Newsletter

Morning Notes

Health Department Tweaks Approach to Quarantined Students — Starting today (Thursday), students who have been exposed to COVID-19 can complete wellness checks and get guidance from the Fairfax County Health Department online instead of having to wait for a phone call. The change is part of an ongoing effort to speed up the contact-tracing and quarantining processes so students can return to school buildings. [FCHD]

Local Arts Groups See Bright Spots Amid Upheaval — “Fairfax County’s art scene is under-funded, under-capacity and still weathering the pandemic, but several upcoming projects will bring it closer to its potential, the president of ArtsFairfax said. The county’s prospects are changing more quickly than at any other point in her 12 years with the organization, Linda Sullivan told the Greater Tysons Citizens Coalition during a Sept. 9 roundtable.” [Sun Gazette]

Vienna Schedules Meeting on Economic Strategy — The Town of Vienna will hold a public meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 for residents to discuss a draft economic development report that looks at how the town could more effectively attract and support businesses. The town hired a consultant in January to conduct a market study and propose an economic development strategy that were released in June. [Patch]

Italian Bakery Sets Tysons Corner Grand Opening — “Handcrafted Italian pastry is coming to Tysons Corner Center! Celebrate the Grand Opening of DreamStart Winner Bisnonna Bakeshop on Saturday, 09/18 with family-friendly activities starting at 10am” [Tysons Corner Center/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Controversy Hits Tysons Korean Cooking Contest — Half of the judges for the 2021 K-Food Cook-Off have quit after a statement introducing one of them drew social media criticism for suggesting that the D.C. area has a lack of Korean restaurants. The competition, which will be held on Sept. 26 at the Tysons Hyatt Regency, has also come under fire for only having one judge of Korean heritage on its original panel. [Washington City Paper]

Police Investigate Possible Murder in Falls Church — Fairfax County police found the remains of 78-year-old Truman Nguyen in a shallow grave behind his house near Bailey’s Crossroads yesterday after a family member reported him missing on Monday (Sept. 6). His son was arrested and has been charged with murder, which would make it the county’s 18th homicide this year, triple the number that had been reported at this time in 2020. [The Washington Post]

Family of 9/11 Victim Shares Memories of Tragic Day — Now a student pursuing a master’s degree at George Mason University, Fairfax County resident An Nguyen was just 4 when his father was killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, where both of his parents worked. His mother, who came to the U.S. from Vietnam as a child, was not at the Pentagon when the plane hit. [NBC4]

Tysons Business Group Hosts Statewide Candidates Forum — “The Multicultural Chamber Alliance (MCCA), a powerful collaborative initiative of the Asian American Chamber, the Northern Virginia Black Chamber and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber, invites the press and general public to attend the Annual Candidates Forum. The Candidates Forum will take place Thursday, September 9, 2021, from 10 am-12 pm, at the University of North America (12750 Fair Lakes Circle) in Fairfax, Virginia.” [MCCA]

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Morning Notes

Political Anxieties Drive Tensions at McLean Bible Church — “The leaders of McLean Bible, one of the D.C. region’s largest and most high-profile evangelical churches, are facing attempts from its own members to spread disinformation to take control of the church, Pastor David Platt warned the congregation in a sermon earlier this month…Platt said he believes the recent controversy has been a collision of several things, including racial tensions and political tensions.” [The Washington Post]

Vienna to Hold Meeting on Nutley Shared-Use Path — “Property owners were notified Monday about an upcoming meeting to discuss design of the Nutley Street shared-use path and Hunters Branch stream restoration projects. The Town of Vienna’s two projects are in design and focus on the area of Nutley Street south of Maple Avenue. A virtual meeting on both concepts will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 4.” [Patch]

Fairhill Elementary Announces New Principal — “Grateful to have been on hand this afternoon when Mr. Cooper was announced as the new principal of @FairhillES. Looking forward to seeing him put his proven track record of success to work at this amazing Blue Ribbon School! #GoTigers” [Karl Frisch/Twitter]

Meet Internet Inventors Vinton Gray Cerf and Robert E. Kahn — “The indisputable inventors of one of the greatest planet-changing instruments of all time live a few minutes apart in McLean and have lived in Northern Virginia for four decades…The impact of the internet on life as we know it is profound and ongoing, but did you know until right now whom to credit — or blame?” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Northrop Grumman Hires Sustainability Chief — Northrop Grumman Corp. has hired Michael Witt as its vice president and chief sustainability officer, effective Aug. 9. Witt was most recently working at Dow, serving in several executive positions. Northrop Grumman didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry seeking comment. [Northrop Grumman]

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Better traffic circulation, accessibility, and amenities are some potential changes that could come to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and National Park Service unveiled a proposed amendment to the park’s general management plan during a virtual public meeting on May 25.

“In general, the goal, in very broad strokes, is to improve the visitor experience,” Wolf Trap National Park Acting Superintendent Ken Bigley said. “In keeping with the preservation mandate of the National Park Service, we want to preserve the natural beauty and the character of this very special space…This is exactly where you come in as members of the public.”

The upgrades will focus on improving amenities, accessibility, safety, and security features; addressing long-documented site challenges, such as transportation access, pedestrian circulation, and stormwater management; addressing deferred maintenance areas; improving the visitor experience, and expanding opportunities for year-round park use.

The approximately 130-acre park located on former farmland has three outdoor venues: the Filene Center, the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, and the Meadow Pavilion, each served by a collection of structures that could be removed, rehabilitated, or upgraded. Other structures could also be added.

Concession buildings in the Filene Center area are outdated and could get upgrades, according to the presentation.

A food services building will be rebuilt to provide concession services, restrooms, and a deck area, while a service building will be replaced with two new buildings that will provide concession service, a security screening area and restrooms, and a rooftop-accessible picnic area.

The Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods could get needed support facilities, such as an area for parents to comfort their children. The facility is also slated to get a pavilion.

The plan recommends rehabilitating a building to provide offices, a catering kitchen, restrooms, and a cabin to house U.S. Park Police and work as a space for park ushers.

Existing trailer offices would be removed.

Other additions include a security perimeter and a new pedestrian tunnel.

Architects are also looking at parking, traffic, and circulation. The three options being considered all widen the Main Circle Road to add a bypass lane for vehicles that need to access certain lots or parts of the park, while removing existing parking around Main Circle Road.

Existing structures that will stay include the Box Office Trailer (B), the Main Gate (C). The Main Gate Canopy (R) will be updated and a new structure, a security perimeter (V), will be added.

Option A would retain more trees than Option C, while Option B could incorporate a parking garage, the location of which has not been vetted, according to the presentation. Read More

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Morning Notes

Revisit Original Tysons Corner Apple Store via AR — “On May 19, 2001, Apple opened its first two retail stores in Tysons Corner, Virginia and Glendale, California. Now you can revisit the world’s first Apple Store exactly as it appeared twenty years ago on grand opening day through an interactive augmented reality experience.” [9 to 5 Mac]

Apple Anniversary at Tysons Corner Center —  “Twenty years ago today, Steve Jobs opened the first ⁦@Apple store in Tysons Corner, VA, a suburb of D.C. Here I am talking to him during his press walkthrough of the store.” [Walt Mossberg/Twitter]

Falls Church School Vaccine Clinics Coming — In addition to bringing COVID-19 vaccine sites to Fairfax County high schools, the Fairfax County Health Department will provide school-based clinics to Falls Church City Public Schools students on Friday (May 21) and June 11. The deadline to register for the clinics is today (Thursday) at 8 p.m. [FCHD]

Civilian Review Panel to Hold Public Forum for Police Chief — The Fairfax County Police Civilian Review Panel will host a virtual public forum on WebEx at 7 p.m. on May 26 to discuss civilian oversight of law enforcement with new Police Chief Kevin Davis. This is the second opportunity that community members will get to question Davis, whose appointment was met with skepticism from local civil rights advocates. [Supervisor Dan Storck/Twitter]

Retired MCC Executive Director Gets Sendoff — “State and local officials, along with past and present members of the McLean Community Center Governing Board, gave a final send-off to the center’s departing executive director, George Sachs, during a May 2 gathering at McLean Central Park…Sachs retired May 7 after 11 years at the center. His successor, Daniel Phoenix Singh…assumed his new post April 12.” [Sun Gazette]

New Maintenance Facility Opens at Pimmit Run — “The Fairfax County Park Authority has opened a new Area 1 Maintenance Facility at Pimmit Run Stream Valley Park to better meet current and future maintenance needs. The project involved the demolition of three aging maintenance buildings, the relocation of two storage sheds on site, and construction of a new one-story 7,500-square-foot maintenance building.” [FCPA]

McLean Leads Virginia in Billionaires — “McLean has two billionaires with a collective net worth of $4.7 billion, making it the top locale in Virginia in terms of billionaire wealth, according to a new analysis from the financial news website 24/7 Wall St.” [The Center Square/Inside NoVA]

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(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is still a month away from launching its 50th anniversary season, but the National Park Service is already looking further into the future.

In partnership with the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, NPS announced yesterday (Thursday) that it will unveil a proposed amendment to the park’s general management plan at a virtual public meeting on May 25.

“As we mark our 50th anniversary season, Wolf Trap Foundation and the National Park Service are collaborating on proposed improvements that will elevate the Wolf Trap experience for visitors and artists into the next 50 years and ensure that Wolf Trap continues to be a treasured cultural community resource for generations,” a Wolf Trap Foundation spokesperson said in a statement to Tysons Reporter.

Last updated in 2005, the Wolf Trap National Park general management plan guides the park’s programming, services, facilities, and operations.

NPS spokesperson Jan Lemons says the general management plans for each national park are created by staff and reviewed periodically with updates coming “as needed to improve the visitor experience while still preserving the history, landscapes, and resources of the park.”

“The goal of this proposed amendment…is to strategically guide the park in future developments in a cohesive manner,” Lemons said. “The proposed amendments include several updates to the Filene Center to improve safety and security along with aesthetics, comfort, and convenience.”

According to a news release, the potential changes include:

  • Update Filene Center amenities to meet current industry standards
  • Improve traffic flow, add new parking and build a new pedestrian tunnel
  • Improve accessibility for visitors with disabilities throughout the park
  • Improve security
  • Build, update or replace facilities including concession stands and restrooms
  • Build a new structure to serve visitors
  • Add directional and wayfinding signs
  • Expand opportunities for year-round park use

The move to update Wolf Trap’s master plan comes as the park prepares to resume in-person performances more than a year after suspending most programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The park is also in the midst of a privately funded renovation project that will introduce new, permanent pavilions in place of the temporary tents that cover many facilities.

The live, virtual public scoping meeting on the proposed amendment will take place on May 25 from 6-7:30 p.m. Community members can join the meeting through Microsoft Teams or by calling 877-286-5733 and entering conference ID 161885943#.

The presentation materials will be posted on the project website that day, and a recording of the meeting will be available for viewing after May 26.

The meeting will be followed by a public comment period with a deadline of June 25. The NPS will accept feedback through the project website or by mail to Wolf Trap National Park Acting Superintendent Ken Bigley at 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA 22182.

According to the NPS, the 30-day public comment period is the first step in the process of developing an environmental assessment to evaluate how the proposed changes might affect park resources.

“The NPS is preparing an Environmental Assessment for this proposed amendment,” the NPS said. “We’ll consider public comments as we develop and finalize the amendment, and then will implement park improvements as funding becomes available.”

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Morning Notes

New Police Chief to Speak at Public Input Session — Community members will get their first chance to talk to new Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis at 7 p.m. on Thursday (May 6). Local civil rights groups have criticized Davis’s past record and a hiring process they say lacked transparency and public involvement, prompting the county board to issue a statement last night reaffirming its support for Davis. [Supervisor Rodney Lusk/Twitter]

COVID-19 Vaccine Could Soon Be Approved for Teens — “During a news briefing Friday, Virginia’s state vaccination coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said the CDC believes it is likely there will be an approved vaccine for ages 12 and up between mid-May to late May. Pfizer could be the first to get approval for ages 12 and up, followed by Moderna few weeks later, Avula said.” [Patch]

Cicadas Officially Emerge in Tysons — Brood X’s emergence began Monday night (May 3), when “more than 40 cicadas were spotted hanging off of branches just west of Tysons,” a periodical cicada expert told ABC7. The first cicada in the D.C. area appeared near Towson, Maryland, on April 19. [ABC7 News-WJLA]

Vienna Bans Plastic Bags for Yard Waste — The Vienna Town Council voted unanimously last week to eliminate the use of plastic bags for yard waste collection, following the lead of Fairfax County, which started enforcing its ban on April 19. Residents should instead utilize reusable containers or paper bags designed to hold leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Vienna Contractor to Take on Private Health Care Providers — “Eight-year-old Vienna IT company Nolij Consulting has helped develop an electronic health records system for the Pentagon that serves 41,000 active users — and now it’s looking to take that expertise to the private sector.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Vienna Budget Hearings Begin Next Week — The Town of Vienna will hold a public hearing on its proposed FY 2022 budget and water and sewer rates on Monday (April 12), with a public hearing on the proposed tax rate to follow on April 26. Town Manager Mercury Payton proposed increasing the budget by 5.3% and maintaining a flat tax rate for the seventh consecutive year. [Patch]

Northam Endorses McAuliffe for Virginia Governor — “Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he is backing Terry McAuliffe in the race to succeed him, handing his predecessor one of the contest’s most coveted endorsements…McAuliffe [is] the presumptive front-runner in the five-person Democratic primary, to be held in June.” [Associated Press/WTOP]

Fairfax County Will Get $7.8 Million to Combat Homelessness — Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (D) announced yesterday that Virginia will get more than $96 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to help residents who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless get access to safe, affordable housing. Fairfax County is among 21 localities to receive grant funding. [Press release from Sen. Tim Kaine’s office]

Wolf Trap Announces Grants for Local Performing Arts Programs — Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts has awarded eight grants to high schools in the D.C. area, including Centreville High School in Fairfax County to support their music, dance, and theater programs. Wolf Trap will track the projects through its Virtual Stage platform. [Wolf Trap]

Pop-Up Consignment Sale Now Open at Pike 7Just Between Friends Eastern Fairfax kicked off its spring and summer sale yesterday at Pike 7 Plaza on Leesburg Pike in Vienna. The sale runs through Sunday and allows people to buy or sell toys, clothes, and other items for children. Admission is free, but tickets can be reserved through Eventbrite. [Just Between Friends/Facebook]

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The McLean Citizen Association (MCA) will host a public safety forum on criminal justice reform on April 21 at 7 p.m. According to an MCA flier, the event will feature a panel to address issues such as “police use of force, oversight, accountability and reform.”

Panelists for this forum will include:

If time permits, there will be a question-and-answer session for the public to talk to the panelists.

The future of policing and public safety has become a top concern in Fairfax County in recent months as the county searches for a new police chief to succeed Edwin Roessler, who retired in February after eight years in the position. Deputy County Executive for Public Safety David Rohrer is currently serving as the county’s interim police chief.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who chairs the board’s public safety committee, held a public input session on Tuesday (April 6) where community members shared their thoughts on what the county should look for in its next police chief.

This will be the McLean Citizens Association’s second public safety forum in the past five months after the group hosted a discussion with Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano on Dec. 16.

MCA also passed a resolution in July 2020 condemning the actions of a white Fairfax County police officer who tased a Black man and knelt on his neck.

In that resolution, MCA urged county leaders and the Fairfax County Police Department “to provide additional and ongoing training to FCPD officers regarding racial neutrality and identify and take rigorous disciplinary action…of officers who have a history of…using unjustified force or abusive conduct towards African Americans and other minorities,” amongst other requests.

Registration is required to attend the upcoming forum. An email with the Zoom link will be sent to all registered guests. Guests may also view the live streamed event on the MCA Facebook page after the meeting is complete.

Photo via McLean Citizens Association/Facebook

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to defer a vote on adopting a new county zoning ordinance after hearing roughly five hours of testimony at a public hearing on Tuesday (March 9).

The fate of the 614-page document will now be decided at 4:30 p.m. on March 23.

“We’ve been at this for a long time,” Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith said toward the end of the public hearing, which featured 71 speakers. “…By deferring for two weeks, that gives the board more time to consider what we’ve heard before we move on this on March 23.”

The additional time will let the board review input from the community and the Fairfax County Planning Commission, which put forward amendments last week related to flags and flag poles, home-based businesses, and accessory living units (independent housing on the same property as a main residence).

“I think we might have a fairly long mark-up on this, because my guess is there are going to be a number of issues, as a board, we might need to talk through,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said.

Launched in 2017, the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance Modernization project (zMOD) aims to update the county’s 40-year-old zoning code by making it easier to comprehend and incorporating new activities, such as electric vehicles and community gardens.

Proposed regulations on ALUs, home-based businesses, and flags have emerged as the most hotly contested changes, though speakers at Tuesday’s public hearing raised concerns about everything from food trucks to vehicle storage.

Fairfax County staff agreed with the planning commission that the draft should have a requirement that home-based businesses be approved by the county health department if the property has a well or septic system and a standard limiting the amount of hazardous materials they can have on site.

They also revised their recommendation for flags to allow maximum sizes of 50 square feet on lots with single-family dwellings and manufactured homes or 150 square feet for all other uses. Staff previously recommended limiting flag sizes to 24 square feet on single-family home lots and 96 square feet for other uses.

Community members took stands on both sides of the debate around ALUs. Some voiced support for looser regulations to enable them as an affordable housing option, while others worried about the potential impacts on traffic, parking, and public facilities.

“There is no guarantee that ALUs will equal affordable housing, but eliminating the current requirements will tax our already burdened public facilities,” McLean Citizens Association President Rob Jackson said. “…Adding more people without additional public facilities will degrade the quality of life.”

Many speakers urged the Board of Supervisors to follow the planning commission’s recommendation of retaining a special permitting process for interior ALUs, saying that allowing administrative permits would shut out citizens and neighbors.

“We really need more genuine outreach to engage the public in making land use decisions that directly affect communities, and not less,” Falls Church resident Kathryn Cooper said. “Residents do not want their involvement in land use decisions to be excised, as will occur under zMOD.”

Also a Falls Church resident, Coalition for Smarter Growth Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager Sonya Breehey argued that the county should go further in encouraging ALUs and that continuing to require a special permit for interior units, as recommended by the planning commission, would delay efforts to address housing affordability challenges.

“Accessory living units can offer less expensive housing options than renting or buying a single-family home because of their smaller size, and they provide housing opportunities in communities that might otherwise be too expensive,” Breehey said. “…As a homeowner in a single-family residential neighborhood, I want you all to know that I see ALUs as an opportunity to provide greater inclusivity in my neighborhood that I love.”

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