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by Tim Regan — February 14, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

(Updated at 4 p.m.) More than two dozen new townhomes could soon go up at the site of an East Falls Church bank.

Homebuilder NVR, Inc. has filed a preliminary site plan to construct 27 new townhomes at 6711 Lee Highway, a 1.69-acre plot of land currently occupied by a SunTrust bank.

According to the site plan, the new development would consist of single-family units in buildings up to four stories tall. The new buildings are designed in a “classic, urban, Georgetown style” and will be primarily composed of brick. NVR also calls for new trees and landscaping along Lee Highway and an internal private street for residents.

Additionally, the Suntrust Bank would be relocated under the plan. NVR said in its application it plans to “work with SunTrust to facilitate their orderly relocation.”

The planned redevelopment is still in its early stages. The project must be reviewed by the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC), then be presented to both the Arlington Planning Commission and the County Board.

Photos (1-3) may appear slightly warped. Photo (4) via Google Maps.

by Tim Regan — January 27, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

(Updated at 10:31 a.m.) A proposal to build a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge in East Falls Church has prompted complaints from some nearby residents.

The Virginia Dept. of Transportation has proposed building a new bridge over Lee Highway near the W&OD trail as part of its “Transform 66” interstate widening and tolling project.

If built, VDOT says the bridge would improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The trail currently crosses Lee Highway at the busy intersection with Fairfax Drive.

But the idea deserves more thought, according to the East Falls Church Civic Association. Residents voiced concern in a letter the group sent to local officials last week.

“This VDOT project, if not paused, will create problems for holistic future pedestrian and cyclist transit development in the area, as well as create negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood in a way that a more thoughtful design would not,” the letter reads. “Pause this project so the neighborhood and the surrounding areas can fully consider the problems we are trying to address (both present and future).”

East Falls Church Civic Association president Kelly Alexis said locals first heard of the plan in October. Since then, Alexis said she’s received emails from more than two dozen East Falls Church residents, many opposing the idea.

The problem, Alexis explained, revolves around a lack of input from the community. Though VDOT has held a series of public meetings, she said the agency hasn’t adequately weighed the concerns of the people who live nearby the proposed site of the bridge.

Earlier this month, the association met with VDOT officials to discuss the plan and identified a number of concerns. Among them are questions about whether the bridge would disrupt design aspects of the 2011 East Falls Church Area Plan or “lock-in” the alignment of the W&OD trail, which residents say forces cyclists and pedestrians onto neighborhood streets near the East Falls Church Metro station.

The plan also needs more study regarding improving pedestrian access and safety along Lee Highway on the I-66 overpass and at the Fairfax Drive and Washington Blvd intersections, residents said at the meeting.

The association has suggested several alternatives to building the bridge, such as a trail realignment under Lee Highway or rerouting the trail across Fairfax Drive at the same intersection.

“It’s not a bad plan, it’s just the wrong plan,” Alexis said. “We recognize we’re in a transportation hub, but we want to work together to create a better solution.”

Gillian Burgess, chair of Arlington County’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, said she shares some of the neighborhood’s concerns. Still, a bridge is sorely needed to “allow people on two feet or two wheels to use the trail without worrying whether that red car is really going to stop at the light,” she said.

“The neighborhood does have legitimate concerns about the de facto routing of the trail through their neighborhood,” Burgess added. “But there’s no need to delay building this much-needed improvement to this important piece of our transportation network.”

The Arlington County Board is expected to further discuss the I-66 widening plan and the pedestrian bridge at its meeting tomorrow (Saturday).

by ARLnow.com — December 7, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

"Safe space" sign on house in Penrose

New LED Crossing Guard Signs — VDOT is giving Arlington County a $880 grant that will allow it to purchase four new LED-illuminated paddle signs for crossing guards. The new signs will show “‘slow’ on one side and ‘stop’ on the other… when illuminated, they are visible up to one mile away.” The County Board is expected to accept the grant at its Saturday meeting. [Arlington County]

County Board to Make Car-Sharing Permanent — On Saturday the Arlington County Board is expected to vote to make car-sharing systems permanent in county code. Earlier this year the Board authorized trips between Arlington and D.C. for car-share provider Car2Go. The move has significantly boosted Car2Go’s usage in Arlington. [UrbanTurf]

Discovery Elementary’s Net Zero Goal — Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy recently toured Arlington’s new Discovery Elementary school. The school was built to be a Net Zero Energy building, meaning that it produces more energy than it uses. The school’s solar panel array cost $1.5 million but is expected to pay for itself in about 10 years. [WJLA]

Man Sentenced for Sneaking Into U.S., Again — A Guatemalan man who has a colorful history of sneaking into the U.S., being deported, and trying to come back again, has been sentenced to jail time. Juan Abel Belteton-Barrios, 46, was sentenced to 14 months in prison and three years of supervised release. [Patch]

Why East Falls Church? — GGW has a primer on his history and geography of the various Northern Virginia locales with “Falls Church” in the name or postal address, including Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood. [Greater Greater Washington]

by ARLnow.com — September 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm 0

Police car lightsTwo juveniles are in custody after trying to rob a woman at gunpoint on the W&OD Trail, according to Arlington County Police.

The robbery happened around 4:20 p.m. Friday, on the trail near the East Falls Church Metro station.

Police say the woman yelled for help, scaring off the suspects. The pair — a juvenile male and female — were later arrested on a bus and charged with armed robbery and gun charges.

From an ACPD crime report:

ARMED ROBBERY, 160909040, 6600 block of N. 19th Road. At approximately 4:22 p.m. on September 9, officers responded to the report of a robbery. When on scene, it was determined that a female victim was walking on the W&OD trail and was approached by two masked subjects who demanded her property at gunpoint. The victim began to yell for help, causing the subjects to flee. A witness observed the subjects get on to a bus where they were later apprehended by officers. The male juvenile subject was charged with armed robbery, conspiracy, and use of a firearm while committing a felony. The female juvenile subject was charged with armed robbery and conspiracy. Both were transported to the juvenile detention facility.

by Tim Regan — August 29, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

A restaurant in East Falls Church is looking to shake the idea that French cooking is unhealthy.

Chef Jacques Imperato, who took over Côte d’Or Café (6876 Lee Highway) earlier this year, hopes to show off “the healthier side of French cooking” with seasonal menus and a lighter approach to making food.

Imperato, who attended culinary school in Nice, France and previously owned Chalet de la Paix and Mediterranee restaurants in Arlington and Great Falls, aims to achieve his goal by cooking with seasonal ingredients and low-calorie alternatives in a “modern classic Burgundy style.”

That means instead of making sauces with heavy cream, for instance — butter, cream, flour and cheese are hallmarks of French cuisine — Imperato uses healthier oils.

“The Burgundy cooking style uses less cream than other French regions use in their cooking,” he said. 

In place of processed or prepared foods, the chef prepares dishes with “fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are fresh and in-season.” Last week, Imperato served a dinner where peaches starred as the primary ingredient in every dish, for example.

Grass fed beef is also now on the menu, Imperato noted.

“Grass fed beef is all they had when Burgundy style cooking was concocted and that kind of beef adds an earthy taste to the dishes,” he said. “When you substitute poor corn fed beef the dishes lose the taste that is essential in this style of cooking.”

by Tim Regan — August 18, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

Derailed Metro train at the East Falls Church station (photo courtesy John Sonderman)

Metro Transit Police are opening an investigation into the cause of July’s train derailment at the East Falls Church Metro station.

About 75 passengers were on an Orange Line train on July 29 when it derailed around 6:30 a.m. The passengers were able to offload “without further incident,” Metro said the day of the derailment.

Though Metro’s safety department was investigating the cause of the incident, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld asked Metro Transit Police to open a parallel inquiry “following a briefing in which investigators advised him of concerns arising from employee interviews, inspection reports, rail defect tracking, and video recordings,” according to a press release.

“The administrative review uncovered information that warrants further investigation by Metro Transit Police,” Wiedefeld said in a statement.  “While Safety Department investigations determine cause and accountability, it is even more important to understand if other issues must be addressed with the way track inspections and maintenance have been conducted.”

Wiedefeld added that the transit agency uncovered information that “raises potentially serious concerns” in the cause of the derailment.

More about the investigation from a Metro press release:

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld announced today that the investigation into the East Falls Church derailment, which began as an administrative review by the Safety Department, has been expanded to include an investigation by Metro Transit Police.

Wiedefeld directed the Metro Transit Police Department to open a parallel investigation into the matter following a briefing in which investigators advised him of concerns arising from employee interviews, inspection reports, rail defect tracking, and video recordings.

“The administrative review uncovered information that warrants further investigation by Metro Transit Police,” Wiedefeld said.  “While Safety Department investigations determine cause and accountability, it is even more important to understand if other issues must be addressed with the way track inspections and maintenance have been conducted.”

Metro’s General Counsel, Patricia Y. Lee, has engaged two former Assistant U.S. Attorneys as Special Investigators to support the internal administrative review. Adam Hoffinger, a former AUSA for the Southern District of New York, and Peter White, a former AUSA for the Eastern District of Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, will work closely with Lee on this matter.  Both have extensive prosecutorial experience with complex cases.

“The public has a right to know that the tracks on which their trains run are being properly inspected,” said Wiedefeld. “The information uncovered to date raises potentially serious concerns, and we will take all actions necessary to get answers and hold people accountable.”

Wiedefeld assured riders today that the SafeTrack program underway (in which Metro tracks are being inspected and repaired) has been and will continue to be subject to quality controls from multiple internal and external groups to ensure all track work meets Metro’s high standards. (At the time of the derailment, East Falls Church interlocking had not yet been addressed as part of SafeTrack.)  Metro is engaging an outside engineering firm to conduct a comprehensive review of its track inspection program.

“While we continue the due diligence to identify the cause of any conditions that may have contributed to this incident, Metro is simultaneously repairing the system and providing better rules, training, quality control and line management,” said Wiedefeld.

Photo courtesy John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — August 2, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Rosslyn

Wahlburgers Coming to Ballston — Wahlburgers, the burger chain founded by the show biz Wahlbergs (Mark, Donnie, Paul), is coming to Ballston next year. The eatery will be located near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road. [Washington Post]

SER Expanding to Capitol Hill? — The team behind SER restaurant in Ballston — or, at least, part of the team — is opening a new restaurant on Capitol Hill in the former Sona Creamery and Wine Bar space. [Washington Business Journal]

Metro Releases Cause of Derailment — What caused a Metro train to derail near the East Falls Church station on Friday? The transit agency says it was a deteriorated section of track in which the rails became too wide. [Washington Post]

Dark Star Park Day — Yesterday Arlington County held its annual observance of Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn. The public park, built in 1984, is designed to have its shadows line up once a year, on Aug. 1. [Storify]

County Touts Innovation Recognition — Three Arlington County programs have been recognized for innovation from the Virginia Association of Counties. [Arlington County]

Road Rage on a Bike Trail — Road rage isn’t something that only happens with motorists. Occasionally, it happens among cyclists as well, as this story from an incident on the Mt. Vernon Trail demonstrates. [Storify]

by ARLnow.com — July 29, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Derailed Metro train at the East Falls Church station (photo courtesy John Sonderman)

Update at 2:45 p.m. — Orange and Silver line service will remain suspended between Ballston and West Falls Church through at least Saturday, Metro said this afternoon.

(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Two people were evaluated for injuries after a “minor” train derailment at the East Falls Church Metro station.

Orange and Silver Line service remains shut down between West Falls Church and Ballston as a result of the derailment, and will remain shut down through Friday evening, according to Metro. Shuttle buses are running between the stations.

About 75 passengers were on the train when the derailment happened, around 6:30 a.m. Train cars remained upright and the passengers were able to offload “without further incident,” according to Metro.

The derailment happened as Metro’s “SafeTrack” maintenance work was being performed on one of the tracks between Ballston and East Falls Church.

Photo (top) courtesy John Sonderman

by Tim Regan — July 21, 2016 at 3:35 pm 0

Police car (file photo)Arlington County Police have arrested two men for using a pellet gun to shoot holes into a kiosk window outside of the East Falls Church Metro station and shatter a glass enclosure at a nearby bus stop last night.

The crime occurred at the Metro station just after 11:30 p.m. last night, police said.

Two men shot a pellet gun at a kiosk window at the Metro station, puncturing the glass three times, police said. They also allegedly fired the pellet gun at a bus stop on North Sycamore Street, breaking its glass enclosure.

Officers originally responded to a report of two suspicious men looking into vehicles on the 2200 block of N. Somerset Street. When they arrived, they heard a gunshot and located the two suspected shooters.

In addition to the pellet gun, one of the men had a loaded gun in his possession at the time of arrest, police said.

From an ACPD crime report:

POSSESSION OF CONCEALED WEAPON (Significant), 160721003, 2200 block of N. Somerset Street. At approximately 11:38 p.m. on July 20, officers responded to the report of suspicious males looking into vehicles. Arriving officers heard the discharge of a firearm and located two suspects. Nico Wilson, 32, of Fort Washington MD, was arrested and charged with possession of a concealed weapon and discharge of a firearm. Carlos Parker, 18, of Temple Hills MD, was arrested and charged with destruction of property and possession of a concealed weapon.

by ARLnow.com — July 18, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

2600 block of N. Winchester Street (photo via Google Maps)Arlington County Police are investigating a report of a gunshot fired in the East Falls Church area this morning.

The incident happened around 8 a.m. on the 2600 block of N. Winchester Street, not far from the W&OD Trail.

Multiple people reported hearing a gunshot to police. One person reported hearing a woman screaming and seeing a group of men speed off immediately after hearing a loud bang.

“Police were dispatched to a report of a possible discharge of a firearm,” confirmed ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Arriving officers located the occupants of the home and are attempting to interview witnesses at this time. This is believed to be a domestic incident and there are no reported injuries. This is an active investigation and our officers remain on scene.”

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — July 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Police car lightsArlington County police responded to a series of vehicle vandalisms and break-ins over the weekend.

On Saturday morning, police found “numerous vehicles” in the East Falls Church area with tires slashed and body panels “keyed.”

The vandalism was centered around the 2400 block of N. Sycamore Street, near Bishop O’Connell High School.

From an ACPD crime report:

DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY, 160702013, 2400 block of N. Sycamore Street. At approximately 8:30 a.m. on July 2, an officer responded to the listed address for the report of a destruction of property to a vehicle. Numerous vehicles in the area had their tires slashed and were keyed. There is no suspect description.

Also on Saturday morning, police investigated a series of vehicle break-ins in the Penrose and Columbia Heights neighborhoods around Columbia Pike. In total, seven unlocked vehicles were broken into but only two car owners reported that items had stolen.

LARCENY FROM AUTO, 160702012, 1600 block of S. Barton Street. At approximately 8:00 a.m. on July 2, an officer responded to the listed address for the report of items stolen out of an unlocked vehicle. Another officer canvassed the area and discovered two other unlocked vehicles that had been entered but nothing was stolen. There is no suspect description.

TAMPERING WITH AUTO, 160702016, 1800 block of S. 9th Street. At approximately 8:45 a.m.on July 2, an officer responded to the listed address for the report of a tampering with auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that someone had entered an unlocked car and stole items of value. Officers canvassed the area and discovered three other unlocked vehicles that had been rummaged through but nothing was taken. There is no suspect description.

by ARLnow.com — June 20, 2016 at 4:05 pm 0

Arlington County police and firefighters are on the scene of a reported grease spill in East Falls Church.

A truck leaking a slippery substance has prompted a number of road or lane closures in the area of Lee Highway and Washington Blvd, according to social media reports.

Update at 4:10 p.m. — A fire department radio transmission described the leak as having come from a “sewage truck.”

Update at 4:15 p.m. — A multi-vehicle crash is also being reported in the area.

Update at 4:35 p.m. — A photographer on scene says the grease leaked from a tanker truck containing cooking oil.

Photos (top) courtesy Andrew Pang

by ARLnow.com — June 14, 2016 at 3:10 pm 0

(Updated on June 15) Arlington County Police area responding to a reported bank robbery in the county’s East Falls Church neighborhood.

The robbery occurred around 3 p.m. at the BB&T Bank branch at 6745 Lee Highway.

Initial reports suggest a man passed a note to a teller and demanded cash. The suspect fled on foot, empty-handed, after the teller refused the note, police said.

The suspect is described as a tall black male in his 20s, wearing a gray hoodie, sunglasses, gloves and a fake beard. No weapon was seen during the robbery.

The FBI said Wednesday that this robbery attempt was likely connected to a bank robbery in Rockville two weeks ago. Montgomery County Police released the following surveillance video from that robbery.

by Jackie Friedman — June 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

Christian Dorsey, Libby Garvey and Paul Wiedefeld at a Metro press conference in East Falls Church

Nearly two weeks of continuous single tracking between East Falls Church and Ballston, on the Orange and Silver Metro lines, begins tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

Major travel disruptions are expected during Metro’s maintenance “surge,” dubbed “SafeTrack.” WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, along with Arlington County Board members Libby Garvey and Christian Dorsey, held a press conference this afternoon at the East Falls Church Metro Station to discuss preparations.

“We are going to make this work, it is a team effort,” said Garvey, touting Arlington’s plans to assist commuters and ease congestion. “We’re all working together.”

Metro riders can seek commuting alternatives such as carpooling or telecommuting. Free shuttle buses between Ballston and East Falls Church and Ballston and West Falls Church will be offered during the project. Additional Capital Bikeshare stations are being installed at the East Falls Church station in preparation for the work.

The single tracking will last for 13 days, ending on Thursday, June 16.

According to Wiedefeld, the worst impacts on the Orange and Silver lines will be west of Ballston. Orange Line trains will run only every 18 minutes between Vienna and Ballston, while Silver Line trains will run every 18 minutes. Additional trains will be placed in service east of Ballston.

The biggest effects will be felt during rush hour — riders are being told to expect “extreme crowding and delays” in each direction.

“Remember, the reason we are doing this is to make the system more reliable and safer,” said Wiedefeld.

The track work is just the first of numerous SafeTrack projects planned over the next year, many of which will impact Arlington riders.

Arlington County streamed a video of the press conference on Facebook, and yesterday released a video discussing SafeTrack (below).

by ARLnow.com — May 23, 2016 at 4:15 pm 0

Storm clouds in Rosslyn on 5/23/16A “power surge” was reported in the City of Falls Church and Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood, in the wake of a spring thunderstorm that rumbled through the area around 3:30 p.m.

The power problem caused the traffic signal at the busy intersection of Lee Highway and Washington Blvd to start flashing, snarling traffic, and was also said to be responsible for numerous activated burglar and fire alarm calls in the area.

As of 4 p.m., there were just shy of 600 Dominion customers reported to be without power in Northern Virginia, mostly in Fairfax County.

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