City Officials Content With Hotel Redesign

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.

June 8, 2011 


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