staff report.

Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson urged that the board make a “short deferral” to push the appellant to get all of the required information to county staff, who said there hasn’t been any recent progress on the parking reduction application.

“We’re not 100% sure how we would resolve the issue if everything is denied by the zoning office,” Matini said. “Obviously, we don’t want to shut down after all of these years in operation.”

The zoning board, staff and Johnson said they want to avoid a situation where the cafe would be forced to close. Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust has also said that he wants the restaurant to stay open.

To give the cafe and the county staff more time to get all of the required materials for the parking reduction application, the Board of Zoning Appeals decided to defer the case to July 22.

“It sounds like people are working hard to resolve this, but they quite aren’t to the finish line yet,” Chairman John Ribble III said.

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Happy Friday! Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:

Tysons Auto Group to Offer Luxury Hybrid Speedsters — “Tysons-based Exclusive Automotive Group has since updated its plans to include sales and service of both Karma Automotive and Koenigsegg vehicles. This will be the first presence for both in the D.C. area.” [Washington Business Journal]

Affordable Housing Spike Expected — “Fairfax County could soon more than double funding for its affordable housing loan program, with local leaders starting work on a new budget that would offer up more than $45.7 million to power affordable development.” [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Falls on Richest U.S. Places List — “The next Virginia town on the list was McLean at 30 with an average household income of $293,323. McLean fell from 25th place last year, although its average income rose from $283,992… Rounding out Virginia towns on the list was Wolf Trap at 47, down from 42 in last year’s ranking. The average household income increased from $261,610 to $265,175.” [Patch]

Falls Church Concerned About Upcoming Metro Parking Closure — “Falls Church’s Assistant City Manager Cindy Mester will be on an urgent conference call with WMATA officials and her counterparts in Arlington and Fairfax Friday in an effort to mitigate the impact on neighborhoods in the City of Falls Church of WMATA’s plans, announced less than two weeks ago, to close the parking lots at the East and West Falls Church Metro stations months ahead of the closing of the stations for platform repairs over the summer.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Come March 15, some or all of the parking options will be closed at three Metro stations in the Falls Church and Vienna area.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced on Friday that pre-construction ahead of summer work will impact parking at three Orange Line stations.

While the summer work on the Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations doesn’t start until May, the parking changes are set to start on March 15.

“Due to the stations’ location and extreme space limitations, construction crews will need to utilize surface parking lots to stage heavy equipment and tons of material,” according to a press release from WMATA.

Here are the planned changes:

  • surface parking lots at the East Falls Church, West Falls Church and Vienna stations will be closed for seven to nine months
  • parking at the Dunn Loring station will not be impacted
  • Kiss & Ride lot will remain open for pick-up and drop-off only at East Falls Church station
  • West Falls Church station parking garage will remain open
  • Vienna station Parking Lot 1 will be temporarily closed beginning March 15
  • Vienna station’s parking garages and Parking Lot 3 will remain open.

The changes mean that parking won’t be available at the East Falls Church station.

Metro expects that the parking will fill up at the West Falls Church station before 7 a.m., according to the press release.

“Vehicles parked in closed lots after 12:01 a.m. on March 15, 2020, may be subject to towing,” the press release says.

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Fairfax County officials say that a newly approved parking rate for the county’s largest malls would not adversely affect Tysons malls.

Yesterday (Tuesday), the Board of Supervisors approved the zoning ordinance amendment that will allow lower parking rates at the four largest malls in the county — the two in Tysons, Fair Oaks Mall and Springfield Town Center.

The proposal was based on a review of the parking rates and demand at large regional malls by consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard.

The county’s planners stressed that the focus of the zoning amendment was meant to help Fair Oaks Mall, yet it sparked concern about whether it would create parking problems at Tysons Corner Center and also about the lack of data for the Tysons malls.

Nelson/Nygaard study’s evaluated parking data for Fair Oaks Mall and the Springfield Town Center, but the study did not evaluate the two malls in Tysons.

“It really has no bearing on Tysons,” Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said yesterday, noting that Tysons Corner Center is a part of the Planned Tysons Corner Urban District’s (PTC) parking rates, which allows for lower parking rates. Tysons Galleria is not a part of the PTC District, but could opt-in.

“There has been concern raised in the community that it would [cause issues in Tysons], but I agree with Supervisor Smyth that the real impact is in Springfield and Fair Oaks, where we need to reduce the parking requirements,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said.

The change now lets shopping centers with 800,000 square feet of gross floor area or more to have a parking rate of 2.5 instead of four spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area.

In addition to the zoning change, the county board also approved directing staff to prioritize review of the parking rates in phase two of the zoning ordinance modernization effort.

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A zoning ordinance amendment that would allow lower parking rates at Fairfax County’s largest malls received a thumbs up from the Planning Commission last night.

The proposal would affect the four malls — the two in Tysons, Fair Oaks Mall and Springfield Town Center — and was based on a review of the parking rates and demand at large regional malls by consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard.

While the county’s planners have stressed that the focus of the zoning change is directed at Fair Oaks Mall, the proposal has sparked concern about its impacts on the Tysons malls.

“Taking away parking — or even insinuating taking away parking from Tysons — I think is a bad way to go,” Dwight Fuller, a managing partner with Great American Restaurants, told the Planning Commission at the public hearing earlier this month.

McLean Citizens Association criticized the county’s consideration of a proposal without complete data.

Nelson/Nygaard study’s evaluated parking data for Fair Oaks Mall collected by the property owner in December for both 2017 and 2018, along with data about the Springfield Town Center that the firm collected in June. The study did not evaluate the two malls in Tysons.

“Without a study specifically addressing parking at those two malls, the MCA believes it is inappropriate to reduce the parking requirements at those locations,” the MCA wrote in a letter dated Oct. 30 to the Planning Commission.

At both the public hearing and before the votes last night, county staff and the commissioners stressed that the Tysons malls already have opportunities to lower their parking rates — and haven’t.

Tysons Corner Center is a part of the Planned Tysons Corner Urban District’s (PTC) parking rates, which allows for lower parking rates. Tysons Galleria is not a part of the PTC District, but could opt-in.

At-Large Commissioner Timothy Sargeant said that the Tysons malls are “bucking the trend” of large malls — like Fair Oaks — that are struggling with empty parking lots as more shoppers rely on online retail or delivery services.

To address citizens’ concerns, Sargeant brought forward several proposals after the Planning Commission recommended approval of the zoning amendment, including:

  • notification to the Planning Commission when a parking reduction request is submitted to the county
  • a study of how to include the PTC in the county’s update of the zoning ordinance
  • prioritize review of parking rates for the county’s update of the zoning ordinance
  • integration of environmental improvements with the proposal

Sargeant noted that more parking rate studies are necessary.

The proposal now heads to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing on Dec. 3.

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