Post #440: CORRECTED: The 10/30/2019 Planning Commission meeting.

Posted on October 31, 2019

My last meeting review (prior post) was second-hand.  This one is third hand.  And unsurprisingly, given that, I got some key details wrong, which I have now fixed. 

Briefly, the extension of the MAC moratorium passed on a 6-3 vote.  The moratorium extension will now be considered by the Town Council at its next meeting, and presumably the MAC moratorium will be extended to June 30 2020.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing last night (10/30/2019) on extending the MAC moratorium until June 30 2020.  This public hearing was a legal requirement, so that the Town Council (TC) may consider the issue at the next TC meeting and, presumably, extend the moratorium.

I had assumed it was going to be cut-and-dried.  So I didn’t bother to attend.  On the surface, the entire purpose of the moratorium was to give the Town time to rewrite the MAC statute.  Well, they aren’t done yet.  Heck, to me, it’s not even clear how much progress has been made, or not.  (So, not merely unfinished, but with no clear ETA for the final product.)

If they aren’t done yet, and are committed to rewriting the law, they have no choice but to extend the moratorium.  Or so I thought.

By report, it was not cut-and-dried.  The meeting actually lasted close to an hour.  The final vote was 6-3.  From that, I can infer that at least three members of the Planning Commission are not on board with rewriting the law.  If they’d had their way, they’d have begun taking new proposals for redevelopment, under the existing law, starting next month.  They argued for ending the moratorium sooner — March instead of June — based on the fact that the Town has had quite a bit of time so far, and has not yet gotten around to changing the law.

As it stands, the moratorium extension to June 2020 passed.  And presumably the Town Council will pass it at the next meeting.  And the Town will have until the middle of next year to get its act together on MAC.  (Oh, and rewrite all the rest of the zoning statute while they are at it.)

This section is now somewhat off point, given that correction, but I’m leaving it as-is.

Sometimes I think I live in a different town entirely from some of my fellow citizens.  Or maybe I just don’t have the right sensibilities. Because I just can’t view the roadside “gathering space” from these new buildings as an asset.

If you want a real-world introduction to what the current MAC statute is gaining for the Town of Vienna, in terms of “public space”, go stand in front of the Chick-fil-a-car-wash and look around.  There’s no longer any need to look at pretty pictures.  You now have a real, honest, on-the-ground introduction to your new “vibrant, pedestrian-friendly” gathering space in the MAC cityscape.

That brick plaza is actually considerably wider than MAC requires, varying from 24′ wide at the building face to 30′ at the back of the seating area (where MAC currently only requires 20′ on Maple, and 15′ elsewhere.)   In isolation, it’s a pretty nice little place.  If that patio were in my back yard, I’d be proud of it.  But it sits directly adjacent to an arterial highway.  My guess is that it’s essentially unusable as “gathering space” because of that simple fact.  I guess we’ll see.  We’ll see there, and at Marco Polo/Vienna Market, and so on.  Because the “MAC streetscape” at all of those buildings is built along those lines.

I renew my call for Town Council to hold its next work session using folding tables and chairs, sitting 15′ from Maple.  During rush hour.   Without microphones.  I’ll bring sandwiches.  I honestly don’t know what else I could possibly do to try to get this point across.

I’m so out-of-touch, I can’t even figure out how that fast-food drive-through can even function if the Chick-fil-a plaza really is a pedestrian-only area (Post #431).  I literally think cars are going to have to be allowed to drive over it.

Just ask yourself, what happens if they mess up your order in the drive-through line?  What happens if an item isn’t ready, for your drive-through order?  You know what happens at the McDonald’s next door.  They tell you to pull over and park.  But at the Chick-fil-A?  There’s no place to go.  So … turn right at the transformers, wait at the Maple/Nutley light, make a U-turn, take a left at McDonalds, park, and come into the store?

That certainly takes the fast out of fast food.  Either that, or cars will be allowed to drive over what was billed as a pedestrian plaza.  Those are the two routes that get you back to a parking place at Chick-fil-a.  Near as I can tell, It’s going to be one or the other.  Or let them simply park on the plaza, as the third option.

Either way, it’s going to be a uniquely Vienna experience.