Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

prenny-fcnpThe aftermath of Winter Storm Jonas elicited many concerns, some expected and some unexpected. Snow, and where to put it, of course, was the subject of most discussions. Plow drivers have few options when it comes to dealing with 24 to 30 inches of snow. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the state agency that is responsible for maintaining roadways in Fairfax County, has a primary objective for its plow drivers and contractors — get it off the roadways as quickly as possible. While some neighborhood cul-de-sacs saw no plow for several days (VDOT policy is to plow cul-de-sacs last), most residential roadways had at least one passable lane within 72 hours after the snow stopped. One passable lane still means that motorists had to be very careful while navigating local roads.

The greater challenge after a blizzard, perhaps, is for pedestrians, whose normal routes were covered (and still are) by mountains of plowed snow. VDOT does not plow or shovel sidewalks, and Fairfax County does not require residents to maintain the sidewalks in front of their homes. Blessings to the homeowners in Holmes Run Valley who did clear their walks. I saw one elderly man using a walker near Rose Lane on Sunday; with cleared sidewalks, he and a companion were able to take a nice stroll in the afternoon sunshine. For the most part, however, pedestrians, and drivers, need to continue to exercise caution, especially at intersections where “snowzilla” mountains may impede sight distance.

Others using walkways, cleared or uncleared, are runners and dog walkers. Incidents of aggressive dog behavior have been reported in some neighborhoods. In one case, the runner screamed for the owner to take charge of his dog, but the incident never would have happened if the dog owner was following the law. Fairfax County Code Section 41.1-2-4 states that “No dog shall run unrestricted…in the County.” The Code also defines unrestricted as “not under the control of the owner or his agent either by leash, cord, chain, or primary enclosure when off the property or premises of the owner or custodian. An electronic device does not qualify as a leash, cord, or chain.” There are a few exceptions for service dogs, obedience classes, dog shows, and off-leash dog areas (dog parks). Dogs found unrestricted may be impounded, and owners are subject to a summons. Unleashed dogs should be reported to Animal Control via the county’s non-emergency number, 703-691-2131. Dog bites also should be reported immediately to Animal Control or the police.

Mail delivery has been uneven throughout Mason District, according to several constituents. Inquiries about delayed mail delivery should be directed to the local post office that serves your neighborhood. Hopefully, warmer temperatures and rain will help clear roads and sidewalks, and make Winter Storm Jonas a not-so-fond memory.


 Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.