News Briefs: December 8th – 14th

Penny Gross Says She Won’t Seek Re-Election

Long-serving Fairfax County Supervisor Penelope Ann “Penny” Gross, representing the Mason District adjacent the City of Falls Church, announced at this Tuesday’s county board meeting that she will not seek re-election in 2023 and will retire when her current term expires on Dec. 31, 2023. She will be completing a remarkable 28 years in her position, being first elected in 1996. She has been the board’s vice chair since 2009.
For 27 of those years, starting in the summer of 1997, she has written a weekly column in the Falls Church News-Press, “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” and over that period has never missed a deadline. She comments on her years of service and her News-Press column in her column in this week’s edition (see Page 23). Her column will continue for as long as she wants to write it.
Current county board chair Jeff McKay wrote this week that “Penny has skillfully handled some of the most difficult issues of the county during her time on the board, and has done so with grace, compassion, and an unwavering dedication to public service and to the people of Fairfax County.” Meanwhile, at least one person has stepped forward to announce plans to fill the seat Gross is vacating. Andres Jimenez of Green 2.0 and the Fairfax County Planning Commission announced he will run. In 2019 he ran unsuccessfully against incumbent State Del. Kaye Kory.

Planning Commission’s Final Vote on T-Zones Dec. 21

Following another hearing slated for last night, the Falls Church Planning Commission will vote its recommendation to the City Council on a proposed modification to the City code on “transitional zones” at its Dec. 21 meeting. The Council will take final action sometime in early 2023.
The proposed change would allow for some multi-family development in the so-called “t-zones” that are ostensibly to be buffers between residential and more commercial areas of the City.
Proponents of the change say it will practically apply to a very small number of parcels and opponents argue it will bring dense development up against residential areas where the expectation has been that wouldn’t happen.

West Falls Project Awaits Major Hotel Building Permit

At last week‘s meeting of the Falls Church City Council’s Economic Development Committee it was reported that a major hotel is awaiting approval of a building permit before commencing construction on the 10-acre West Falls project where other structures, such as a parking garage, are currently rising out of the ground,
The City’s and its schools’ leaders continue to navigate difficulties arising from that construction as it impacts the new Mustang Alley and the “safe routes to the schools” challenges in that area located directly adjacent to the Meridian High and Henderson Middle Schools.

Stratford Motel Owners Seeking Land Assemblage

Owners of the now-closed Stratford Motel on West Broad in Falls Church have retained the McLean-based Rappaport group, experts in the operation and marketing of commercial real estate, to work on prospects for assembling that land with some adjacent properties to craft a plan to develop the site, it was reported at the Economic Development group meeting last week.
Prominent local attorney Bill Baskin is reported also in on the effort.
The group also received updates on efforts to develop a senior housing project on S. Washington and the sale of the one-acre lot adjacent to the Bowl America site. Supply chain-impacting arrival of windows as a key component of the Smoothie King building development on W. Broad will speed the completion of that renovation, the group was also told.