Local Commentary

Letters to the Editor

Why Falls Church’s Love Affair With Residential?


I struggle to understand the City Council’s love affair with large residential housing projects. Call it “mixed use” if you want, but there are literally hundreds of new residential units springing up around the city. The impact on schools could be devastating. I have heard the developer theory that new residential complexes will not overcrowd our schools, but I simply don’t believe it. Many people move to Falls Church for its schools, whether they live in a condo or single-family home.

A few years ago, the Council was cautious regarding development, not wanting to upset the balance between residential and commercial areas. Now that has changed. The recent Council vote on the Atlantic Realty City Center development was an eye-opener. The Planning Commission unanimously opposed the Special Exception allowing this project, yet the City Council unanimously approved it. The Council is making decisions that will change Falls Church forever, yet seems unwilling even to call a time out to observe the results of the previous projects before flooding our City with more residential units.

At least one City Council candidate, Nader Baroukh, is questioning this approach, and hopefully others will, as well. Baroukh is saying what I’ve been thinking – massive residential development, whether couched in terms of “mixed use” or not, is very risky for our community.

I support having new restaurants and bookstores and specialty shops, with green space and pedestrian areas. But I don’t buy the notion that we must add hundreds of residential units to get that. The revenues gained from new residential property taxes from these projects are likely to be consumed by school costs and services for the new residents. This is not a responsible and sustainable approach, and we need more people like Baroukh to stand up and challenge it.

Stan Fendley

Falls Church


Link Episcopalian Faith to Laws Of Real Estate



This is written before the court ruling, a decision that will attempt to link who we are as Episcopalians to laws about real estate. Of course we should get our church back.

I worshipped under John Howe for a time at Truro before he left to become a Bishop in Florida. He was far too conservative for me, likely in the top 1% of strict interpretation Biblical thinkers in our faith. He proves the point of course—there is room for all in our very diverse faith, and Bishop Howe does not support the schism. Yates could have always taken his brand of religiosity and set up shop down the road.

Yates has his devoted followers. Far many more attendees, however, remained in the original building waiting out ‘somebody else’s fight’. The church is beautiful, Sunday school is terrific and the kids have their friends there, and what’s-his-name only says something really annoying only every couple of months. They’ll work it out. I get that—at one time with my 4 sons, a busy career, going to school full time—well, you have to pick your causes.

Except this one goes to the heart of who we are as Episcopalians. We don’t have to like the person standing next to us in God’s house. We can revile the person standing next to us. But in God’s house we will worship shoulder to shoulder with anyone who comes to the house of God. That’s who we are. That’s what we teach our children. It’s back to basic time in the Episcopal Church, and those of us who have been huddling together in the loft of the Presbyterian Church for 18 months are waiting for sisters and brothers who forgot and who will help us come home. There is no greater love.

Dr. Jackie L’Heureux

Via the Internet


Hails Court’s Initial Ruling On Church



Fairfax Circuit Judge Randy Bellows’ ruling that The Falls Church and the other church congregation that broke away from the Episcopal Church USA are entitled to their churches is a major victory for the freedom of religion guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Overwhelming majorities of these congregations voted to leave the national church. Despite the allegations of detractors, the reasons they left had to do with fundamental issues such as the divinity of Christ and the authority of the Bible.

The national church and the diocese tried to argue that there was no “division” over doctrine. But Judge Bellows wrote that “evidence of ‘a division’ had occurred in the (Virginia) diocese, the Episcopal Church USA, and the Anglican Communion is not only compelling but overwhelming.”

Whatever their opinion of Christ or views of historic Christian beliefs, Americans will always favor freedom.

And it is precisely our freedom from state-supported ecclesiastical bureaucracies that makes the U.S. different from European nations where religion is dying, and gives rise to the religious pluralism and tolerance in which our religious diversity thrives.

Thank you, Judge Bellows, for defending that freedom.  

K.C. McAlpin

Falls Church


F.C. Education Foundation Sets Record Straight



The recent letter to the editor by June and Mike Beyer provides an opportunity to clarify some information about the Falls Church Education Foundation. The Beyer’s concern for our schools is very characteristic of our community — families and business leaders who care deeply about a high quality education for our children. In fact, that commitment to quality education is what inspired the creation of the Falls Church Education Foundation in 2003 — to provide supplemental financial support to our schools. 

A majority of our funds are designated by their generous donors for particular purposes — primarily scholarships for both current and future years and are invested accordingly. Last year, the Foundation distributed a total of more than $32,000 for the benefit of the Falls Church City School students through scholarship awards. Our work also includes raising funds for ongoing needs throughout the year including support for special projects and learning opportunities for both teachers and students. These include, among others: paying for poets in residence, guest lecturers, teacher grants, and also student academic competitions like the Robotics Club. The Foundation has supported the George Mason Robotics Club in the past and is contributing $500 towards their expenses to compete for the National Championship this year.

The Foundation’s Legacy Endowment Fund is a cornerstone of our mission — to provide long-term financial support to sustain the system’s high standards. However, with the majority of the Foundation donor’s contributions being for specified gifts, we’ve made slower than hoped for progress in building the Endowment Fund. We will continue to focus on this portion of our charter, building for the future, along with the Foundation’s more current, here and now, efforts. We’re certainly grateful to all of Foundation’s donors–more than 1,000 now–and proud to steward your generous gifts for the benefit of our students.   

Dan Gardner & Donna Englander

F.C. Education Foundation