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F.C. Council Votes to Defer Final Action on Mason Row to January

SWORN IN MONDAY  to new four year terms on the Falls Church City Council after winning the heated election last month were (left to right) Mayor David Tarter, Letty Hardi and Councilman Phil Duncan. Tarter and Duncan resumed their service on the Council tonight, while Hardi will assume her seat on the dais on the first of January. (Photo: News-Press)
SWORN IN MONDAY to new four year terms on the Falls Church City Council after winning the heated election last month were (left to right) Mayor David Tarter, Letty Hardi and Councilman Phil Duncan. Tarter and Duncan resumed their service on the Council tonight, while Hardi will assume her seat on the dais on the first of January. (Photo: News-Press)

Following the recommendation of the Falls Church City Planning staff, the F.C. City Council Monday night voted unanimously to defer final action on the 4.3-acre large scale mixed use project known as Mason Row until its first business meeting of the new year on Jan. 11, 2016. With a turnover on the Council coming Jan. 1 from the election in November, it is expected that the project will gain another supporter in incoming Council member Letti Hardi, who was officially sworn in to her new job tonight along with two re-elected incumbents, Mayor David Tarter and Phil Duncan.

Major new changes made to the project in the last week, including downsizing the number of rental units, removing a fifth floor over retail in one section, and shifting the location of the movie theater from underground to second floor necessitated City Hall’s need for more time to evaluate the project, City Manager Wyatt Shields told the Council Monday. There also needs to be a new fiscal analysis of the project which there has not been time yet to complete, he said.

In public comments, there were strong statements in favor of the project, including from a delegation from the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, but also from nearby residents to the site who said that based on recent changes, they’ve changed from opposition to supporting the project. One Sycamore Street citizen said he was speaking for 19 of his neighbors, what he called part of the “quiet majority,” that enthusiastically support the project and other younger citizens who said they are “ecstatic” about it.

When the Council does take up the matter for final approval in January, it will need a five-vote “supermajority” of its seven total members because the Planning Commission failed to recommend it favorable on a 3-3 tie vote.