News Briefs

January 18 – 24, 2007

F.C. Water System Billing Playing Catch Up

The Falls Church City Council was briefed by staff members of the City’s Utility Department Tuesday night about on-going efforts to catch up with the correct billing of its 38,000 paying customers. A combination of inaccurate meter readings and staff shortages last year bottlenecked the billing process, and the care needed to double check the correct billing is making the catch-up process slow, the Council was told. No bills have yet gone out for water use since October. It is hoped that the process will be made current within four months, even though the catch-up is at a rate of only one week a month. Most of the City’s customers are billed quarterly, with some of its larger commercial customers being billed monthly. The water system serves 120,000 locations in the region including most of Tysons Corner. It has an annual budget of $17 million. The City Council will vote later this month to fund at $6.5 million the replacement of all the meters in the system with new, automatic reading ones.


National Bishop to Back Diocese vs. Falls Church Episcopal

The national presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori, will support any decision by the leadership of the Virginia Diocese of the denomination to secure control of the historic property currently occupied by the Falls Church Episcopal Church, according to a published report yesterday. The Virginia diocese’s Bishop Peter Lee yesterday allowed a 30-day truce to expire on matters of control of the church properties between the Diocese and the 15 churches in the state who voted to defect from the denomination in December. Bishop Lee will meet with the leadership of the Diocese today to fashion their next step to secure control of the properties. It is expected that the matter will finally be resolved in the courts.


Mester Named Assistant City Manager in Falls Church

Last week, the Falls Church City Council voted to drop the title of “Active City Manager” and officially hired Wyatt Shields as its City Manager. This week, Shields did the same thing regarding the title of “Acting Assistant City Manager” applied to Cindy L. Mester. He announced Tuesday that he hired Mester as his full-time assistant. Mester had been acting as Shields’ assistant since September, two months after Shields took over the “active” city manager role upon the death of Dan McKeever. Mester began working at City Hall in Falls Church as the general manager of community services in April 2005. Mester has a bachelor’s degree from Longwood College and a Master of Education in Community Agency Counseling from the George Mason University School of Education. She completed the Leading, Educating and Development (LEAD) program at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service in 1999. She brought 25 years of experience in local government in Loudoun County prior to her positions in Falls Church.


Development Project to Go Forward Without Variance

An office building project in the 800 block of West Broad St. in Falls Church has been modified to avoid need of a special variance, developer Bob Young reported Tuesday. As a result, the matter of a variance that had been tabled last week at the City Board of Zoning Appeals, after a recommendation in favor from the Planning Commission earlier this month, will now be dropped. The building, a four-story all commercial structure, will now go forward “by right,” with no action by any City body except for a technical approval of its site plan by the Planning Commission. The previous bid for a variance arose from the wish of Young to minimize a buffer between a parking structure at the back end of his building and the playground of the St. James Catholic School. Young said he found a way to pull the project back to within current code specifications. Young said he hopes to get his project under construction this spring and hopes that upon its completion to move immediately for construction of a hotel in the neighboring 700 block.


Burglary Prevention Seminar Set at James Lee

Fairfax County Police will host a public seminar about preventing home burglaries next Wednesday, Jan. 24, from 7 to 8:45 p.m. at the James Lee Community Center, 2855-A Annandale Road. Lieutenant Daniel Courtney of the Criminal Investigations Section of the McLean District Station will reveal how some burglars target homes and how citizens may avoid becoming victims.