The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has extended the Oct. 18 deadline for its community survey on proposed changes to bus service in Centreville, Chantilly, Vienna, Tysons, and neighboring areas, including McLean and Falls Church.
Unveiled at virtual public meetings on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, the preferred plan will enable Fairfax Connector to serve more people, reduce travel times, maintain more reliable schedules, and provide more access to key destinations in the area, according to FCDOT.
“We encourage people to take the survey so they can tell us what is most important to them in the preferred bus plan for the Centreville, Chantilly, Vienna and Tysons areas,” FCDOT Transit Planning Chief Michael Felschow said. “The service belongs to our riders and our goal is to make it dependable, convenient and on-time.”
Fairfax Connector launched its review last year as part of a broader effort to identify service improvements that could be made throughout the transit system. So far, the evaluation has also included looks at the Franconia-Springfield area as well as Reston and Herndon.
County officials initially presented three possible plans: one similar to existing service patterns, one that completely overhauled the service area, and a hybrid. The preferred plan now under consideration is the product of revisions based on community feedback.
The proposed plan encompasses 24 bus routes, including several involving the Tysons area:
- Route 427 (North Tysons-Spring Hill): A new route between the Spring Hill Metro station and the McLean Governmental Center area, via Jones Branch Drive and Spring Hill Road
- Route 468 (Vienna-Reston): A new route between the Vienna and future Reston Town Center Metro stations, via Lawyers and Soapstone roads
- Route 660 (Centreville-Tysons): New, direct express service between the Centreville Park & Ride on Stone Road and the Tysons Metro station, via the Vienna station and I-495 Express Lanes
- Route 662 (Centreville-Vienna): New off-peak and weekend service between the Centreville Park & Ride and the Vienna Metro station, via I-66
- Route 671 (Chantilly-Vienna): New off-peak and weekend service with limited stops between Chantilly and the Vienna Metro station, via Route 50
- Route 722 (McLean-Langley): A new express route between the McLean Metro station and Langley, via Route 123/Dolley Madison Boulevard
Some existing routes in the plan will have better connectivity or more frequent service, such as Route 467 between Dunn Loring and Tysons and Route 461, which travels in a loop through Vienna and Oakton.
A full breakdown of the routes and service maps can be found on FCDOT’s website.
Fairfax Connector is also studying a “flex service concept area” in Vienna and McLean northwest of Route 123 “as a way to provide future on-demand service to and from the four Metro Stations within Tysons,” according to a map showing the preferred plan’s peak service routes.
According to FCDOT, the preferred plan will shave about a minute off the average travel time within the review area compared to its existing Connector service. It will also put an additional 2,700 people within a quarter-mile of the bus system.
The changes will provide more service to population and job centers as well as minority communities and households with an income at or below $50,000, according to the county.
Along with filling out the online survey, community members can also provide input by phone (703-877-5600), email ([email protected]), and mail (Fairfax County Department of Transportation, 4050 Legato Road, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033).
Compensation increases for employees and real estate tax cuts for residents are on the table, as the extra money keeps rolling in for the Town of Vienna.
In addition to receiving $8.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds this summer, the town ended the last fiscal year (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021) with $900,000 in surplus revenue, staff told the Vienna Town Council in a conference session on Monday (Oct. 18).
“We’re in this position because we cut our budget. We cut our revenues to deal with the pandemic. We had to cut our expenditures,” Finance Director Marion Serfass said. “But then our revenues came in in some key areas pretty darn close to what we had budgeted, so that gave us a nice surplus.”
According to town staff, Vienna got higher-than-expected revenue from sales taxes, business licenses, zoning permit fees, and state and federal revenues in FY 2020-2021. In addition, position vacancies helped keep costs down.
Vienna’s budget committee presented three options for allocating the surplus funds.
The town could follow its traditional practice of putting half of any surplus in a rainy day fund and using the other half to cover currently unfunded priorities:
- $125,000 to fix pay compression for 41 employees
- $175,000 for street paving work
- $50,000 for tree maintenance and beautification
- $100,000 to address 2022 budget corrections
Because the rainy day reserve is already above where it needs to be, town staff proposed instead “returning” some money to employees and taxpayers. If the town allocates all $900,000 in the current fiscal year, it could:
- Cover the unfunded priorities above, except paving would get just $75,000
- $280,000 to give residents a half-cent tax rebate
- $270,000 to give employees a 3% salary increase starting on Jan. 1, 2022
The town could also hold $550,000 to spend next fiscal year, while still covering the unfunded priorities now:
- $280,000 to reduce the real estate tax rate by half a cent
- $270,000 to increase employee salaries by 3% starting on July 1, 2022
Serfass noted that the surplus could be spent on any priorities, but she suggested paving and tree maintenance because the town council had previously floated those as areas that could use more money.
“Here’s some things that fall into the category of things we wanted to do but haven’t had enough money to do them,” she said. “We could always put more money in paving. We’re only getting the index of ‘fair’…We know we have issues with trees.”
The council gave its support for funding those needs as well as holding money for a tax rate reduction in July instead of an immediate rebate.
“I know it’s not much either way, but I think [a rate reduction] has more value than mailing somebody a pretty small check,” Councilmember Ed Somers said.
The council proved skeptical, however, when it came to the proposed 3% salary increase, since it would be a recurring expense paid for with a one-time surplus.
“If you are using long-term money for short-term gain, I have never seen that work,” Councilmember Steve Potter said, adding that he would be more comfortable offering bonuses or another incentive to help recruit and retain workers.
According to Michelle Crabtree, Vienna’s human resources director, other jurisidictions have seen some success in using bonuses to recruit employees, particularly police officers and commercially licensed drivers.
“We’ve had a high turnover in public works,” she said. “We’ve lost eight people this year, and seven of them said it was one hundred percent because they could find more money elsewhere.”
Noting that Vienna is hardly alone in having labor challenges, Councilmember Nisha Patel said she would support bonuses targeted toward the positions facing the biggest hiring and retention issues.
“If we have additional funds that can go to staff, maybe we should use those more wisely to attract and retain, as opposed to just spreading it out,” Patel said.
The Vienna Town Council will hold a public hearing on the surplus funds on Nov. 15.
A local chiropractic doctor recently surrendered his license after allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with six patients.
The move came just under a year after the Virginia Board of Medicine voted to suspend Leroy Bazzarone’s license after he reportedly engaged in sexual contact or conduct that a reasonable patient would consider lewd or offensive.
A consent order from the board alleges that Bazzarone, who ran a chiropractic practice in the Vienna area, would provide services to receptionists for free and that he touched some of the women inappropriately when working with them.
The board’s doctors unanimously determined his actions were problematic and agreed on Sept. 2, 2020 to suspend his license following the incidents, which took place from 2013 to 2020.
“The Board determined that Dr. Bazzarone’s ability to practice constituted a substantial danger to the public health and safety and voted to summarily suspend his license,” meeting minutes said.
With a notary present, Bazzarone signed the consent order prepared by the board on Aug. 27, stating that he neither admitted nor denied its facts.
As part of the settlement, he waived his right to a formal hearing and his right to contest the report’s facts and legal conclusions in any future court or administrative proceeding involving the board.
For half of the patients involved, he had no record of treatment, and for others, he didn’t document all of the treatment he provided, according to the report.
Department of Health Professions spokesperson Diane Power said the settlement involves a permanent surrender of the license.
In a letter through an attorney to a Department of Health Professions investor, Bazzarone said he was retiring as of June 30, 2021. The board recorded his license as surrendered as of Sept. 1.
The reported behavior involved Bazzarone offering free treatment to women he employed as receptionists and massaging their breasts and genital areas. Sometimes, he removed their clothes or took off his own.
The Fairfax County Police Department said it has several reports involving Bazzarone on file.
According to Fairfax County General District Court records, he was arrested on Sept. 4, 2020 and charged with misdemeanor sexual battery for a Sept. 14, 2019 incident. He was found guilty and sentenced on March 11, 2021 to six months of jail. The prison sentence was suspended. Read More
Metro Service Cutbacks Continue — “Reduced Metrorail service is expected to continue until at least Sunday, October 24, as the investigation into the October 12 derailment continues. Beginning tomorrow, trains will operate every 15 minutes on the Red Line and will continue to operate every 30 minutes on all other lines. Silver Line trains will operate between Wiehle-Reston East and Federal Center SW only.” [WMATA]
What to Know About COVID-19 Boosters and Vaccines for Kids — More than 45,000 Fairfax Health District residents have gotten an additional or booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The Fairfax County Health Department says it is “actively planning and preparing for the authorization of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster doses and vaccinations for children ages 5-11.” [FCHD]
Capital Bikeshare Changes Prices — The D.C. area bicycle-sharing system raised rental prices for non-members on Oct. 1, dropping a flat $2 fee for 30-minute rides in favor of charging 5 cents per minute and a $1 “unlocking fee.” Officials say the changes will help cover increasing operational and maintenance costs as well as future improvements and expansion plans. [The Washington Post]
Local Environmentalist Dies — “McLean resident Debra Ann Jacobson, a lawyer, investigator for Congress and ardent environmentalist, died Sept. 15 at her McLean home. She was 69 and died from complications of liver cancer, her family said. ‘Debra was a champion for the environment and someone who inspired those who were fortunate enough to know her,’ said Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville).” [Sun Gazette]
Vienna Family Raises Funds for Child After Stroke — Vienna residents Tom and Paige Shahryary will hold their second annual James’s Promise Run at Nottoway Park on Nov. 7 to raise money for their now-2-year-old son, James, who suffered a stroke after he was born in August 2019. The family also has a GoFundMe page to raise funds for medical treatments and therapies. [Patch]
Vienna to Give Away Native Tree Seedlings — “Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. Find out why and pick up a free native tree seedling this Saturday, Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center. Town arborist Scott Diffenderfer will be on hand to answer your questions about trees.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Metro Announces Reduced Service Today — “As part of the investigation into the Blue Line derailment, Metro is holding out of service all of its 7000-series railcars, which is nearly 60% of its rail fleet. Without these railcars, Metro will operate about 40 trains tomorrow — offering a basic service pattern on all lines of trains departing about every 30 minutes.” [WMATA]
Why a Police Helicopter Dropped by Vienna on Friday — “Look what dropped into Vienna today — Fairfax 1, the FCPD helicopter! More than 100 children of police officers who were killed in the line of duty spent the day at the Vienna Community Center to participate in fun activities, including getting a close-up look at Fairfax 1.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Major I-66 and I-495 Closures Start Tonight — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) will close nightly, Monday through Thursday, October 18-21, for continued bridge beam installation at the I-66/I-495 Interchange…Additionally, multiple lanes will be closed on the northbound I-495 general purpose lanes near I-66, as well as a full closure of the 495 Express Lanes, and associated ramps at the I-66 and I-495 interchange so that this work may be implemented.” [VDOT]
Vienna Hit by Pumpkin-Throwing Spree — Three different Vienna residents told police that someone threw a pumpkin at their parked vehicle overnight between Oct. 12 and 13. The tossed squashes shattered the windshield of a resident in the 500 block of Birch Street, shattered the rear window of a vehicle at 1200 Ross Drive SW, and damaged the trunk of a resident in the 900 block of Echols Street SE. [Vienna Police Department]
McLean District Police Report Robberies — Five or six men with a gun approached a victim in the 7200 block of Arlington Boulevard on Thursday (Oct. 14) and took personal property, according to police. Three days earlier, two men reportedly assaulted an individual and demanded property in the 7900 block of Tysons Corner Center. No injuries were reported in either case. [FCPD]
Volunteers Sought for Tysons Block Party — Celebrate Fairfax is seeking volunteers for its next Tysons Block Party, which will take place at the former Container Store now known as The PARC (8508 Leesburg Pike) on Friday and Saturday (Oct. 22-23). Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up through a form linked in the organization’s Twitter bio. [Celebrate Fairfax/Twitter]
Autumn has arrived, and that means Vienna homeowners are about to shift from mowing their lawns to raking them.
However, exactly when that transition will begin remains a little hazy.
The Town of Vienna announced earlier this week that fall leaf collection is coming soon, but the specific details of this year’s schedule have not yet been determined, according to town spokesperson Karen Thayer.
“The weather has been so warm, we haven’t seen much leaf litter, yet,” Thayer told Tysons Reporter. “Typically leaf collection starts toward the end of October or beginning of November, and the timeline depends on Mother Nature.”
According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Northern Virginia’s average temperature in October is 69 degrees Fahrenheit, and fall foliage in the region usually reaches peak color around Oct. 15-25.
The unusually mild weather falls in line with scientists’ expectations for how the seasons will evolve with climate change, according to the Capital Weather Gang, which predicts that the western cold front will travel east and bring more typical autumnal conditions by Sunday (Oct. 17).
Given the weather’s current volatility, the Town of Vienna is holding off on announcing a concrete timeline for its fall leaf collection, though some other localities in the area, including the cities of Falls Church and Alexandria, have already unveiled start dates.
Once collections begin, Vienna’s crews will make at least three passes through town by the end of the calendar year. Residents can see the routes through a map on the town website, and “Leaf Collection Coming Soon” signs will be posted in local neighborhoods in advance of each round.
Leaves should be raked to the curb for collection, or they can be bagged and picked up as part of Vienna’s weekly trash collection services, the town says in its news release:
Residents are asked to rake leaves to the curb for collection. Leaf piles should be free of limbs, sticks, acorns, and other debris that may clog the vacuum hose.
Alternatively, Town residents may, if desired, bag leaves for pick up on regular weekly trash collection days. Please place leaves in paper yard waste bags available at garden and home supply stores or loose in a can. In accordance with anti-pollution laws, burning leaves is prohibited. For more information about leaf collection, call 703-255-6380.
Rake leaves just to the curb. Raking leaves into the street is dangerous because:
- Cars parked on leaf piles may catch fire.
- Children playing in the leaves may be struck by a passing vehicle.
- Leaves may prevent rainwater from reaching storm drain inlets.
Metrorail Returns Normal Service After Train Derailed — “On Friday, October 15, normal service will resume on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines. Intermittent delays are possible as the investigation into Tuesday’s derailment continues.” [WMATA]
Vienna ExxonMobil Now Serves Up Indian Cuisine — “Raja and Bindu Puri opened Chit Chaat cafe inside the gas station at 200 Maple Avenue E a few months ago. The husband and wife do all the prep and cooking. Their children Neil, Maggie, and Nikki take on respective roles in operations, finance, and social media. Although it’s not the family’s first restaurant, it’s their first one surrounded by fuel pumps.” [DC Eater]
Sexual Assault Reported Near Bailey’s Crossroads — Fairfax County police are looking for two men who reportedly broke into a woman’s apartment in the 6000 block of Knollwood Drive around 5:10 a.m. yesterday morning (Thursday). The woman told police that she woke up to one of the men sexually assaulting her. He punched her, and they ran from the apartment. [WTOP]
Tysons Senior Living Development Lands Construction Financing — “Mather, an award-winning senior living provider, announces that it has secured $300 million in construction financing for The Mather, a luxury Life Plan Community being constructed in Tysons, Virginia, with the syndicated transaction led by The Huntington National Bank. Expected to open in 2024, The Mather is a $500 million development.” [The Mather]
I-66 Paving Work to Close Lanes and Ramps in Vienna — I-66 East will be reduced from four to three travel lanes throughout the day tomorrow (Oct. 16), with just a single lane open overnight today and tomorrow. The Nutley Street North and South ramps will also be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for paving work as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. [VDOT]
Tysons Consultant Plans Major Spending — “Tysons-based consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton plans to step up its spending on acquisitions over the next few years, targeting companies…in areas such as healthcare technology and cybersecurity services, the Wall Street Journal reported. Booz Allen plans to spend about $4 billion between April 2022 and March 2025, largely on acquisitions, executives said last week at the company’s investor day.” [Fairfax County EDA]
The Vienna Town Council is moving forward with engineering work on four potential sidewalk projects, even as one homeowner opposing a proposed sidewalk floated the possibility of legal action.
The council voted 6-1 yesterday (Monday) to approve final engineering designs for sidewalks to piece together missing sections using trust money that must be spent by fall 2024. Councilmember Nisha Patel was the lone dissenting vote, citing safety concerns for one project.
The money comes from the Maud Ferris Robinson Charitable Trust that the town created with more than $7 million that the former councilmember left after her death in 2019 to pay for sidewalks.
With the vote, the council authorized Vienna’s public works department to enlist the contracted engineering firm Urban for final design work on four projects:
- Alma Street SE: from Delano Drive SE to Follin Lane SE, on the side of the street with even-numbered houses (budget: $38,050)
- Blackstone Terrace NW: from Lawyers Road NW to Holmes Drive NW, even-numbered houses (budget: $25,300)
- Charles Street SE: from Locust Street SE to Branch Road SE, odd-numbered homes (budget: $19,300)
- Symphony Circle SW: from the cul-de-sac to Melody Lane SW, odd-numbered homes (budget: $19,050)
Matt Sanders, of 610 Delano Drive Southeast, wrote a letter to the town about the issue, saying he would retain an attorney if the town “approves the installation of a sidewalk in front of my house.”
“While I’m not opposed to sidewalks in general, in my case, I stand to lose 50% of my driveway and one parking space,” he wrote. “I purchased my home specifically for the two-car garage and the ability to fit two cars in my driveway.”
During Monday’s town council meeting, town engineer Robert Froh suggested expanding part of the width of the driveway at the town’s expense, but a section by the home would have to be done by the homeowner. It wasn’t immediately clear if such an adjustment would address Sanders’ concerns, which also involved privacy due to pedestrians being closer to his garage.
Meanwhile, Patel’s worries stemmed from the Symphony Circle sidewalk project, which she described as a partial sidewalk that would not extend to the end of the cul-de-sac.
She said a vehicle may be unaware that the sidewalk as proposed would end, requiring pedestrians to go into the road.
“I think that’s very dangerous,” Patel said, adding that a blind spot on the corner could cause a vehicle to hit a little kid.
The sidewalk could be extended in the future, even during the design of the project, town officials said. The extension is currently blocked by two trees that a developer preserved, but the town could remove them.
The council defeated Patel’s motion to revisit Symphony Circle later, but it approved a motion to extend an engineering study involving the road.
Public Works Director Michael Gallagher said the proposals presented on Monday were concepts, and further engineering could address issues as the work progresses.
Photo via Google Maps
The culinary scene at Cedar Park Shopping Center is about to heat up, with three new restaurants planning to open this winter, even after one tenant recently bowed out of the Vienna strip mall.
Crepes & Karak Cafe (280 Cedar Lane SE) shuttered on Aug. 30 after more than four years at the shopping center. A sign posted to the door indicates that the eatery will be moving to a new location but does not mention where that might be.
“We want to make sure that we have enough kitchen space to provide our services,” the sign says. “Thank you for your support and understanding.”
Crepes & Karak did not return requests for comment by publication time.
When Cedar Park celebrated the completion of an extensive renovation in November, Crepes & Karak owner Ashraf Hamid told Tysons Reporter that he hoped the shopping center’s new look would attract more customers and foot traffic after his business saw a 60% drop in sales following its two-week shutdown for the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Meanwhile, Cedar Park’s revitalization could soon kick into a near gear, as property owner First Washington Realty has leased more than 6,000 square feet of space combined to a trio of restaurants.
Sushi Koji (262H Cedar Lane) has been a decade in the making for husband-and-wife owners Hyung Joon Lee and Grace Park.
Though he’s Korean, Lee has spent years training and working as a chef at Japanese restaurants in the D.C. area, including Sushi Taro in D.C., where he learned from owner-chef Nobu Yamazaki. He has also won National Sushi Society competitions and other awards in both the U.S. and Japan, according to Park.
However, this is the couple’s first attempt at starting their own restaurant.
“Hyung Joon has always wanted to make good quality food and is excited that he is able to do so by opening his own restaurant,” Park told Tysons Reporter. “He will constantly develop and change the menu using fresh ingredients for every season.”
In addition to sushi, the menu’s primary focus will be on ramen, which will feature fresh noodles made from scratch. Dishes will use shio koji, the fermented seasoning that gives the restaurant its name.
Park, who is decorating and working with professional designers to set up the restaurant, says they started looking for possible locations in August. The Town of Vienna stood out for its budding foodie culture, but actually landing the vacant, 1,500 square-foot site in Cedar Park took some luck.
“It actually is kind of competitive,” Park said of finding retail space in the town. “We were surprised we were able to open the restaurant in Vienna, so we’re very excited about that.”
The tents and patios for outdoor dining that have popped up in shopping center parking lots around Vienna could be here to stay.
Under a zoning ordinance amendment proposed by town staff, restaurants would be able to obtain a permit for outdoor dining through an administrative review instead of the existing conditional use permit process, which involves a planning commission review, approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals, and a $1,500 fee.
The change will help restaurants not just by speeding up the process, but also by giving them the security to invest in more durable tents, seating, heaters, and other equipment, Vienna Business Association President Peggy James says.
“I think this will be key to business and restaurant survival,” James said, noting that while indoor dining has picked up recently, many people likely won’t feel comfortable eating inside in public for a long time.
The Vienna Town Council first approved the current emergency ordinance waiving certain regulations on outdoor commercial activities on June 1, 2020.
The ordinance has been extended several times since, but after Gov. Ralph Northam let Virginia’s state of emergency expire on June 30, the town won’t be able to keep the measure in place past its Dec. 30 end date.
Vienna has approved outdoor dining set-ups for 22 restaurants during the pandemic, according to town staff.
While the emergency ordinance included other activities, the proposed zoning ordinance amendment is specifically for outdoor dining. It will let restaurants serve diners at ground level outside their building with the following conditions:
1. Outdoor dining may only be allowed with issuance of a permit after plans showing proposed dining are submitted to the Zoning Administrator for review.
a. To-scale plans shall show location of any outdoor dining furniture or structures.
b. All permanent structures and permanent exterior modifications shall be subject to review by the Board of Architectural Review. Permanent changes may also be subject to Site Plan Control Provisions under Article 25.
2. Outdoor dining furniture and equipment cannot block pedestrian access or interfere with ADA accessible routes to and from buildings and public facilities.
3. Outdoor dining area must be clearly delineated by cordon, marking, or other means and must be protected from vehicular traffic to the extent possible.
4. Parking spaces located directly outside a restaurant may be used for outdoor dining with a temporary permit to be reviewed and issued annually by the Zoning Administrator. Such use of parking spaces are subject to the following conditions:
a. No more than 20% of the required off-street parking for a restaurant may be utilized for outdoor dining. Additional spaces may be allocated for restaurants located with buildings developed under Sections 18-87.4 and 18-87.5 after review by the Zoning Administrator.
b. Outdoor dining cannot be located in any designated fire lanes.
c. Only non-permanent structures, such as tents, are allowed to take up said parking spaces and parking spaces must be able to be easily converted back to be used for parking.
d. No ADA accessible parking spaces may be used for outdoor dining
The town council is scheduled to request a Nov. 15 public hearing on the proposed amendment when it meets tonight (Monday).