Morning Notes

Westbound I-66 to Close Overnight Starting Tomorrow — “Work at the Interstate 66 and Capital Beltway interchange will require a full I-66 closure in the westbound direction over several upcoming days. The Virginia Department of Transportation said westbound I-66 will be closed at I-495 nightly from Tuesday, June 15 to Saturday, June 19. Closure hours are 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly and until 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.” [Patch]

Vienna Reaffirms Commitment to Library Parking Project — “Vienna officials still can back out of an agreement with Fairfax County to build a new Patrick Henry Library with a parking structure, but now the town financially has something to lose. Vienna Town Council members on June 7 reconfirmed the town’s participation in the agreement and agreed to support the project’s design phase.” [Sun Gazette]

Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Supports Amendment — “The board of directors of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce formally signed off on a letter to the Fairfax County Planning Commission in advance of its meeting next Tuesday. The letter, sent over the signature of Falls Church Executive Director Sally Cole, expressed the Chamber’s strong support for an amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan to permit mixed use development at WMATA’s West Falls Church Metro station site.” [Falls Church News-Press]

McLean Home of Retired Football Quarterback for Sale — “In April, the veteran quarterback Alex Smith announced his retirement from the NFL. Now Smith is leaving the Washington, DC, metro behind. He’s listed his gorgeous mansion in McLean, VA, for $6.7 million.” [Sun Sentinel]

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Changes to parking standards and codes could be on the horizon in the Town of Vienna.

The Department of Planning and Zoning is assessing a variety of parking issues through the Code Create Vienna process, a comprehensive effort to review and update the town’s zoning and subdivision codes.

No specific changes have been proposed yet, but the town’s limited availability of public parking, particularly in the commercial corridor around Maple Avenue, has been a topic of discussion for years.

“We are currently still working on residential zoning standards and defining the boundaries of the non-residential districts,” Vienna Deputy Planning Director Mike D’Orazio said in an email. “When we get to parking, our lead consultant ZoneCo, along with Nelson/Nygaard, will be assisting us in the review and potential update of parking standards.”

During a “Lunch & Learn” online discussion on March 5, D’Orazio detailed the parking standards that are under review, including the number of parking spaces required for different types of uses, design standards — such as landscape and lighting standards — and dimensional standards related to parking.

The review of parking space requirements will include examining on-site shared parking, such as multi-tenant or multi-use buildings.

The dimensional standards refer to the minimum dimensions for parking spaces, the width of aisles, and other spatial aspects of parking.

“Even though we updated it recently, it’s worth kind of looking at best standards and what other jurisdictions are doing for their parking,” D’Orazio said during the Lunch & Learn discussion.

Landscaping and lighting will also be considered during the parking portion of Vienna’s zoning code update. Currently, landscaping is required five feet between public street and parking areas.

The town also plans to establish bicycle parking standards for the first time in the new zoning ordinance, along with rules regulating electric vehicle charging stations.

“This is something that’s going to be increasing or trending right now as electric vehicles become more popular and adopted,” D’Orazio said. “There’s shopping centers and public spaces that are adding these EV stations. We don’t really have much in the code right now regulating those. So, that’s something that we’ll really have to look at updating.”

The estimated timeline for the code update as a whole is between 16 and 18 months.

The Department of Planning and Zoning does not have a date for when a complete draft will be ready for public hearings before the planning commission and town council. However, based on the estimated 16-18 month timeline, D’Orazio said the department anticipates that may happen in fall or winter this year.

“The Code Create Vienna process is an iterative process, and we seek community input throughout the project, not just during the public hearings,” D’Orazio said in an email.

Staff photo by Angela Woolsey

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved developer Dittmar’s request to add a public park and some 480 parking spaces to Westpark Plaza.

The 2.9-acre site is located at 8401 Westpark Drive north of Leesburg Pike. The parking portion of the interim plans for the site will be in place for five years, while the park will remain during the first phase of redevelopment.

Dittmar’s grand plans to replace the demolished Best Western Hotel that previously occupied the site with two residential buildings, a new hotel, and retail were approved in 2018, but the project is currently idling.

Currently, the property is an asphalt parking lot that the Meridian Group used as a construction staging and parking while work on The Boro development was underway.

The plans for interim parking and a pop-up park have been in place since last summer. The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the proposal on Dec. 9 before the Board of Supervisors gave the final green light on Tuesday (Jan. 26).

“It is the intent of Dittmar, the owner and applicant, to proceed with ultimate redevelopment,” Walsh Colucci senior land use planner Elizabeth Baker said during Tuesday’s public hearing. “They appreciate having these interim uses.”

The theme of the 16,500-square foot park will be an outdoor reading area, complete with a Little Free Library. It will also have space for food trucks, some phone charging stations, sidewalk chalk art, and other amenities, Dittmar says in its development plans.

The park will activate Westpark Plaza and complement the public spaces at The Boro to the north of the site, Alexis Robinson, a staff coordinator in the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, said during the staff presentation on Tuesday.

It will remain in place during phase one, which will primarily involve the construction of one of the two planned residential buildings with retail.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik called the outdoor reading room idea “unique and creative,” and she hopes it will inspire more interesting park concepts as the county plans for more public spaces.

“I believe this will be a great addition to the neighborhood,” Palchik said. “It will provide families a new opportunity to engage and be active outdoors, which as we have seen especially this year is in high demand.”

Image via Walsh Colucci

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave the county’s transportation department permission this week to start work on plans for managed curbside parking in Tysons and Reston.

Whether the plan includes paid parking, time-limited parking, designated commercial vehicle parking, or some combination, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation will need at least a year to draw one up for the Board of Supervisors to review, staff said during a board transportation committee meeting on Tuesday.

The incremental step forward comes after professional traffic engineers released their findings from a two-year study that analyzed current parking habits in Tysons’ urban center and Reston’s transit station areas as well as potential options to manage parking.

“Currently in the county, we have a very limited toolbox of parking restrictions that can be implemented by either the Board or VDOT,” FCDOT Section Chief Neil Freschman said. “Generally, most on-street parking on public roadways is uncontrolled.”

The study found that public on-street parking in Reston is incredibly limited.

Parking is available on just 6% of the 15 miles of public curb space surrounding the Wiehle-Reston East, Reston Town Center, and Herndon Metrorail stations, FCDOT Senior Transportation Planner Henri Stein McCartney said.

“We found 211 total public on-street spaces within the study area, which is pretty low,” she said. “Most parking is on private streets, which we don’t manage.”

Comparatively, Tysons had more parking. Staff found 1,272 spaces along 22 miles — or 29% — of curb space on the roadways surrounding the Greensboro, Springhill, Tysons, and McLean Metro stations.

However, parking in Tysons suffers from other problems, including cars parked in “No Parking” zones and travel lanes, along with large commercial vehicles that overstay their welcome.

“Some of these vehicles are reportedly parking for days or weeks without moving,” McCartney said. “Our parking staff has received multiple complaints from Tysons businesses about commercial vehicles that are parking long-term near their building, so we know this is an issue.”

Transportation Committee Vice-Chair Kathy Smith, who represents Sully District, told Tysons Reporter that commercial vehicles parking for extended periods is a county-wide issue.

“I think it’s good that staff is looking into how to balance people’s ability to get into businesses and getting more turnover,” Smith said. “Everybody would agree you don’t want commercial vehicles taking up space for days.”

This parking plan is being developed alongside changes to the street grid in Tysons and Reston, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn told Tysons Reporter. In some cases, parking policies will be developed for streets that do not yet exist, but have been incorporated into the two communities’ comprehensive plans to be more transit-oriented.

The management plan should encourage parking spot turnover to ensure that these future streets near transit stations, which are lined with mixed-use properties, do not become commuter lots, he said.

However, managed parking in Reston’s transit areas will have to overcome the controversy that Boston Properties ignited when the property manager introduced and later modified paid parking at the Reston Town Center.

“The number one lesson is, don’t make all your streets private,” Alcorn said. “We have an awful lot of private streets. What we’ve learned is that the public doesn’t have any say — it is up to the private street owner.”

While private streets make planning events more flexible, Alcorn says the 2017 flare-up, which focused mostly on the garage parking, could also be attributed in part to community members not having a say.

For the most part, though, what FCDOT is working on “is apples and oranges” compared to the RTC, he said.

Images via Google Maps, Fairfax County

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Update 10/28 — The new parking district will relieve overparked residential streets near the Scotts Run Nature Preserve, not the Scotts Run development in Tysons East. According to Robin Geiger:

As you can see from the area of impact shown on the map above, this permit district is not in the Tysons East district and will have no impact on multi-family development. The permit district will instead provide relief to residents of communities adjacent to Scotts Run Nature Preserve, whose streets have been heavily impacted by the increased number of visitors to the park.  You also indicated that guests could receive temporary passes for no more than two weeks.  That also is not true.  Permits and visitor passes are available only to residents of the permit district. 

Earlier: Be careful where you park near Scotts Run, because some of those spots could soon become residents only.

New residential developments are coming in to Tysons East even as other developments, like the Capital One complex, are expanding or being added. To stem off future conflicts, the Board of Supervisors is set to review this afternoon whether to implement (public hearing item for 4:30 p.m.) a parking district for the Scotts Run District.

Residential parking districts can be a mixed bag, with residents secure in their parking but adding difficulty to finding parking for guests — back in a time when people could have friends over at their house. The Scotts Run Residential Permit Parking District document noted that guests could receive temporary passes for no more than two weeks.

The new district will be designated District 48 and would not be available to residents of new multi-family developments.

“One transferable visitor pass per address shall be issued in the name of a bona fide resident of said address,” the document said. “However, visitor passes shall not be issued to multifamily or townhouse addresses, which have off-street parking provided.”

Image via Fairfax County

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With road fixtures, building renovations, and other uncertain town repairs and purchases, Town of Vienna leadership met to discuss future capital improvement projects.

Town Manager Mercury Payton, hosted a forum with several directors to discuss what major projects Vienna can expect to see in the near-future.

“Basically, our CIP [Capital Improvement Plan] is a long-range plan that talks about how we look at scoping out and planning for our long-range projects… everything from our road projects, to structures and buildings and everything in between,” Payton said. “We like to plan those out years in advance and make sure that we’re thoughtful about those projects.”

Payton outlines a few capital improvement projects that the Town of Vienna can expect over the next few years, including:

The panel of directors consisted of Vienna’s Directors of Finance, Public Works, Recreation, and Economic Development Manager. The town attorney and police chief were also present.

Marion Serfass, the director of finance, described recent capital improvement projects as, “projects like road improvements, sidewalk improvements, storm-water improvements, the town green, the community center renovation and other buildings. Generally, to be a capital project or to be considered for a capital project, it’s a big long-term project like that and has to cost at least $5,000 and many of those projects cost a lot more than that.”

The process of choosing which projects to fund also consists of a budget committee and strategic planning.

“We do the CIP every fall and every spring,” Serfass said. “We put out a call to directors… what sort of projects do they think they need to help improve the delivery of town services and help with the infrastructure of the town. And then we take in all those, the budget committee gets to look through those, department heads make their case about why this project is important, how it fits into the strategic plan. In the meantime, the finance department is forecasting the meals tax revenues because we borrow money for capital projects, we pay it back with our meals taxes, so we don’t want to exceed what we can comfortably pay back in our meals taxes, plus leave a cash reserve.”

Residents of the Town of Vienna were also asked to provide insight about possible repairs or construction their communities may need.

“I would encourage them to reach out to their council people,” Serfass said. “Our website is www.viennava.gov and our council members’ emails are there, under ‘town council’.”

Photo via Town of Vienna/Facebook

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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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