City Council to Consider Transportation Plan, GMHS/MEHMS Campus Planning Roadmap

May 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 



A. Joint Session with the Planning Commision


1. Process Planning Committee Report


1 Process Planning Committee Report
2. Mobility for all Modes Chapter to the Comp Plan


2 Mobility for all Modes Chapter to the Comp Plan
3. Kensington Project


4. Desired Uses Vision


B. City Council Work Session


1. Miller House RFP Proposal


Miller House RFP Proposal
2. Council Comments and Schedule


City Council to Consider Development Proposals

February 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 



A. Joint Session With the Planning Commission


1. N. Washington St. Office Building (Developer Presentation)
400 N Washington St .MEMO and ATTACHMENTS pdf
2. The Kensington
Kensington Staff Report – CC Work Session -02.14.2014
Kensington – Attachments List
B. City Council Work Session


1. 2nd Quarter Financial Report
Second Quarter Financial Report
2. Budget Amendment
Budget Amendment
3. 2013 Pension Study (Presentation by Cheiron)
4. Policy on Use of Water Sale Proceeds
5. Council Comments and Schedule
6. Closed Session pursuant to VA Code Section 2.2-3711 (A) 1. Discussion … of prospective candidates for employment;… of specific public officers, appointees, or employees of any public body;… (City Attorney Recruitment)

MONDAY, 5/6: Community Meeting on S. Washington St. Improvements

April 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The City of Falls Church will hold a community meeting about the planned improvements along the S. Washington St. corridor on Monday, May 6, in the Art Room of the Community Center (223 Little Falls St.). The meeting will start with an open house at 6 p.m. and continue with presentations at 6:30 p.m.

Improvements include the new Intermodal Transit Plaza at the corner of Hillwood Ave. and S. Washington St. Based on feedback received at a community forum held in January 2013, an alternative concept plan has been developed for the plaza, as shown in the link below. Project design elements and the anticipated schedule will be discussed.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Kirsten Munz at or 703-248-5331.

Related Link: Intermodal Transit Plaza Concept Plan:

MONDAY, 12/3: Planning Commission Session on Substandard Lots

November 14, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The City of Falls Church Planning Commission will hold a Listening Session on Monday, December 3 at 8:00 pm to hear comments from property owners and interested persons concerning the development of substandard lots. Of particular concern has been the demolition of existing houses straddling two lots and the construction of two new houses on the two underlying substandard recorded lots. This practice has been the subject of extended community concern and debate, as well as several lawsuits, some of which went to the Virginia Supreme Court.

The purpose of the listening session is to provide a forum for affected residents, property owners and developers to express their views and concerns. The City Manager, with input from the City Attorney and the Planning Director, has developed options including a recommendation that the Zoning Ordinance be revised to phase out the current practice over time. Input from the listening session will be considered as amendments to the zoning ordinance are developed for first reading by the City Council.

The Listening Session will be held by the Planning Commission in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 300 Park Avenue, Falls Church. You may enter City Hall through the right-hand staircase at the front of City Hall.

Persons may provide comments three ways:  1) Sign up in advance to speak at the meeting for up to three minutes by sending an email request to – these speakers will be at the top of the speakers’ roster; 2) sign up to speak at the meeting by completing a speaker slip at the door;  or 3) for those unable to attend, email comments to

Planning Commission Vice Chair Throws Hat in Ring for Council

February 7, 2012 by · 4 Comments 

February 7, 2012

Falls Church Planning Commission Vice Chairman John Lawrence jumped into the May 2012 race for City Council yesterday, filing papers at City Hall declaring his candidacy.  Mr. Lawrence joins sitting Councilman Lawrence Webb as the only announced candidates to date.

Lawrence is a second-time candidate for Council, having finished only some 80 votes short of being elected in 2010.  He is a 13-year resident of Falls Church City and has served on the Planning Commission since 2006, once as its chair and twice as vice chair.  Lawrence has served on the Mary Riley Styles Public Library board for seven years.  In 2008-2009, he served as vice chair of a School Board-appointed Day Care Task Force that examined the school day care program and made recommendations on how to maintain and improve it.  Lawrence currently is part of the join City-Council-School Board-Planning Commission long range school facilities group (“LEAPFROG”), where he has pushed for the expansion at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. Read more

City Officials Content With Hotel Redesign

June 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Falls Church Times Staff

June 8, 2011

Developers of the proposed Hilton Garden Inn (706 W. Broad St.) presented a revised design to members of the City Council and the Planning Commission at Monday evening’s joint work session.  The officials, who were not impressed with an earlier rendering on May 17, seemed more content with the latest design. 

The elevation on W. Broad St. now features a flat rather than a triangular roof.  A secondary entrance has been added on the parking deck.  Signs now are smaller.  Dumpsters will be situated in an enclosure at the edge of the parking garage along Oak St.  However, the structure now is rated LEED Standard (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) instead of LEED Silver. 

Council members looked forward to the promise of $540,000 in anticipated tax revenue and the 2,500 square feet of meeting space on the hotel’s second floor.  Presently the City has no comparable conference center.  The hotel’s space can be divided into up to three separate conference rooms.

Vice Mayor Snyder asked that the developers establish and maintain close contact with neighborhood representatives throughout the construction process.  He also said he would like some continuing security presence at the hotel.      

The project will be up for first reading at next Monday’s Council session.  After the expected approval, the design will be referred to other boards and commissions for review.  Various elevations of the new design for the hotel are available here.

Drive Through Zoning Change  –  The Council and the Commission also discussed an ordinance which would shift responsibility for the approval of special use permits for drive through facilities from the Board of Zoning Appeals to the Planning Commission.  As this is a land use issue, rather than one of dimensions (such as setbacks), the Commission is seen as better suited to conduct the appropriate reviews.  The BZA has advised it is willing to relinquish authority. 

Solid Waste Fees  –  The Council alone then was briefed on the coming implementation of new solid waste charges.  The cost of yard waste stickers for 30 gallon bags is scheduled to increase from $.50 to $1.00.  There will be a $1.00 fee for each bag of excess refuse.  Fees for special collection services also will rise.

City engineer Bill Hicks reported that most citizens who commented on the topic at the recent town hall meeting either were supportive or neutral.  He said that a survey of 78 houses found that only 3%  put out excess refuse.

Staffer Kathy Allan noted that a May 25 survey conducted on 11 streets found that 20% of the houses had put out yard waste bags.  However, many of the bags contained either sticks which can be bundled and not subject to a fee, or grass clippings which the staff advocates leaving on lawns as natural organic fertilizer.   She estimated that nearly 40% of what was put out could have avoided a fee.

Financial Policy  –  The Council briefly reviewed possible financial policy changes with CFO Richard La Condre.  Topics for an upcoming review include the following:

1. Fund Balance
2. Capital Replacement – Infrastructure
3. Capital Replacement – Vehicles and Equipment
4. Capital Investment – Expansion
5. Revenue Stabilization
6. Revenue Policy Related to School Transfer

Mr. Snyder emphasized that he did not want policies in place that set expectations which could not be met and stressed the importance of the fund balance.  “I  want a fund balance that meets our standards and objectives and gives us a pulpit  when we go for long-term financing that we are managing things in a constructive way” he said. 

Mr. Kaylin concurred but added that Falls Church’s over-reliance on real estate taxes necessitated greater protection of the fund balance, a situation he did not see changing without economic development.  “I don’t think we’re sufficiently diversified [financially] to handle the risks we face” he added. 

The policy standards will be discussed by the Council/School Board liaison group tomorrow night and also referred to the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee.  Mr. Shields said a status report on the policy revisions should be available by the first work session in August.

Child Development Center Task Force  –  Ms. Gardner urged that the task force be formed and set to work quickly, as the issue is supposed to be resolved by July 8.  According to Mr. Shields the task force has a draft statement of work but formal membership has not been established.  Ms. Gardner said she would be willing to serve as a member.  The Council will discuss the task force further at next Monday’s session.  

A video of the work session is available at the City website.

City Officials Pan Hotel Design, Mull Future of Child Development Center

May 17, 2011 by · 5 Comments 

Falls Church Times Staff

May 17, 2011

Planning commissioners and City Council members were not impressed with the latest design for the proposed Hilton Garden Inn (706 W. Broad St.), which was presented at last night’s joint work session.

Officials felt more brickwork was needed and that the overall design inappropriate for a city as old as Falls Church.  “I don’t think you could have built this down in Fredericksburg,” said a disappointed Lindy Hockenberry. 

Commission chair Melissa Teates called the facade “unacceptable, especially on Broad Street.”  “I’m not happy with the [building’s] sides but can live with it; the front has to look different,” she said.  “I don’t think it meets our design guidelines.”   Mayor Nader Baroukh concurred, stating that he thought the design needed a significant amount of work. 

As now proposed, the hotel will offer 110 rooms and 121 parking spaces.  It is expected to generate $540,000 in tax revenue.  A two story office building on Park Avenue, which was not part of the original 2008 proposal, has been dropped.

City Manager Wyatt Shields said he hoped the project will be submitted for first reading on June 13.   If a special exception amendment and rezoning are approved by the Council, the project would be referred to boards and commissions for review and returned for second reading on July 25.

The Council and the Planning Commission also reviewed a request by owners of first floor space at The Byron (513 W. Broad St.) to allow professional and office use for space designated for retail.  The area involved is on the far right side of the structure and has never been occupied since the building opened in 2006.

Retailers have considered the space unattractive because it is far removed from the building’s non-resident parking spaces and has a narrow front.  The parking problem cannot be corrected as residents have assigned spaces, while the commercial and retail spaces are shared.

The mayor asked the applicant’s attorney to furnish information on the efforts to market the space and whether the owner would consider joining it with the adjacent space, previously occupied by Verizon.  Mr. Shields said that the matter may be ready for Council action next Monday, assuming a prompt response to the mayor’s request.  

The joint work session concluded with a discussion of a homeowner’s request that the City vacate 1,638 square feet of unimproved space at the end of Park Place near the State Theater.  Mr. Shields recommended the Council approve the vacation, however Mr. Baroukh expressed some reservations, given that the City might build a parking facility near the location.  Planning Director Jim Snyder said that his staff would review the matter. 

CDC Future  –  The Council then was briefed on the status of the Child Development Center (201 S. Cherry St.).  The building, which was built by private funds, has been leased to Easter Seals for nearly 50 years.  The current 25 year, dollar-a-year lease is expiring in November, but the leasee would prefer an extension until at least the summer of 2013 so it could secure another facility.  Easter Seals would be willing to pay $50,000 annually for the space. 

City Schools have asked to assume control of the property in July 2012 in order to house the preschool education programs currently located at Mt. Daniel.  This option also would free space to permit the relocation of  the Falls Church Community Center preschool program.  Other options include leasing the facility to another day care provider or another commercial user, selling the property for residentinal use, or converting the space to City government offices.

School Superintendent Lois Berlin told the Council that waiting an additional year to acquire the property would result in “underserving” of students.  Pre schoolers now are receiving three hours of classes instead of the more desirable five.  She said that two trailers at Mt. Daniel are used for half day pre school, but that an additional class was needed due to the increase in special needs students.

Vice Mayor Dave Snyder called for more analysis of the options, including possibly combining government and school use.  “A dollar a year is history” he said, stressing the need to obtain the maximum value of the property for taxpayers.  

Mayor Baroukh asked Mr. Shields for an updated staff report on the issue, ideally by next Monday.  School Board member Kieran Sharpe advised that the Board also would discuss the question at Tuesday’s meeting and submit input.

TJ Renovation Status  –  Mr. Sharpe and Dr. Berlin advised the Council that there will be a public forum on the renovation at the school on May 26 at 7:00 pm.  Ceremonial groundbreaking will be held on June 13 at 9:30 am.  The School’s Architecture Selection Advisory Committee will begin to review the RFP and design.

3rd Quarter Financial Report  –  CFO Richard La Condre reported that the City revenues were at or higher than budgeted and that expenditures are running at or close to budget.  He advised that the projected fund balance would be $4.9 million at the end of the fiscal year, an increase of a little over $900,000.

Economic Development Incentive Policies  –  A draft resolution has been prepared for referral to City boards and commissions for comments.  Final Council action will occur in June.  

Closed Session  –  The work session concluded shortly before 10:00 pm.  The members then withdrew for another conference on the water refunds case.

Video of the public meeting is available at the City website.

ZOAC Report and Hotel Plan Reviewed at SRO Work Session

March 9, 2011 by · 17 Comments 

Falls Church Times Staff

March 9, 2011

Residents stood inside and outside the Dogwood Room Monday night as the Falls Church City Council and Planning Commission were briefed on the report  of the Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee (ZOAC) and the status of the long dormant plan for a hotel on West Broad Street.

John Murphy, chairman of the ZOAC, summarized the report’s 19 recommenations, which already have created considerable public debate.  He said that although the original intention was to commission a complete rewrite of Falls Church’s zoning code, the committee and City staff did not recommend the contractor’s draft as the basis for a new ordinance.    

Mr. Murphy felt that the most necessary revision to the code would be to change the process of commercial development, so projects that are approved by the Council at second reading are beyond the conceptual stage.  Concerning residential zoning, he said the Committee’s recommendations were intended to  preserve the character of neighborhoods and to provide a greater mix of housing types, while retaining a sense of harmony with surrounding properties.  Noting that zoning changes are inherently personal and can impact property values, the ZOAC chairman acknowledged that some of the recommendations are controversial and that some of them might change. 

New planning director Jim Snyder said the report and the contractor’s draft of the zoning code would help in formulating the City’s comprehensive plan.  Mayor Nader Baroukh concurred and suggested Mr. Snyder work with the Planning Commission to develop an appropriate work plan.

The ZOAC’s proposals for the commercial sector may not generate wide discussion, but several of the nine residential recommendations are clearly controversial, as shown by the strong public turnout Monday evening and at the previous Council meeting on February 28.  In the latest contribution to the debate, ZOAC member Mike Novotny distributed a a four page handout that proposed revisions to four of the residential recommendations.  Councilwoman Robin Gardner summed up the coming conflict as one pitting the rights of the homeowner versus the rights of the community. 

Hilton Garden Inn  –  First proposed in 2008, the plan has been revised to include a small office building and some changes to the hotel site at 706 W. Broad St.  The project will require an amendment to the previously granted special exception, which remains in effect.

Rich Palmer of Gosnell-Palmer Holdings LLC, the franchisee, provided a presentation on the 110 room hotel and the two-story office building which will face Park Avenue.  Changes include a reduction in the number of parking spaces from 119 to 114 and the removal of the ramp between the two levels of the parking garage.  Twenty of the spaces will be set aside for 800 W. Broad St.  The proposed plan calls for a reduction in the available daytime parking space from 75% to 64%.  Mr. Palmer said he did not expect the garage to be heavily used.

The project is expected to generate $568,000 in revenue for the City.  Vice Mayor Dave Snyder estimated that it could reduce the tax rate by as much as four cents, assuming that Falls Church realizes the projected additional revenue generated by guests and conference attendees.

Some planning commissioners criticized the rear elevation of the office building and the location of trash containers and a generator.  Others thought that the hotel’s style was “boilerplate” and called for a design that was more suited to the City’s character.

Council members questioned the parking plan and the lack of connectivity between levels of the garage.  Mayor Baroukh recommended close reading of the franchise agreement, emphasizing that he did not want to see the hotel “flipped”  ten years from now into a lower status facility.  He recommended additional staff work on the project before moving forward.   

Auditors Report  –  Billy Robinson and Jason Hartman of Brown, Edwards briefed the Council on the recently completed FY 2010 audit, formally the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

The audit, which was due in December, was delayed for several reasons, including a change in audit firms, a backlog due to the absence of a CFO for several months, and the difficulty in determining the impact of the water system lawsuits filed against the City.   The auditors called for a prior period adjustment on a supplemental retirement plan and recommended that the City’s financial department regularly review School Board and Economic Development Authority minutes, in addition to those of the Council. 

Safe Routes to School (SRTS)  –  City planner Wendy Block Sanford presented the SRTS application to the Council.  The City is requesting $500,000 in federal funds from the Virginia Department of Transportation for infrastructure improvements that will upgrade walking and biking routes to schools.  SRTS is one of  the three elements of the Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Calming Strategic Implementation Plan.

Ms. Sanford advised that 75% of the 500 parents who had responded to a survey would allow their children to walk or bike to school if conditions improve.  Currently, Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School has a no walk policy, primarily due to the configuration of its drop-off area.  This would be redesigned upon receipt of SRTS funds.  Other recommended measures, all which have community benefits, include:  

>   New sidewalks on primary routes to schools
>   Raised sidewalks at several Broad St. locations
>   Median refuge at N. Oak St. and N. West St.
>   Speed limit signs at four locations
>   Traffic control devices at four locations
>   Re-alignment of intersection of West St. and W&OD Trail

Ms. Sanford said that the purpose of SRTS is to improve, not extend the walking areas.  Students who live beyond an established walking zone would still be bused.

The Council informally agreed to approve a resolution endorsing the application at next Monday’s meeting.

Video  –  A recording of the work session is available at the City website.

Proposed changes to ZOAC Recommendations [PDF]

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