Vote on White Oak Reversed

Vote on White Oak Reversed

Denial of parking waiver retracted affecting office conversion project.

In a rare motion at the Town Council meeting Monday, July 11, Councilmember Sydney Verinder proposed a reconsideration of the council’s June 20 ruling on the White Oak Towers parking waiver. At that meeting, the council voted 4-2 to deny a waiver for the minimum number of parking spaces and prevented Trimark, the building’s owner, from converting White Oak Towers into office condominiums.

Town Code requires 226 parking spaces for a building of White Oak Towers’ size, but the building currently has 183, plus 21 spaces shared with a neighboring building.

Verinder had voted against the site plan modifications the first time around, but changed his mind, he said, based on information he had not seen before the June 20 meeting since he had been away. The council approved the motion to reconsider, and in the re-vote approved the site plan modifications 4-3, with Councilmembers Laurie Genevro Cole, George Lovelace, and Maud Robinson opposing. Cole expressed concern that Verinder had missed out on the information before the vote.

The information Verinder referred to was a confidential memorandum that clarified some of the specific provisions in Virginia law applying to the White Oak Towers situation. After he reviewed the memorandum, Verinder said, he decided that in fact Trimark and its agent, Cooley Godward LLP, had made good effort to increase their number of parking spaces. Verinder also said that the change in ownership was not enough of a change to justify denying a waiver for the minimum required number of parking spaces.

"We feel good," said Gavin Klein, attorney for Cooley Godward. "It’s the result the clients wanted."

Verinder stressed that the motion to reconsider was not something he planned to do often. "Sometimes, you’ve got to do what’s right," he said. "Sometimes that’s hard."

ANOTHER ITEM on the agenda was an appeal by Greg Haight, a Windover Heights resident, for a certificate of appropriateness for his house, after the Windover Heights Board of Review had denied it. Haight had replaced rotting siding on his 1980’s house on Windover Avenue with flat stone without first seeking a building permit from the town. He tried to obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the Board of Review, but they denied it, saying that the stone panels were inaccurate to the Victorian style of the house.

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to overturn the Windover Heights Board of Review ruling and approve Haight’s request for the certificate.

Robinson disagreed with the "rigidity of the board’s decision of, ‘there is only one way to (remodel), and that is our way.’" Robinson said that she researched Victorian architecture thoroughly in preparation for Monday’s meeting.

"I haven’t read anything saying that there is only one way to do it," she said.

THE COUNCIL ALSO heard a presentation by Mark Meana of Vienna Youth Inc. and Vienna Babe Ruth. Meana proposed replacing the scoreboard and fence at Waters Field, moving the light pole and irrigation system, and replacing the grass on the field with synthetic turf, which Meana said would prove more cost-efficient than grass. The entire project would cost $950,000, with the town paying $100,000. Councilmembers agreed that the baseball field needed improvements, but expressed some reservations toward the cost. The council will examine the turf situation more thoroughly in an August work session.

In other business, the council approved the following measures:

* A request by William Hawes of Land Development Consultants, Inc. to subdivide a block of Windover Heights at the corner of Courthouse Road and Pleasant Street into three lots.

* A measure that authorized the final payment of $681,263.73 to Verizon Wireless, to underground telephone utilities along Maple Avenue as part of the Maple Avenue Enhancement Project.

* A measure to accept a grant of $50,000 for the Vienna Police Department. The grant, provided by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, will fund the crime analysis portion of the records management system, and requires a local match of $12,500.

* A measure to replace three old Kawasaki police motorcycles with motorcycles from Renegade Harley Davidson, at a total cost of $55,779.

* Appointments of Tara Voight to the Transportation Safety Commission and of Deborah Brehony to the Board of Architectural Review.