Tysons, VA

For the upcoming election in the Town of Vienna, Fairfax County wants residents to vote using an absentee ballot.

The county issued a statement on Tuesday (March 17) reminding voters that they can mail in their ballots.

People who don’t feel comfortable going out to vote on May 5 because of COVID-19 concerns can request an absentee ballot, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

To qualify for an absentee ballot, people must choose the “disability or illness” box during the application process, Fairfax County’s website said, adding that the last day to register for an absentee ballot is April 28, at 5 p.m.

“Voters who choose the absentee option should do so as soon as possible so they can get their ballots in time to return them by mail by Election Day,” the website said.

Absentee voting begins on March 20, according to the website.

Several candidates are competing for seats on the Vienna Town Council.

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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

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Welcome back from the long weekend! Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:

Vienna Officials Grapple With Mishaps — “The Vienna Town Council and town staffers devoted the first half of a Feb. 10 work session to discussing why some recent missteps occurred, and what can be done to prevent them in the future.” [Inside NoVa]

Fairfax County Reconsidering Mother-in-Law Suites — “Fairfax County could soon substantially loosen its regulations governing accessory dwelling units, perhaps following the lead of D.C. and other local jurisdictions looking to expand available housing options for renters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Leaders Say Merrifield Needs More Community — “Greater Merrifield Business Association leaders want to foster a community atmosphere in Merrifield, but know they’re at a disadvantage compared with long-established communities such as Vienna, Fairfax or Falls Church.” [Inside NoVa]

Sneak Peek: Later this week, expect Tysons Reporter to provide an update on e-scooters in Vienna and a profile on Fava Pot in Falls Church.

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The future home of the temporary police station was a hot-button topic at the Vienna Town Council meeting last Monday (Jan. 3).

Vienna Police Chief Jim Morris gave updates on proposed community impact and general plan details before the council voted unanimously to designate both town-owned properties at 114 Locust Street SW and 440 Beulah Road NE for public use.

At the meeting, Morris addressed concern from the public, quelling fears that traffic would increase on Locust Street since the facility will not be open to the public — therefore no added traffic will be coming to the area.

People arrested around the town will be brought to another facility, and people with walk-in complaints will be directed to another office.

Other major concerns about the property included stormwater management, which has historically been an issue on the property, according to councilmembers.

“I can never go on [the] record saying we are going to fix the issue,” Morris said, adding that the stormwater plan is a larger issue. Morris did say that they will do their best to manage the problem.

Michael Gallagher, the director of public works in Vienna, said at the meeting that improvements with the water drainage system at 114 Locust Street SW could also improve the stormwater management system for adjacent lots depending on the slant and placement.

Stormwater wasn’t the only issue — Councilmember Howard Springsteen expressed concerns over safety, especially for police car parking.

“Secure parking is critical — I know someone tried to bomb police cars years ago,” he said at the meeting.

Now, the police department will be meeting with the town’s Planning Commission to discuss plans before bringing finalized documents back to the council.

“We are already moving forward with planning and zoning,” Morris said, adding that representatives from the police station have a work session scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb. 12). Morris said he also met with planners last Friday (Feb. 7).

Plans are already 80-90% complete, according to Morris, who added that there is still room for input from interest groups, such as neighbors to the property and councilmembers.

Town councilmembers, including Douglas Noble, expressed concern that the plans might be getting ahead of themselves before going through the proper public scrutiny.

“I want to make sure there is enough slack in the schedule,” Noble said.

Image via Town of Vienna

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Vienna Town Councilmember Douglas Noble announced earlier this week that he plans to retire after his current term ends.

Noble was first elected to Town Council in May 2016, according to his town bio. His term expires on June 30.

Noble told the Town Council on Monday that he’s been helping with mom’s knee replacement rehabilitation, along with assisting his wife with an aunt who has Alzheimer’s disease and helping dad publish a photography book.

“I note this not without a touch of irony, considering last week I was accused of being ageist and discriminatory by a member of a public,” Noble said. “And I guess public officials should simply accept that people attack us personally.”

Noble has several things he’d like to see the Town Council accomplish in the next two years.

“I need to get the zoning code update right and we need to get it finished,” Noble said, adding that he also wants to see updates to the comprehensive plan.

He said he’d also like the town’s performance dashboard to be online and move projects and studies forward more quickly.

“And lastly, in the next couple years — four years, 10 years — we need to have a real conversation about this small town thing,” Noble said. “We need to come to grips with the idea that we haven’t really been a small town since the 1950s.”

Noble said some of the highlights of his time on the council have included the Vienna Community Center getting finished, the new police station started, expanded community events and added town positions.

Noble’s announcement means that at least three new faces will join the council later this year.

Councilmembers Pasha Majdi, Howard Springsteen and Linda Colbert are running for Mayor Laurie DiRocco’s seat.

The terms for Majdi and Colbert both expire this year, while Springsteen’s current term ends next year.

Councilmembers Nisha Patel and Steve Potter’s terms expire in 2021.

Image via Town of Vienna

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Vienna Town Councilmember Pasha Majdi announced that he is joining the race for the mayor’s seat in the spring election.

Majdi was first elected to the council in 2014 after serving on the Town Business Liaison Committee, according to his town bio.

So far, Majdi is competing against councilmembers Linda Colbert and Howard Springsteen, who announced their campaigns at the first Town Council meeting of the year.

“I’m running for mayor because Vienna is my hometown and I want to keep it a small town,” Majdi said in a statement. “Vienna should be an independent, green oasis that is a sharp contrast to Tysons, not a housing district for Tysons.”

More from the statement:

 My vision for the next 10 years is to protect residential neighborhoods and streets to keep Vienna the best place to raise a family in Northern Virginia, apply smart growth principles for Maple Avenue that control and mitigate traffic, and build a Town square around Church Street and the W&OD trail.

The terms for both Majdi and Colbert expire in June this year, while Springsteen’s term expires in June 2021.

Laurie DiRocco, who has been the town’s mayor since 2014, announced in December that she will not seek re-election.

The Vienna election is May 5.

Image courtesy Pasha Majdi

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The Vienna Town Council voted last night (Monday) to back plans to turn a previously approved mixed-use development along Maple Avenue into a Sunrise Senior Living Facility.

Sunrise is looking to open an 85-unit assisted living facility at 380 Maple Avenue — the site of an approved redevelopment for multi-family condos. The facility would have 950 square feet of restaurant and cafe space, structured parking and public art.

The Vienna Town Council killed plans last year for a Sunrise facility farther up Maple Avenue. Dennis Rice, the owner and developer at 380 Maple Avenue, has said that having the assisted living facility on his site could address neighbors’ concerns about the condos.

“I think this might be a win-win for the town and the residents,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said last night.

Residents who testified at the public hearing mostly agreed that the new plans are a better fit for the neighborhood, with one calling it a “better building.”

However, most of the 10 people who testified did have some sort of concern, like worries about light pollution from the proposed acorn lights, size and pedestrian safety along Wade Hampton Drive SW and Glen Avenue SW.

“I support this project even though it remains too big,” resident C. John Pott said.

“We hope to pretend the building isn’t even there and those lights will destroy our illusions,” one resident said about the lights.

Several councilmembers said they are open to residents’ pleas to close — or place cut-thru signs at — Wade Hampton Drive or look into adding sidewalks along Glen Avenue and Wade Hampton Drive.

“If this project goes forward, it would be nice to put sidewalks on Glen [Avenue] and try to close Wade Hampton [Drive],” Springsteen said. “We can close Wade Hampton [Drive] very quickly at very little cost.”

Most of the people who testified praised Sunrise for having representatives listen to neighbors’ feedback on the proposal.

The Vienna Town Council approved Sunrise’s amended proffers and modification requests after the hearing.

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Plans to turn a previously approved mixed-use development into a Sunrise Senior Living Facility are set to head to the Vienna Town Council next week.

Sunrise wants to open an assisted living facility at 380 Maple Avenue — the site of an approved redevelopment for multi-family condos — after the Vienna Town Council killed plans last year for a Sunrise facility farther up Maple Avenue.

The former plans for both projects faced backlash. Sunrise’s original plans for a site at the corner of Maple Avenue and Center Street received a myriad of concerns from residents and councilmembers over parking, retail space and the downtown location.

Meanwhile, residents questioned if the town had properly notified Fairfax County about the proposed rezoning (which it hadn’t) and raised safety concerns about the narrowing of Wade Hampton Drive for the condos at 380 Maple Avenue.

But with the two projects now looking to combine, Dennis Rice, the owner and developer at 380 Maple Avenue, has said that having the assisted living facility on his site could address neighbors’ lingering concerns.

The council will hold a public hearing on the plans on Monday night (Jan. 27). The meeting starts at 8 p.m. at Town Hall (127 S. Center Street).

Image via Town of Vienna 

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The Vienna Town Council has delayed consideration of giving up certain alleys due to concerns over buffers between residential and commercial areas.

Earlier this week, the council was set to vote on requests for alley vacation for property adjacent to 108-110 Church Street NE and behind 207 Center Street N.

Mayor Laurie DiRocco said at the meeting on Monday that the town staff does not need the land for public use. However, several council members raised objection to considering the fate of the alleys.

“People are upset about development and they want to see some buffers,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said. “Do we want to give up these buffers?”

The conversation about buffers recently ignited when Wawa cut down trees it wasn’t supposed to. Residents said the trees would have been a buffer between the residential area and the upcoming store at 245 Maple Avenue W.

“I’m really reluctant to give up alleys right now,” Springsteen said, saying that the Wawa incident has raised issues about having buffers between commercial and residential areas.

The alley for Church Street is between commercial areas, while the Center Street one is between commercial and residential areas.

Town Attorney Steven Briglia urged a delay on the vote to allow for more time to discover the property records for the alleys.

“Some of the old alleys, we’re not sure how we got them,” Briglia said.

“We don’t have a plan or idea of how or to what extent in what manner any given alley or easement is specifically useful to the Town of Vienna in whole,” Councilmember Douglas Noble said.

Noble said that the town needs a systematic approach for retaining or selling the undeveloped sections of right-of-way.

“We need to have a larger conversation about this before we start knocking off one property here, one property there,” Noble said.

Councilmember Pasha Majdi requested that the council postpone the proposal until after Town Manager Mercury Payton provides an update on an internal review about communication with residents about construction incidents.

Image via Town of Vienna

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Two Vienna Town councilmembers plan to run for the mayor’s seat in the spring election.

Councilmembers Linda Colbert and Howard Springsteen announced their campaigns at the council meeting last night.

Colbert has been on the council since 2014 and has previously served on the Transportation Safety Commission and Hunter Mill Transportation Advisory Council, according to her town bio.

“I care about the future of Vienna, and I am going to run for mayor,” Colbert said. “I am looking forward to meeting and listening to as many residents as possible.”

Springsteen was first elected to the Town Council in 2009 and has served on the Transportation Safety Commission for eight years, according to his town bio. He currently works for Fairfax County.

Springsteen said last night that he is running to maintain the “small town feel” of Vienna.

“I have a reputation for getting things done and focusing on residents’ concerns and issues,” he said. “I think Vienna should be determined by tax paying residents and not non-tax paying developers.”

Colbert’s term expires in June this year, while Springsteen’s expires in June 2021.

Current Mayor Laurie DiRocco announced in December that she will not seek re-election. She was first elected to the Town Council in 2009 and has been the mayor since 2014.

The Vienna election is May 5. Voters will elect three councilmembers and the mayor this year.

Images via Town of Vienna

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