McLean 2015: Year in Review

McLean 2015: Year in Review

Noise, guns, elections and more.

Neighborhood Gun Store

The second amendment couldn’t defend Nova Firearms from burglary on Friday, Dec. 11.

Responding to an activated alarm at half past midnight, the owner of the store found that the rear door was “damaged and two handguns were missing from inside the store. The suspect fled the area in an unknown vehicle,” according to Fairfax County Police reports.


Others held signs that said, “Notice, no firearms allowed on premises.”

Nova Firearms opened at its new location, adjacent to Franklin Sherman Elementary School property, on Sept. 26. Dozens of McLean residents and parents and school children protested along Chain Bridge Road. Elected officials joined the event.

The store had been located in different area of McLean previously, near the post office but not next to a school.

“The protesters are exercising their right to free speech, and I’m okay with that,” said James Gates, McLean gun store owner. “Our main issue now is that we wanted to stay in McLean near our old shop so we could keep our current clientele. It’s hard to find a landlord in this area who will lease to a gun shop, and it’s hard to find somewhere where you are actually zoned to be able to sell the firearms. And this location happened to be a good mix of all three at a good price.”

By moving to the larger McLean location, Gates said at his opening that he hopes to use the extra space to offer firearm safety classes.

The gun store became focus of intense conversation in election debates. Supervisor John Foust, School Board member Janie Strauss, Del. Kathleen Murphy and Sen. Barbara Favola called the location inappropriate, even though not illegal. They pledged to try to find an alternative space for the owner.


Many gun store supporters wore hunter-orange stickers that said, “Guns save lives.”

McLean Citizens Association promised a more neutral response, and created an ad hoc committee to address the issue.

“To our knowledge we are the only entity that has talked with all sides of the issue,” said MCA Board member Rob Jackson.

Jackson pointed out that there were no violations of law or zoning when the gun store opened on Chain Bridge Road bordering Franklin Sherman Elementary School.

At MCA’s October meeting, a number of people attending carried weapons inside the community center, where local law cannot prevent people from openly carrying firearms.

The November MCA meeting was moved to McLean High School, a venue where firearms are not permitted. More than 80 people attended the monthly meeting, many wearing hunter-orange stickers that said, “Guns Save Lives.”

Others had signs and stickers that said, “Notice, no firearms allowed on premises.”

“This is a very difficult situation, and we’re trying to figure out what we can all do together to solve it. And we think, if people can be flexible and patient, we’ll get there,” said MCA President Jeff Bartlett.

MCA: Century of Advocacy

McLean Citizens Association and McLean Day celebrated their 100th anniversaries this year.

The McLean Day celebration turned 100 on May 16, 2015. The party, produced by the McLean Community Center, thrilled hundreds at Lewinsville Park on Chain Bridge Road with amusements, rides, food trucks, games, balloon animals, bumper ball, laser tag, tennis, a history walk, a mobile petting zoo and market place and exhibitor booths to learn about McLean civic associations and businesses.

The McLean Community Center held elections for its Board during the festivities.

McLean Citizens Association has been advocating for McLean and its people for 100 years.

For its 20th anniversary, the McLean School and Civic League, as MCA was then called held a community celebration and dance. In 1964, the MCA's 50th Anniversary, MCA published a special edition of its newsletter and held a ceremony honoring past presidents. At its 75th Anniversary, past presidents gave speeches and told stories at the Potomac School in 1989. MCA published "The Voice of McLean: 100 Years of the McLean Citizens Association," written by Merrily Pierce and Paul Kohlenberger in November 2014.

Foust, Murphy, Favola Elected

Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) was re-elected and sworn in for a third term on Dec. 15, 2015, the first person to serve a third term in the Dranesville district in more than 100 years, according to Tony Castrilli of Fairfax County. Foust defeated first-time candidate Jennifer Chronis (R).

Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34) was re-elected in a rematch with Craig Parisot (R). Murphy defeated Parisot by a final count of 10,820 votes to 10,632, less than one percent of voters in the 34th District.

The morning after the election, Parisot sent a legal team to observe a canvas held in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, which are represented by the 34th district, to ensure the election’s authenticity.

This election was a rematch of the special election triggered last November 2014 when Barbara Comstock (R) was elected to U.S. Congress.

The 34th District has a history of close elections. In 2013, Murphy lost to Barbara Comstock 50.64 percent to 49.21 percent. Murphy received 14,540 votes to Comstock’s 14,962. In 2012, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney literally tied in the district, each receiving 18,688 votes, according to Virginia Public Access Project.

Senator Barbara Favola was reelected for her second term, defeating challenger George Forakis.

MCC Expansion

When the McLean Community Center was built in 1974, community centers were designed similar to schools, said architect Greg Lukmire, "institutional facilities that could withstand all sorts of abuse."

McLean's renovated center, scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2018, promises an entirely "contemporary" new look.

"You want to see what's going on inside, you want to advertise that, you want to draw people in," said Lukmire. "Successful public buildings are open these days."

The renovation will add a total of 7,750 square feet to allow for a 1,500-square-foot fitness room; conference rooms of different shapes and sizes; renovation of the administrative area; added circulation and lobby space; additional restrooms; and bringing the entire building into full compliance with the ADA.

The Alden Theater, which was expanded with its 100 seat balcony in 1988, and the 2000 Art Studio will not be altered.

Some of the details include an open courtyard, natural lighting throughout the building, an open hallway that people enter and allows patrons of the theater in the lobby to see the art gallery on the top floor, and a glass facade on the back that allows connectivity between the library and the center and a link to the outdoors.

"It's such a beautiful view and nobody sees it," said Lukmire. "We see the community center as a building in a park. It's set in an environment that is natural and quite lovely."

Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2016. The project will cost approximately $8 million, with $6.1 for construction. No money will need to be requested, raised or borrowed, said Ben Drosner, with Fairfax County's Department of Public Works.

"The money is coming from the McLean Community Center's tax district capital reserves," said Drosner.

The center will remain open during the renovation. "That's the goal," said Lukmire.

New Noise Ordinance

The Board of Supervisors is at peace with the county’s new Noise Ordinance.

“Believe it or not, that passes,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova at the Nov. 17 meeting of the Board of Supervisors. The new ordinance becomes effective on Feb. 17, 2016.

“There were times during this process that I thought we would never get to this point. Let me tell you, there are competing needs, issues all over the place as to what is too noisy, what is not noisy, about what is needed and what is not,” she said.

“It was a very productive evolution through five cycles of revisions,” said Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville). “We negotiated this thing for so long.”

“We’re not totally where I want to be, but this is a significantly improved product and something I can vote for,” he said.

Supervisor Michael Frey (R-Sully) spearheaded the Board’s efforts and thanked county staff. “They've managed to grasp the things we were trying to codify,” said Frey.

The Board delayed the effective date of implementation of the new ordinance to February in order to provide time for staff training, to update County websites, and to assist staff in understanding the new regulations, according to county documents.

The Board will revisit the impact of the noise ordinance and its effectiveness in 18 months to determine what might need to be tweaked for the long run.

“I’m not happy with everything that is in here, but at this point I’m prepared to support it, but appreciate that we can revisit it,” said Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield).

Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee District) says the outcome makes the ordinance much easier to enforce.

“This turned into something entirely different from where it started. I also agree that this wasn’t intended to address every noise issue,” said McKay, “but at the end of the day it makes for better enforcement and makes it a lot more clear which made the noise ordinance difficult to enforce.”

The overall goal of the Noise Ordinance is to recognize that there will always be certain levels of noise that occur in the normal course of daily living; to allow certain levels of daytime noise so that people can live, work and play during the day; and to minimize noise at night so residents have an appropriate quiet environment in their homes at night. For more, see