Archive 10

These stories have appeared earlier on the Westbriar Crier:



Well-Received 8/19/14

Last night it was standing room only as the Town Council heard from the public their opinions on the Maple Avenue Corridor initiative. MAC is a framework of zoning refinements, recommendations, and other incentives which will encourage compact, pedestrian-oriented development, consistent with preserving Vienna's unique small-town identity.

The MAC program was overwhelmingly popular with the more than two dozen citizens who chose to speak. Among them were Vienna merchants, leaders in a variety of commercial and citizen advocacy groups and associations, and a cross section of citizens who simply live and shop in town.

Laine High noted that "the general success of the Church Street Vision Project is the single largest argument for planning with a structured vision."

"Long overdue .... embrace the changes with a proactive stance," was how Dennis Couture put it. "It is an econmic incentive, turning a travel route into a destination.... a Win-Win."

Carol Wolfand, owner of Vienna Paints, echoed these thoughts. "Sometimes, the challenges that are given to us when we are creating something for the future are difficult," she said. But "it's time for Vienna to step in to the future."

Mike Gelb said it would "... make a good place even better."

Not all speakers were so positive. Roger Maamary was the least optimistic, saying that the duty of the Town's elected leadership is to keep things exactly as they are. "We have a perfect melting pot right now," he said.

Among those who were favorably impressed with, but not 100% sold on the MAC, spoke to a number of possible drawbacks. One recurring issue was traffic, and the fact that as Vienna becomes more attractive to development, the attendant congestion and parking problems will get worse.

The basic features of the MAC program were outlined by (above, L to R) Urban Consultant Elisabeth Lardner, Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning Matt Flis, and Chairman of the MAC Steering Committee, Doug Noble. Explanations of the program elements and their relationship to the overall goals was made clear by graphical information on the Town Hall's new big screen monitors.

The vision is not new. The groundwork goes back decades and has been methodically refined by many group efforts over the years.

At present, development along Maple Avenue is controlled by strip mall zoning dating to the 1950's, and the Council and the citizens have had very little say about the details of what was built or redeveloped. The MAC Zoning Option is designed to achieve through architectual and citizen review, redevelopment to maintain the uniqueness of Vienna.

One of the elements of the MAC initiative is the raising of the height limit for new buildings from 3 stories to 4. The advisability of this change was the subject of reticence of several speakers to fully endorse the plan.

Vienna already does have a few buildings exceeding three stories which were erected by successful zoning appeals. By comparison, Herndon, Falls Church, Leesburg, and Fairfax City all allow buildings taller than our proposed four stories. Even with 4 stories, we will still be the short guy in the region.

The MAC framework is carefully considering perspective and human scale. Tall buildings are not going to rise from the sidewalk, they will be set back appropriately.

Public hearings are still open, and will reconvene on September 8. Meanwhile, you may write or email your opinion to the Council. Please look over the whole plan, which can be found HERE.

HALLOWEEN PARADE Wednesday, Oct 29 The 68th annual Vienna Halloween Parade will begin at 7 p.m. on Maple Avenue from Berry Street to Center Street. This year's parade theme is "Celebrating the Tradition of Vienna Girls Sports" with Frank Lancaster serving as Grand Marshal. Once again, the parade will feature the Washington Redskins Marching Band as a special guest. Kids are invited to walk in the parade in their Halloween costumes. No registration is required. Meet at 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot of United Bank, 374 Maple Avenue, E. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Several side streets off Maple Avenue will be closed and no on-street parking will be allowed beginning at approximately 4:45 p.m. to allow parade participants to line up. All streets will reopen at the conclusion of the parade around 9 p.m.

Family Halloween Party, Saturday, October 18, from 2 to 3 pm, kids ages 4 through 12, outside of the Vienna Community Center. Admission free. Come in costume! Festive games, crafts, door prizes, and a hayride. Sponsored by the Vienna Parks and Recreation Department and Optimist Club of Vienna. For more information, call Parks and Recreation at (703) 255-6360. In the event of rain, the party will be held in the gymnasium.

Halloween Costume Party and Late Night Evening of Mild Fright for teenaged youth on Friday, October 24, at 3:30 p.m. until 10 pm at the Club Phoenix Teen Center located in the Vienna Community Center. Admission is Free. Games, food, a costume contest and age appropriate Halloween movies. more information, call (703) 255-5721.

MAC Zoning Initiative Moves Forward

Changes to Vienna's Development and Redevelopment Building Code have taken a step forward in Monday's Town Council general meeting. Known as the Maple Avenue Corridor Zoning Option, or MAC, the code's provisions are intended to promote and encourage compact, pedestrian-oriented development, consistent with preserving Vienna's unique small-town identity.

The MAC provisions have been under citizen review over the summer in formal hearings and through correspondence. (see related story.) Based on citizen and government input, the provisions have been refined by definitions and clarifications in such topics as bicycle parking, automobile shared parking, public art, and signage. Public hearings are now closed.

The Council passed a motion made by Councilwoman Kelleher to place the ordinance amendment on the 20 October agenda, and advertise a Notice of Intent to adopt.




A little autumn nip in the air was no match for the rays of the sun, the hot pizza, wiener schnitzel, and the warmth of the crowd.

Oktoberfest 2014 was a winner all around with the largest crowd ever. This year attendance got an amazing boost by publicity on NBC4. Definitely the place to be for all ages.

A tip of the feathered hat to Burgermeister Greg Bernhard and the Vienna Business Association for a wonderful afternoon of lively music, great food, cold beer, a chance to meet old friends and share good memories.

NEW Westbriar Resident
Invites Help


Hi there: I'm appealing for your help in a cause dear to my heart. As some of you may know, and most do not,

I was diagnosed with Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma several years ago (just about the same time they told me I needed open heart surgery). I had the heart surgery in 2011 and it was very successful...we backpacked as a family rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon 11 months later.


CTCL is a very rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that occurs in the skin. We caught it early (stage 1-A) and we hit it hard with UV-B phototherapy 3 times a week for quite awhile at first, tapering down to once every two weeks these days, and I seem to be in complete remission at this point. Life is good.

So...the point of my story: Tomorrow evening, Friday, October 17, Diane and I will be participating in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "Light the Night"...a walk "To the end of cancer." (Light The Night).

We will be walking with a team from our church in memory of Ira Hamburg, a friend who recently lost his battle with lymphoma. We ask your support of our walk for old folks like me and Ira and, more importantly, for the millions of kids and their families battling leukemia and lymphoma. If you're tapped out, as many of us are this time of year, we perfectly understand. If, however, you can swing a donation (large or small) to support our walk, we would be very grateful. Thanks for your time.

-Ken Foley-

Ed note: Ken Foley is a home builder and community activist who has been very effective in working with Vienna on issues that benefit us here in Westbriar. Notably, Ken was the driving force behind delicate negotiations to solve the noise problem at the Terrorist Screening Center on Follin Lane in 2012.

NEW 10/15/14 Vesper Trail Informational Meeting On Monday, October 20th
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will be hosting an informational meeting to discuss the Vesper Trail transportation facility. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m., at Westbriar Elementary School. Vesper Trail is an important link between the Tysons transit area and northern Vienna neighborhoods. FCDOT staff will discuss the project background, current progress, and timeline to completion. Questions? 703-478-0283


NEW Vienna Choral Society presents ....
Road Trip!

An evening of music about experiences,
places, people, and the open road

7:30 pm, Saturday, October 18, 2014 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax (2709 Hunter Mill Road, Oakton, VA 22124)
$25 for adults, $20 for seniors and students (15 - 18)
Youth age 14 and younger attend free with a paying member

Season tickets are also available ($85 for adults, $70 for seniors). Tickets available online or at the door.

"Build your own dreams ....

or someone else will hire you to build theirs."

Farrah Gray

FLIP meets FLC

Westbriar Homeowner
Ad Hoc Group
Urges Caution in
Follin Lane Improvement
Project (FLIP)

Follin Lane between Maple Avenue and Wildwood Park is slated for an upgrade this fall under a grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation. Between Echols Street and the park, there already is curb, gutter and sidewalk on the west side. The east side will have curb and gutter added. Between Echols and Maple Avenue, however, the entire roadway will be revamped, which will close it down to traffic for several months. The street will be widened five feet, enough for two wide lanes or three regular lanes.

From Echols to Hine it will be one lane in each way, as it is now. From Hine to Maple, northbound traffic will divide into two narrower lanes, to prepare for either left or right turns. This will enhance the traffic flow. Curbs and gutters will be added, and a sidewalk will be constructed on one side.

On the surface, it would appear to be a valuable addition to Vienna. At present, this stretch of road is a green tunnel of tall trees on both sides that meet high overhead. On each side of the road is a deep rocky ditch for storm water runoff. Dense brush grows to the edges of the traffic lanes. As the front door for Vienna's high tech campus, including its largest employer, Navy Federal Credit Union, the road does not seem very appropriate.

Then there is safety: Sight lines are poor for side street traffic. Cars crossing on Hine Street usually have to nose out onto the road to see if the way is clear. About a dozen accidents have occurred at this intersection in the last few years.

Forty homeowners along the 1800 foot stretch of Follin are concerned about the proposed construction, and have signed a petition for improved traffic safety measures. They feel the project is inadequate both in planning and in sharing of details with the nearby neighborhoods. At the August 18 Town Council meeting, the group's leadership outlined their concerns, and requested that the plan be returned to staff to be firmed up.


Speaking for the group, Follin Lane Coalition, or FLC, Steve Skjei (pronounced Shay) outlined four issues that need more attention.

On safety, FLC will be petitioning the Vienna Traffic Safety Committee for more effective safety enhancement measures than simply removing the brush.

Regarding storm water from the road surface, FLC wants to make sure that placing the runoff in underground pipes will not adversely affect the drainage of the homes' backyards.

FLC wants the Town to understand that many hundreds of cars each work day are going to be detoured to Maple Avenue via Branch, Berry, East, Mashie, and Niblick, and to address the impact on these neighborhoods. In addition, the group wants to make sure that removal of existing trees on the right of way is held to the absolute minimum.

The homes along Mashie Drive, which back up to Follin Lane are within the Westbriar Civic Association Zone B. "Both FLIP and FLC are a good thing for the community," said Westbriar President John Shreffler. "I have been talking with Steve and his group, and also helping to focus some of the issues with the Public Works personnel.

"As for the detour period, yes, there will be impact. But I think the best way forward is to keep up the Vienna Can Do spirit, and reflect that over our lifetime, everyone is burdened about evenly by such infrastructure projects. The plan is good and believe it will be well worth it."


by Leon 9/27/14 ANOTHER CHANCE!

The Flying Fortress is a crowd pleaser. It will be in Frederick MD this weekend.

A bit of history is touring the East Coast, and will be in Frederick MD Sunday, Oct 5. Crawl through it if you get a chance. Or better yet, take a flight. Tickets are on sale.

You may have a older relative who knows a lot about this airplane. It is the B-17, which was the workhorse of the Allied bombing campaign against Germany's industrial strength 70 years ago. Only a dozen of the 13,726 made by Boeing are still in flying condition at this time. This one has been restored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, and is hangered in Oskosh, WI.

I had a friend who was a turrent gunner on a B-17 which was shot down. He told me his story of being captured after parachuting, and the rest of the war as a POW. It was interesting looking out of the plane from his perspective.

The Avionics are original and have not been upgraded to state of art techniques. Although it was flown during the war in dicey conditions, this restored plane is flown only in good weather.

The nose of the plane was home to the navigator and bombardier. Each had his machine gun for when enemy fighter planes came calling.

Accomodations are not spacious, and some agility is needed. Getting from the top turret to the waist gunners' positions requires a stroll through the bombay on a catwalk about as wide as your shoes.

Experiencing this authentic nugget of history is an awesome experience, whether or not aviation is your passion. More information here, here, and here.

New 9/11/14

Vienna Director of Planning and Zoning

Greg Hembree, the Town's Director of Planning and Zoning, has died at age 60.

Hembree worked for Vienna since 1987, and was widely admired for a near photographic memory of zoning and land use details, as well as the ability to reduce complex issues to plain, understandable language. He had an expansive personality and earned the trust that the Vienna government placed on his judgment.

Related story HERE.

ISS Note Several readers saw the bright pass of the International Space Station last month, and liked it. The next bright one is Saturday, August 22. We won't be making any more announcements, but we will keep the ISS Predictor up to date. This link is near the bottom of the third column. Click HERE.

Twilight Stroll at Meadowlark 7/20/14 by Leon

Along with 48 other avid nature freaks, I enjoyed a guided tour Sunday evening through our local treasure trove, the Meadowlark Gardens. Co-hosted by Park Manager Keith Tomlinson, and childhood advocate author and lecturer, Jenifer Joy Madden, the tour was timed to take in the peace and calm of day's end. Bird calls and frogs added some punctuation to the relaxed and friendly company.

Jenifer made a convincing case for letting children, at a very young age, experience the natural world at every opportunity. "It is only through one's own senses that the world can be understood," she said. "Curiosity and exploration, freedom to follow random ideas is all important."

And a natural environment like Meadowlark is an ideal place to make it happen.

Click the fish for other photos.

Keith filled in specifics on park history, fauna and foliage species, maintenance, and plans. Meadowlark is part of the Regional Park System, which was developed privately by people who jointly realized the downside to uncontrolled urbanization. They bought up and set aside land for such retreats. The W&OD Trail is another of the Regional Park's Inventory.

A highlight of the tour was the ringing of an enormous bronze bell in the Korean Garden. Normally not heard except for Summer Solstice and diplomatic events, this is a sound you will not forget. The bell weighs over two tons, and when struck on the side by a large log suspended by chains, reverberates for over a minute.


By the


The first ray's of sunlight lit the way for a crowd of runners (and walkers and bicyclists), as Our Lady of Good Counsel's 20th Annual Fun Run started off through the streets of South East Vienna.

Police were strategically located at intersections to keep the route clear and safe.

SPOTTED on TWITTER      Say, isn't that ....
Vienna's erstwhile intrepid Patch reporter Erica Hendry who was caught in a downsize two years ago? Yes, indeed.
Erica is doing well, now applying her considerable talents to the Diane Rehm and Kojo Nnambdi Shows at WAMU, when not editing for the Smithsonian Magazine.


Swearing-In Ceremony 6/16/16

May 6 election winners were sworn into office last night at the Vienna Town Hall. At left, Mayor Laurie DiRocco takes the oath from Judge Brett Kassabian.

Also sworn in were Council Members Edythe Kelleher, Pasha Majdi, and Linda Colbert.

The new officials begin their duties on July 1.

Notes from the County

Meals Tax? (update 6/24/14) Probably Not ... at least for now

During deliberation on the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, a number of individuals and organizations have urged Fairfax County to revisit a restaurant meals tax. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, towns and cities are permitted to have a meals tax subject to an affirmative vote by the governing body, and most have done so. Counties, however, may establish a meals tax only if a referendum is approved by the voters. The last time this proposal was put on the ballot (unsuccessful) in Fairfax County was in April 1992.

There had been growing sentiment during recent years for Fairfax to once again allow the voters to decide if they wish to avail themselves of this additional source of revenue. Reasons for urging this include the desire to diversify the revenues we have available to fund schools, public safety, parks, libraries and human services. If a meals tax were adopted at the state-approved rate of 4% of the cost of the meal cost, it would generate about $88 million annually.

A Task Force of about forty county organizations and individuals, co-chaired by former Board Chairmen Kate Hanley and Tom Davis, was convened by the Board of Supervisors to study the issue and return with their recommendation on June 17th. However the Task Force did not present a straight up recommendation. Rather, they submitted an extensive report detailing the pros and cons of instituting the meals tax. At this late date in an election year, and with only tepid support on the Board, it is unlikely that the tax issue will move forward this year.

Read more details in the Washington Post HERE.

by Leon

A new era began in the unfolding of Tysons, as the Silver Line opened this morning for its first day of passenger service.

It has been a long time coming, and lots of people showed up for a ride on Day One. Just Because.

From the Top, at Spring Hill Station

From the Front

We chose the best view.

To see what we saw, Click HERE for a 78 second ride from Ballston to Reston.

I tagged along with Westbriar's Dave Hicks and John Shreffler to become a piece of that history as the first train left Spring Hill headed for Largo. That's right, Largo: We now have Direct service to the Redskins Stadium.

We picked up nifty silver pennants at the escalator, and engaged in friendly banter with a smiling Metro Crew as we awaited the opening of the card readers at 11:00 AM

Then it was Zoom! Same old Metro, different scenery. Cool!

We did a U-Turn at Falls Church East, and headed back.

While waiting on the platform, we ran into 5 year old Brady, who was a Metrophile just like us. He was only too happy to show us the safety vest that his Mom made for him, just for the occasion.

Also out for the First Ride were lots of folks who were instrumental in making it all happen.

Clockwise from the lower left are Del. Ken Plum (Reston), Former VA Gov. and Sen. Charles Robb. Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill), U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, Supervisor John Foust (Dranesville), U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, and Fairfax County Chairman Sharon Bulova.

Photo courtesy of WMATA



The Vienna Town Council is studying a recommendation made by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to install a traffic light at the intersection of Old Courthouse Road and Westbriar Drive. This is one of three intersection items currently proposed.

The question is whether giving Westbriar Drive light-controlled access to OCHR is really worth the cost involved. A speed hump installed on OCHR near the intersection has been very helpful in allowing access from Westbriar Drive.

What do YOU think? Do you feel that a light at this intersection is a good investment? Let us know your thoughts. Email us.

Mrs. Green's Deal Dissolves 9/16/14

Plans to open a branch of Mrs. Green's, a food store based in New York, and featuring natural and organic selections, have been scrapped.


The store was to open where long-time McGruder's was located.

A Chopt Salad is currently under construction in part of the building.

A Fairfax branch of Mrs. Greens closed in August after being in business for only nine months.