What’s Happening in 2016 in McLean?

What’s Happening in 2016 in McLean?

A preview of the issues, events that will mark the new year.

Protesters outside NOVA Firearms in McLean on Saturday, Sept. 26. The gun store is located on property that is adjacent to Franklin Sherman Elementary School.

Protesters outside NOVA Firearms in McLean on Saturday, Sept. 26. The gun store is located on property that is adjacent to Franklin Sherman Elementary School. Photo by Ken Moore.


McLean Citizens Association has advocated for McLean and its people the last 100 years. This week, Jan. 6, the citizens association is contemplating a resolution for a second bridge crossing over the Potomac River. Pictured here at McLean Day 2015: Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, School Board member Janie Strauss, Dranesville Supervisor John Foust and McLean historians Merrily Pierce and Paul Kohlenberger (back row).

MCA: Century of Advocacy

McLean Citizens Association has advocated for McLean and its people for 100 years.

MCA published "The Voice of McLean: 100 Years of the McLean Citizens Association," written by Merrily Pierce and Paul Kohlenberger in November 2014.

MCA members and committees study issues important to McLean, ranging from land use, planning and zoning, transportation issues, and environmental concerns to long range planning, Tysons, Public Safety, schools and more.

McLean Citizens Association is scheduled to hold its next meeting at the community center, 1234 Ingleside Drive, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

MCC Expansion

McLean Community Center is scheduled to be fully renovated by the spring of 2018, promising 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 architect Greg Lukmire. "Successful public buildings are open these days."

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in fall 2016. The project will cost approximately $8 million, with $6.1 million 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 is scheduled to remain open during the renovation.

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."


Protesters outside NOVA Firearms in McLean on Saturday, Sept. 26. The gun store is located on property that is adjacent to Franklin Sherman Elementary School.

McLean’s Own Gun Store

Sen. Barbara Favola pledged discussion at this year’s General Assembly session regarding proximity of gun stores to schools.

Most local Supervisors, delegates and senators stated that NoVa Firearms new location adjacent to Franklin Sherman Elementary is an absurd place for a gun store.

McLean Citizens Association created an ad hoc commission to consider the issue.

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.

MCA Board member Rob 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.


Joyce Harris, of McLean, testifies before the Board of Supervisors on the mandated rewrite of the county’s noise ordinance.

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, 2015 meeting of the Board of Supervisors. The new ordinance becomes effective on Feb. 17.

The Board directed staff to monitor the effectiveness and impact of the new Noise Ordinance for an 18-month period after its enactment.

Some groups advocated for stronger enforcement and stronger details in the legislation, especially in neighborhoods close to county schools and parks. The school system has pledged to ensure that there will be specific technology on loudspeakers at schools to stay within new county code.

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 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 http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/zoning/noiseordinance/.

Talk to the General Assembly

The Fairfax County delegation to the Virginia General Assembly will hold a hearing for public comment on the upcoming 2016 session on Saturday, Jan. 9, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.

The Virginia General Assembly will meet for 60 days in Richmond beginning Jan. 12.

Residents who want to sign up in advance to speak at the hearing should contact the Office of the Clerk to the Board of Supervisors at 703-324-3151, TTY 711, by noon on Friday, Jan. 8.

Two Town Hall Meetings

Del. Kathleen Murphy is hosting a Great Falls Town Hall on Saturday, Jan. 9 from 1:30-3 p.m. at Great Falls Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike.

Murphy is hosting a McLean Town Hall with McLean and North Arlington General Assembly Delegation at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave, McLean, on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Stream Team

Dead Run is impaired and in poor quality, said Matt Meyers, Watershed Projects Implementation Branch Chief for Fairfax County Stormwater Planning Division.

“There’s real degradation,” said Meyers, at June’s public information meeting. “We know that this is an important project to improve the quality of the stream. We want to work with you to make it a good project.”

Meyers highlighted the intensity of stream erosion and degradation, increasing phosphorous levels and flooding that is impacting the surrounding community.

The stream restoration project would improve water quality by reducing sediment and nutrient loads, stabilize stream banks to reduce bank erosion and reduce tree loss in the future, improve aquatic habitat and restore and enhance the stream buffer, officials said.

But many residents who use McLean Central Park voiced anger over county plans to remove a couple of hundred trees as part of a stream restoration process to improve the health of Dead Run Stream.

Supervisor John Foust organized a Stream Team to discuss and potentially make decisions that will impact the McLean Central Park. Foust promised neighbors and citizens a chance to work with county officials through the stream team to determine if consensus can be reached to improve the quality of Dead Run but meet demands of neighbors and citizens who want to ensure that their park won’t be compromised.

Late December, Foust’s staff offered thanks to the stream team for the work this past fall.

“While we still have some more work to do, the latest design concept has reduced tree loss from the original plan by over 30 percent,” according to Foust’s staff, although some residents say that number is actually about 16 percent. “The next steps in developing the final concept design are to (i) refine the construction access taking into account input at the last task force meeting, and (ii) schedule group and/or individual meetings with homeowners along Carol Raye Street and Elizabeth Drive to obtain additional input and make final adjustments to the current design ..., (iii) review possible buffer plantings outside the proposed limits of disturbance along the left bank (Elizabeth Drive side) … and (iv) schedule a broad community meeting.”

Susan Moser countered, “As a member of this task force who has attended virtually every meeting, I am of the opinion that, while there have been efforts made on the part of the County and Stantec, we are nowhere near a consensus or approval of a final plan.”

Continuing concerns include removal of 210 trees, removal of trees and other vegetation between the trail and residential property lines, maintenance, buffer landscaping and replacement of lost trees, and potential future flooding, according to Moser.

Mental Health, Not Jail?

The county began its new Merrifield Crisis Response Center, a key component of the county’s Diversion First initiative, on Jan. 1.

A sheriff’s deputy and a police officer will be stationed in CSB Emergency Services, the Merrifield Crisis Response Center, every day from 11:30 a.m. until midnight starting on New Year’s Day.

Their primary duty will be to accept custody of individuals brought in to the crisis response center by other police officers and sheriff deputies who have detained an individual for a non-violent offense but may need mental health treatment rather than incarceration, according to county documents.

This is designed to balance providing appropriate assessment and care for individuals in crisis while allowing those other officers and deputies to go back into service for other duties more quickly.

Interagency and community teams have made progress in developing components of the Diversion First initiative, designed to reduce the number of people with mental illness in local jails by diverting non-violent offenders experiencing mental health crises to treatment instead of incarceration.

Some of the components of Diversion First have already begun, including Crisis Intervention Team training for police officers and sheriff deputies and Mental Health First Aid training for other county first responders.

Presidential Primaries

The Democratic and Republican Presidential Primary Election Day is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1.

To participate in the primary, voters must be registered by Monday, Feb. 8.

The Virginia State Board of Elections (SBE) determined by random drawing the order that candidates’ names will appear on the ballots for the upcoming presidential primaries.

On Dec. 11, 2015, the Democratic Party of Virginia certified that the following three candidates qualified to appear on the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary ballot. The names will appear on the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary ballot as:

*Hillary Clinton

*Martin O’Malley

*Bernie Sanders

On Dec. 15, 2015, the Republican Party of Virginia certified that the following 13 candidates qualified to appear on the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary ballot. The names will appear on the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary ballot as:

*Marco Rubio

*Lindsey Graham

*Ben Carson

*Rand Paul

*Mike Huckabee

*Ted Cruz

*Donald Trump

*Jim Gilmore

*Chris Christie

*Jeb Bush

*Rick Santorum

*John Kasich

*Carly Fiorina

Absentee voting by mail, fax or e-mail is due by Feb. 23. Voting in person but by an absentee ballot can be done by Feb. 27.

See elections.virginia.gov.

Congressional Race

U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-10) is serving her first term in Congress, elected following the retirement of long-time Congressman Frank Wolf.

Comstock is up for reelection in November, and will face Democrat LuAnn Bennett, who describes herself as a small business owner and working mother who has lived in Northern Virginia for more than 30 years.

Virginia Congressional District 10 includes McLean, Great Falls, Herndon, Chantilly, Lorton and some other parts of Fairfax County.

Route 7 Widening

Throughout January, teams from the Virginia Department of Transportation will meet with Amberwoods, Bradley Oaks, Lockmeade, Locust Hill homeowners and Shouse Village homeowners association as well as the Towlston Meadow Community Association about plans to widen Route 7.

VDOT cancelled its two day Public Information and Open House Meeting scheduled for Jan. 8 and 9, but information meetings and hearings are tentatively planned for later in the winter and spring.

The $265 million project would widen 6.9 miles of Route 7 in 2021, increasing from four to six lanes between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive.

VDOT hopes for approval of the design from the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board in the summer of 2016.

Safety accessing the road remains a major concern to neighborhoods along Route 7 corridor.

See www.ConnectRoute7.org.