Falls Church News Briefs: July 9 – 15, 2009

City of F.C. to Submit Bid Friday for “Green Lab” $

Hoping to include letters of support from key regional elected officials in its submission, Assistant City Manager Cindy Mester and Mayor Robin Gardner were meeting at City Hall in Falls Church as the News-Press was going to press Wednesday to finalize the City’s submission to the U.S. Department of Energy that will seek $25 million in federal “stimulus” money for a unique project to, effectively, turn the City’s entire 2.2 square miles into a “green learning laboratory.”

The submission was slated to be formally made on Friday. Mester reported that Dominion Power reiterated its support for participating in the “smart grid” components of the project that would include the installation of “smart meters” at every household and commercial building in the City which would enable residents to more effectively conserve on their energy use and help to keep their energy prices down.



F.C. Council Mulls Forming ‘Fiscal Advisory Board’

A controversial proposal to establish a “Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee” composed of a small cadre of citizen experts was kicked around without a resolution at Monday’s Falls Church City Council work session. The plan has already raised shackles in some quarters of the City, starting with the elected School Board that indicated its unanimous opposition to the idea at its meeting last week. The group, whose formation was supported by Council member David Snyder Monday, would presumably be composed of citizen volunteers with expertise in fiscal matters. It would advise City Hall, including the Council and School Board, on matters pertaining to the annual budget and long-range planning. Snyder said there’s valuable expertise in the City that ought to be tapped to help the budget and planning processes, but the School Board reacted strongly in opposition, saying that such matters are the responsibilities of elected officials. Vice Chair Hal Lippman said he shared the School Board’s view, saying that the necessary expertise “is already available to us,” adding, “I feel no void or gap in the process now that needs to be fixed.” Councilman Dan Maller, in stating his agreement with Lippman, suggested that the School Board may view such a group as a “confrontational body.”


F.C.’s Spectrum Offers Limited Lease-to-Buy Option

Faced with the same weak condominium sales problems afflicting the regional and national economy, Falls Church’s new large-scale mixed use project, The Spectrum, at 444 W. Broad St., has announced a new “lease with the option to buy” program for a limited number of its 171 condo units. Waterford Development, owners of The Spectrum, coined the title, “Pathway to Homeownership” to promote the option. For a limited number of homes, according to Waterford, “members of the program will be able to apply a portion of their rent to the purchase of their new home at the end of the lease period.” It notes that the lease rates will be comparable to expected monthly mortgage payments, ranging from $1,450 a month for a one-bedroom loft to $2,600 for a two-bedroom den. A select number of penthouse units are also included in the program. The program represents only a partial shift from sale to rental for the condos. When developers of the new large-scale condo project at 410 S. Maple St., Pearson Square, converted from for-sale condos to rentals, due to the economy, it sought the OK of the Falls Church City Council because it resulted in a change in the proffer terms for the project’s special zoning exceptions from the City.


News-Press Live’ to Feature ‘Green Lab’ Plan Monday

Monday’s half-hour edition of ‘Falls Church News-Press Live’ at 7 p.m. on Falls Church Cable TV will feature a discussion of the City’s submission for federal funds to launch a ‘green learning laboratory’ in the City. The show is on Ch. 2 on RCN, Ch. 12 on Cox and Ch. 35 on Verizon.