The Vienna Town Council recently revisited the idea of installing new sidewalks within three neighborhoods.
After a former councilmember Maud Robinson donated a chunk of money in her will for the town to build sidewalks, the Town Council is now evaluating how they can respect her wishes and improve town infrastructure.
During the meeting on Monday (Feb. 24), the Town Council discussed proposed sidewalks would be installed on:
- Plum Street SW between Cottage Street SW to Tapawingo Road,
- Cabin Road SE between Branch Road SE and Glyndon Street SE
- Holmes Drive NW between John Marshall Drive and Upham Place NW
Currently, only 50% of the homeowners on Homes Drive and Plum Street have responded to a request for input on the subject, but councilmembers said they would like at least a 75% response rate.
“I feel better knowing the majority of people are in favor of the decision,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco said, adding that before things move forward, it would be best for town staffers to try new methods to get feedback from homeowners along the proposed routes.
From the feedback received so far from residents, some are concerned over disruption to foliage and trees that would be in the way of the sidewalks.
Councilmember Douglas Noble mentioned that homeowners don’t have control over town-owned easement property on the outskirts of a lot, but added it was determined that the public works department has ways of building the sidewalks without disrupting or killing the trees in the direct path.
During public comment at the meeting, two parents expressed support for the sidewalks and voiced concerns about their kids’ safety.
“A tree can be replanted… I wanna put that in perspective,” a father of two young daughters said. “You can’t replace a child if she gets hit by a car. A 62- year-old maple tree doesn’t matter — my kids matter.”
The man also shared the importance of this project for several families who have recently moved into the neighborhood around Cabin Road.
“I cannot believe we are spending this much time talking about sidewalks, but it’s a democracy at it’s finest,” he said.
A mother also came up to the podium and shared how she makes her kids FaceTime her after they get off the school bus to ensure their walk home goes smoothly.
She said that she often sees cars speeding down Cabin Road — coming too close to her kids on an unprotected road shoulder for comfort.
After public feedback, the Town Council passed a motion at the meeting to prepare design sidewalk plans on Plum Street, Cabin Road and John Marshall Drive.
Going forward, town representatives will begin preparing sidewalk designs and finish gathering feedback from homeowners in the area. Councilmembers also passed a motion saying design plans shouldn’t cost more than $500,000.
Image via Google Maps
(Updated 2/13/2020) A bill that would let the Town of Vienna have unique tree canopy requirements has passed the Virginia House of Delegates.
Del. Mark Keam’s (D-35th) bill would let the town require developers to plant bigger trees so that they grow faster.
Keam told Tysons Reporter that he’s been trying to get different versions of this bill passed for about four years ever since the Town of Vienna considered tree conservation on its legislative agenda a few years ago.
“I’ve had some luck in moving the needle,” Keam said about his latest attempt.
Keam said the bill was originally going to be in a larger package of tree-related bills in the House of Delegates. “Mine escaped,” he said.
While Keam said that he’s heard about the backlash Wawa received from some residents for chopping down trees it wasn’t supposed to in the town, he said that the Wawa incident did not influence the bill.
Still, Keam said he’s “not surprised” about the backlash and that he hears complaints “all the time” about developments’ impact on trees.
Keam said that the bill would put bigger trees in the ground so that the tree canopy requirements are met sooner. The bill is meant to improve the aesthetics and stormwater management in the town, he said.
“We are very proud of our trees,” Keam said, mentioning Vienna’s history as a “Tree City USA.”
The Virginia House passed the bill with bipartisan support yesterday (Tuesday, Feb. 11). Three Republican legislators voted “nay,” while 95 legislators voted in support.
Keam said that he believes the bill’s opponents thought it gave a local government too much power over developers and could have a negative economic impact on home builders.
“I am concerned that the requirement may have a negative impact on efforts to provide affordable housing,” Del. Mark Cole (R-88th) told Tysons Reporter for why he voted against the bill.
Since the bill affects a specific locality, it will need two-thirds approval to pass in the Senate. A Senate version of the bill from State Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-34th) was most recently in the Committee on Local Government.
Tysons Reporter reached out to Petersen’s office to find out when the bill might head to the Senate floor for a vote and will update this story when more information is available.
“I’m hoping it survives,” Keam said about the bill’s prospects in the Senate.
Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) has introduced a House bill that would let the Town of Vienna require developers to meet tree requirements 10 years sooner than other jurisdictions.
His proposal, which was filed last Monday (Jan. 6), comes months after Wawa received backlash from residents for chopping down trees it wasn’t supposed to in the Town of Vienna.
Vienna officials are currently working on a plan to prevent anything similar from happening again.
The bill would allow:
the Town of Vienna, by ordinance, to require that a subdivision or development provide for the preservation or replacement of trees on the development site such that the minimum tree canopy 10 years after development is projected to meet specified coverage criteria.”
Currently, the criteria apply to coverage 20 years after development.
The measure has been referred to the Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns.
Still have a holiday tree and wondering what to do with it? Here’s where and how to recycle it if you live in the Tysons area.
Christmas tree recycling rules vary depending on where people live. Here’s information for residents in Fairfax County, the Town of Vienna and the City of Falls Church.
Fairfax County will be recycling Christmas trees less than 8 feet tall for the first two weeks of January. Residents are asked to place the trees outside their single family house or townhouse community.
Have a fake tree? People can drop them off at the donation stations at the the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex.
For $7, Fairfax County residents also can drop off their trees the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex.
City of Falls Church
Little City residents can have their Christmas trees collected from the curb on Wednesdays in January and February — although the city urges residents to do so during the first two weeks of January.
For people in apartments or condos, their trees can get recycled at the brush collection area at the Fairfax County Citizens’ Disposal and Recycling Facility (4618 W. Ox Road) in Fairfax.
Town of Vienna
The Town of Vienna will collect Christmas trees curb-side on collection days this month.
Tip: People looking to recycle their trees should first remove all decorations, tinsel, bags and rope.
Local Student Heading to London Parade — “Emma [W.], a sophomore and varsity cheerleader from George Mason High School, is one of more than 800 high school cheerleaders from across the U.S. who will be representing Varsity Spirit in the world-famous London New Year’s Day Parade.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Hotel Sold in Falls Church — “The Falls Church Marriott Fairview Park has traded hands for $52.2 million, more than $40 million less than what it sold for nearly a decade ago.” [Washington Business Journal]
How to Get Rid of Holiday Trees — “When you got the tree, what condition it was in at that time and how much it was watered factor into when you should take the tree to the curb. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue recommends getting rid of trees immediately or when they get dry.” [Patch]
FCPS Students Soon Able to Take Day Off to Protest — “Beginning Jan. 27, 2020 students in seventh through 12th grades will be permitted one excused absence each school year to engage in ‘civic engagement activities,’ according to Lucy Caldwell, school spokeswoman for Fairfax County Public Schools.” [WTOP]
Registration Opens Today for Little City Outdoor Classes — “Registration for Recreation & Parks Winter/Spring 2020 classes opens on Monday, December 30 for City of Falls Church residents.” [City of Falls Church/Twitter]
Photo courtesy Bill Johnson
After Wawa chopped down trees it wasn’t supposed to, Town of Vienna officials want to create a plan to prevent anything similar happening again.
Town Manager Mercury Payton told the Vienna Town Council on Monday (Dec. 9) that a committee is working “to identify more efficient communication with residents about construction incidents.”
The town announced last month that Wawa’s actions were a result of “misunderstanding and human error.” The loss of the trees sparked an uproar among locals — what Councilmember Steve Potter called an “extremely emotional” incident at the Monday meeting.
Payton apologized to both the residents who live behind the Wawa site and all of the residents in the town.
“I feel awful about the fact that the town played a role in initiating the action that Wawa took in removing the trees,” Payton said.
Payton told the councilmembers that the town’s urban arborist told Wawa about the health of the trees that Wawa eventually cut — even though they were not included in the approved site plan.
“It is in my view that if the town urban arborist had not brought the matter up to Wawa, Wawa would not have brought the trees down,” Payton said. “They would have stuck to the site plan and the issue would not have occurred.”
Payton said that the arborist should have advised Wawa that a site plan change was necessary, but that, ultimately, the site plan is Wawa’s responsibility.
Payton later said the arborist did not do anything incorrectly when pressed by Councilmember Pasha Majdi about the roles and responsibilities of the arborist.
“I don’t think the best way to run this town is to say that someone should have done something that they are not tasked with doing and it’s not required and it’s not explicated to that staffer,” Majdi said.
“From our perspective, we try to go above and beyond,” Payton responded.
Currently, the town’s departments each manage their own communication with residents about projects, Payton said. The internal review is meant to identify how the departments can follow a unified communication plan.
Several councilmembers expressed support for the internal review, including Councilmember Douglas Noble, who requested to see the outcome of the committee’s findings and recommendations.
“I always like to see what the problem is first… and then work forward,” Noble said.
“The trees are dead. They aren’t alive,” Potter said. “There are a lot of trees that this could happen to again.”
Now that Thanksgiving is over, many people are beginning to put up holiday decorations — including Christmas trees.
There are several places around the Tysons area that carry a variety of tree types to fit the needs of decorators.
Saint John’s Academy is hosting a Christmas tree sale for people who want their purchase to benefit a good cause. Until Dec. 22, Saint John the Beloved Catholic Church (6420 Linway Terrace) will be selling trees Wednesday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Tree prices start at $50. Garland and wreaths will also be available. All proceeds will benefit students at the church’s school, according to the website.
The Trinity United Methodist Church (1205 Dolley Madison Blvd) will also be selling trees. Hours of operation are Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 7:30 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Sundays from 12 until 6 p.m. Proceeds from this sale will benefit the church’s youth group and Boy Scout Troop 869.
The Merrifield Garden Center (8132 Lee Hwy) offers shoppers eight different types of Christmas trees, including Scotch Pine, White Pine, Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, Nobile Spruce, Turkish Fir and Fraiser Fir as well as artificial trees.
The center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. The store also has locations in Fair Oaks and Gainsville, according to the website.
The Home Depot in Merrifield (2815 Merrilee Drive) has a selection of fake trees that customers can pick up at the store or order online for home delivery. Though they do not have live trees available at individual stores, they will ship them for free from a storage warehouse for free, according to the website.
Photo via Annie Spratt/Unsplash
The City of Falls Church is hosting its annual tree lighting ceremony tonight (Dec. 2).
The celebration will take place at Mr. Brown’s Park (100 W Broad Street)at 6 p.m. and last for an hour. Attendees can expect an appearance from Santa, according to the event page, which added that local businesses will also participate.
This event is free and attendees can park on the street, the Kaiser-Permanente garage and the George Mason Square garage, according to the city’s website.
Attendees are also welcome to attend the Falls Church City Council work session at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall (300 Park Avenue) following the ceremony.
Photo via Jason Leung/Unsplash
(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) The Town of Vienna says that directions from the town’s arborist led to Wawa chopping down trees last week, which sparked an uproar among locals.
The town said in a press release today (Nov. 26) that it is working with Wawa to reach out to neighbors behind the construction site (465 Maple Avenue W.) “to address impacts resulting from last week’s removal of trees.”
The town added that Wawa has offered to plant 12-15 new trees in the spring to replace the three silver maple trees that were removed, which included one that was roughly 60 years old.
The town said last week that the tree removal “was due to an onsite misunderstanding and human error.” In the press release today, Vienna officials say that Wawa followed the direction of the town’s urban arborist.
More from the press release:
In a preconstruction meeting a few weeks ago, the Town’s arborist advised that, in his professional assessment, the trees on the Town’s property between Wawa and the neighbors’ property would be negatively impacted by construction activity and would almost certainly die within the next three years. He commented that the trees, which already showed signs of rot, decay, and disease, would need to be removed now or in the future.
“Both parties can accept some responsibility for removal of the unapproved trees,” says Town Manager Mercury Payton, “and we’re all very sorry for the impact this is having on Wawa’s neighbors. I am certain that Wawa would not have removed those trees had it not been recommended by our urban arborist. I wish that he also had offered to assist Wawa with revising and resubmitting the site plan.”
“We appreciate that the Town of Vienna recognizes our commitment to rectifying this situation and our resolve to work together to support the neighbors,” says Lori Bruce, public relations manager for Wawa. “We remain committed to going above and beyond to be a good neighbor and a strong partner to this community.”
The Town of Vienna is committed to sustainability as well as to being responsive to citizens. Vienna has been a Tree City USA for 17 years and has a very active, Council-appointed Conservation and Sustainability Commission. In addition, the Town’s recently renovated community center has achieved gold-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) while the planned new police station is being designed to achieve LEED silver level.
In recent days, the town and Wawa received backlash from residents who told ABC7 that they were upset that Wawa cut down the trees that were not on the company’s property.
“While this was an unfortunate misunderstanding as we were operating with the guidance of the municipal arborist, right now we are 100% focused on rectifying the situation,” Wawa said in a statement to ABC7. “This includes going above and beyond to address this and working hand in hand with the town and the neighbors to ultimately serve as an enhancement to the community.”
“It will take five years for the trees to mature to create a buffer. Until then there is no barrier to the construction and subsequent traffic of a 24/7 store. Our backyard privacy is gone,” Ingrida Lusis, a Vienna resident whose house was next to the trees, according to ABC7, posted on Facebook.
The town will not impost a fine on Wawa, Lynne Coan, a spokesperson for the town, told Tysons Reporter.
“I’m not sure about who will be responsible for [new] trees,” Coan said, “I believe the Wawa representative and neighbors will work that out when they meet later this week.”
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) With the holidays approaching, there are plenty of events happening around the Tysons area for people looking for some festive fun.
From tree lightings to shopping events, Tysons Reporter compiled a list of events across the community in the coming weeks.
Breakfast with Santa will take place on Saturday (Dec. 7) from 8-11 a.m. at level three of Tysons Corner Center. There will be entertainment by “Those Funny Little People” (featured on “America’s Got Talent“), a balloon artist, holiday crafts, free breakfast and Santa.
Tysons Corner Center will also host a Holiday Storytime PJ Party on Thursday (Dec. 12) from 6 to 8 p.m. on level one. There will be storytime, sweet treats and entertainment provided by Dee Vinchey Entertainment. This event is free and open to the public.
Town of Vienna
The Church Street Holiday Stroll takes place on Monday (Dec. 2) this year from 6-8:30 p.m. Santa will arrive on a Vienna Volunteer Fire Department 1946 fire engine and spend the evening visiting with kids around town.
Mayor Laurie DiRocco is set to help Santa light the town’s Christmas tree around 6:20 p.m. at the Freeman Store and Museum (131 Church Street NE). There will be live music throughout the streets and several businesses will be serving hot cocoa and warm beverages.
The town is also hosting a competition encouraging local businesses to put up holiday decorations. The theme is “Home for the Holidays” and all decorations must be put out by Friday (Nov. 29).
The McLean Woman’s Club is set to host its annual Holiday Homes Tour on Thursday (Dec. 5) from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., highlighting four houses — two at the 6-acre Ballantrae Farm estate and another two on Benjamin Street in Langley Forest. Tickets are $35 and food and drinks will be provided. Guests will also have access to a craft show at Trinity Church. All proceeds go to charity.
The 11th annual McLean WinterFest will take place this year on Sunday (Dec. 1) and feature a parade beginning at 3:30 p.m. between Fleetwood and Elm streets on Old Chain Bridge Road. Beverly Road and Fleetwood Street to Old Chain Bridge Road will be closed to traffic along with the parade routes beginning at 2 p.m. that day.
Nova Lights Chorale will host a free global holiday concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (3439 Payne Street) on Sunday (Dec. 8) at 4 p.m. The performance will feature songs in more than seven languages and from different cultures.
The Annual Lighting of the Trees will take place on Monday (Dec. 2) at Mr. Brown’s Park (W. Broad Street) around 6 p.m. Santa will be in attendance, escorted by the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department. There will be live music from the George Mason High School Chamber Singers and free hot cocoa.
The Holiday Craft Show will take place at the Falls Church Community Center (223 Little Falls Street) on Saturday (Dec. 7) from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday (Dec. 8) from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
People can get their selfies with Santa in the street-level lobby of the Target building (2905 District Avenue, Suite 400) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays between Nov. 30-Dec. 23, Friday (Nov. 29) and Monday (Dec. 23).
A Holiday Gift Fair is coming to Mosaic District on Friday (Dec. 6) from 3:30-8:30 p.m. The fair will feature more than 50 vendors selling handmade and vintage goods.
On the same day, people can also watch the Holiday Tree Lighting from 5-7 p.m. in Strawberry Park.