Falls Church City News Briefs

F.C. Names New Planning Department Chief

Suzanne Cotellessa, a certified planner, zoning administrator and arborist, has been selected as the General Manager of the City of Falls Church Department of Developmental Services, which covers planning, zoning and urban forestry functions.

Cotellessa, who begins her new job on Jan. 12, fills the slot vacated by Elizabeth Friel, who held it for nine years before relocating last May. Wendy Block Sanford and Gary Fuller shared duties as acting general managers during the interim. Cotellessa, with a Masters Degree in Urban Planning and a B.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, was Planning Division Chief for the City of Fairfax since 2007, and before that was Director of Community Development for the Town of Duck, North Carolina, from 2003-2007. She previously held positions in the City of Fairfax as Planning Division Chief, Zoning Administrator and Planner.

Connolly, Moran Get House Committee Assignments

U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly, sworn in as the new U.S. congressman from the 11th District of Virginia at the Capitol this week, announced yesterday he’d been assigned to two important House committees, the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Reform committees. Veteran U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, meanwhile, added the Labor, Health and Human Services subcommittee to his Appropriations Committee portfolio, and will continue to serve on the Subcommittee on Defense and as vice-chair of the Interior Subcommittee.

F.C. Watch Night Draws Despite Bad Weather

Despite the worst weather in the 11-year history of the event, with wind chill temperatures approaching zero degrees, the Falls Church New Year’s Eve celebration, Watch Night, last week still drew 1,489 guests to the downtown area’s restaurants and other indoor venues, according to the event’s chief volunteer organizer, Barbara Cram. “The restaurants were packed,” Cram reported, while her number did not include totals from the Falls Church Presbyterian, which hosted music and other entertainment along with the Falls Church Anglican and other downtown retailers whose doors were open for special activities during the festivities. Mayor Robin Gardner and other City dignitaries were on hand for the countdown to the New Year on the outdoor stage, despite the frigid temperatures, and the lowering of the City’s historic lighted Christmas star on a crane.

Fairfax Delegation to Richmond Holds Public Hearing

Prior to departing to Richmond for the opening of the General Assembly session next week, the entire Fairfax County-based delegation of state delegates and senators will appear at a public hearing this Saturday, Jan. 10, at 9 a.m. to hear comments from the public and answer questions about the upcoming session. The hearing will take place at the Fairfax Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, in Fairfax.

Lawrence Voted F.C. Planning Commission Chair

John Lawrence was elected unanimously Monday by his colleagues on the Falls Church Planning Commission to be their chair for the next year. Melissa Teates was also unanimously elected vice-chair at the board’s first meeting of the New Year that was also the first meeting for three newly-appointed members.

Superintendent Cautions Tough Budget Next Week

Falls Church City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lois Berlin issued a statement this week in advance of the formal presentation of her recommended budget for the coming fiscal year that will come at the School Board meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 13. “The current state of the economy makes the (budgeting) task particularly daunting for the FY10 school year,” she said. She gave no specifics on what her recommendations will include, except to say that “a key goal for the FY10 budget will be to ensure everyone remains employed.” She noted other school systems face the same issues, and that over the just completed 16-day winter break, the school system “made a conscious effort to reduce utility costs by unplugging computers and appliances, turning off all unnecessary lights and turning down the heat in all schools.”

F.C. Communications Chief on FCNP TV Show Monday

“Falls Church News-Press Live” will feature new City of Falls Church Director of Communications Barbara Gordon on this Monday’s show at 7 p.m., live on Falls Church Cable Television (Ch. 12 on Cox, Ch. 2 on RCN, Ch. 35 on Verizon).