With 2021 soon to be in the history books and 2022 arriving soon, the Sun Gazette takes a look back at some of the issues that the paper was covering during the past year, two months at a time.
• A feasibility study done by Rinker Design Associates P.C., presented at the Vienna Town Council’s March 8 work session, disclosed that utility undergrounding in 10 locations along Maple Avenue would cost an estimated $22 million – the equivalent of about half of the town’s general-fund budget for one year.
• The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed March 9 to let a private company install solar panels at 22 more county-owned sites. Under the power-purchasing lease agreement, Sigora Solar LLC will charge the county a fixed rate of 6.9 cents per kilowatt hour for power generated at the sites during the lease periods, which range from 25 to 28 years, but could be extended.
• Gov. Northam on March 12 signed into law a measure patroned by state Sen. Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake-Norfolk) that switched all municipal elections to November starting in January 2022. Most Vienna Town Council members had opposed the legislation, saying that the town’s traditional May elections avoided the partisan atmosphere of November general elections.
• Capping a Zoning Ordinance Modernization (zMOD) Project that drew sharp reactions from some civic organizations, the Board of Supervisors on March 23 approved a new Fairfax County zoning ordinance that superseded rules that had been in place since 1978. The new, streamlined ordinance is designed to be more comprehensible and less intimidating for residents and addresses technological and demographic changes that have occurred in the county during the last four decades, supervisors said.
• The town of Vienna on March 23 gave its Website, www.viennava.gov, a new, more intuitive and user-friendly design.
• The North of the Airport Committee of the Community Working Group – made up of Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia officials and airline representatives – and consulting firm ABCx2 LLC at an April 5 virtual meeting examined possible solutions – from allowing a wider range of flight paths to slightly raising the approach altitude – to lessen noise impacts from aircraft using Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
• During a April 12 public hearing on the town of Vienna’s proposed fiscal year 2022 budget, Vienna police Sgt. Kristin Ruddy, president of the Vienna Police Association, advocated for better officer pay and benefits. The department is experiencing frequent turnover, with only five of 18 officers hired in the last five years are still with the agency, Rudy said.
• Daniel Phoenix Singh on April 12 became the McLean Community Center’s new executive director. Singh succeeded George Sachs, who stayed on a few more weeks to smooth the transition.
• The Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed April 13 that Blake Lane Park in Oakton would continue to host recreational activities and not be converted for use as an elementary school. Supervisors transferred the property to the Fairfax County Park Authority and in exchange received a land-bank credit worth the site’s tax-assessed value.
• The Board of Supervisors voted 8-2 April 13 to endorse the Virginia Department of Transportation’s 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project and expressed hope that Maryland officials would expand highway capacity on their side of the Potomac River. 495 NEXT will extend a pair of high-occupancy-toll (HOT) lanes in each direction about 3 miles north from their current terminus near the Dulles Toll Road to the vicinity of the American Legion Bridge.
• The Vienna government’s communications and marketing director, Lynne Coan, who in the last five years had upgraded the town’s monthly newsletter and overseen improvements to its Website, stepped down April 14 and five days later took a new post as the communications specialist for the city of Rehoboth Beach, Del. Coan was succeeded June 28 by Karen Acar Thayer.
• Edward Heberg, who served for five years as president of Friends of the Great Falls Freedom Memorial, died April 19 at age 83.
• The Board of Supervisors on April 23 unanimously appointed former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis to succeed retired Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. Davis assumed his new role May 3 at an annual salary of $215,000.
• Mirroring Fairfax County’s policy change earlier this year, Vienna Town Council members voted 7-0 April 26 to eliminate use of plastic bags for yard-waste collection.
• The Vienna Town Council on April 26 approved design work for nine sidewalk projects to be financed by the late Vienna Town Council member Maud Robinson’s $7 million bequest, but encountered resistance from some residents who did not want the pathways built in front of their homes.