Post #524: Some topics at public meetings this week

Posted on February 10, 2020

Things change.  For more than a year now, I’ve sent a weekly email (to individuals who signed up for it) noting any Town of Vienna public meetings dealing with MAC zoning issues.  I typically cc’d the content here (e.g., Post #516 and many prior posts).

It’s starting to look like there probably won’t be any more such meetings devoted to MAC zoning topics.  The last project under the existing MAC zoning has been approved (Sunrise at 380 Maple West).  The Town has subsumed any further discussion of MAC into its two-year-long rewrite of all the zoning in Vienna.  Possibly, Vienna is going to do away with MAC zoning entirely, probably in favor of allowing MAC-like construction “by right” in parts of the existing commercial zone.

So here are a few non-MAC items that the Town will consider this week, along with some brief commentary.

  • Redoing the process for citizens to request traffic calming measures.
  • Dealing with the Wawa tree cutting and other Town right-of-way issues.
  • The new $15M police station.

Citizens’ Guide to Traffic Calming (Tonight 2/10/2020, 7:30 PM Town Council work session).  This guide defines the process by which citizens petition the town for traffic calming and safety measures on their streets (e.g., speed humps, signs, marked pedestrian crossings, and similar).  ‘

The Town government is in the process of changing that procedure.   And, in the Town government’s usual citizen-friendly fashion, if you want to see some simple summary of what is being changed … you’re out of luck.  The only way to get any type of side-by-side comparison is to read both documents, get a clear grasp of the old and new methods, and then write that up yourself.  You can see the current guide here (.pdf).  You can find the new “Street Safety Guide” with the meeting materials for this work session.

A few things that caught my eye, as I compared the old and the new, are the following:

  • You would no longer be able to petition directly to your fellow citizens on the Transportation Safety Commission.  Instead, the process for starting a request for traffic calming or safety measures would be controlled by the Town bureaucracy (Department of Public Works).  If they didn’t think your request had merit, then it would stop right there, and the request would never been seen in public.
  • Right now, you can sign a petition in favor of some change (e.g., a speed hump on your street).   Under the proposed change, if you sign, you are agreeing to have that traffic calming measure (e.g., as speed hump) directly in front of your house.  Under the new proposal, you can’t sign the petition unless you agree to that.
  • Some measures — such as street closure — appear to have been removed from the document.

Is this an exhaustive list of changes?  Heck if I know.  Probably not.  Because the only way to know what’s been changed is to happen to notice it, as you read through and study both documents.

Fallout from the Wawa tree cutting and other issues with the Town right-of-way (Tonight 2/10/2020, 7:30 PM Town Council work session).  This is, I think, the “after action” report that the Town Manager was to bring to Town Council, and I think it’s also the Town government’s response to Councilman Majdi’s request to have all these right-of-way issues (e.g., Wawa, plus the loss of 4′ of right-of-way from Wade Hampton, and others) into a single effort.

You can find the meeting materials on this page.  I’m not seeing any action item for the Town Council to decide, nor am I seeing any sort of comprehensive strategy.  But you will at least get the final official Town of Vienna word on what actually happened at Wawa, on Wade Hampton, and how the Chick-fil-a-car-wash transformers ended up located right next to the sidewalk.

The new police station will be discussed in a Planning Commission work session (Wednesday 2/12/2020, 6:30 PM).  I have now been briefed in this, and there appear to be a lot of fairly tricky zoning issues that the Town has to get past.  Among those are the setbacks from the adjacent residential property.  In any case, this is all part of an ongoing effort to get certain pieces of land in Vienna rezoned so that the Town can legally construct the new $15M police station.