Tysons, VA

The Fairfax County Government Center will open for in-person absentee voting tomorrow, a week earlier than the county originally planned to start holding Saturday hours for early voting.

Early voting locations were scheduled to start opening on Saturdays on Oct. 17, but the Fairfax County Office of Elections announced on Tuesday (Oct. 6) that it will commence Saturday hours this week instead to accommodate record numbers of early voters, who have faced long lines and extended wait times.

“The short answer is due to the large number of requests from voters, from elected officials, and my electoral board all asked that we consider if it was possible to provide an extra day of voting,” Fairfax County Office of Elections director and general registrar Gary Scott said when asked about the change.

Voters can cast absentee ballots this Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the government center, which is currently the only place in Fairfax County open for early voting.

Additional relief from the crowds that have swarmed the government center since early voting began on Sept. 18 will arrive on Oct. 14, when 14 satellite voting locations open — almost twice the number of sites that the county provided in past years, according to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay.

Satellite locations in the Tysons area include the McLean Governmental Center, Providence Community Center, Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library, and Thomas Jefferson Library.

Early voting hours at these locations are from 1-7 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and 9-5 p.m. on Saturdays. All sites are closed on Sundays.

Public health anxieties and the Virginia General Assembly’s auspiciously timed approval of no-excuse absentee voting have contributed to high levels of early voting around Northern Virginia.

The Fairfax County Office of Elections reported on Thursday that voters have cast almost 62,500 vote-by-mail ballots so far, a 40 percent increase over the total from 2016, the last year with a presidential race on the ballot.

As of Oct. 7, Fairfax has gotten about 18,000 in-person voters, with about 1,300 people showing up per day, according to Scott.

City of Falls Church director of elections David Bjerke told WUSA9 that the city has seen 100 to 200 voters coming in-person every day, and 5,337 people — 50% of the city’s voters — had either cast or applied for a mail ballot as of Oct. 6.

In-person early voting ends on Oct. 31, and the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 23. Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered to a polling location or postmarked by Election Day on Nov. 3, with Nov. 6 as the deadline for the Office of Elections to receive mailed ballots.

Scott warned voters against requesting a ballot by mail and then trying to vote in-person.

“Having requested a ballot by mail will slow down their process when they go in and try to vote in person,” Scott said. “They’re certainly welcome to do it. They just need to understand that it will take longer for them, once they check in, to actually vote than it would be to return the ballot, either by mail or putting it in one of our drop boxes.”

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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If you’ve been to absentee in-person voting and the lines have seemed particularly long, you’re not alone.

Fairfax voters have been lining up at 12000 Government Center Parkway to cast their ballots early and avoid election day crowds, only to find themselves in long lines with other early voters turning up in record numbers.

Some said the numbers seemed to swell yesterday after the debate, but Public Information Officer Brian Worthy said the numbers have been pretty consistent.

“At least to me, it doesn’t seem like the lines are any longer, and I’ve been here at the Government Center for every day of early voting since it began,” Worthy said.

Worthy said COVID-19 precautions have made wait times longer than usual.

“Since the start of early voting on Friday, Sept. 18, we have had two polling places open in the Government Center, and… we’re limiting the number of people in at any one time for the safety of both voters and poll workers,” Worthy said. “Similarly, we’re keep the line outside because it’s safer for voters to wait there rather than inside the building. As result of COVID, voting is taking longer.”

A county employee at the location said despite the long lines, it was a fraction of what the line was like on previous days.

Two voters, Karen and James Shaver, said they watched the debate the previous night. They described it as “loud” but said it didn’t sway their vote.

In addition to the long lines, voters have endured harassment and attempts to keep people out of the building from supporters of President Donald Trump.

Worthy said the lines should be alleviated by plans to open up satellite facilities for voting later this month.

“We’re opening additional early voting sites on Oct. 14,” Worthy said. “We’ll have 14 additional locations open that day (including the Government Center) with a total of 15 starting on Saturday, Oct. 17.”

Voting facilities in the Tysons area include:

  • McLean Governmental Center (1437 Balls Hill Road)
  • Providence Community Center (3001 Vaden Drive)
  • Tysons Pimmit Library (7584 Leesburg Pike)
  • Thomas Jefferson Library (7415 Arlington Blvd.)

Jay Westcott contributed to this story

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An upcoming protest in Merrifield is part of nationwide mobilization at post offices across the U.S.

From Alaska to Florida, 602 volunteer-led protests are set to take place at 11 a.m. local time tomorrow (Saturday) to demand Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s resignation and “save the post office from Donald Trump.”

The protests are in response to DeJoy’s cost-cutting measures for the financially-rocky United States Postal Service, which critiques said could delay the expected surge of mail ballots for the November election.

After facing a backlash, DeJoy said he will pause the changes until after the election. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly slammed mail-in ballots, said he opposes more funding for the USPS because of mail-in voting.

The protest at the Merrifield post office (8409 Lee Hwy) will be wheelchair accessible, according to the event description. Protests will also take place in Reston and Arlington.

The nationwide mobilization is backed by several unions and organizations, including MoveOn, Service Employees International Union, the NAACP, the Working Families Party, The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, American Federation of Teachers, Indivisible and Vets for the People.

Organizers are asking participants to wear face coverings, remain 6 feet apart from each other, bring hand sanitizer and keep the protests peaceful and nonviolent.

“Individual hosts are responsible for compliance with their own local laws and event requirements (including orders limiting the sizes of events),” the event description said.

Image via Google Maps

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Many election officers in the county fall in high-risk categories for COVID-19.

The Fairfax County Office of Election is seeking more election officers this year to assist voters on Election Day, which is on Nov. 3.

The county is the largest voting jurisdictions in the state, with 243 precincts nationwide. Officers must be registered voters.

Training for new officers will begin online in September. Compensation begins at $175.

The application is available online. The deadline is Oct. 10 and mandatory online training must be completed by Oct. 14.

More information is available on the county’s website.

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In a record turnout, more than 35% of Vienna voters submitted ballots for yesterday’s election to select their next mayor and new councilmembers.

Current Councilmember Linda Colbert beat her two opponents — also both on the Town Council — for the mayor’s seat, according to the unofficial election results in the town’s press release.

Colbert was first elected to the council in 2014 after serving on the Transportation Safety Commission and a variety of other governmental and local councils, according to her town bio.

Her campaign focused on boosting the town’s commercial areas, preserving the neighborhoods and keeping Vienna a “vibrant walkable town protected from the Tysons sprawl.”

As for the other mayoral candidates, Howard Springsteen will stay on the council until his term expires in June 2021, while Pasha Majdi’s term expires at the end of June.

According to the unofficial results, Colbert received 1,545 votes, while Majdi got 1,172 and Springsteen got 869.

Voters chose three out of the seven candidates who vied for councilmember seats.

According to the unofficial election results:

  • Ed Somers — 1,545
  • Ray Brill, Jr. — 1,472
  • Chuck Anderson — 1,420
  • Andrea Dahl — 1,336
  • Chris Wright — 1,265
  • Roy Baldwin — 1,256
  • David Patariu — 1,214

Majdi, Dahl, Wright and Patariu ran as a group on a joint platform focused on keeping Vienna’s small town feel and reducing congestion.

Originally set for May 5, Gov. Ralph Northam delayed the town’s election by two weeks due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus.

Voter turnout peaked at 36.5% — recent turnout has usually been between 5% and 23% for the town’s elections — and voters submitted 3,371 absentee ballots, according to Fairfax County’s Office of Elections.

“It was an historic election in Vienna,” the election office tweeted.

The new councilmembers and mayor will start serving July 1.

Colbert photo via Town of Vienna, three photos in collage courtesy Ed Somers, Ray Brill, Jr. and Chuck Anderson

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Ahead of the Town of Vienna’s election, Tysons Reporter asked the candidates to answer the following questions and also submit a short biography. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. We are publishing the Q&As in the order we received the responses. 

Featured here is Andrea Dahl, who is running for a position on the Vienna Town Council. 

Bio: I’m Andrea Dahl and I’m running for Town Council because I believe I can make a positive impact. As an energetic mom and community volunteer with 20 years of corporate experience, it’s always my mission to come up with creative ways to do things better, for less money.

Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth?

I recognize that growth is inevitable and welcome much of it. However, I think that we can do a better job managing it to preserve our small-town feel and strengthen our sense of community. New growth needs to include comprehensive planning, looking at the full impact on our roads and class sizes, but also protecting the overall quality of life of our current residents. What is right for Tysons is not necessarily right for our town nor what most residents of Vienna want.

I don’t think we need another storage area in the heart of historic downtown Vienna, but there seems to be some consensus that residents would like a vibrant downtown filled with more mom and pop restaurants, taverns, outdoor cafes, galleries, and unique shops where residents can safely walk and bike around. These small businesses help differentiate our town from Tysons and would be welcomed by most residents.

Prior to this pandemic, I supported the town making strategic land acquisitions as key property becomes available because I recognize that land in the town is finite. In my opinion, the purchase of commercial property to create the Town Green was one of the best decisions ever made by the Town. Given today’s environment, we will need to look at the full impact of this pandemic on our economy and the residents and businesses within our town before moving forward with any discretionary expenditures.

What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?

Maple Avenue is already at capacity when it comes to traffic. This means that any extra traffic from Maple Avenue spills over to our residential streets. While I’m not opposed to development on Maple Avenue, I think that any future development has to make sense taking into consideration the full impact on our roads, schools, and town services. To ease cut-thru traffic and slow vehicle speeds, I support installing traffic calming measures like speed humps, speed cushions, and realigned intersections.

It would make sense for the town to work with Dominion Power to install sidewalks on certain streets at the same time that Dominion Power is burying their lines. This collaboration will save the town money and make our neighborhood streets safer, prettier, and our power service more reliable. This also helps many local home builders because Dominion Power is absorbing the cost to bury our power lines instead of developers paying to do this with any new construction.

Roundabouts at select intersections, flashing lights for pedestrians to cross busy intersections as well as adding trees and vegetation next to busy roadways are other options we can use to effectively slow traffic and make our roads safer.

Additionally, I support working with local sports leagues to minimize practices that require driving children to school practices across town, especially at the elementary school level.

Should Vienna keep its “small town feel”? If so, how? If not, why and what do you propose?

According to the Collins Dictionary, “small town is used when referring to small places… where people are friendly, honest, and polite.” Small towns tend to have their own special characteristics. Since people tend to know one another and look out for each other, people living in small towns often feel safer and happier. This has never been more evident than now.

During this pandemic, I have seen all kinds of people in our town step up to help others in so many creative ways that I am proud to call Vienna home. In my opinion, the Town of Vienna is a type of oasis in the middle of the Northern Virginia sprawl. Its close knit community is what gives Vienna its small town feel and we should want to preserve that.

To best keep Vienna’s small town feel, we should continue to do things that promote building a strong sense of community as this is what differentiates Vienna from neighboring areas. Community events like the annual Halloween Parade and the Church Street Holiday Stroll are favorites that everyone looks forward to.

At a minimal cost, Vienna could offer additional events like weekly summer outdoor movies, indoor winter movies at the Community Center for kids and seniors, more concerts on the Town Green, and even a Dog Jog & Walk fundraiser to further strengthen our sense of community.

Vienna has a long history of being named a “Tree City USA.” What steps would you like to see Vienna take to become greener and more sustainable/environmentally-friendly?

I am very passionate about preserving our parks, trees, and green space. I would like to strengthen our town’s involvement in the “Tree City USA” Program by displaying a higher level of commitment to urban forestry.

With all the new construction, we’re losing our big old trees at an alarming pace. Often homeowners are forced to spend thousands of dollars to cut down their trees that have died primarily as a result of new construction bordering their property. Last fall, the town arborist shared with me that this is happening all over Vienna.

Our residents and our trees should be better protected. We need to develop and implement a town tree policy that replaces trees that die. Residential lot coverage requirements should remain at 25% to promote green space. We need to encourage more open space, green space, and setback requirements on all new commercial projects.

Additionally, I have a background developing and implementing recycling programs with companies nationwide which I plan to use to improve recycling in our town. We can do a better job educating our residents on what is recyclable and what is not. With China no longer taking our trash, the reality is that many recyclables are landfilled if there’s no market for them or if they’re too contaminated. We can do better.

What do you want to see happen for parking at Parking Henry Library?

I believe that these are two separate issues. Our town desperately needs a parking garage which ideally should be somewhere on Maple Avenue close enough to the Town Green and W&OD Trail. A new parking garage would eliminate the overflow parking and congestion on our neighborhood roads every time there is a community event downtown.

We also need a complete renovation of our existing Patrick Henry Library. It is too small and does not meet the needs of our community. When my children were in preschool, I would actually drive to Great Falls for programs offered at their local library because our Vienna library could not offer similar programs due to space limitations. Sadly, we are lucky if we visit the Patrick Henry Library here in Vienna more than a couple times each year.

What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance?

I support limiting our height and building sizes on Maple Avenue to three stories since Maple Avenue is already at capacity for traffic and any excess traffic spills over on to our neighborhood roads negatively impacting our residents. Where possible, I encourage site modifications and repurposing existing buildings rather than replacing them similar to what has been done with the new Bear Branch Tavern. I support enforcing setback requirements on Maple Avenue and adding green space for beautification and to slow traffic.

One of my greatest concerns is what will become of the Giant-anchored shopping center in Vienna. Around northern Virginia we are seeing large, mixed-use developments with hundreds of expensive apartments like the new Scout on the Circle project at the corner of Route 50 and Route 29. This type of development lacks setbacks, green space, and doesn’t fit our small town. Under no circumstances do I want to see anything similar where our Giant currently sits.

I support rewriting commercial codes to make them easier for everyone to understand. I also support developing a vision for future development on Maple Avenue to preserve how we want Vienna to look in the years to come.

When I worked in Michigan, I frequently represented my franchisees at town planning meetings to get approval for construction projects including signs advertising their businesses. Vienna needs to develop a vision with resident input for our commercial development to set the framework for how we should move forward.

People interested in learning more about Dahl’s campaign can check out her website.

Photo courtesy Andrea Dahl

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(Updated 5/11/2020) The Town of Vienna’s upcoming election is now set to take place on May 19.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday (April 24) a two-week delay for local elections, including Vienna’s.

Because of the altered date, absentee ballot applications are now due May 12, according to a tweet from town officials. Fairfax County officials are strongly urging absentee voting to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Three councilmembers are vying for Mayor Laurie DiRocco’s seat, while seven candidates running for council seats.

Due to the coronavirus, in-person debates were canceled and replaced with virtual debates — one for the mayoral candidates and the other for councilmember candidates — hosted by the North East Vienna Citizens Association and Vienna Business Association.

Tysons Reporter offered the candidates the opportunity to respond to a Q&A with topics ranging from climate change to height limitations for commercial development along Maple Avenue.

Here are the published Q&As, listed in alphabetical order by first name, that have been published so far:

Mayoral candidate Q&As:

Councilmember candidate Q&As:

Inside NoVa also published several candidate profiles.

Photo by Element5 Digital/Unsplash

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Ahead of the Town of Vienna’s election this year, Tysons Reporter asked the candidates to answer the following questions and also submit a short biography. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. We are publishing the Q&As this week in the order we received the responses. 

Featured here is Chris Wright, who is running for a position on the Vienna Town Council. 

Bio: Chris Wright has lived in the Town of Vienna since 2004. He lives with his wife, Calli, and two boys who attend Vienna Elementary School. Born and raised in Lynchburg, VA, he graduated from James Madison University with a BBA and currently works as a partner in a local consulting firm based out of Merrifield. Chris volunteers with Shelter House and coaches in Vienna Little League, I9 Sports, as well as Vienna Youth Basketball.

Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth? 

In short, I will do everything I can to ensure that Vienna’s identity does not change as a result of Tysons’ urbanization. Vienna’s small town charm is what attracted many of our residents to live and raise families here. I do not think it’s necessary to construct hundreds of condos/apartments in Vienna to compete with other D.C. areas such as Tysons or Mosaic as some have suggested in the past. The council needs members that can pro-actively and effectively work with Fairfax County and Tysons developers to ensure our current and future interests are represented.

What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?

Minimizing cut-thru traffic in our neighborhoods is not an easy task and all ideas should be on the table. I would posit that the individuals most motivated to tackle this problem are the candidates that currently have young children who are most at risk by cut-thru traffic.

In addition to safety concerns, I can say with certainty that I have never seen the roads in Vienna in this bad of shape. The intersection of Echols and Berry streets SE being one of many examples.

The obvious solutions to mitigate the safety concerns are more speed calming measures as well as finally prioritizing sidewalks. I would focus on a more pedestrian friendly town, not only with sidewalks, but also with more access to businesses via the W&OD trail, bike lanes, and incentives to encourage residents to leave their cars in the driveway.

Another idea is a small toll on Maple Ave on commuters as they travel between Oakton and Tysons with an exemption for town residents. Given the volume of traffic on Maple Ave, all options should be explored and not simply dismissed as “that’s not possible.”

Should Vienna keep its “small town feel”? If so, how? If not, why and what do you propose? 

“Elections have consequences” is a phrase applicable to every level of government. A couple of years ago it looked as if the Town of Vienna was headed the way of Tysons, Falls Church, Mosaic, etc. The D.C. area has many communities where someone can find that type of lifestyle.

I would argue that Vienna is extremely unique in that it does have a small town feel just a few miles from DC and it’s something that I want to preserve. Vienna should work to mordernize and encourage new vibrant businesses to settle here, while working diligently to understand the impact of that development. Then it must be effectively communicated to residents affording them the opportunity to provide feedback.

Vienna has a long history of being named a “Tree City USA.” What steps would you like to see Vienna take to become greener and more sustainable/environmentally-friendly?  

Whether it’s residential or commercial, we continue to see new development replacing old all over town. The obvious downside to this is that many of our trees are removed. I would advocate that for every one tree that development knocks down that two new trees are planted to continue Vienna’s tradition of being named a “Tree City USA.” I would also work to bring more green spaces and parks to Vienna. I would support converting Beulah Road Park, which is now an industrial mulch yard, to its original intent of a park for all of Vienna to enjoy.

What do you want to see happen for parking when Parking Henry Library gets moved and rebuilt? 

Vienna is going to have to recalibrate the need for a number of costly projects like a parking garage below Patrick Henry Library given the impact that COVID-19 will have on our community. That having been said, I believe that ensuring we have the best library possible combined with centrally located parking is an obvious win for the town.

Before committing substantial money and resources to a project like this, we must first understand what improvements need to be made to the existing library, approximately how many parking spaces are needed now and for the foreseeable future, and that the new structure fits in architecturally with our town.

What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance? 

Given the existing traffic and school populations in Vienna, the existing height restrictions should remain in place as a rule. I do believe there are exceptions to every rule that can be evaluated on a case by case basis. Before making exceptions, Vienna should understand the traffic impact, school impact, and surrounding neighborhood impact of proposed new development. Additionally, the need for the proposed development/business should be weighed before exceptions are made and broadly communicated to our residents.

People interested in learning more about Wright’s campaign can check out his website and Facebook.

Photo courtesy Chris Wright

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Ahead of the Town of Vienna’s election this year, Tysons Reporter asked the candidates to answer the following questions and also submit a short biography. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. We are publishing the Q&As this week in the order we received the responses. 

Featured here is David Patariu, who is running for a position on the Vienna Town Council. 

Bio: I am an attorney, a Vienna dad with three young children and a Vienna planning commissioner. I’m running to preserve the livability of our neighborhoods and to ensure the residential and commercial zoning code rewrite — foisted upon our town without resident input — does not give away what makes Vienna special.

Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth?

Vienna has its own unique identity as a small town and that identity should not change to match Tysons’ growth. Pasha Majdi (for mayor), Chris Wright, Andrea Dahl, and I (for council) are a group of parents with young kids, and we love Vienna’s small-town feel.

Our platform is focused on YOU and we are working together to (1) address cut-through traffic and preserve the livability of our neighborhoods; (2) address problems from poorly planned development like the MAC; (3) restore Beulah Road Park; and (4) make certain the rewrite of our residential and commercial zoning code does not give away what makes Vienna special.

Maple Avenue is at its traffic capacity during peak hours, and this problem will only get more severe as Tysons grows. We should not make congestion worse by pushing giant high-density condo/apartment buildings with nominal retail on Maple Avenue through poorly planned zoning.

What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?

The town must listen to residents when they seek relief from cut-through traffic. At a recent Planning Commission meeting, multiple residents requested mitigation from cut-through traffic on Wade Hampton — requests that were marginalized. Residents were told by the town staff studies would have to be performed and given multiple excuses for why cut-through traffic mitigation would not be possible.

Yet it only took one town staff member “from his desk” to approve the narrowing of Wade Hampton by 4 feet for either traffic calming or parking (never got a straight answer on which it was) for the first 380 Maple MAC building project application — street narrowing that allowed the planned building to be larger. This double standard needs to stop.

We need to give greater deference to residents, eliminate the tedious traffic relief petitions that take years to be processed, and go neighborhood by neighborhood to resolve long-standing traffic problems.

Should Vienna keep its “small town feel”? If so, how? If not, why and what do you propose?

The town’s misguided $250k effort to re-write residential and commercial zoning, without any public hearings or resident input to date, could cost Vienna its “small town feel.” This is a covert effort to make the high-density giant MAC zoning by-right. At a minimum, the current staff and consultant-driven process to rewrite our zoning code needs to be stopped by the new council, or we risk losing what makes Vienna special. We can make better use of this $250k to help Vienna’s residents and small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

The town has been successful with customized redevelopment plans using exceptions called “site plan modifications” that take into account local conditions. This approach was used with the recently opened Bear Branch Tavern — a huge success story and an example of how we can achieve business growth on Maple Avenue while keeping our small-town feel.

Vienna has a long history of being named a “Tree City USA.” What steps would you like to see Vienna take to become greener and more sustainable/environmentally-friendly? 

Restoring Beulah Road Park would be a great first step to help Vienna become greener. I strongly support and have been actively involved in this community driven effort. As a councilmember at our first Town Council meeting in July, I will instruct the staff to eliminate the industrial use of Beulah Road Park as a stinky mulch yard in a residential area; find a new location for mulch processing and storage; amend the Comprehensive Plan and zone this parcel and the 440 Beulah Road property as parkland with a nature center (like Hidden Oaks Nature Center); and work closely with area residents to restore Beulah Road Park.

A second step is prioritizing the purchase of land for use as parks, when those rare opportunities arise.

A third step is developing a comprehensive tree and green space preservation plan for the town.

What do you want to see happen for parking when Parking Henry Library gets moved and rebuilt?

The town’s leadership did not spend enough time talking to people that use the Patrick Henry Library before embarking on its library under a parking garage design. Research shows no other municipality in Northern Virginia has a library built into the first floor of a multi-story parking garage. The focus of this project should be on making a world-class library for Vienna’s children and residents, not on making a giant multi-story parking garage to facilitate overdevelopment on Maple Avenue.

The funding for the garage part of this project also needs evaluation. It has been reported that the town is asking the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) to fund the construction cost of the multi-story parking garage surrounding the first-floor library, with the claim commuters will use spaces in the library-garage. How this use of transportation funds passes muster to build a multi-story parking garage over a library needs examination.

What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance? 

The MAC is a misguided attempt to circumvent the 35-foot height limitation on commercial buildings that define Vienna, allowing upwards of 60+ foot 4-5 story condo/apartment buildings on Maple Avenue. We know Maple Avenue is at its traffic capacity and any excess traffic from high-density Maple Avenue Condo/Apt. projects will wind up on our residential streets as cut-through traffic.

This is a classic case of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”– robbing residents with cut-through traffic from Maple, increasing school crowding and reducing neighborhood livability and the value of our homes. All so that Maple Avenue property owners and developers can harvest greater profits with bigger high-density condo/apartment buildings on Maple.

The MAC should be scrapped. Maple Avenue is at its traffic capacity, which means we must keep new buildings to below 35 feet (1-3 story buildings) and primarily commercial, or risk severely worsening cut-through traffic across our small town.

People interested in learning more about Patariu’s campaign can check out his website

Photo courtesy David Patariu

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Ahead of the Town of Vienna’s election this year, Tysons Reporter asked the candidates to answer the following questions and also submit a short biography. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. We are publishing the Q&As this week in the order we received the responses. 

Featured here is Linda Colbert, who is running for the mayor’s seat. 

Bio: I am an independent candidate running for Mayor because I love my hometown and the people who make it so special. I understand and cherish the history of our Town and I will fight to keep Vienna unique amidst a metropolitan area.

Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth?

I do not think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change because of Tyson’s growth. We are a special community and I will fight to keep it that way. Our uniqueness is rooted in our traditions, history and volunteers. Our main street needs to improve. We need to make it more walkable and more vibrant. Vienna should be a place were businesses come and thrive. The town should work with them to ensure our vision for that investment is shared and trusted.

As mayor, would you pledge to A) declare a climate emergency and B) support a council vote for the Town of Vienna to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045?

I do not think that the council can bind future councils to a promise like that so it would only be symbolic. Mayors have limited powers as Virginia is a Dillon Rule State. As mayor, I would lead the town in setting an example of being a good steward of its environment.

The town can certainly do things to cut carbon emissions and it should. The physical structure of our buildings have the potential to lock away carbon. The town should retrofit old buildings and require standards for new ones. Types of materials used, green walls and roofs, and green space with trees and landscaping are things that can help reduce carbon.

Parking garages are beneficial in two ways. First, they require less ground covered in concrete than surface parking lots. Second, they could provide a place to park once and walk to nearby destinations as opposed to parking and driving to every destination.

The Vienna Community Center received gold-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) so that is a goal for future buildings.

What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?

Keeping traffic flowing on Maple Avenue helps keep cars out of neighborhoods. Real time traffic signaling is being implemented as a way to keep cars moving and the town should continuously be re-evaluating that technology.

As the Vienna representative to the Greater Tysons Citizens Coalition, I am continuously working with Fairfax County to ensure the county helps mitigate traffic produced by Tysons. I would work with the town’s new traffic engineer and look into innovative ways to calm traffic and keep it flowing on Maple Avenue.

Providing sidewalks in town also can reduce traffic as it gets people out of their cars. The town received a generous monetary gift from the late Councilmember Maud Robinson, which was designated for sidewalks. I would prioritize the installation of sidewalks on the busiest streets, on streets leading to bus stops, schools, downtown and other places of interest.

How would you work with Natalia Monkou to boost economic development in the town?

Hiring Natalie Monkou as the economic development manager for the town has already proven to be a wise decision. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, she was meeting with town businesses to determine what their needs were and how best to help them.

I would work with her and the finance department and council to develop methods to support our Town businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic. She has also been able to work with businesses and guide them through processes like applying for small business loans.

I would also work with Natalie during the redevelopment plan for Maple Avenue. I would like to look at ways to bring businesses into town as well as help determine ways to support our current businesses.

What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance?

Our town should be a welcoming community where people of all ages want to live, shop, walk, bike and drive safely. I will look for ways to make improvements and to offer amenities and housing options for all. We must preserve and increase green space and trees and I will look for sustainable ways to ensure the health and welfare of our environment and community.

The design for Maple Avenue is very important and I want to bring Vienna together on this topic. We all agree that we want to keep Vienna unique amid a large metropolitan area. I envision a mixture of one to three or four storied buildings with nice architecture. My vision is a walkable, vibrant main-street that is economically feasible and provides a beautiful, safe, and thriving business district that residents will use with pride.

Some residents are concerned about town officials’ transparency and the public’s ability to comment on proposals. Do you think this is an issue? How will you ensure people understand what is going on and are able to engage on topics that matter to them?

Transparency and trust go hand in hand. Every councilmember needs to follow state requirements for ethics and financial disclosures. The town needs to be transparent and inform and engage residents during the process of making big town decisions.

I will improve communication between the town and its residents both by providing easily accessible information and upgrading how the Town receives feedback from the community when making town decisions. I want every resident to know that their voice is being heard. As your mayor, one of my top priorities will be to ensure that we are One Vienna, working together to make our town stronger and even more vibrant. Our decisions are not black and white. I do not ever want to divide our town. I want to unite our town. #OneVienna

People interested in learning more about Colbert’s campaign can check out her website and Facebook.

Photo courtesy Linda Colbert

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