Tysons, VA

Fairfax County’s Board of Zoning Appeals has delayed making a decision on appeals of a zoning determination for a controversial teen rehab facility proposed in McLean.

Newport Academy, a therapy program for teens with mental health issues, wanted to open two treatment facilities — one along Davidson Road and another at 1318 Kurtz Road.

Newport Academy has hinged its claim on the two locations being by-right uses — a use that won’t require approval by the Board of Supervisors.

Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson issued a letter in May saying that Newport Academy’s three adjacent properties at 1620, 1622 and 1624 Davidson Road would be a congregate living facility.

Newport Academy originally tried to appeal the Davidson Road decision, but has withdrawn the appeal.

The Board of Zoning Appeals’ public hearing today (Wednesday) focused on three appeals from McLean residents regarding Johnson’s determination that the proposed Kurtz Road facility in the Salona Village neighborhood is a group residential facility — a win for Newport Academy.

The three appeals argue that the Kurtz Road facility should be designated as a congregate or medical use facility.

At the start of the public hearing today, county staff gave an overview of the appeals saying that the appellants have concerns about noise, falling property values, safety risks and increased traffic.

“Trying to skirt the zoning laws”

Roughly 50 people attended the public hearing today.

Attendees who testified in support of the appeal — against Newport Academy’s Kurtz Road facility — mentioned safety risks, traffic concerns on the narrow Kurtz Road,

Some of the Salona Village residents took issue with how close the facility would be to Franklin Sherman Elementary School (6633 Brawner Street).

Opponents to Newport Academy also voiced concerns about crime possibly increasing from the patients leaving the facility without permission and also how the facility would affect the local community.

One local said he and other neighbors met with the Carlyle Group, the investors behind Newport Academy, and suggested that Newport Academy use a house with more acreage and in an area with fewer traffic issues.

“Kurtz Road is full of walkers and bicyclists and people pushing strollers,” one female resident said. “I think the traffic from Newport would create a very dangerous situation.” Emergency vehicles, visitors, doctors and employees would add more vehicles to the road throughout the day, the woman said.

“Newport Academy is trying to skirt the zoning laws,” one Salon Village resident said — echoing a sentiment shared by several attendees.

“A Safe Haven”

Michael Allen, the lawyer representing Newport Academy, said that the girls, ages 12-17, at the facility would be “highly supervised.”

Allen told the board that Newport Academy screens its applicants, who mostly have anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

“Newport takes the appropriate safeguards at admission,” Allen said. Once admitted, Newport Academy does random room searches, random drug and alcohol tests and has tutoring and counseling, Allen said.

Board Member V. Max Beard asked why Newport Academy chose the McLean location and “Why create this kind of turmoil for yourself?” Allen responded that Fairfax County is a “county of opportunity” and a closer option for families in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Ultimately, Allen said that people who have disabilities and mental health should live alongside everyone else. “I suspect the neighbors testifying today will watch Newport like a hawk,” he said.

People who spoke in support of Newport Academy — including several licenses counselors — called the proposed facility a “safe haven” and “surrogate village.” Supports said that patients will be monitored 24/7 and supervised within the fenced in property.

Some parents praised Newport Academy for helping their kids. “We want them to be our neighbors,” one person said.

Newport Academy’s Plans for Kurtz Road 

After facing a backlash from neighbors and local officials, Newport Academy’s intentions for the McLean properties has been unclear.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust previously told Tysons Reporter in the fall that Newport Academy plans to sell the properties and wanted the determination reversed for the Davidson Road properties so that the zoning determination wouldn’t negatively impact future plans.

One of the three Davidson Road properties is currently for sale.

Allen told Tysons Reporter that Newport Academy is not pursuing the Davidson Road properties anymore, but does intend to open at Kurtz Road if the Board of Zoning Appeals uphold Johnson’s determination.

Staff said today that Newport Academy has received a mental health treatment license from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health.

Allen added that Newport Academy officials are feeling confident about their case.

Next Steps

Zoning staff recommended that the board uphold the Johnson’s determination.

After more than four hours of discussion of testimonies, the board decided it would be best to defer the decision to a later date.

The appellants requested that the board delay its consideration by a few weeks to respond to arguments and material received “last minute” from Newport Academy. Allen, representing Newport Academy, also requested time to submit a post-hearing brief.

Board Member James Hart said he’s concerned about paperwork piling up, leading to further delays to give the board time to consider the arguments, which could then lead to more paperwork.

The board will consider the appeals again on March 11.

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Appeals of a zoning determination for a controversial therapy facility proposed in McLean will head to Fairfax County’s Board of Zoning Appeals next week.

Newport Academy, a therapy program for teens with mental health or addiction problems, wanted to open two treatment facilities — one along Davidson Road and another at 1318 Kurtz Road — but faced a backlash from neighbors and local officials.

Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson issued a letter in May saying that Newport Academy’s three adjacent properties at 1620, 1622 and 1624 Davidson Road would be a congregate living facility.

Newport Academy, which has hinged its claim on the two locations being by-right uses — a use that won’t require approval by the Board of Supervisors — originally appealed the Davidson Road decision.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust previously told Tysons Reporter in the fall that Newport Academy plans to sell the properties and wants the determination reversed so that the zoning determination won’t negatively impact future plans.

Newport Academy, though, has withdrawn its appeal regarding the Davidson Road facility.

The Board of Zoning Appeals will just hear the three cases regarding the Kurtz Road facility in the Salona Village neighborhood.

In August, Johnson issued a letter saying that the Kurtz Road facility is a group residential facility — a win for Newport Academy that McLean residents are trying to appeal.

The Board of Zoning Appeals will consider the three appeals at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan 22.

A Facebook group of local residents that has been fighting Newport Academy’s attempt to open the facilities is urging people to come to the appeal hearing.

Image via Google Maps

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Sunrise’s new proposal to build a senior living facility at 380 Maple Avenue will go before the Town of Vienna’s zoning and architectural review boards this week.

The new plans include approximately 950 square feet of ground-floor restaurant space and 85 assisted living units and common areas, along with structured parking and one level of underground parking, according to town documents.

Tonight (Wednesday), the plans head to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a public hearing on the request for the conditional use permit.

Then on Thursday (Dec. 19), the Board of Architectural Review will hold a public hearing on exterior modifications for Sunrise’s plan.

Both public hearings start at 8 p.m. at the Vienna Town Hall (127 Center Street S.)

Image via Sunrise

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After dozens of meetings on proposed changes to the zoning ordinance, a Vienna Town official proposed a solution to speed up the process.

Earlier this year, the Vienna Town Council extended the moratorium on the MAC zone to June 30 — after pushing the deadline several times.

Councilmember Steve Potter called the work on updating the zoning ordinance a “log jam” and brought forward a motion for a comprehensive reorganization and update of Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances, Chapters 17 and 18 of Town Code, by using a consulting firm.

“It is time for a process check,” Potter told the Town Council last night.

“There have been approximately 75 Town Council and Planning Commission meetings and work sessions plus six MAC ad hoc committee meetings and two community workshops on proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance since 2016,” he said.

Potter’s motion:

I move to direct planning and zoning staff to expand the scope of the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zone and other proposed commercial zone amendments, as directed by Council to date, to include: request for proposal preparation for the comprehensive reorganization and update of Chapters 17 and 18 of the Town Code; consultant interviews and selection recommendations for consulting firms with national and Virginia experience; and determination of a realistic moratorium period for the MAC zone based upon the scope of work identified.

All pertinent work accomplished to date by staff, committees, commissions, boards, and Council, as well as relevant results from public comments, surveys, and workshops shall be retained and shared with the winning consulting firm for use in development of the aforementioned reorganization and update.

“I think this gives us a chance to kind of fix things correctly,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said.

Potter’s motion aims to make the regulations organized and easy to understand by using plain language, charts, tables and illustrations, along with consistent with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.

“The project is funded, up to $240,000, through the FY 2019-2020 budget from currently allocated funds and prior reserves,” according to town documents.

The Vienna Town Council approved the motion, which Councilmember Linda Colbert called “a great way to end 2019 and a good way to start 2020.”

Image via Town of Vienna

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Fairfax County officials say that a newly approved parking rate for the county’s largest malls would not adversely affect Tysons malls.

Yesterday (Tuesday), the Board of Supervisors approved the zoning ordinance amendment that will allow lower parking rates at the four largest malls in the county — the two in Tysons, Fair Oaks Mall and Springfield Town Center.

The proposal was based on a review of the parking rates and demand at large regional malls by consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard.

The county’s planners stressed that the focus of the zoning amendment was meant to help Fair Oaks Mall, yet it sparked concern about whether it would create parking problems at Tysons Corner Center and also about the lack of data for the Tysons malls.

Nelson/Nygaard study’s evaluated parking data for Fair Oaks Mall and the Springfield Town Center, but the study did not evaluate the two malls in Tysons.

“It really has no bearing on Tysons,” Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said yesterday, noting that Tysons Corner Center is a part of the Planned Tysons Corner Urban District’s (PTC) parking rates, which allows for lower parking rates. Tysons Galleria is not a part of the PTC District, but could opt-in.

“There has been concern raised in the community that it would [cause issues in Tysons], but I agree with Supervisor Smyth that the real impact is in Springfield and Fair Oaks, where we need to reduce the parking requirements,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said.

The change now lets shopping centers with 800,000 square feet of gross floor area or more to have a parking rate of 2.5 instead of four spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area.

In addition to the zoning change, the county board also approved directing staff to prioritize review of the parking rates in phase two of the zoning ordinance modernization effort.

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The Vienna Town Council now has until the start of next summer to redesign the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zone.

The moratorium was put in place last September to allow the town staff time to redesign the town’s guidelines. The moratorium has been extended several times and most recently was scheduled to expire later this November.

While one female resident spoke in favor of the extension during the public hearing last night (Monday), resident C. John Pott told the Town Council that he wants to see an outside consultant share how other places are handling commercial and residential challenges.

“I think it’s very important we get a consultant with national experience and knowledge,” he said, adding that the Town Council also should have a financial analysis regarding the ordinance and affordable housing guidelines included.

Last night, the Vienna Town Council voted unanimously to extend the moratorium to June 30.

Councilmember Douglas Noble said he does not want the Town Council to miss another deadline for revamping the guidelines.

“If we were a business, we would not be doing very well,” Noble said, adding that he wants to see the town update its code and commercial zones by next spring.

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The McLean Citizens Association is looking to steer Fairfax County away from reducing parking requirements at Tysons Galleria and Tysons Corner Center.

The proposal would affect the four largest malls in Fairfax County — the two in Tysons, Fair Oaks and Springfield Town Center — and was based on a review of the parking rates and demand at large regional malls by consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard.

The firm found that less than 65% of the available spaces were occupied during peak times from a parking count for the Springfield mall and analyzing data from the Fair Oaks mall. The study did not evaluate the two malls in Tysons — alarming the McLean Citizens Association.

“Without a study specifically addressing parking at those two malls, the MCA believes it is inappropriate to reduce the parking requirements at those locations,” the MCA wrote in a letter dated Oct. 30 to the Planning Commission.

The letter goes on to state that “it seems that it is frequently difficult to find a vacant space at the two Tysons malls even during normal weekends throughout the year” and advises the county against approving the change without data about the two Tysons malls.

MCA urges the county to drop the two Tysons malls from the proposal and — going forward — only consider changes to the parking when there is a study done specifically for the affected mall(s).

Fairfax County planners support altering the requirement from four to 2.5 or three parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area for the four malls — the recommended change from Nelson/Nygaard.

County staff suggested a rate of 2.8, saying it “is reasonable and will address the oversupply of parking currently experienced at our regional malls.”

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is set to hold a public hearing on the proposal next Wednesday (Nov. 13). Unless indefinitely deferred, the proposal would then head to the Board of Supervisors for a hearing on Dec. 3.

Image via Google Maps

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This week, two public hearings in the Town of Vienna aim to get public input on a proposed motorized scooter program and extending the moratorium on new development applications for Maple Avenue.

The Transportation Safety Commission is set to unveil the proposed shared mobility devices pilot program and solicit feedback from the community on Tuesday (Oct. 29).

People can also email comments to [email protected]

Then on Wednesday, Oct. 30, the town’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on extending the suspension of the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zone.

The proposal would extend the moratorium to June 30.

The Vienna Town Council first put the moratorium in place last September to allow the town staff time to redesign the town’s guidelines.

Both public hearings are set to start at 8 p.m. at Town Hall (127 S. Center Street).

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Appeals of zoning determinations for controversial proposed therapy facilities in McLean will head to Fairfax County’s Board of Zoning Appeals in January.

Newport Academy, a therapy program for teens with mental health or addiction problems, wanted to open two treatment facilities — one along Davidson Road and another at 1318 Kurtz Road in the Salona Village neighborhood.

While the planned treatment facilities have received widespread community backlash, Newport Academy has hinged its claim on the two locations being by-right uses — a use that won’t require approval by the Board of Supervisors.

Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson issued a letter in May saying that Newport Academy’s three adjacent properties at 1620, 1622 and 1624 Davidson Road would be a congregate living facility.

Newport Academy is trying to appeal the Davidson Road decision, saying that county staff overreached in its determination.

While Johnson later noted that Newport Academy is no longer planning to open a facility at the Davidson Road properties, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust told Tysons Reporter that the appeals process will continue for Davidson Road.

Foust said that Newport Academy plans to sell the properties, but doesn’t want the zoning determination to negatively impact future plans elsewhere.

In August, Johnson issued a letter saying that the Kurtz Road facility is a group residential facility — a win for Newport Academy.

Three appeals from McLean residents want the decision about 1318 Kurtz Road overturned.

The Board of Zoning Appeals will consider the four appeals at 9 a.m. on Jan 22.

First image via Google Maps

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) A moratorium on new development applications for Maple Avenue set to expire in November may get extended again.

The Vienna Town Council is set to request tonight (Sept. 16) that staff schedule a public hearing on Nov. 4 to discuss extending the suspension of the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) Zone to June 2020. The matter would also go to the town’s Planning Commission.

The Town Council first put the moratorium in place last September to allow the town staff time to redesign the town’s guidelines. The moratorium was set to expire in June, but the Town Council voted to extend it to Nov. 15.

So far, the Vienna Town Council has approved four MAC projects:

  • a combination Chick-fil-A and Flagship Carwash Center at 540 W. Maple Avenue that has received public backlash
  • townhouse-style condominiums with retail at the northeast corner of W. Maple Avenue and Pleasant Street NW
  • a much-debated redevelopment that would add ground-floor retail and more than three dozen multi-family residential condominium units to 380 Maple Avenue
  • a controversial redevelopment of 430, 440 and 444 W. Maple Avenue into a four-story mixed-use development

The Town Council has also killed a MAC project — a proposed Sunrise Senior Living Facility at the corner of Maple Avenue and Center Street. Sunrise is suing the Town Council for allegedly discriminating against seniors and people with disabilities.

The Town Council meeting tonight will start at 8 p.m.

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