Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

It looks like a new restaurant may be coming to Bailey’s Crossroads. Longhorn Steakhouse has submitted a site plan to build on a pre-existing pad site in the Crossroads Place shopping center on South Jefferson Street. The property is zoned C-6, which permits restaurant use by-right. The new restaurant would be adjacent to the popular Olive Garden restaurant, across from Skyline. Both Longhorn and Olive Garden are owned by Darden Restaurants, Inc. Longhorn Steakhouse was founded in 1981 in Atlanta, and now has 435 locations nationwide. According to the Longhorn Web site, the Bailey’s Crossroads location will be their first inside-the-Beltway venue.

Currently, the new restaurant’s customers would not be subject to a local meals tax. Despite some news accounts to the contrary, Fairfax County is not imposing a 4 percent meals tax on local restaurants. Although Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland brought the idea (again) to the Board of Supervisors, the Board did not act on his motion to put a meals tax referendum on this fall’s ballot. Board Chairman Sharon Bulova proposed, instead, that a community dialogue should be instituted to discuss with residents, businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, the Restaurant Association, and others, the pros and cons of a meals tax, and how diversification of revenue sources might benefit the provision of county services. The first discussion was held with the Board’s Economic Advisory Commission last Tuesday morning.

Discussion at the Economic Advisory Commission was mixed, with some members supportive, and others lukewarm. Studies indicate that a 4 percent meals tax could generate $80 million per year, an amount that advocates say could help offset residential real estate taxes, support school construction and transportation projects, and provide additional revenue for county priorities. Opponents of a meals tax point out that voters have rejected previous referenda, and that a meals tax, coming on top of increased income taxes and sales taxes, is not justified in our challenging economy. Neighboring jurisdictions – the cities of Falls Church, Fairfax, and Alexandria – already have meals taxes in place. However, under Virginia law, cities have authority, not shared by counties, to impose a meals tax without putting it to the voters by referendum. So the discussion will continue …

Mason District lost a good friend at the end of April, when Millie White died just a day before her 87th birthday. Millie was the widow of Marine Colonel Thomas B. “Bo” White, Jr., who served Mason District for more than 10 years as the Mason District representative to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board. Millie grew up during the Depression, and ran the White household while Bo was deployed to Korea, Okinawa, and Japan. Bo, Millie and their four boys settled in the Broyhill Crest community of Annandale in 1965. Millie always had a sparkle in her eye, and especially enjoyed attending the free summer concerts at Mason District Park with Bo and her visiting granddaughters. Millie was buried next to her beloved husband of nearly 60 years at Quantico National Cemetery.