News Briefs

Brief news items from the Greater Falls Church area for the week of September 28.

2nd Annual `Taste of Falls Church’ Saturday

If it’s anything like last year, the second annual Taste of Falls Church in the City-owned parking lot adjacent the State Theatre will be a smashing event, organizers promise. Food from over 20 restaurants, art from more than a dozen local artists and music from local performers will be included. Blues legend Catfish Hodge, Dusty Rose of Cue Studios in Falls Church and Don Bridges will be among the musical performers. Celebrity judges of the food will include Mayor Robin Gardner, Sheriff Steve Bittle and News-Press boss Nicholas Benton. The event is sponsored by 10 local businesses will benefit a number of local non-profits. Saturday’s weather forecast is for 70 degrees and plenty of sunshine.


Residential Zoning Reform Topic Monday

The Falls Church City Council and Planning Commission will hold a joint work session at 7:30 p.m. Monday in City Hall to mull the latest revisions in proposed City residential zoning changes impacting lot and impervious surface coverage, and setback and height issues pertaining to development on substandard lots. The bodies hope to reach a non-binding accord that will allow them to go forward with formal ordinances later next month. In addition, the City Council will mull the options regarding an opportunity to host a novel “Katrina cottage” demonstration in the City next month. The public is welcome to attend the work session, but no public comment is allowed without the special consent of the bodies meeting. The session will be held at the Training Room at City Hall. The Planning Commission will also hold its regular twice-monthly meeting at the Council chambers in City Hall at 7:45 p.m.


The Byron Seeks Ruling on Height Dispute

Owners of The Byron, the large-scale mixed use project nearing completion in the 500 block of W. Broad Street, were slated to appear before the City of Falls Church’s Building Code Appeals Committee last night seeking a resolution to a height dispute. At the request of the Arlington Fire Marshall, Byron owners measured the exact height of the building and found it to be 5. 5 inches above code requirements. They were planning to seek a “forgiveness” ruling from the appeals committee, But according to owner Ed Novak, the International Code Council has indicated that the height should be measured from an average, rather than a specific gutter beside the building, making the building within code. The Byron has sold 70 of its 90 residential condo units, according to reports, and one of the ground floor retail entities, Cosi, has its signs up this week and will open within a month.


The Spectrum Puts Sale of Condo Units on Hold

Responding to the softening housing market, and condo market in particular, owners of The Spectrum, the 170-unit large scale mixed-use project currently under construction in the 400 block of West Broad, have put sales efforts on hold. This was according to Jan A. Zachariasse, president and CEO of Waterford Development. Meanwhile, construction of the giant project continues and Zachariasse says there is a long line of prospective retailers eager to move into the ground floor of the project. He said that about half the units in the building are now under contract, but that in this market, “buyers have many choices, and they will want to see what they’re buying before committing.” The project is due to be completed by March 2008.


 F.C. Council OKs Bond for Water System Improvements

 For the first time in over 20 years, the City of Falls Church will issue general obligation public improvements bonds to fund capital infrastructure improvements in its massive water system that serves over 120,000 users in Northern Virginia. The City Council OK’d the request from Chief Financial Officer John Tuohy for the $5.5 million bond issue. It marked a departure from an operational decades’ long pay-as-you-go policy for the water system, required by recent years’ depletion of the system’s fund balance. The City of Falls Church cut in half its annual return on investment from the fund from $4.6 million to $2.1 million last spring as part of the effort to stabilize the fund, while water rate increases are also being phased in.