Email signup
The latest design for the new Patrick Henry Library was presented to the Vienna Town Council on Nov. 13 (via DPWES)

(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) The anticipated cost of renovating Patrick Henry Library has escalated in recent years, leading Fairfax County to seek a bigger contribution from the Town of Vienna.

The Vienna Town Council agreed on Monday (Dec. 4) to raise the town’s cap on funding for the new library’s construction to approximately $4.7 million — a $590,000 increase from the previous maximum set in 2020.

Under the existing joint development agreement, the town committed to paying up to $4.2 million or 19% of the total construction costs, along with 30% of the design costs. The project will replace the 13,817-square-foot community library at 101 Maple Avenue East with a bigger facility and a new parking garage.

The remainder of the funds will come from Fairfax County. However, an updated cost estimate completed in September found that the price of materials, labor, fuel and other factors has gone up, a trend affecting all of the county’s capital improvement projects, county staff recently told the town.

“The higher costs are attributable to the market escalation for material costs including supply chain issues, and continuing shortages in skilled labor,” Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services spokesperson Sharon North told FFXnow by email.

North says more specifics about the county’s cost estimates can be shared “in the next few days” after DPWES updates county leaders on the town council’s decision.

In an email summarized by town staff, DPWES project manager Maryam Mostamandi told Vienna officials that the county’s cost estimators believe costs could continue escalating “at least through the end of 2025.”

“However, they have also cautioned that the market remains volatile, and they are finding it difficult to predict costs for the future,” she wrote.

She said plans for “aggressive” sustainability goals — including solar panels and all-electric building systems to achieve net-zero carbon emissions — have also contributed to the rising cost of the Patrick Henry project.

Those initiatives don’t affect the town’s share, which covers the 84 spaces it has been allocated in the four-level parking garage, Vienna Director of Finance Marion Serfass told the council. She said it “may not be practical” to eliminate a floor of the garage to lower costs, a suggestion evidently floated by council members in an earlier closed session.

“That would cut our number of spaces dramatically,” Serfass said. “…It would cut 68 spaces out, so we probably would not have enough garage spaces to get anything from [the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority] or to receive the grant we have agreed to, because NVTA wants to see something for their money.”

Though construction bids aren’t expected to go out until next fall, this was the last opportunity for Vienna to back out of the joint agreement. If the town took that “off-ramp,” it could’ve gotten back $331,500, or 50% of what it paid for the project’s design, according to staff.

Instead, the council unanimously voted to move forward with the project, which has been in the works since a feasibility study started in 2018.

“I hope construction costs come down, but it’ll give us the parking we need and improve the vibrancy of Vienna,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said.

Councilmember Chuck Anderson agreed that the library is important to the community but warned county officials in the room, including Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, not to expect any additional increases to the financial cap.

According to town staff, the county gave “verbal assurances that there will be no more requests for cost increases.”

“I think we deserve the best possible library, and if there are overruns, we’ve kind of already paid for it through our regular property taxes to the county of Fairfax,” Anderson said.

Advocates collect petition signatures supporting a Town of Vienna tree conservation ordinance at Vienna Oktoberfest 2023 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The future of Vienna’s trees will rest on a new town council.

When it met on Monday (Nov. 13), the current Vienna Town Council was scheduled to finalize a proposal aimed at preserving and enhancing the town’s tree canopy, which has declined over the past decade.

But after a public hearing on noise and other agenda items pushed the meeting past midnight, the council voted instead to discuss the tree conservation ordinance in a 5 p.m. conference session before its meeting on Dec. 4 — leaving no time for a formal vote before the end of the year, to the disappointment of some council members.

“I think it’s a shame that it’s come down to this, because this is something that’s been known for a long time, and it just has not been acted upon to the level it should’ve been in my opinion,” said Councilmember Steve Potter, who is retiring due to health challenges. “…We’re not doing what we said we were going to do, and that’s the part that bothers me, because it’s just not right.”

Designated a top priority for 2023 by the council, the tree ordinance will increase requirements for canopy coverage — from 20 to 25% for large, single-family residential lots, for example — and introduce new standards and incentives to encourage developers to plant and preserve trees.

If adopted, the conservation ordinance would be just the second one in Virginia, following in the footsteps of Fairfax County, according to a memo from Vienna Director of Planning and Zoning David Levy. Like most localities, Vienna currently requires that developers replace trees, rather than preserve them.

However, the council is still deciding the best approach to implementing the new rules.

One option recommended by Town Attorney Steve Briglia would update the town code chapters on zoning, subdivisions and the Conservation and Sustainability Commission (CSC), whose duties include serving as the town’s tree board. Under this approach, the requirements would still be enforced by the planning and zoning department.

An alternative proposed by Vienna resident and Kirkland & Ellis LLP attorney Brian Land, whose firm was hired to conduct a pro bono analysis in 2020, would create a new chapter in the town code with all tree canopy and preservation requirements. The ordinance would be implemented by the Department of Parks and Recreation and establish a tree commission independent of the CSC.

Tree advocates who testified before the council at a public hearing on Oct. 23 “overwhelmingly” favored Land’s proposal, arguing that it would be broader in scope and make a clearer statement on the importance of trees to Vienna, Gazette Leader reported.

The town attorney recommended giving the planning director authority to allow deviations from canopy requirements in cases where they would cause “unnecessary or unreasonable hardship to the developer.” It also doesn’t require trees to be monitored or inspected after construction.

The Vienna Planning Commission issued a recommendation last Wednesday (Nov. 8) largely supporting Briglia’s proposal with a few tweaks, including a requirement that developers seeking to deviate from the canopy standards justify their request and an added provision for inspecting trees before and after they’re planted similar to what Land suggested.

“This language is consistent with current practice and codifying it will clarify the process for builders and property owners,” the commission said in a memo for the town council.

The council gave no indication on Monday regarding which direction it plans to take but instead spent half an hour debating whether to schedule a conference session on the issue next month, knowing that an actual vote won’t come until a new council takes office.

Mayor Linda Colbert and the three council members who sought reelection this year — Howard Springsteen, Chuck Anderson and Ray Brill — are all set to return. They will be joined by Planning Commissioner Jessica Ramakis, Board of Architectural Review Chair Roy Baldwin and budget analyst Sandra Allen, according to election results finalized Tuesday (Nov. 14).

In response to complaints about the delay on a tree conservation ordinance vote, Colbert noted that the council had accomplished other objectives, including the adoption of an updated zoning code and approval of sidewalk projects facing an October 2024 deadline.

“I don’t think anybody’s trying to push this off,” Colbert said. “I think we have done a tremendous amount of work, this council has, and there’s only so many minutes or hours in a day. Nothing’s lost…We’ve done a lot of work on the trees. It just takes a lot of time.”

Vienna Town Council candidate campaign signs for the 2023 general election (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 10 a.m. on 11/16/2023) A week after polls closed, the next mayors and councils for the towns of Vienna and Clifton have been decided.

The Fairfax County Electoral Board certified the local race results for this year’s general election yesterday (Tuesday), including for a Vienna Town Council contest where write-in votes exceeded votes for two of the seven candidates on the ballot.

However, none of the submitted candidates received enough votes to shift the outcome of the race, according to the Fairfax County Office of Elections. Vienna Transportation Safety Commission chair Beth Eachus, who began campaigning as a write-in candidate in September, received 1,803 of the 2,073 write-in votes, county election officials said.

The names and vote totals of the other write-ins weren’t identified.

Instead, budget analyst and former Fairfax County School Board candidate Sandra Allen has secured the last of six council seats with 2,053 votes — just seven more than the 2,046 that went to Shelley Mountjoy, a former community college professor and creator of the Vienna Votes outreach project.

Allen will join Vienna Planning Commissioner Jessica Ramakis and Board of Architectural Review Chair Roy Baldwin as newcomers to the council. All three incumbents — Howard Springsteen, Chuck Anderson and Ray Brill — won reelection.

A total of 5,981 ballots were cast in the town council race — a 48.5% turnout rate for the town’s 12,323 registered voters, according to the county elections office.

With voters allowed to choose up to six candidates, the 22,463 votes cast broke down as follows:

  • Howard J. Springsteen — 3,535
  • Jessica Ramakis — 3,465
  • Charles “Chuck” Anderson — 3,418
  • Ray Brill, Jr. — 2,951
  • Roy J. Baldwin — 2,922
  • Sandra Allen — 2,053
  • Shelley Mountjoy — 2,046
  • Write-in votes — 2,073

Mayor Linda Colbert also won a second term after running unopposed.

This was the Town of Vienna’s first November election since the Virginia General Assembly adopted a law in 2021 requiring all municipal elections still held in May to move.

Clifton mayor defeated by write-in votes

While Vienna didn’t see a successful write-in campaign, Clifton Mayor William Hollaway has been unseated after receiving 62 votes — five fewer than write-in candidate Thomas Peterson, according to the Virginia Department of Election results. A total of 131 votes were cast.

A lawyer, Holloway hasn’t faced any official opponents since 2010, when he was first elected as mayor.

His successor will be a familiar face for the town’s 330 residents. Peterson previously served as mayor of Clifton in 2006 to 2010, and his family runs the popular Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot.

Peterson told NBC4 that his wife had encouraged him to run after the candidate filing deadline had passed. His campaign consisted of just 10 yard signs, but Clifton voters “were excited to actually have a choice for the first time in 12 years,” NBC4 reported.

The Clifton Town Council race, which featured five official candidates vying for five seats, also saw a write-in victor in Mary Hess, who received 71 of the 471 total votes cast — more than incumbents Stephen Effros (65) and Darrell Poe (48).

Fairfax County’s overall voter turnout for the 2023 general election ended at 41.1%, a slight drop from the last time local races were on the ballot in 2019, according to the county elections office. The 323,816 ballots tallied include 3,900 provisional ballots and 9,476 mail-in ballots received after Election Day on Nov. 7.

Vienna Transportation Safety Commission chair Beth Eachus ran for Vienna Town Council as a write-in candidate (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Vienna residents will have to wait a few more days for the results of the town’s first-ever November election.

While Mayor Linda Colbert was easily reelected in an uncontested race, the makeup of next year’s town council remains less clear, thanks to a slew of write-in votes that could determine one of the six open seats.

According to preliminary results from yesterday’s general election, all three incumbent council members in the running — Howard Springsteen, Chuck Anderson and Ray Brill — have secured new two-year terms.

Seeking an eighth term on the council that he first joined in 2009, Springsteen received 3,349 votes, or 15.78% — the most of the seven candidates on the ballot. He was closely followed by Vienna Planning Commissioner Jessica Ramakis (3,265 votes, 15.38%) and Anderson (3,248 votes, 15.3%). Rounding out the likely winners are Brill (2,807 votes, 13.22%) and Vienna Board of Architectural Review chairman Roy Baldwin (2,756 votes, 12.98%).

Officially duking it out for the final seat are Shelley Mountjoy (1,907 votes, 8.98%) — a former community college professor and creator of the Vienna Votes outreach project — and Sandra Allen (1,898, 8.94%), a budget analyst who previously ran for an at-large Fairfax County School Board seat.

However, both women trail the 1,997 write-in votes counted so far, which account for 9.4% of all votes. While it remains to be seen who all those votes were for, Vienna Transportation Safety Commission chair Beth Eachus launched a late campaign in September as a write-in candidate.

The unofficial results for the 2023 Vienna Town Council election (via Virginia Department of Elections)

The Fairfax County Office of Elections, which manages the town’s elections, is currently tallying the votes, but the final results won’t be known until they’re certified next Tuesday (Nov. 14), according to election officials.

“The Electoral Board is ultimately responsible for determining who the votes were cast for, along with the final tally for write-in votes cast,” Fairfax County Director of Elections Eric Spicer told FFXnow. “Mail-in ballots that arrive by noon on Monday, Nov. 13 will also need to be counted. Final elections results will not be available until the Electoral Board certifies them on Tuesday.”

Per the county’s unofficial results, there were 21,227 votes cast in the town council election, with each voter allowed to mark up to six candidates. In total, 5,638 ballots were cast in Vienna’s four precincts for a roughly 45% turnout of the 12,323 registered voters in the town, election officials say.

That easily surpasses the 16.9% turnout for the last town council race in 2021, when Springsteen and fellow incumbents Steve Potter and Nisha Patel competed against then-planning commissioner David Patariu for three seats.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a law in 2021 shifting all municipal elections from May to December. The move was intended to encourage more participation and reduce administrative costs, though some Vienna elected officials worried that local issues would get overshadowed by county, state and national races.

In response to the change, the town council voted in November 2021 to eliminate the staggered terms that put three seats on the ballot at a time. Going forward, all six council seats will be up for election every two years.

The Town of Vienna’s parks and recreation facilities include Waters Field for baseball (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Town of Vienna is moving forward with the creation of a parks system master plan.

The Vienna Town Council authorized parks and recreation staff on Oct. 23 to spend $236,230 to hire the consulting firm Kimley-Horn, which was selected from four potential vendors to develop the plan that will guide the town’s facilities and services over the next decade.

“The parks and recreation department has a strong commitment to provide fair and just access to high-quality parks, green space, recreation facilities and programs for all members of the community,” Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman told the council. “The park system master plan will set a vision to guide long-term future development, redevelopment and improvements to the town’s park systems, open space, trails and recreation facilities over the next five to 10 years.”

In addition to creating an inventory of existing amenities and their conditions, Kimley-Horn has been tasked with evaluating town-owned properties that could be used for parks or recreation in the future, including the Annex site (301 Center Street South) where the former Faith Baptist Church is set to be demolished and the Robinson family property at 124 Courthouse Road SW.

According to Fairfax County property records, the Town of Vienna bought the property where former mayor Charles Robinson and former council member Maud Robinson had lived for $1.4 million in December 2019, not long after Maud Robinson died. The 31,688-square-foot site has been designated as future park land.

As part of the parks master plan, the town has asked Kimley-Horn to recommend three options for developing the Robinson property, complete with conceptual designs and cost estimates.

Councilmember Chuck Anderson suggested that the consultant also look at how much the town could potentially get if it sold the property and used the resulting funds to support parks and rec initiatives.

“That, I think, is one option for that property,” Anderson said. “That’s just one I want to make sure is on the table.”

The council was initially scheduled to approve the funds at an Oct. 2 meeting, but the vote got deferred after members raised questions about the project’s cost and scope.

After getting a 23-page report from Kimley-Horn responding to those questions, council members said they’re now satisfied with the firm’s proposal for the master plan, which it anticipates will take about 16 months to develop.

In response to a question about the timeline from Councilmember Howard Springsteen, the firm said the project could take less time, but it recommended considering “this a 16-month effort at the outset so as to set realistic expectations.”

Springsteen said he was “ready to support” the master plan project after Kimley-Horn reassured him it would provide operating, maintenance and capital costs for its recommendations, along with comparisons to the town’s annual budget.

Springsteen said the master plan needs to provide “a good roadmap,” especially since it will be developed and implemented under a different council. All six council seats and Mayor Linda Colbert, who’s running unopposed, are on the ballot for this year’s general election, which will take place next Tuesday (Nov. 7).

Early voting has been ongoing since Sept. 22, with in-person locations operating through Saturday, Nov. 4.

“We have a lot of expectations out there, and we have to put things down in writing,” Springsteen said. “I too would like to have five extra homes, go to Europe 10 times a year, but there’s a cost involved [to] what we can or cannot do, so I look forward to you racking up these ideas.”

The town didn’t respond by press time to an FFXnow inquiry regarding a possible kick-off date for the parks master plan process. Public engagement efforts are expected to include surveys, stakeholder interviews and community workshops.

The Vienna Market development was approved under the since-repealed Maple Avenue Commercial zoning regulations (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Any future buildings constructed in the heart of Vienna will get a little more vertical wiggle room under the town’s impending new zoning code.

Slated for adoption right on schedule at the town council’s meeting next Monday (Oct. 23), the first comprehensive rewrite of Vienna’s land use regulations since 1969 will introduce a few new uses and simplify the zones and districts that guide development.

Among the more potentially noteworthy changes will be an increase in the maximum height for buildings in the newly named Avenue Center (AC) and Gateway South (GS) districts, which can be found, respectively, along Maple Avenue between Lawyers Road and Glyndon Street, and at the corner of Park Street and Cedar Lane (essentially just the Cedar Park Shopping Center).

Under the updated code, buildings in those districts could be up to 42 feet tall, up from the current limit of 35 feet. However, any part within 95 feet of a residential property would be required to drop back down to 35 feet.

As noted by town staff in a summary of the code changes, the height increases are proposed “in very specific locations,” but they address a top focus of the zoning overhaul, which was initiated in 2020 partly in response to resident concerns about the size of developments on Maple Avenue.

In place from October 2014 to June 2020, the controversial Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zoning ordinance sought to revitalize Vienna’s central corridor by giving developers more height and density in exchange for needed amenities.

The incentives drew developers, but the resulting projects — including the Chick-fil-A/Flagship Carwash, the recently opened Sunrise Senior Living, the Vienna Market townhomes and the not-yet-built Wolf Trap Hotel redevelopment — became so hotly contested that the town put the ordinance on hold in 2018 before repealing it two years later.

It remains to be seen whether the zoning code overhaul, known as Code Create, will produce similar reactions.

In addition to reorganizing the code to be easier to navigate, the 331-page draft consolidates the town’s jumble of zoning classifications by creating a single zone for all multi-family attached residences and grouping commercial areas into districts based on “geographic integrity and common development patterns.”

“By doing so, the Town will be able to recalibrate more frequently, as needed and desired, to adjust for evolving conditions within a particular geographic area,” town staff said.

Other notable changes include:

  • A “step down” in height from 45 feet to 38 feet for commercial Mill Street buildings within 30 feet of a residential property
  • Townhouses can now have three full stories, not just 2.5 as previously allowed, though the height limit of 35 feet is unchanged
  • Open space requirements for multi-unit residential developments, in place of a 25% cap on lot coverage that has been waived for every approved project in the past decade
  • More standardized — and, in some cases, bigger — setbacks for commercial properties
  • Newly defined uses for cottage housing, community gardens, cultural facilities or museums, adult day support centers, animal care facilities with boarding, brewpubs, continuing care facilities, shared kitchens, specialized instruction, composting drop-off facilities and craft beverage production establishments
  • More detailed lighting regulations
  • More relaxed, simplified sign standards, including allowing hanging signs in all commercial areas
  • The first-ever bicycle parking regulations

Read More

Voters at Cunningham Park Elementary School in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A pair of upcoming candidate forums will give McLean and Vienna residents a chance to get to know the people aspiring to represent them.

First up, the McLean Citizens Association is hosting a debate at 7:30 p.m. today (Thursday) between candidates for the Dranesville District’s supervisor and school board seats.

Former Dranesville District Democratic Committee chair Jimmy Bierman, who won his party’s nomination in a June primary, and Fairfax County Republican Committee first vice chair Puneet Ahluwalia are seeking to succeed Supervisor John Foust, who’s retiring after 16 years in office.

With incumbent Elaine Tholen not seeking reelection, the school board race features Robyn Lady — a retired Fairfax County Public Schools counselor endorsed by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee — and Paul Bartkowski, a Republican-endorsed lawyer who says he represented plaintiffs in a legal challenge to FCPS’ mask requirements during the pandemic.

The MCA will host the debate in person at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue), but it will also be live-streamed via Zoom.

Vienna Town Council candidates forum coming

The Northeast Vienna Citizens Association (NEVCA) will host a “Meet the Candidates” event at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street) at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday).

While Mayor Linda Colbert is unopposed in her bid for reelection, the Vienna Town Council race has seven candidates vying for six seats:

Beth Eachus, chair of Vienna’s Transportation Safety Commission, is also campaigning for a council seat as a write-in candidate, the Gazette Leader reported. However, the NEVCA forum will focus on candidates officially registered with the Virginia Department of Elections.

More information about the candidates can be found in Vienna’s September newsletter.

According to its event announcement, NEVCA has hosted candidate forums for 20 years, but this will be its first in-person event since 2019. The volunteer organization conducted forums virtually during the pandemic.

“The objective has been to inform and educate all residents of the Town of Vienna with an interactive and conversational opportunity to hear from the candidates for the Town Council,” said NEVCA Vice President Doug Francis, who will moderate the forum.

According to Francis, the event will be recorded by the Town of Vienna Public Information Office, which will share the video on the town’s media platforms.

Colbert and the town council candidates previously appeared at a Sept. 19 forum organized by the local National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association chapter, according to the Gazette Leader.

This will be the Town of Vienna’s first November election after the Virginia General Assembly adopted a law in 2021 ending all local May elections, starting on Jan. 1, 2022. In a change from the previous, staggered approach, all town council seats will now always be up for election at the same time. Members will continue to serve two-year terms.

Early voting is currently underway for the 2023 general election, which will be held on Nov. 7 and determine Fairfax County’s next Board of Supervisors, school board and state legislators, among other races.

The former Faith Baptist Church building in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 2:20 p.m. on 10/31/2023) The end is nigh for Vienna’s former Faith Baptist Church.

The Vienna Town Council gave town staff the green light on Monday (Oct. 2) to pay a contractor $327,608 to demolish the building at 301 Center Street South, where it has stood since the 1950s and remained vacant since the police department finished moving out in January.

The town’s public works department anticipates that the demolition will take place three to four months from now, according to Town of Vienna Public Information Director Karen Thayer.

“Unless something unexpected comes up, the building will likely be removed by early February,” Thayer told FFXnow.

Vienna bought the 3-acre property for $5.5 million in September 2020 to temporarily house its police officers during construction on a new, $14 million police station just down the road at 215 Center Street South.

However, the town has yet to settle on a long-term plan for the site, now known as the Annex. Council members debated whether to keep at least the church’s gym, but they ultimately voted on June 5 to tear it all down after seeing escalating costs of maintaining the two-story building and bringing it up to code.

The demolition budget increased as well from an initial estimate of $250,000. Coming out of a 2022 capital projects bond, the funds approved this week include a 10% contingency and the cost of removing asbestos that a survey found in August, acting public works director Adam Lehman told the town council.

“The asbestos has to be removed out of the building prior to tearing down the building itself,” Lehman said.

The demolition will be done by The Berg Corporation, which will also be responsible for removing the asbestos and “all concrete slabs and walkways” belonging to the building, town staff said.

“The contractor will provide tree protection, erosion control measures and will import clean fill and topsoil as necessary to provide positive drainage after the building has been demolished,” staff said in a summary for the council. “The contractor will provide seed/straw to stabilize areas disturbed by the demolition work.”

The property’s parking lot and driveway won’t be included in the demolition.

A study conducted this spring and summer to gather public input on a long-term use for the Annex suggested community members favor a recreational facility, but with a new parks master plan on the horizon, the council held off on a more in-depth evaluation of a potential project’s operational and financial needs.

The council deferred a vote on Monday that would’ve kickstarted the development of the new parks plan, by hiring the consultant Kimley Horn for $236,230.

“The Park System Master Plan will set a vision to guide long-term future development, re-development and improvements to the Town’s parks systems, open space, trails and recreation facilities over the next 5 to 10 years,” town staff said. “…The project will also update the inventory of existing parks, open space and trails, and provide a conditions report for each park and its facilities.”

The Annex is one of several town-owned properties that staff have suggested considering for recreational uses, including the water towers on Tapawingo Road and Wall Street and the Beulah Road site previously used for mulching.

As part of the planning effort, the town has asked Kimley Horn to propose three development options for the Robinson family’s property at 124 Courthouse Road SW. Already identified by the council as a site for a future park or recreational facility, the house has been vacant since former councilmember Maud Robinson died in 2019.

Trees and a bench in Vienna’s Wildwood Park (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

In an effort to reverse a decrease in the tree canopy, Vienna’s government is taking another step towards tree preservation and plantings. Last week, the town council discussed proposed amendments to enhance tree canopy, including moving forward with a tree conservation ordinance and the possible creation of an independent tree commission.

Town Attorney Steven Brigalia said the tree conservation ordinance would put the town in line with Fairfax County, which has had conservation rules since 1990. He said it would require builders to indicate which trees can and cannot be saved before cutting them. 

“They are still allowed to develop their property,” Brigalia said. “But they have to upfront identify the trees and give justification if they’re going to take out trees, and then they still have to meet a canopy requirement.” 

Under the town’s current canopy requirements, developers are only required to replace eliminated trees to meet canopy standards. Also, for single-family residential lots, builders must provide enough trees to cover at least 20% of the lot after 20 years. A conservation ordinance would increase that 20-year standard to 25%. 

Brigalia said the town would have to provide provisions if they increase the standard to 25%. For example, if a developer says they are unable to preserve a 25% canopy, they would pay into a tree bank or tree fund. 

There’s also a requirement for allowing additional credits for the developer if they provide certain types of trees. 

Brigalia also hopes to strengthen the town’s tree board. 

“There’s not a lot of authority for what they can do except advise the town on good tree planning processes and advise the town on planning on public property,” he said, adding that the board could eventually give recommendations of where to plant trees with money from the tree fund. 

Councilmember Howard Springsteen said he hadn’t heard of the tree board in his 14 years of service. 

“I never heard of it, so I rather have a tree commission that reports to council,” he said. 

Springsteen also said residents are starting to voice concern about the town’s tree coverage, prompting the need for the council to act according to council member Ray Brill.

“We need to set up something separate, that focuses on tree canopy if, in fact, we believe it’s an issue. I personally believe it’s an issue, and we need to focus on it and get it done and get it done,” Brill said.  

The council voted to refer the proposed ordinance to the planning commission for their consideration and review.  A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Oct. 23.  

Nutley Street and Maple Avenue (image via Google Maps)

At a Vienna Town Council meeting this week it was revealed that, with any luck, work could start on overhauling one of the town’s most dangerous intersections before the year’s end.

The Vienna Town Council voted unanimously on Monday, Aug. 28, to approve construction services and management for improvements to the intersection of Maple Avenue and Nutley Street.

The Nutley Street intersection was one of three along Maple Avenue identified as a crash hotspot in Vienna.

According to the town’s website, plans for the intersection include enhanced signal technology that will let the town adjust and improve traffic flow in real-time.

“The Town is turning to enhanced signal technology to ensure that the wheels on vehicles along Maple Avenue and Nutley Street keep going round and round,” the website said.

The tech upgrade for Vienna’s signals system is estimated to cost $2.1 million, with some funding coming from a VDOT SmartScale grant and $170,000 in proffered contributions from the 444 Maple Avenue W project.

“The $2.1 million in adaptive technological upgrades, scheduled to be completed in 2024, will allow the Town to better manage congestion and enhance system efficiency,” the website said.

Transportation Engineer Andrew Jinks said the hope is to start physical construction later this year.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Mayor Linda Colbert said. “This is a long time coming, we’ve been talking about this for a long time.”

Image via Google Maps


Subscribe to our mailing list