Views on Development

I have a demonstrated ten-year record in support of Vienna’s long-standing policy of managed growth and low-density zoning in our residential neighborhoods.  We need to be clear-eyed about our zoning decisions and understand fully the impact of zoning changes on density, traffic, quality of life and economic development.  

I strongly believe that the town can get better development than we were getting under the Maple Avenue Corridor (MAC) rezoning.  Too much ambiguity in the MAC zoning ordinance on things like height and lot coverage meant in practice that the MAC did not give us the balance we wanted and threatened to result in an explosion of high-density housing with little to nothing in return to the community except gridlock and stress on town services.

I voted against the proposals at 444 and 380 Maple Avenue, and the Sunrise proposal at the corner of Maple and Center Street. I was one of two votes that sent the original Marco Polo redevelopment proposal back to the drawing board to down-size its density – while I believe the current proposal is still too dense, we did not have the votes further oppose.

My record speaks for itself – I am not anti-development, but I want the right development.  This means:

  • New buildings that fit into Vienna and do not overshadow existing buildings and adjoining properties.
  • Adequate buffers between commercial and residential development.
  • Mitigation of the traffic burden on Maple Avenue and surrounding neighborhoods incorporated into development plans.
  • Adequate parking to both support our local businesses and keep parking overflow off our residential streets.

One lesson learned during MAC controversy is that zoning code ambiguity creates too much gray area that can be exploited. We need a rewrite of the codes so that what you see is what you get!

Our zoning and building codes MUST be comprehensible, transparent and NOT subject to legal manipulation. This is why I support a review and rewrite of the town code. This is basic good governance and provides us all with the transparency and predictability needed. Our current code is a patchwork of amendments that create ambiguity, inconsistencies and conflicting interpretations.  It needs to be modernized and reflect current day realities and not 1960’s realities (which is when our town codes had their last substantial rewrite).

The Town AND its residents must be in the driver’s seat on development.  Town government must listen and take seriously the concerns of the citizens and the businesses it serves.

But we also need to have realistic conversations about the choices we make and the impact of those choices on the economic vitality of our commercial districts.  The pressures of being a town in the shadow of Tysons Corner are very real, and we see the implications of that on commercial rents, traffic, parking, housing prices, and demand for town services.

These are complex and important conversations. As Mayor, I pledge that my door will be open to all in the Vienna community as we work through this very difficult issue of how we set a direction for the future of Vienna.

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