Tysons, VA

On one of her final days in office, Laurie DiRocco took a moment to reflect on her accomplishments as Vienna’s mayor.

DiRocco was first elected to the Town Council in 2009 and has been the mayor since 2014, according to her town bio. She has lived in the town since 1995.

Going back 20 years, DiRocco said that serving on the Town Council or as mayor wasn’t on her radar when she was working in finance, but decided to run for mayor at the request of her predecessor.

Her key efforts included environmental sustainability, town walkability and financial responsibility, she told Tysons Reporter earlier this week.

Under her leadership, the town built a brand new community center that met the mark for a LEED Gold Certification, meaning that the center was built keeping in mind the highest standards of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

This building was the first in the town to meet such high standards, according to DiRocco.

DiRocco said her focus on sustainability also applies to commuters and pedestrians.

“A big thing for me was walkability. I walk all the time. I love to run and bike and wanted to improve that in the town,” she said.

To encourage exploration of the community and relations with her constitutes, DiRocco would organize Friday morning walks. Each week, people were invited to join her at 9:30 a.m. to take a roughly 3-mile walk — giving them the chance to personally meet DiRocco and check out sites around the town. Roughly 10-20 people would take her up on the offer each week, she said.

“Some people would stop by because they wanted to talk to me in a casual environment,” she said. “But I also had some regulars.”

Thanks to funding from Maud Robinson, a former council member, DiRocco said that the town was able to install miles of sidewalks during her term.

To ease traffic in the town, DiRocco noted that a roundabout at Locust Street SE and Park Street was “wildly successful” in eliminating traffic jams for commuters. “That was a nice little transportation project that I’m proud of,” she said.

DiRococo has been active in the Black Lives Matter rallies around town, posting photos and videos showing community members kneeling in allyship to the Black community on her personal Facebook page.

“I thought they were really powerful,” she said, noting how “peaceful and well thought out” the protests were.

DiRocco said that “there hasn’t been an issue within our police station,” but that nearby localities have had issues with police brutality and racial injustice.

For Vienna specifically, she said that the Town Council began examining how policing happens in Vienna. About five years, the town started work on the conception plans for the upcoming police station.

Though a subject of controversy around town, DiRocco said that the plans for the new station include more involvement from the community to rethink the relationship between police and the community.

“We have an opportunity to make changes,” she said.

Following in DiRocco’s footsteps, Linda Colbert, who was first elected to the Town Council in 2014, is the incoming mayor.

“She has a knowledge base of how things operate,” Di Rocco said. “She really cares about the town, the people and the community. It’s about her love for Vienna, not political purposes.”

The two leaders have already met to talk about the position, according to DiRocco.

DiRocco said she’s confident that Colbert will continue many of the popular traditions, such as the town’s volunteer recognition — which DiRocco said she has expanded upon during her time in office.

Photo via Laurie DiRocco/Facebook

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Dozens of locals created a petition to reexamine the use of Vienna’s budget to construct a new police station.

The petition, which has since gained over 1,000 signatures, calls for the Town of Vienna to halt the building construction until the Town Council arranges a “formal commission and engages in meaningful dialogue with the community to discuss  the best way forward with regard to public safety.”

Twenty-three alumni of James Madison High School started the petition.

“Within the first 24 hours of publishing the petition, we’ve received hundreds of signatures,” Casey Grage, one of the petition’s creators, said. “It turns out we were correct in our assumption that there is a better way to spend Vienna money.”

The police station project includes plans to create a community gathering space. It would be located at 215 Center S. Street and cost roughly $14 million.

Grage first decided to get involved with the project after she said she felt that the project wasn’t properly publicized.

The petition outlines concerns that the police station plans lack enough community input and proposes how town officials should move forward with engaging residents.

“This community engagement process, beginning with community conversations and producing a formal report, is the best way to involve all Vienna residents in building a more just model for public safety,” the petition says.

Megha Karthikeyan, another person behind the petition, said that though the money from the budget must be dedicated toward town infrastructure growth, there is room for interpretation in this purpose.

“We think there are a lot of creative ways to use that money,” she said, adding other choices include a sexual assault resource center and a more welcoming community center design without a shooting range design.

“Making such a significant budgeting decision regarding community safety mandates the input of all constituents, especially that of Brown and Black people, whose insights and lived experiences must be heard by Town leadership,” the petition says.

While the organizers say the petition is a good start, both Grage and Karthikeyan said that it’s going to take other types of effort to attract the attention of the Town Council — including showing up to the virtual town hall meetings, asking difficult questions and directly expressing concern.

“The town has told us they are going to reply to our petition on July 6,” Grage said. Until then, they are going to keep finding ways to get more attention to their cause.

Image courtesy Kelly Jiang

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After years of pausing the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zone in attempts to revamp it, the Vienna Town Council decided last night to repeal the zoning code and “start fresh.”

The Vienna Town Council held a public hearing last night on the two options for the MAC’s future: either repealing it or extending the moratorium, which has been in place since 2018, on the zoning code to June 2022.

To Repeal or Not to Repeal?

The two choices received a mixed reaction during the public hearing. Supporters for extending the MAC generally side that the zoning code has many good aspects that they don’t want to see completely scrapped, while supporters for repealing argued that town staff and consultants the town wants to hire need a clean slate.

Mary McCullough, who recently left the town’s Planning Commission, urged the Town Council to keep suspending the MAC until the code rewrite is done. “Repeal says we harmed,” she said. “That’s the message you send with repeal.”

Vienna resident Roy Baldwin said that repealing the MAC sends the message that the work from volunteers on the zoning code “is of no value.” Resident Ray Brill Jr. disagreed, saying that people’s hard work on the MAC is not enough of a reason to keep it.

“The fact that we repeal does not mean we don’t incorporate the vision and some of the things we like,” Brill added.

Cindy Petkac with the town’s planning and zoning division told the Town Council said she thought they would be “better off starting fresh.”

“I think it would be more efficient to repeal it,” Petkac said. “It is a cumbersome, confusing process in my professional opinion.”

Consultant Challenges 

The town’s plans to hire a consulting firm to help with rewriting the code also factored into the conversation last night about what to do with the MAC.

The Vienna Town Council initially paused its plans to hire a firm for $250,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baldwin, the local resident, testified that he isn’t convinced the town needs to spend money on consultants when locals with expertise “will work for free.”

Council Douglas Noble argued that bringing in a consultant is even more important now to help the town heal from the pandemic. The Town Council will consider hiring the consulting firm on June 15, Mayor Laurie DiRocco said.

Close Vote

After the public hearing and some discussion among the councilmembers about the MAC, Noble proposed a motion to repeal it.

“It’s not about the MAC,” Noble said. “It’s about how do we make Make Avenue commercially economically viable?”

To quell some concerns about ditching the good parts of the MAC, Councilmember and Mayor-elect Linda Colbert offered an amendment that would make reports, studies, surveys, comments from the Planning Commission and Board of Architectural Review and more a part of the package of information the consultants would review.

A lively discussion continued on the idea to repeal, and Noble suggested withdrawing his motion, saying that he thought the councilmembers wanted to talk more.

Ultimately, the council approved Colbert’s amendment and then voted for Noble’s motion 4-3, with Noble, DiRocco and Councilmember Nisha Patel voting “no.”

“We learned over time the MAC code had flaws,” Noble told Tysons Reporter today. “I did not believe those flaws were fixable.”

Image via Town of Vienna

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The Vienna Town Council is pausing its plans to speed up the Maple Avenue Commercial zone update due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In December, Councilmember Steve Potter proposed that the town use a consulting firm, calling the work on the zoning ordinance a “log jam.”

Last night, the councilmembers were originally set to consider a contract award for consulting fees, but Town Manager Mercury Payton said that the coronavirus pandemic is delaying plans to hire the consultant.

Councilmember Pasha Majdi praised the delay in a statement, saying that using nearly $250,000 from allocated funds and prior reserves in the town’s budget should be put on hold for the moment.

“For months I’ve been calling for prudent budgeting and spending, which requires delaying nonessential spending at least until revenues stabilize,” Majdi said. “We need to refrain from nonessential spending during the pandemic.”

As the town grapples with the pandemic, the Vienna Town Council is also looking to extend the moratorium on the zoning ordinance from June 30 of this year to June 30, 2022.

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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, 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 Pasha Majdi, who is running for the mayor’s seat. 

Bio: Vienna is my hometown. I grew up playing VYS and VYI as a kid at Louise Archer. I went to TJ, Duke, and George Mason Law, and came back home to raise my family here. Our family has four generations in Vienna because we love this town and everything it stands for. I am the senior director for U.S. Policy and Government Affairs for Conservation International, and I’m the only legislative and policy professional serving on Vienna’s Town Council.

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

Vienna’s identity changed forever in 2010 when Fairfax County established its development plan for Tysons. Maple Avenue is now a throughway to Tysons, whether we like it or not.

For the past 10 years, the town has attempted to ignore this reality, disregarding recommendations from VDOT and not cooperating with the county. Through the MAC (which I voted against), the town took the wrong path and tried to change Maple Avenue from a commercial district into a housing district.

We need to adapt to reality. Let’s use it to our advantage: the 30,000+ cars that drive through Vienna each day are all potential customers who can support our local businesses and make our town prosperous. As your mayor, I will collaborate with the county and with VDOT on a transportation plan that keeps traffic moving on Maple and out of our residential neighborhoods.

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?

Declaring an emergency implies that sacrifices are necessary. As the senior director for U.S. Policy and Government Affairs for Conservation International — a global leader on conservation and climate policies — my experience has shown that green policies are actually beneficial in the long-run. We don’t need to declare an emergency in Vienna, we just need to apply smart policies.

As your mayor, I would use my professional policy background and skills to reduce our carbon footprint while also saving taxpayer dollars. The best way to save money while helping the environment is to transition to electric vehicles and invest in on-site charging stations. I have already pledged to do so by 2030.

On Town Council, I am leading the effort to bring microtransit (i.e., on-demand, personalized transit) to Vienna. With your vote, I will continue to deliver cutting-edge environmental policies to the Town of Vienna as your mayor.

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

Tysons growth creates congestion on Maple and cut-through traffic in our residential neighborhoods. To keep our quality of life, we need sidewalks, speed humps, and crosswalks throughout the Town. And we also need to develop a regional transportation plan in partnership with the county. Last month I asked Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay to commit to working with the town on a transportation plan for Maple Avenue — he enthusiastically agreed.

For the past decade, Vienna’s plan for growth has been to overdevelop on Maple Avenue and deal with the traffic impact later. I was the only councilmember who voted against that plan (i.e., “the MAC”). I recently voted against hiring a consultant to rewrite the MAC for the same reason: we still don’t have a plan for traffic.

The town is repeating the same mistakes from 10 years ago. I’m running for mayor to fix that.

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

As your mayor, I will prioritize supporting small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic recovery. That’s why I have called for a dedicated fund to support distribution of masks, gloves, and PPE for our commercial centers, and a zero interest micro-loan program for small businesses.

Vienna must also allow local businesses to grow and adapt by relaxing outdated rules on a case-by-case basis — a method known as “site plan modifications.” We used site plan modifications for Bear Branch Tavern to attract and accommodate this new business that fits Vienna.

As your mayor, I will work with local businesses and town staff to implement site plan modifications throughout town to attract businesses that fit Vienna and to help our local businesses grow.

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

Residents want smaller buildings to keep Vienna’s small-town feel. I’ve been leading the charge on this issue for six years. Other mayoral candidates followed suit when it was politically convenient, whereas I spoke up for residents first and took a stand. Right now, that’s the type of leadership we need.

For Maple Avenue, residents want three stories or fewer with larger setbacks and more green space. We don’t want big box buildings that fill up the entire lot and tower over neighborhoods.

Mayor Robinson intentionally blocked redevelopment on Maple Avenue for 20 years. We don’t need a density incentive to spur development — we merely need to stop blocking it. If we simplify, clarify, and update our commercial zoning code it will attract real estate investors at a height and size that fits small-town Vienna.

There’s a reason why local developers applied for MAC projects and then immediately sold them to outside companies: only local developers understand our code. That’s the real problem.

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?

I’m taking clear positions on the issues to be transparent and give voters a choice. I’m not offering platitudes or pledging to hire consultants to answer the most important questions a mayor will face. As a voter, you should know:

  1. I do not support a rewrite of our residential zoning code because we risk losing why people come to live in Vienna: our green space and small-town feel. Leave our residential neighborhoods alone!
  2. I support making a few, simple updates in the commercial zoning code that reinforce our small-town feel: primarily commercial buildings, three stories or less, larger setbacks, and more green space.
  3. We should not spend $250,000 on a consultant to rewrite our residential and commercial zoning code during a pandemic. Those funds should be redirected toward public health and basic services until we recover.

That’s where I stand and that’s what I’ll do as mayor. Please vote Pasha Majdi on or before May 5.

People interested in learning more about Majdi’s campaign can check out this website.

Photo courtesy Pasha Majdi

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The Vienna Town Council is looking to delay the soon-approaching deadline to revise the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zone.

The moratorium was first put in place in the fall of 2018 so that town staff could redesign the town’s guidelines. Since then, it has been extended several times, drawing criticism from some residents and town officials.

Back in November, Vienna officials voted to push the moratorium to June 30.

But now as the town faces challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty about whether its election that is less than two weeks away will get delayed, town officials want to extend the moratorium again.

At the meeting on Monday (April 27), the council will consider pushing the moratorium until June 30, 2022.

If the council OKs a public hearing on the proposal, the matter will also go before the Planning Commission. The public hearing would be held June 1.

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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 this week in the order we received the responses. 

Featured here is Roy Baldwin, who is running for a position on the Vienna Town Council. 

Bio: I have been a homeowner in Vienna for 40 years. I am married to Sharon, who for many years taught voice to area students in her studio in our home. I am a father to Nathaniel, who attended Vienna Elementary, Louise Archer, Madison High School and went on to William & Mary and West Virginia Law School, and is now one of my associates in The Baldwin Law Firm in Oakton, where I concentrate on estate planning and administration and family law cases.

I have been a parishioner of the Church of the Holy Comforter for many years, serving on the Vestry, as a Sunday School teacher and as a lay reader. I was a board member of the Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce but then decided to switch to the Vienna Business Association several years ago.  I have served in several capacities in the Town of Vienna, where I am chairman of the Board of Architectural Review (member for 14 years).

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

I like Vienna just as it is and don’t feel obliged to change just because Tysons becomes more densely developed. Vienna should continue to be a convenient, lower cost option for people who work in Tysons and who want a single-family house or townhouse as opposed to a high rise. Our shops, restaurants, and activities can prosper as Tysons’ population grows, if we as a town take good care of them and allow them to offer experiences that are different from those that can be had in Tysons.

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

Since Maple Avenue congestion at rush hours is caused overwhelmingly by commuters from the west using it as a short cut to get to and from Tysons, I don’t think we should try to make Maple Avenue more attractive to them. If we do so, they will just come in greater numbers. I favor timing traffic lights to allow traffic to cycle through town, so that town residents will be able to move about more freely.

As for cut-through traffic, I feel deeply for residents along Church Street, Ayr Hill, Locust, Windover, and similar streets and am willing to explore solutions with them, up to and including making them one way streets that would switch direction twice a day to be always against the flow of rush hour traffic.

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

My hope is that, in 20 years or so, when you get in your flying car (yes, we will have them by then) and make your way over Northern Virginia, you’ll see the towers of Reston Town Center to the west and the 500-foot-tall skyscrapers of Tysons to the east and in between you’ll see this little town that looks like it’s in a valley between two mountain ranges. It’s Vienna’s small town feel that attracted Sharon and me back in 1980, and we want the same for everyone who lives here.

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 want to take advantage of the recent legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor that hopefully will make it more feasible for homeowners to install solar panels. I would like to explore the possibility of switching to a “super can” system of trash collection. Once our current contract for recycling expires, I would like to see a return to recycling of glass.

I continue to be distressed by wholesale destruction of established trees when an older home gets bulldozed — I would like to strengthen our tree ordinance along the lines of Arlington County’s ordinance, which allows their county arborist to nominate special trees for protection (with the consent of the landowner in the case of private property, of course). I would like to see real bike lanes installed on Park Street, Beulah Road, Courthouse Road, and other arterials.

I was really impressed with how Denmark has integrated bike lanes on a recent trip. For a number of reasons, I do not think it would be a good idea to allow homes to cover more of their lots than is currently allowed, including because doing so would increase runoff into local streams after rainstorms.

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

When the county is ready to decide what to do with the Patrick Henry Library (which may not be for a long time given the lasting effect of the coronavirus emergency), I want the town to get the most parking spaces we can for the best price possible. On the Board of Architectural Review, we were just beginning to review the options, which included as many as three floors of parking, when the pandemic shut everything down.

When things pick up again, I want to advocate for a design that doesn’t monopolize the block or scream “parking garage.” The parking facility in Williamsburg is a good example of what would work here, with some modifications. Our Maple Avenue and Church Street merchants deserve and need this facility and, after letting two other sites slip away, we should do our best to make it happen this time. It’s not an ideal site, but I don’t see any better one available.

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

I am ready to sit down around a table with my fellow Vienna residents to arrive at these ideals (when we can again do that sort of thing). Heading into such meetings I will not try to dictate my personal views or to impose them on others. I am not in favor of just doing away with the Maple Avenue Corridor (“MAC”) Ordinance, because many of our fellow Vienna residents worked long hours for many years to bring it into being. Our experience with the first several developments under its terms haven’t been satisfactory, but that’s a reason to fix it, not to abandon it.

If we as a town still believe that mixed-use developments are appropriate along Maple Avenue, we must give the owners of those parcels the incentive to do what we want them to do. If four story buildings are allowed, their top floors should be set back from the street to avoid a “canyon” like feel.

People interested in learning more about Baldwin’s campaign can check out his Facebook

Photo courtesy Roy Baldwin

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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 Chuck Anderson, who is running for one of the councilmember seats. 

Bio: Chuck is a long-time citizen organizer and advocate for appropriately-scaled development in Vienna. A former member and chair of the Planning Commission, Chuck has served on a number of other boards and civic associations in Vienna and has been active in church and scouts.

He has lived in Vienna since 1997. Chuck is also a co-founder and principal with Capital Trade, Incorporated, recognized as a premier consulting firm in the area of international economics. He is a graduate of Williams College and Oxford University.

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

Vienna soon will be the closest small-town haven to this major new urban area. Like our predecessors, the future Town Council must work tirelessly to protect Vienna’s small town ethos. We should not allow ourselves to become simply an appendage of Tysons.

Rather, we should try to maintain our winning combination of low density, single family residential focus, vibrant community activities, and strong local government. One change we should consider is how to build non-auto transportation links (bike lanes, hiking paths) between Tysons and Vienna, so that Vienna becomes a non-auto small town destination for the growing Tysons population.

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

In his book “Traffic,” Tom Vanderbilt explains how traffic is like water: it will seek the path of least resistance. The obvious solution to minimizing cut-through traffic in Vienna is to reduce congestion on Maple Avenue, with smart lights, and strict control on future density. There is no other magic solution to this long-standing problem.

One project that would eliminate a traffic light, make Vienna more pedestrian-friendly and reduce auto trips is a W&OD trail bridge across Maple Avenue. I would try to work with the county to realize this vision.

Should Vienna keep its “small town feel”? If so, how? If not, why and what do you propose?
Some have argued that Vienna should cast off its self-image as a “small town.” I strongly disagree. Most of us, myself a small-town boy from Blissfield, Michigan, have settled in Vienna precisely because of its small town ethos. That does not mean that we should ignore the urban-sized issues we face.

But as Deborah and James Fallows pointed out in Our Towns of their survey of resurgent American small municipalities, revitalization is most successful when it is built on the town’s unique assets. Vienna’s small town-ness and the W&OD bike path, are the two most important assets we have. We should embrace them.

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?

Our image as a Tree City succeeds or fails, in large part, on the density of the canopy along our major thoroughfares. One of the great tragedies of Vienna’s history is that the maple trees that gave Maple its name were cut down in the 50s when Route 123 was widened. We have an opportunity to bring the trees back.

One of the more important things we can do is to require higher tree density in any successor to the mothballed Maple Avenue Commercial district zoning ordinance. The Vienna Market MAC development, for example, is so dense that no trees can grow in its townhouse interior space.

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

Patrick Henry is one of our most important community assets. Even though a local branch, it has the traffic of a regional library. I strongly support the proposal to partner with the county in redeveloping Patrick Henry at its current site to build a structure that includes municipal parking.

As I learned when I co-chaired a Planning Commission study of parking for Church Street, most people will not walk more than a quarter mile from their car. A parking structure at the current Patrick Henry location is ideal for serving community events, as well as businesses on both Maple and Church. Because of its central location and importance to the town, any new library should be an architectural jewel.

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

As I have stated for over seven years, I would not set height or building size limits, or even the geographical limits for a new Maple Avenue redevelopment district until we have a good understanding of how much additional density our main street can absorb. I would also favor allowing higher density only in the core area of town. If mixed use is proposed, then the residential portions must include sufficient green space, parks and common space for their own use.

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

Photo courtesy Chuck Anderson

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