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Holly Seibold and Karl Frisch are vying to become the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 35th House District (courtesy Laura Goyer Photography, Friends of Karl Frisch)

As early voting for the Congressional midterms continues, Democrats in Virginia’s 35th House District have a critical state race competing for their attention.

After longtime delegate Mark Keam resigned in early September, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee will hold a caucus on Saturday (Oct. 8) to select the its nominee for the vacated seat, which represents Tysons, Vienna, Dunn Loring and Oakton.

Competing for the nomination are Providence District School Board Representative Karl Frisch and Holly Seibold, founder and president of the nonprofit BRAWS.

Though the special election won’t be until Jan. 10, no Republicans have entered the race yet, and the district has gone blue in every election since 2003, suggesting that whoever wins this Saturday will be the new delegate.

The Democratic caucus will be unassembled, meaning voters can cast their ballot and leave. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at three different locations:

  • The Kilmer Center cafeteria (8102 Wolftrap Road, Vienna)
  • The Oakton Elementary School cafeteria (3000 Chain Bridge Road, Oakton)
  • The Patrick Henry Library meeting room (101 Maple Avenue East, Vienna)

Early voting will also be available at the FCDC headquarters at 8500 Executive Park Avenue, Suite 402, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) and from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday (Oct. 6).

All voters must fill out a certification form and sign a statement saying they’re “a registered voter, a Democrat, and that they do not intend to support a candidate opposed to the Democratic nominee in the next ensuing election,” according to the caucus rules.

Whoever wins the special election will serve the remainder of Keam’s term, which concludes in January 2024.

The candidates: Karl Frisch

Elected to the Fairfax County School Board in 2019, Frisch previously worked as executive director of the consumer watchdog organization Allied Progress, a senior fellow for the nonprofit Media Matters for America, and a Democratic staffer on the House of Representatives’ Committee on Rules.

The first openly gay person on the county’s school board, Frisch’s tenure has included the approval of new protections for transgender and gender-expansive students — a regulation currently being threatened by the state — and the naming of Mosaic Elementary School, previously known as Mosby Woods. Read More

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Route 7 has a new eastbound lane between Reston Avenue and Riva Ridge Drive (via VDOT)

Drivers headed east on Route 7 in Reston can now get a small taste of what the road will be like once it’s fully widened.

A third eastbound travel lane opened along a 2-mile stretch of Route 7 (also known as Leesburg Pike) from Reston Avenue to Riva Ridge Drive on Friday (Sept. 30), the Virginia Department of Transportation announced.

A third westbound lane will open in the same area during the week of Oct. 10, VDOT says, noting that both lanes are arriving “ahead of schedule.”

This is the first segment of new lanes to be finished since construction began over three years ago on the project, which is expanding a 7-mile section of the corridor from four to six lanes between Reston and Tysons.

The $313.9 million project is also adding shared-use paths on both sides of Route 7, replacing the Difficult Run bridge, reconfiguring the Lewinsville Road intersection, and building a new pedestrian underpass at Colvin Run.

Work on the median and noise barriers between Reston Avenue and Riva Ridge will continue until mid-2024, when the full project is scheduled to be complete, according to VDOT’s project page.

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Fairfax County police car (file photo)

Fairfax County police are investigating a fatal shooting after someone allegedly fired multiple gunshots into a car parked in the Mount Vernon area yesterday morning (Sunday), killing one of the occupants.

Officers were called to the Old Mill Gardens apartment complex at Jeff Todd Way and St. Gregory’s Lane shortly before 7 a.m. after receiving a report of gunshots in the area, Fairfax County Police Department Lt. Dan Spital said at a media briefing.

According to police, the shooting followed “an altercation” between three occupants of a car in the apartment parking lot and an individual who approached the vehicle on foot.

“At some point, the individual outside of the car fired multiple rounds inside that vehicle,” Spital said. “At least one person was struck, and that is our victim.”

Still in the same car, an acquaintance drove the victim, a man, to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, where he was admitted with gunshot wounds to the upper body, police say. According to Spital, doctors determined that the man needed to be transferred to Inova’s Fairfax hospital, where he ultimately died.

Police believe the suspect and victim knew each other but are “still trying to determine the extent of that relationship,” Spital said. The suspect is likely a man, possibly the driver of a silver Nissan Maxima with Maryland tags seen “fleeing” the area, the FCPD says.

Police didn’t have any identifying information about the suspect beyond the description of the car seen leaving the area. However, the shooting is being investigated as a murder, according to Spital, who noted that “several rounds” were fired.

“It’s disturbing for this community, [on] a Sunday morning. I mean, it’s a time for families,” Spital said. “…The investigation has just gotten started, so our detectives, although they may not be on the scene here, are going to be working around the clock until they find the assailant.”

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Bicyclist crosses Wiehle Avenue in Reston at site of future bridge (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The weekend is almost here. Before the remnants of Hurricane Ian arrive or you head to bed for some much-needed sleep, let’s revisit the past week of news in Fairfax County.

Here are the 10 most-read stories on FFXnow this week:

  1. Metro unveils new map with addition of Silver Line extension
  2. Alcorn shuts door on possibility of redeveloping Reston National Golf Course
  3. Uniqlo opens Fair Lakes store, its first in an open-air shopping center
  4. Students across Fairfax County protest proposed policies limiting transgender student rights
  5. Convenience store approved for longtime family-owned gas station in Springfield
  6. Police: Motorcyclist died after crash on I-495 near Inova Fairfax
  7. Remains found in Tysons identified as teen who disappeared 47 years ago
  8. Reston’s Halley Rise development to feature new urban farm, fall festival
  9. NEW: McKay believes ‘safe legal ground’ if FCPS defies state’s draft policies on transgender students
  10. For owner Amir Mostafavi, South Block coming to McLean brings life ‘full circle’

Ideas for potential stories can be sent to news@ffxnow.com or submitted as an anonymous tip. Photos of scenes from around the county are welcome too, with credit always given to the photographer.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans, or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below. Have a great weekend, Fairfax County!

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The West Falls Church Active Transportation Study area (via FCDOT)

The general public’s last chance to weigh in on Fairfax County’s ongoing study of the bicycle and pedestrian network in the West Falls Church Metro station area will come later than anticipated.

Two community meetings that had been scheduled for next week will instead be held on Oct. 26 and 27, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation announced yesterday (Thursday).

A virtual meeting has been set for 7:30-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, and county staff will also host an in-person meeting in Longfellow Middle School’s cafeteria at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27.

“The team felt like we had not given the amount of notice we had planned that we would ensure the most participation by residents and stakeholders in the community,” FCDOT told FFXnow. “This is the final round of community input and attendees will hear about the survey results on active transportation alternatives.”

Launched last December, the West Falls Church Active Transportation Study is intended to identify needed safety improvements and gaps in the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure within a 2-mile radius around the Metro station (7040 Haycock Road).

After paving the way for over 1 million square feet of new development, the county hopes the study will result in projects that can mitigate traffic and safety concerns raised by residents, some of whom have argued that the area can’t support the anticipated growth.

Replacing parking lots with housing, office, and retail construction, the proposed West Falls Church Metro redevelopment will include a new grid of streets that EYA — one of three developers involved in the project — has said should help alleviate pressure on the existing local streets.

However, that won’t address the missing sidewalks and lack of safe street crossings that community members highlighted during an initial round of public engagement on the transportation study in February.

The feedback will be used by county staff and a 13-person advisory group to develop recommendations for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on the future of non-motorized transportation in the area.

Adjacent to the Metro station redevelopment site, construction is underway on the West Falls project in neighboring Falls Church City, and plans were submitted last week for a major buildout of Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center campus.

Map via FCDOT

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Duplexes are proposed to replace the Vienna Courts office condos (via Town of Vienna)

The Vienna Planning Commission made clear Wednesday (Sept. 28) that in concept, it’s in favor of redeveloping the Vienna Courts offices as duplex housing, but the lack of open space remains a sticking point.

After getting unanimous support for its proposed rezoning, developer BFR Construction Company merely eked out a win from the commission when it came to requested site modifications that it argued are necessary to build the planned residences.

The commission voted 4-3 to recommend that the Vienna Town Council approve reduced front and back yard setbacks, a lot area of 72,167 square feet, and an allowance for the development to cover 68% of the lot — slightly below the 70% that BFR is seeking.

“I don’t know if it’s this trade-off between additional parking and green space, but that’s where I would say I have remained a bit concerned,” Commissioner Jessica Ramakis said. “But again overall, [I] really appreciate all of the care in the proposal and that it would meet a need for having more units of this nature in the town.”

Initially envisioned as 30 residential units in 15 buildings, the Vienna Courts development was already tweaked to instead fit 28 units in 14 two-story buildings at 127-133 Park Street NE. The units will be 1,200 to about 1,900 square feet in size.

Developer BFR Construction has proposed building 14 duplexes with two units of housing each (via Town of Vienna)

The developer heard a desire for multi-family units in a variety of sizes “loud and clear”  from potential residents, BFR President Steve Bukont said after a public hearing where three Vienna residents voiced support for the project.

“I live in a fairly large, single-family home by myself now, unfortunately, and I’ve been looking for a place like this,” said Linda Wayne, who’s lived in the town for five years. “I’d like to continue to be in Vienna within walking distance of shopping, just all the amenities that Vienna offers.”

Wayne said the one-floor duplexes are preferable to a multi-story townhouse.

A 48-year resident of the Vienna area who lives alone after the death of her husband said the project “would be a very, very nice addition to our lovely town,” especially with its proximity to the Town Green and restaurants on Church Street.

The only neighbor to the property who appeared at the meeting was Stephen Cook, who confirmed that he will rebuild and live in his grandfather’s historic house at 135 Park Street. The 122-year-old home of local photographer T.R. Cook burned down in April.

Per Fairfax County property records, T.R. Cook sold the house to his grandson for $900,500 in December.

“I’m just happy to see that there’s generational ownership in town,” Commission Vice Chair David Miller said after Stephen Cook shared his plan. Read More

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Fairfax County faces a marginal risk of flash flooding from Hurricane Ian (via NOAA)

(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) An October weekend once filled with fall events is starting to clear out, as Fairfax County braces for Hurricane Ian.

The storm that devastated Florida after making landfall on Wednesday (Sept. 28) is expected to weaken as it heads north, but its rain and winds could still prove dangerous, the Fairfax County Department of Emergency Management and Security (DEMS) warns.

According to the department, remnants of Hurricane Ian are projected to arrive tonight (Friday), bringing scattered flooding and strong winds:

  • Scattered localized flooding is possible from rain. Overall, we are not expecting significant flooding impacts from this event. The rainfall totals are expected to be between 1″-2″ with a high end of 3″ over the three day period of Friday through Sunday. A rumble of thunder may enter the area early Saturday morning, but no significant thunderstorm threat is expected.
  • Winds will be sustained at 15-20 mph with gusts between 20-30 mph throughout the weekend.
  • Tidal anomalies of 1-2 feet are possible, but no significant tidal flooding for Fairfax County is expected.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a State of Emergency earlier this week, giving the state authority to mobilize resources in preparation for the storm.

Several events planned across the county for tomorrow (Saturday) have already been canceled or rescheduled, with organizers citing the impending inclement weather. Others are still monitoring conditions before making a determination.

The McLean Project for the Arts pulled the plug on its annual MPAartfest on Wednesday, though the 2022 McLean 5K is still on for now.

“This is a rain or shine event, we have no plans to cancel,” McLean Community Center General Programs Director Mike Fisher said. “If we do cancel, that decision will be made in the moment as a result of on the ground conditions at the event site.”

Reston Community Center’s first-ever Silent Dance Party at Reston Station has been postponed to 5 p.m. on Oct. 9, while Reston Association announced yesterday (Thursday) that its popular Reston Community Yard Sale has moved to next Saturday, Oct. 8.

This morning, the Town of Vienna officially canceled tomorrow’s Oktoberfest, which drew more than 35,000 visitors last year. The Fall Native Plant Sale has been bumped to Oct. 8.

In lieu of the town’s official Oktoberfest, the Vienna Moose Lodge (9616 Courthouse Road) has teamed up with Caboose Brewing Company to host indoor festivities with draft beer and pretzels from noon to 9 p.m.

Both Fairfax County Park Authority events set for tomorrow have been altered. Bug Fest at Lewinsville Park in McLean has been postponed to Oct. 22, but Buktertoberfest at Burke Lake Golf Course has been canceled.

In Fairfax City, the Out of Darkness Walk to raise awareness about suicide and mental health impacts is currently still a go, but the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says it will provide an update by 5 p.m. if that changes.

Map via NOAA

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Chesterbrook United Methodist Church and Montessori School of McLean share a building at 1711 Kirby Road in McLean (via Google Maps)

The Montessori School of McLean could soon have the property at 1711 Kirby Road all to itself.

The private elementary school has occupied the nearly 4-acre parcel since the early 1970s, but the site has been shared with the Chesterbrook United Methodist Church, which constructed its longtime home there in 1920.

Now in its 110th year, the church plans to relocate and has proposed selling the property to the Montessori school, a legal representative for the school said on its behalf in a special exception application to Fairfax County.

Received by the county on Sept. 13, the application requests that the school be permitted to stay on the property, even though it will no longer be used for any religious purposes as currently zoned.

“[Montessori School of McLean], as tenant and contract purchaser, seeks to continue its long standing tradition of serving McLean families with quality education and child care on the Property,” Holland & Knight land use attorney David Schneider said in a statement of justification.

The school says no physical changes to the site are planned, and it has proposed leaving the existing enrollment cap of 265 kids in place.

Opened in 1973 with one primary and one elementary class, the school now serves kids aged 2 to 12 with pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first through sixth grade classes, along with a child care center.

According to the application, the school doesn’t anticipate any significant traffic impacts, but it is seeking to expand weekday operating hours from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. to 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

The change will “allow additional child care coverage and help spread out the trips from this existing use away from the peak hours” of 7:45-8:45 a.m. and 5:15-6:15 p.m. at the Kirby Road and Old Dominion Drive intersection, Schneider wrote.

According to its website, Chesterbrook UMC started at one of its members’ homes in 1906 before constructing the church building that it has now occupied for over a century. The church didn’t respond to FFXnow’s inquiry regarding the planned sale and where it will be relocating by press time.

According to county property records, 1711 Kirby Road was valued at $3.6 million for the 2022 tax year, including over $1.5 million for the land and $2 million for the current church building. Virginia exempts real estate used for religious purposes from paying state and local taxes.

As a private school, the Montessori school won’t receive the same exemption once the church transfers ownership of the property.

Photo via Google Maps

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Southbound I-495 approaching the exit to Gallows Road (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal motorcycle crash that occurred on I-495 South in the Annandale area last Friday (Sept. 23), the agency announced today (Thursday).

According to police, 25-year-old Carlos Javier Velez Mantalvo from Orlando, Florida, was riding a 2006 Honda CBR600 motorcycle, going south on I-495 early that morning.

Near the Gallows Road exit, which leads to the Inova Fairfax Hospital campus, Velez Montalvo “rapidly” reduced his speed, “lost control and laid the motorcycle down in the roadway,” state police said.

“The operator then slid across the pavement away from the motorcycle,” VSP said in a news release.

Police responded to the crash at 2:02 a.m. Velez Montalvo was transported to the nearby hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries.

Police say he was wearing a helmet when the motorcycle crashed.

Photo via Google Maps

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Construction continues to chug along on Sunrise Senior Living’s upcoming facility in McLean.

Sunrise of McLean Village broke ground at 1515 Chain Bridge Road on June 18, 2021 and is projected to move in its first residents in spring 2023, according to spokesperson John Chibnall.

“Sunrise of McLean Village is in the heart of McLean, which appeals to the growing number of older adults living in the community looking forward to their next step in life and want to remain in McLean proper,” Sunrise Senior Vice President of Design and Construction Andy Coelho told FFXnow.

Replacing the defunct McLean Medical Building, whose original owners included the first doctor to administer a polio vaccine, the senior care facility will have 100 residential units for 122 people, including 61 assisted living residences and 39 memory care residences.

Amenities for residents will include outdoor terraces, a multi-purpose bistro, lounges, a library, a formal dining room, an activity room and a theater room. A “heritage garden” will have a private section for residents and a public section open to the surrounding neighborhood — a unique feature of the McLean location, according to Coelho.

“The latest and safest building codes were taken into account when designing and building this community,” he said.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the redevelopment in October 2019 after an earlier attempt to build a 73-unit facility on Kirby Road got voted down in May 2017.

After the Kirby Road plan faced opposition over its potential impact on nearby residential neighborhoods, the approved Chain Bridge location puts Sunrise closer to downtown McLean, which is in the midst of a gradual revitalization effort.

The building will be three stories tall and have 89,983 square feet of space, with 88 parking spots, Chibnall told FFXnow.

A sales gallery and model unit are scheduled to be installed this fall. Sunrise did the interior design, while Rust Orling Architecture served as the architect. The building is being constructed by The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

“We selected this location because it complements our surrounding communities in the area, filling in the gap where Sunrise hasn’t been able to serve yet,” Coelho said. “We have already seen a great response from the community and have several future residents preparing to call the community home.”

Started in 1981, Sunrise has over 280 senior living communities in the U.S., including an existing Sunrise of McLean just north of the Dulles Toll Road near Tysons.

The company is also working on a facility in Vienna that’s expected to open next year. Coelho says Sunrise will share interior renderings of the building “in the coming weeks,” with a sales gallery opening to potential residents and their families in December.

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