Town Council Has a Late Night

The July 15 Vienna Town Hall meeting was anything but business as usual, not only because of a single issue which packed the hall beyond capacity, but because it did not end until 2 AM.

The agenda item of interest was a motion to rescind the approval, granted on June 17, to redevelop the property known as 380 Maple Avenue W. The motion was originated by Councilmen Pasha Majdi (above) and Howard Springsteen, who were concerned by a high number of protests from nearby residents who felt that their concerns had not been properly taken into account.

The redevelopment project by local builder Dennis Rice (above) had been in the works for nearly two years, and had met all requirements by the Vienna Planning and Zoning Department. However, Mr. Majdi noted that the approval had to include public scrutiny through a published hearing, which had not been done.  Newly elected Councilman Steve Potter, who assumed duties on July 1, supported the effort to backtrack on the final approval.

The Council agreed to hold a public hearing, and to share the podium with the entire Planning Commission, chaired by Michael Gelb. After introductory remarks, approximately forty speakers were heard on the question of rescind, or not.  The arguments presented were pointed and direct, but the process was orderly and efficient.  The two sides were split approximately half and half.

Those speaking against rescinding generally expressed a fear that such a move would be seen as unprofessional and capricious, and hurt the Town’s chances of attracting future developers.

Those speaking in favor of rescinding were concerned by potential traffic problems, and in particular by the narrowing of Wade Hampton Drive from its present 36 foot width to 32 feet.  This narrowing was part of the developer’s compliance with enhancing the walkability requirements of the Maple Avenue Corridor zoning rules, under which the project was subject.  The four feet was to be converted into wider sidewalks and outdoor seating for restaurants expected to lease space on the street level.

After the public had its say, the meeting was turned over to the Planning Commission which, in response to citizen’s concerns, clarified many of the proposed building’s design features.   At midnight, the Commission took a vote as to their position on the rescinding question:  Seven out of the eight members recommended rejection of rescinding the approval.

At that point, the Town Council spent about two hours discussing the issue. It was pretty interesting stuff, really, and much of the audience stuck around.  Finally, newly elected Councilmember Dr. Nisha Patel deftly outlined a way forward, noting that the street width was the primary issue.  She asked the developer if he would be willing to sacrifice the wide sidewalk along Wade Hampton.  He said he would.

With that agreement, the impasse was over, and the meeting was adjourned.

Sweating it Out

A good old fashioned heat wave over the weekend had us holed up with our air conditioners. Meanwhile the Internet, TV and newspapers were screaming,  “See? Global Warming is real!  It’s going to get really bad in the next few years”

Yeah, it was pretty uncomfortable out there, but how bad was it really?


By some estimates it was the 48th worst since careful records have been kept, considering temperature alone.  When factoring in the duration, the rather wide area covered, and the humidity levels, it was cited by some as the 39th worst.  It is worth noting that nowhere in the US was a record high temperature recorded.

Anyway, now it is cool again, and the heat wave seems to have traveled to Europe.  We will see what they think about it.

Walking to McDonalds Soon

Anyone who has tried to walk the east side of 123 knows what a trek it is.  But that is changing at the moment.

Northbound traffic is reduced to one lane during work hours to make room for the construction vehicles such as the gravel haulers laying a foundation.

The Chain Bridge Road sidewalk project (red line) will provide approximately 3600 feet of 5 to 6 foot wide sidewalk along northbound Chain Bridge Road between Niblick Drive and the north intersection with Horseshoe Drive. The project also includes a pedestrian signal, 6 curb ramps, and associated storm sewer improvements.

This program is funded by Fairfax County Commercial and Industrial Property Tax (C&I funds). None of lies within Vienna or boundaries, but it will be most helpful and welcome to us here in Westbriar.

Route 66 Info

It’s no secret that Route 66 is a bit of a mess, and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that it is going to get worse in the next few years.

That’s bad news if your travels take you west on 66.  But the good news is that you can prepare yourself for what’s going on out there, and perhaps figure it into your route and schedule.

Virginia Department of Transportation offers a very informative email service that is just what you might be looking for.  Sign up is simple, and you get a wealth of information on where the action spots are, and other timely information.

For example, this a temporary traffic pattern which will be coming up at the Oakton 123 exit in the next few weeks.

Another example:  This is an unusual design under consideration for the Nutley Street exit.  It’s not for sure yet, still in the planning stage.

Anyway, sign up today, by clicking HERE.

Do I Have a Leak?

Not really.  You just got your first water bill under the new rates announced several months ago. The new Town budget increased water and sewer rates by about 10 percent, which equates to $64 per year. The higher fees align with those of Fairfax County.

Vienna Town Council voted to adopt a $41.2 million budget with no real estate tax rate increase for fiscal year 2020. The rate will remain at $0.225 cents per $100 assessed value for the fifth straight year. Residents may still see their tax bills increase if their property values increased in the latest assessments.

Powerful Rain Jolts Region

Quite a downpour this morning, but if it is any consolation, other areas got hit harder.

Georgetown in the District was particularly hard hit.  This is Canal Road near Fletcher’s Boat House.  The road is bounded on the north by a somewhat steep hill delivering run off from the wooded communities along MacArthur Blvd NW, and on the south by a solid stone wall over three feet high.

For whatever reason, the drainage into the canal below was not coping well with the nearly 4 inch per hour storm.

See this exciting first hand STORY by Dave Dildine of WTOP who took this photo.