1999 FLASHBACK: Mayor Snyder Explains Water Return

December 26, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

December 26, 2010

Someone, unknown, with access to the Falls Church City Council video archive, has posted a 2-minute clip on YouTube from May 5, 1999, of then-Mayor Dave Snyder announcing that the City would begin taking a higher rate of return on income from its water sales and thereby reduce City taxes.

On January 6, 2010, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge R. Terrence Ney ruled to strike down a sentence in the City’s charter which allowed it to transfer surpluses from its water fund to its general fund as a “return on equity.”   On appeal, that ruling was left standing by the Virgina Supreme Court.

Click below to view the video clip.
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VIDEO SPOTLIGHT: Tech Exec Brian Williams of Viget Labs

August 7, 2010 by · 4 Comments 


August 7, 2010

Brian Williams, CEO of  Falls Church City-based web consulting firm Viget Labs, was interviewed recently by Adam Fendley, a rising ninth-grader at George Mason High School.  In the interview, Williams discusses the company’s background, clients and philosophy.

Williams started Viget Labs in 1999 with his father, Wynne Williams, and his brother, Andy Rankin, who serves as company president.   Today the company has 40 employees in Falls Church and Durham, NC.  Viget’s customers include athletic shoe manufacturer Puma, Choice Hotels International, Duke University, National  Geographic, PBS Teachers, and environmental consulting firm ClearCarbon.

Why did Viget headquarter in Falls Church City?  Because of the convenience for clients and employees offered by the close proximity to I-66, two Metro stations, and Reagan National Airport, says Williams, and because the City’s high quality schools were attractive to Williams and Rankin, each of whom has young children.

The interview is 20 minutes long and appears in two parts.  Click on the players below to view the videos.

2010 Falls Church City Community Center Dance Recital

Click read more to see a video made from pictures from the recent Community Center dance recital.

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Planning Commission Approves Seniors Housing Site Plan

May 19, 2010 by · 9 Comments 

Falls Church Times Staff

May 19, 2010

On Monday evening the Falls Church Planning Commission voted 6-1  to approve the site plan for the the Wilden Apartments affordable housing project at 350 South Washington Street.  Commission chairman John Lawrence cast the lone dissenting vote.

The site plan as approved includes an adjacent office and retail building at 360 South Washington, which will provide parking for tenants of the Wilden.  The commercial building will be named the McKeever in honor of the late Dan Mckeever who served as Falls Church city manager from 2000 to 2006.  The plan also includes the recently added intermodal transportation center at Hillwood Avenue and South Washington, described by planning director Sue Cotellessa as a 7,500 square foot island which will, in part, serve as a pedestrian refuge and gateway to the City.

Although several commissioners lauded the developers’ willingness to accept their recommendations, some expressed serious reservations about the final site plan and the planning process.

Commissioner Michael Kearney stated he was very pleased to vote for the project, but called it ” a shotgun marriage.”  “If it weren’t for affordable housing I’d never consider a site plan that looks like this.  I think that the City needs to do and I guess we [need to] do a better job of planning for development in our commercial corridors .  .  .  The process is not where it should be.  I think the City, since it doesn’t have a good planning document out there,  needs to do a better job on letting people know what we want before we get into a situation where we have to [go and] get what we need.”

Commissioner Rob Meeks also was critical of the planning process.  “I haven’t thought this has been a really great process; the last 18 months have been sort of difficult  I hope all of my concerns [about the project] are wrong  and I hope that all of the ways I think this process was a mess don’t happen again.  This has been frustrating at best.”

Chairman Lawrence felt the design was contrary to the City’s comprehensive plan.  “It sticks a purely residential building in a purely business district, which I think is a long term mistake.  I also think it’s frankly contrary to our long term affordable housing policy.  We’re going to dump every cent we have into this seniors only [project] and  we’re not going to have any money for affordable housing for 10 years at least.  We’re not going to be able to build a thing.”   He added that the City would be unable to include affordable dwelling units (ADU} at the Gateway project near East Falls Church metro, which would be the optimal location for ADUs.

Mr. Lawrence felt that the Planning Commission lacked the authority to make parking reductions in the site plan.  “Technically we do not have the authority .  .  . I find it odd we’re voting for something that isn’t actually legal.”    He also expressed reservations, as an appointee rather than as an elected official, about personally signing a four-party agreement integral to the plan .

Commissioner Lindy Hockenberry enthusiastically endorsed the site plan.  “I’m very, very proud of what has happened here and the City will be proud of it.  This is a very good project, a real standout when it comes to fruition.”

No Falls Church residents spoke either in favor of or against the project, but three statements were read by Ms. Cotellessa.

Thomas Sawner, owner of 360 South Washington, expressed strong support, calling the project “an excellent design [which] fills a critical need, [is] properly funded  and comes at a time when the City and our economy could certainly use a boost.”   Christopher Fay, executive director of Homestretch, concurred with Mr. Sawner.

However, councilman-elect Ira Kaylin dissented, stating that the documentation provided to the Planning Commission appeared to have been  prepared without adequate diligence and that the project was not ready for approval.  He expressed safety concerns and questioned whether adequate bonds were in place to assure that the City would not be subject to unquantified financial risk.  Ms. Cotellessa subsequently advised that each property would have a separate bond in place when construction began.

In response to a question from Mr. Lawrence, a developer’s representative stated that tenants are actively being sought for the McKeever building and that a floor and a half have been “spoken for” in one form or another.

The Wilden will provide 66 senior affordable apartments, 1,800 square feet of commercial office space, and one level of below grade parking.  The Wilden is a joint venture of the Falls Church Housing Corporation and its partner, The Community Builders (TCB).  The McKeever is a project of Jefferson One and The Young Group, developers of the “Flower Building” at 800 West Broad Street.

VIDEO: Schools Consider Switch to Recyclable Lunch Trays

May 13, 2010 by · 25 Comments 

Falls Church Times Staff

May 13, 2010

The Falls Church City schools currently use Styrofoam lunch trays, which are inexpensive but not recyclable. They are considering a switch to cardboard, which is more expensive. Click “Read more” to watch this video report.

City Council Candidate Forum Video Available Online

April 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

April 21, 2010

Video of Tuesday’s City Council candidate forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Falls Church and the Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society, is now available here.

Businessman to City: Can’t Afford It? Do Without

April 16, 2010 by · 7 Comments 

April 16, 2000

Our second video clip of last Saturday’s Town Hall budget meeting features local businessman Steven Wertime, who told the gathering that he faced a double whammy: higher City taxes and lower business receipts.

Wertime said he learned from his parents after they lived through the Depression: “If you can’t afford it, do without.”

He asked City Manager Wyatt Shields, “At what point does a tax increase become onerous and unfair . . . Are we getting to the point where we’re no longer financially viable?”

Watch the 3-minute video below.

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Maller Says Budget Numbers ‘Don’t Add Up’

April 15, 2010 by · 9 Comments 

April 15, 2010

The video is now available of last Saturday’s Town Hall budget meeting, and one snippet worth seeing is the interaction between City Councilman Dan Maller (shown at right) and City Manager Wyatt Shields.  Maller stated that “at least 10 cents of the tax increase is not to provide services but to restore the fund balance.” Whether now is the right time to impose that cost on taxpayers is something that needs to be discussed, he said. Shields countered that in fact only 2 cents of the tax increase would go to the fund balance. “Those numbers don’t add up,” Maller responded, blaming the confusion on the fact that the upcoming tax bills due in June will charge the FY 2011 rate, but be counted in FY 2010.

Watch the 4-minute video segment below.

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