Tysons, VA

Vienna residents shared mixed feedback on a proposal that would relax lot coverage requirements earlier this week.

At a town hall on Monday, town officials and staff listened to dozens of residents’ thoughts on a proposal that would allow for more decks, patios and other types of “outdoor living space.”

Councilmember Nisha Patel’s outdoor living space proposal would allow extra amenities as long as stormwater management systems are implemented

Currently, Town Code says that buildings, accessory buildings, automobile parking spaces and access, sport courts, tennis courts, patios, and terraces can only take up 25% of a lot.

Patel said that the proposal was sparked by people who said they didn’t know their builder had maxed out the lot coverage or couldn’t get out of their driveways safely because they don’t have a turnaround space.

“It’s open for modification, which is why we’re having this meeting tonight,” Patel said at the start of the meeting. “Should we allow 1%, 3% or 5%?”

Patel added that the proposal does not aim to encourage larger houses.

People who spoke in support of the proposal said that it could benefit people who live in older homes and fix drainage issues in the town.

Christine Silvia-Degennaro said she supports the proposal because she lives in a rambler and ran into zoning issues with her driveway when trying to put an addition on her house.

“I think that it would be a very beneficial thing for people to make this small adjustment,” she said. “We’re not speaking as somebody who has a 600,000-square-foot home. We have a very modest home in Vienna.”

Another person, an engineer, who spoke in favor of the proposal said that the stormwater management would fix drainage issues in the town.

Other residents opposed or critiqued the proposal, while a few said they have mixed feelings about the idea.

Some people said that people buying an expensive home in Vienna had a responsibility to be aware of lot coverage rules. “It’s not OK to claim ignorance,” one person said.

Other residents asked how the proposal would affect homes that have already been built versus future homes, raising concern that it could make a loophole allowing larger homes.

Shawn Thompson, who said he lives in a McMansion, summarized a NextDoor thread with concerns about privilege, protecting older residents, developers abusing rules and huge homes.

“It feels like privilege to me that the problem we’re having here is I bought my $1.5 million house and I don’t have even lot coverage left to put in the patio for a grill.”

Thompson said that he’s heard concerns from residents that older residents won’t be able to afford to live in the town.

“One of the reasons we all love Vienna is because grandma grew up here,” Thompson said. “Do we want grandma to have to move to Herndon or Loudon County?”

Meanwhile, Chuck Anderson, a former Planning Commissioner for the town, told the town officials and staff to be cautious with how they relax the lot coverage rules, if the proposal moves forward.

“Be very careful about selecting changing lot coverage rules on an ad hoc basis, because you don’t know the unintended consequences,” Anderson said, recommending that the lot coverage be considered on a comprehensive basis that could promote aging in place.

Sarah Couchman, the current vice chair of the Planning Commission, said that the proposal would boost her landscaping business, yet Couchman said that she’s concerned about developers building to the limit.

Ultimately, town staff said that they are looking to get more data and bring on a consultant as they consider reorganizing the zoning code, which hasn’t been overhauled since 1969.

Residents can submit comments and fill out a questionnaire through Monday, March 9.

During the second half of the meeting, attendees were asked to prioritize recommendations from the Maple Avenue Corridor Multimodal Transportation and Land Use Study.

The 16 near and mid-term recommendations range from under low cost to up to $150,000. They include:

  • improving Church and Mill streets
  • redesigning W&OD Trail crossings
  • filling “vital” sidewalk gaps
  • creating a bicycle network
  • having a parking supply and demand study
  • considering a local circulator

The town asks that people rank their priorities online or on a paper version by 5 p.m. on Monday (March 9).

“We hear stories and we’re not sure how many people are affected,” Patel said about the significance of the town hall. “It’s important that we get a sense of what the community wants.”

Three images in story via Town of Vienna 

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Town of Vienna officials plan to host a meeting next Monday to get feedback from residents on outdoor living space and projects recommended in the Maple Avenue Corridor Multimodal Transportation and Land Use Study.

Councilmember Nisha Patel has a proposal that would allow for driveway expansion, decks, patios, outdoor sports courts, terraces, screened porches not enclosed by four walls, lead walks and pools, according to a press release from the town.

More from the press release:

The current Town code states that not more than 25% of a lot shall be covered by buildings, accessory buildings, automobile parking spaces and access, sport courts, tennis courts, patios, and terraces. Decks are regulated separately and may not cover more than 5% of the total area… These amenities, classified as outdoor living space and improvements, would be permitted as long as stormwater management systems are implemented, functional, and in compliance with current required standards.

Now, the councilmembers want to know what residents think of the plan: “Is it a good idea to allow for outdoor living space and other amenities in exchange for [the] implementation of a current stormwater management system on their property?”

“What we’d like hear on March 2 are residents’ thoughts about the pros and cons of this idea,” Patel said in the press release. “We’re looking for feedback on ways this concept could be modified. Help us figure out the right thing to do.”

Additionally, councilmembers want to know what residents want to be prioritized from the draft final report of the Maple Avenue Multimodal Transportation Study.

The study includes several recommended projects, along with an initiative currently underway to upgrade signal timing infrastructure and technology, the press release said.

The meeting is set to take place between 7-9 p.m. at the Town Hall. At the meeting, residents will have a chance to ask questions and engage in interactive exercises, according to the press release.

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Metro is currently seeking input on its proposed fiscal year 2021 budget, which includes changes impacting hours and fares.

The ideas include:

  • keeping Metrorail open until midnight Monday-Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays
  • adding more weekend service on Metro bus routes
  • increasing Metrorail fares during peak periods
    increasing bus fares for people loading their SmarTrip card with cash
  • creating a flat fare for Metrorail
  • eliminating low-ridership bus routes
  • eliminating transfer fares between Metro trains and buses

“Today, riders pay for Bus and Rail trips separately and get a $0.50 discount when transferring,” according to Metro. “Under this proposal, transfers between Metrorail and regular Metrobus services would be free.”

Before Metro’s budget year begins before July 1, people can submit comments via an online survey and provide feedback through March 2. Metro also plans to have open houses in Arlington, D.C. and New Carrollton.

What do you think of Metro’s ideas?

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The Vienna Town Council was set to hear proposed ideas for how to improve transportation along Maple Avenue area on Monday night — but that discussion got pushed to next year.

Town staff was slated to present recommendations from the Maple Avenue Multimodal Study — a study by Kimley-Horn meant to suggest near- to mid-term solutions regarding transportation along the corridor. But the study wasn’t ready.

Lynne Coan, a spokesperson for the town, told Tysons Reporter that now the discussion of the study and recommendations have been postponed to the Jan. 13 work session.

Town staff already have a list of top priorities they want, along with ideas for future studies and strategies.

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People in the Tysons area had a chance last night to provide feedback on several preliminary concepts that would change the Silver, Orange and Blue lines.

The concepts are a part of a two-year study to address both short- and long-term needs. For people in Tysons, one option would let trains turn back at different areas along the Orange, Blue or Silver Lines, while another option would create new Silver Line connections north or south of I-66.

Around 5 p.m. last night (Tuesday), a dozen attendees showed up to the open house at the Courtyard by Marriott Tysons-McLean (1960A Chain Bridge Road) — just in time for a presentation by Mark Phillips, the project manager for the reliability study.

Phillips said that capacity issues at the Rosslyn tunnel for the three lines prompted the study.

“It’s created reliability issues,” Phillips said. “If there is a breakdown, which has happened a couple of times this week, on one line, it impacts the other two.”

Phillips said that dangerous activity — like people holding the doors open and overcrowding — and an expected increase in ridership along the three lines also prompted the study.

By 2040, an 18% increase in daily ridership — roughly 40,000 new riders — is expected on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, according to informational boards at the meeting.

Informational boards gave the benefits and trade-offs for all of the preliminary concepts, along with a board comparing how the concepts do or do not meet Metro’s four goals: capacity, reliability, flexibility and sustainability.

People have until Jan. 6 to provide feedback via an online survey.

The list of ideas will get narrowed down once feedback from the public and external stakeholders — including six technical and advisory committees — has been received. A cost/benefit analysis is set to happen in the spring or summer, followed by a recommendation in the fall.

Phillips said that he expects the recommendation to include both short- and long-term changes.

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Proposed ideas for how to improve transportation along the Maple Avenue area are set to be discussed at the Vienna Town Council’s work session tonight (Monday).

Town staff is slated to present recommendations from the Maple Avenue Multimodal Study — a study by Kimley-Horn meant to suggest near- to mid-term solutions regarding transportation along the corridor.

“Staff expects a draft of the final report from Kimley-Horn the week of Dec. 9,” according to town documents.

According to town documents, the staff’s top priority recommendations include:

  • redesigning the intersection of Church and Mill streets
  • redesigning the W&OD Trail crossings at Maple Avenue, Church Street and Park Street
  • changing crossing signals so pedestrians have extra time to cross
  • adding a local circulator route between Maple Avenue and Church Street destinations
  • installing  concrete sidewalks along segments of Church Street, Glyndon Street and Courthouse Road

Additionally, the staff would like to see the following studies and strategies done:

  • study of parking supply and demand
  • traffic impact analysis guidelines
  • Bicycle Master Plan to develop a bicycle network for the town
  • Streetscape Master Plan and Design Guidelines

The Vienna Town Council is expected to provide feedback on the list of projects to staff.

Image via Town of Vienna 

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Last week, Metro revealed several preliminary concepts that would change the Silver, Orange and Blue lines.

The concepts are a part of a two-year study to address both short- and long-term needs.

For people in Tysons, one option would let trains turn back at different areas along the Orange, Blue or Silver Lines, like the West Falls Church or East Falls Church Metro stations, while another option would create new Silver Line connections north or south of I-66.

Now, Metro wants to hear from community members that would be affected by any changes.

People can provide feedback about the ideas at several meetings this month, including a Tysons-area meeting next week.

The meeting is set to take place on Tuesday (Dec. 17) at the Courtyard by Marriott Tysons-McLean (1960A Chain Bridge Road) from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

People can also provide feedback via an online survey that will be open until Jan. 6.

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Starting next year, motorized scooters will be able to go up to 8 miles per hour in the Maple Avenue and Nutley Street corridors.

The General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year allowing localities to regulate motorized scooters and skateboards before Jan. 1.

The Vienna Town Council approved last night (Monday) a one-year pilot program for shared mobility devices, which include motorized scooters, ahead of the end-of-year deadline.

The devices will be able to go up to 8 mph on the Nutley Street and Maple Avenue corridors and in areas adjacent t0 schools, parks and recreation centers. On side streets, the devices will be able to go up to 20 mph.

Town staff said that it is anticipated that people will use the devices on the sidewalks on Nutley and Maple and in the road on the side streets.

Each operator will be required to pay a $5,000 fee to the town and be capped at 150 vehicles per the mode of transportation — motorized scooters or bikes — for each company.

Currently, the town has not capped the number of companies.

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Yesterday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) released several preliminary concepts for alternative routes affecting Metro riders in Northern Virginia.

For people in the Tysons area, two concepts would create new Silver Line connections by I-66 — one north and another south of the highway.

The concepts stemmed from a study to find solutions for bottlenecking of the Silver, Orange and Blue lines at the Rosslyn Metro station, according to WMATA.

“This bottleneck limits the number of trains that can serve customers during rush hour,” according to WMATA. “In addition, running three lines on one track requires precision, and even a minor problem with a single train can impact the entire rush hour for all three lines.”

WMATA is looking to get community feedback on the ideas and plan to host a meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 17) at the Courtyard by Marriott Tysons-McLean (1960A Chain Bridge Road) from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Let Tysons Reporter know what you think of the new concepts and which one(s) would affect you. Feel free to share ideas in the comments below.

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Metro riders could see some new routes for the Silver, Orange and Blue lines in the future.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority released today (Thursday) several preliminary concepts for the three lines that include alternative routes. The concepts are a part of a two-year study to address both short- and long-term needs, according to WMATA.

More from WMATA:

Today customers on Metro’s Blue, Orange, and Silver lines experience delays, crowding, and congestion due to limitations in the system’s design. The three lines share one set of tracks from the Rosslyn tunnel, through downtown DC, to Stadium- Armory. This bottleneck limits the number of trains that can serve customers during rush hour. In addition, running three lines on one track requires precision, and even a minor problem with a single train can impact the entire rush hour for all three lines.

The BOS Study has identified several draft concepts to improve service and position Metro to serve the future needs of our region. Input from the public and stakeholders will help Metro evaluate the concepts and recommend a comprehensive strategy with a “locally-preferred alternative” to move forward with federal environmental review, design and funding in late 2020.

For people in Tysons, one option would let trains turn back at different areas along the Orange, Blue or Silver Lines, like the West Falls Church or East Falls Church Metro stations.

Another concept would create new Silver Line connections north of I-66:

Concept: Provide new Silver Line service through a new tunnel under the Potomac River into DC and Maryland, north of I-66.

A new tunnel under the Potomac River would provide a new Silver Line “corridor” north of I-66 that could operate as local service, express service or a mix, with different service options:

Option A: Operate new Silver Line service between West Falls Church, Mid-City DC, Union Station, Northeast DC and Prince George’s County.
Option B: Similar to Option A, but Silver Line service would operate from McLean instead of West Falls Church.
Option C: Operate new Silver Line service between Tysons, Bethesda or Friendship Heights, northern DC and Prince George’s County.

Yet another concept would create new Silver Line connections south of I-66:

Concept: Provide new Silver Line service through a new tunnel under the Potomac River into DC and Maryland, south of I-66.

A new tunnel under the Potomac River would provide a new Silver Line “corridor” south of I-66 that could operate as local service, express service or a mix, with different service options:

Option A: Operate new Silver Line service from West Falls Church along Route 7 and Columbia Pike, then across the Yellow Line Bridge to Southeast DC and Prince George’s County.
Option B: Similar to Option A, but the Silver Line would turn southward to Crystal City and National Airport rather than heading to DC.

WMATA plans to solicit feedback from the public about the ideas at several meetings this month. The Tysons-area meeting is set to take place on Tuesday (Dec. 17) at the Courtyard by Marriott Tysons-McLean (1960A Chain Bridge Road) from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

The online survey will be open until Jan. 6.

People can find more information about the preliminary concepts online.

Two images via WMATA

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