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by ARLnow.com April 6, 2018 at 5:30 pm 0

Update at 2:45 p.m. on 4/8/18 — Christopher Lee Hicks has been arrested thanks to a tip, police announced today.

Arlington County Police located the bank robbery suspect following a citizen tip to the Emergency Communication Center. Christopher Lee Hicks was taken into custody in the 500 block of W. Broad Street in the City of Falls Church with the assistance of the City of Falls Church Police Department. He is charged with one count of Robbery and is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond.

Earlier: Arlington County Police have identified a suspect in the December robbery of a Wells Fargo bank in Westover.

Police are looking for Christopher Lee Hicks, who they say is the man seen in surveillance photos of the robbery.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance locating a suspected wanted for robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank located at 1701 N. McKinley Road on December 22, 2017. Christopher Lee Hicks, 42, of No Fixed Address is wanted in Arlington County on one count of Robbery. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Christopher Lee Hicks should contact Detective C. Riccio at 703.228.4180 or [email protected] If seen, please call 9-1-1 immediately.

by Bridget Reed Morawski April 3, 2018 at 1:30 pm 0

The 1966 celeste green Vespa scooter that was stolen from Westover’s The Italian Store in December has been recovered.

It was found by a man walking his dog this morning (April 3) far off the Lubber Run Trail, near the intersection of N. Carlin Spring Road and N. George Mason Drive. The man called Bob Tramonte, the Italian Store’s owner, and the Vespa was quickly back in the family’s possession.

Given the widespread publicity around the theft, Tramonte told ARLnow that he thought the vehicle was “too hot” to try to sell or even use — though he also believes that the thief didn’t know how to use the scooter’s shifter, as there is some damage to the clutch.

A Facebook post from The Italian Store shortly after the theft had urged residents to come forward with any information they might have had regarding the stolen Vespa, and security camera footage was released showing what employees said was a man loading the Vespa into a red Ford Focus before driving away down N. Longfellow Street.

The family and store employees received dozens of tips, with several calls a day at times since the Vespa went missing. While a few tips led Tramonte on wild goose chases, he called the recovery “truly a community effort,” and expressed gratitude for the tips, concern, and over 1,000 Facebook post shares.

“For being in the leaves for four months, I think it looks good,” Tramonte said. He noted that his sons helped to clean it up this morning, though it will need some minor mechanical work to make it rideable again.

The Vespa is important to the family, not just as an iconic Italian charm but as a part of the family’s history. Tramonte taught his sons how to drive it, and it was a centerpiece at his daughter’s graduation celebration. It’s been in the family for over 20 years.

Though the Vespa was taken outside for photos late this morning, it won’t be staying there long.

“I think we’ll keep it inside for now, but maybe eventually it’ll make it back outside,” said Tramonte.

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 26, 2018 at 9:45 am 0

The Arlington School Board viewed the proposed concept design for a new elementary school in Westover last week.

With a desired opening date of September 2021, the 725-seat elementary school at the Reed School site has a total project cost estimate of $55.1 million, which is about $6 million more than what was approved by the School Board on June 16, 2016.

A chart underlining funding sources noted that the $6 million extra would come from a “to be determined” source, though staff requested that cost cutting measures be explored to bring the cost back down to the initial $49 million. Construction funding for the elementary school is set to be put to a bond referendum for voters in November.

The existing structure, according to a School Board document, is “appropriate for early childhood program” but has several issues to be addressed, including an “inefficient layout,” “visibility/security,” and the fact that it is “space constrained for older students.”

The “recommended scheme” allows for the lowest total energy use per square foot, classroom transition times, required parking, and loss of open space, and “keeps the most site amenities.” Downsides to the concept design, noted officials, included “minor utility relocation” and constructing a “four-story building next to a two-story building and homes.”

The project will expand the existing Reed School, at 1644 N. McKinley Road, that currently houses The Children’s School, the Westover Branch Library, and the Integration Station, a pre-K student program for those with disabilities.

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 21, 2018 at 10:00 am 0

(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) The Arlington County Board approved two of the new use permit requests from Westover Market last night (March 20).

The market and beer garden sought to expand its current 29 outdoor cafe seats to 102, which was approved unanimously, but with conditions. The requested, expanded “piped-in” music hours were also approved.

“Previously, the beer garden could not play a radio, recorded, or piped-in music in the outdoor cafe area unless it was during the same hours as the live music,” noted County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “Now, they’re free to do so any evening until 10 p.m. on weeknights or 11 p.m. on weekend nights.”

The County Manager’s staff had recommended approving the expanding seating and music hours. The business withdrew a request, not supported by county staff, to expand the permitted hours of outdoor live entertainment.

The Westover Market also asked for a code modification for outdoor fireplaces, which was denied due to “life and safety concerns.” However, other forms of outdoor heating are still permitted.

An amendment was added that Westover Market would be required to have a representative on site at all times to comply with the new regulations and handle complaints. Board members said their votes were in the interest of helping a local business serve its customers.

“We’re losing the uniqueness,” lamented Board Member John Vihstadt. He said Arlington was losing its “funky” character, citing the recent closure of Clarendon’s Iota Club and Cafe and explaining his view that the most desirable neighborhoods to live in in the county are those with more unique neighborhood amenities and going-out options.

A number of beer garden customers spoke in favor of the permit changes during the public comment period. David Calhoun, the market’s bar manager, told the Board that the beer garden is trying to be a good neighbor.

“We jumped through every hoop, every hurdle that we could,” he said. “We’re not asking for too much and we’re always willing to tone it down if there is a complaint.”

Though the new use permits were approved, some Board members acknowledged and echoed the concerns of those opposed to the market’s requests.

Board Chair Katie Cristol said any enforcement of the new use permits would be difficult and would require responding police officers to have very specific zoning law knowledge, such as knowing the difference between amplified, live, or piped in music permissions.

“All of these things somehow have to find a balance,” said Board Member Christian Dorsey, explaining the difficulty in determining how to limit what he said is the only outdoor cafe with live entertainment in the county.

The market at 5863 Washington Boulevard has become an entertainment and drinking destination, popular with local residents and families, but the county has struggled with how to regulate it given little existing precedent for a business of its kind.

File photo

by ARLnow.com February 28, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

A community meeting is being held tomorrow night to discuss a proposed development that would bring The Children’s School to the former Alpine Restaurant site on Lee Highway.

The Children’s School, a subsidized daycare center for Arlington County teachers, is planning to relocate as its long-time home — the Reed School building in Westover — is renovated and turned into a new elementary school.

A flyer for the meeting — to be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Lee Highway Alliance (4620 Lee Highway) — says a three-story building has been proposed for the Alpine site, which has sat largely unused for the past eight years.

“Two-hundred thirty-five children, aged 0-5, would be housed in a three story building that tapers at the rear towards the Glebewood townhouses, with rooftop play areas,” says the flyer. “Integration Station, which is a pre-school for kids with special needs, would also be part of the application (about 30% of 235 children).”

“Daycare would open at 6:45 a.m. and close by 5 p.m — not open on weekends,” the flyer continues. “The site is approximately 19,400 square feet. This is a by-right application under a use permit. The preliminary drawings illustrate an attractive, glass-paneled contemporary and playful design for the school.”

The site is owned by Arlington businessman Brian Normile, of BCN Homes and Liberty Tavern, and would be leased to The Children’s School, according to the flyer. The Children’s School would temporarily move to Ballston during the approval and construction process, it says.

The flyer lists “impacts to Glebewood Historic District,” green space and tree coverage, and parking — the plan calls for 40 mostly underground parking spaces plus drop-off spaces — as some of the issues for further community discussion.

Photo via Google Maps

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 22, 2018 at 11:10 am 0

The Westover beer garden will again be a topic of conversation before the Arlington County Board this weekend.

In the latest installment of the Westover Market’s saga to operate their outdoor beer garden as they see fit, County Manager Mark Schwartz has recommended that the County Board advertise a public hearing which will consider new use permits for the market and beer garden.

Westover Market wants to expand the current 29 outdoor cafe seats, as permitted by current county code, to 102. It also wants to be able to host live music more often, expand the days in which it can use amplifiers during live music performances and play background music when live music isn’t taking place.

Outdoor live entertainment is presently permitted at these times:

From April 1 through October 31

Wednesdays: 6 p.m. through 8 p.m.
Fridays: 6 p.m. through 10 p.m.
Saturdays: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The market has proposed the following hours to the county:

From April 1 through October 31

Wednesdays: 6 p.m. through 8 p.m.
Thursdays: 6 p.m. through 9 p.m.
Fridays: 6 p.m. through 10 p.m.
Saturdays: 5 p.m. through 9 p.m.
Sundays which precede a federal holiday: 5 p.m. through 9 p.m.

Zoning issues have dogged the business, which at one point had a two year amplified musical hiatus as it waited for county permission. Noise complaints have also weighed down the market’s efforts to expand its live music entertainment in the past.

Typically permit amendments cannot be reviewed by the County Board within 360 days of its last consideration. The exception is for the County Board to review the use permit application “on its own motion,” as the County Manager has recommended has recommended in this case.

Westover Market, originally a smaller grocery store that has evolved into a more drinking and entertainment focused establishment, is located at 5863 Washington Boulevard.

File photos

by ARLnow.com February 14, 2018 at 3:50 pm 0

Someone broke into nearly a dozen vehicles overnight, between Monday and Tuesday, in the Nauck, Douglas Park and Westover neighborhoods.

Most of the vehicles were unlocked, according to police.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-02130043/0046/0057/0061/0065, 3000 block of S. 19thStreet/1500 block of S. Glebe Road/3100 block of S. 15th Street. At approximately 6:37 a.m. on February 13, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto series. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect entered multiple, mostly unlocked, vehicles overnight and stole numerous items of value. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-02130040/0052/0055/0060/0066/0067, 1000 block of N. Kensington Street/1000 block of N. Kentucky Street/800 block of N. Lexington Street. At approximately 7:16 a.m. on February 13, police were dispatched to the report of multiple larceny from autos. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect entered numerous, mostly unlocked, vehicles overnight and tampered with the contents and stole items of value from some of the vehicles. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’6 to 5’10, 150-175 lbs. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com February 5, 2018 at 2:00 pm 0

Two men robbed a woman of her purse and cash early Sunday morning in the Westover area, according to police.

The robbery happened around 1 a.m. on the 5700 block of 10th Road N., a block or two from the Custis Trail. The woman was not harmed and the suspects fled in a pickup truck, police said.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ROBBERY, 2018-02040017, 5700 block of 10th Road N. At approximately 1:00 a.m. on February 4, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force. Upon arrival, it was determined that a female victim exited her vehicle and was walking to her residence when she was approached by two male suspects, who demanded her purse and money. The two suspects stole the victim’s purse and other items of value and fled in a dark blue two-door pickup truck driven by a third suspect. Responding officers canvassed the area with negative results. Suspect One is described as a medium-skinned black male, approximately 5’8-5’10, medium build, in his early 20’s, wearing a black cap, a long black jacket with a hood, with a beige jacket underneath and black shoes. Suspect Two is described as a black male. There is no description of the third suspect. The investigation is ongoing.

Also over the weekend, a Purcellville man was arrested and charged with drunkenly brandishing a gun at a security guard in Crystal City.

From ACPD:

BRANDISHING, 2018-02030233, 200 block of 18th Street S. At approximately 9:37 p.m. on February 3, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that a security guard was patrolling the area on foot when a male suspect walked past him. The security guard looked back and observed the suspect allegedly brandishing a firearm at him. Responding officers canvased the area and located a suspect matching the description provided by the victim. Trevor Burns, 23, of Purcellville, VA, was arrested and charged with Brandishing a Firearm, Carrying a Concealed Weapon, Carrying a Concealed Handgun Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drunk in Public.

by Chris Teale January 25, 2018 at 10:45 am 0

A store in Westover Village that offers handmade and fairly traded products from developing countries has opened a new cafe.

Those behind Trade Roots (5852 Washington Blvd) opened the cafe, called Roots & Vines. It offers fairly traded coffees, teas and food items.

The café is run by chef Katia Reecer, who grew up in a Brazilian restaurant family and rounded her skills at the former Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda.

“Roots & Vines offers a casual and welcoming ambiance to relax over locally sourced and globally inspired coffee, tea, sweets & savories,” Reecer said in a statement. “We plan to keep the eclectic menu limited with weekly and seasonal changes, while always offering vegetarian and vegan options. My mother instilled in me the simple philosophy that when you cook with passion using both your hands and palate, the results will always be extraordinary.”

Trade Roots also sells soaps, food, jewelry and home products from local people, and prides itself on offering “beautiful and unique” items.

“I’m thrilled to have Katia as part of the team,” Trade Roots owner Lisa Ostroff said in a statement. “Trade Roots’ customers will now have fair trade coffee and tea options and an array of delicious foods and drinks from around the globe. Katia’s experience and philosophy lend perfectly to our vibe. She makes healthy morning treats like oatmeal and fruit parfaits and some amazing-but-not-as-healthy scones and croissants as well!”

Photos via Facebook

by ARLnow.com January 18, 2018 at 11:05 am 0

Arlington County police are looking for a man who “made a sexually inappropriate comment” to a girl under the age of 18 near the Westover neighborhood.

The incident happened last Thursday afternoon, according to this week’s ACPD crime report.

SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES (late), 2018-01110206, 5600 block of N. Washington Boulevard. At approximately 6:47 p.m. on January 11, police were dispatched to the late report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 2:30 p.m., a juvenile female victim was walking in the area when an adult male approached her on foot and made a sexually inappropriate comment before fleeing the scene. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’5″ to 5’11” tall with an average build, and a black beard. He was wearing a red baseball hat and blue jeans at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

Map via Google Maps

(more…)

by Chris Teale January 3, 2018 at 11:40 am 0

The Arlington County Police Department is seeking information on a man suspected for robbing a bank in Westover last month.

Police said the man entered a branch of Wells Fargo at 1701 N. McKinley Road just before 3:30 p.m. on December 22 and handed the teller a note demanding money. He then fled on foot after the teller complied.

Police said the suspect is a white male, aged between 40 and 50 years old, approximately between 5-foot-3 and 5-foot-6 tall. He was wearing a gray winter hat, dark red coat and blue jeans at the time of the incident.

More from an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a bank robbery suspect captured on surveillance footage.

On Friday, December 22, 2017, at approximately 3:22 p.m., a male suspect entered the Wells Fargo Bank located at 1701 N. McKinley Road in Arlington, Virginia and passed the teller a note, demanding money. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of money, the suspect exited the bank and fled on foot heading towards Washington Boulevard.

The suspect is described as a white male, 40-50 years old, approximately 5’3″ – 5’6″ tall. He was wearing a gray winter hat, dark red coat and blue jeans at the time of the incident.

The Arlington County Police Department requests that anyone with information regarding this incident contact Detective C. Riccio at 703.228.4180 or [email protected]. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

Photos via Arlington County Police Department

by ARLnow.com December 22, 2017 at 3:40 pm 0

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) The Wells Fargo bank in the Westover neighborhood was robbed Friday afternoon.

A man robbed the bank by passing a note to a teller shortly before 3:30 p.m., we hear. Arlington County Police are currently on the scene investigating. No injuries were reported.

The suspect is described as a white male between 40-50 years of age. He was wearing a light-colored vest and blue pants at the time of the robbery, and fled the bank in the direction of Washington Blvd carry a bag full of cash, according to initial reports.

by ARLnow.com December 13, 2017 at 8:30 am 0

Arlington Ready for Possible Snow — The chances of “meaningful accumulation” have since gone down, but Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services crews started applying brine to county roads Monday night in anticipation a “potential snow/ice this Wednesday evening/Thursday.” [Twitter, Washington Post]

VDOT Pleased With I-66 HOT Lane Data — NBC 4’s Adam Tuss tweets: “Doesn’t look like @VaDOTNOVA plans to change anything about the I-66 toll lanes. They say their data shows commutes were faster and more reliable.” [Twitter]

Dems Want Satellite-Voting Centers — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee could again be at loggerheads with the county’s elections office over whether to provide satellite locations for absentee voting in non-presidential-election years.” [InsideNova]

ARLnow T-Shirt Now Available — Need a gift for the ARLnow.com fan in your life? Show your Arlington pride with this long-sleeved t-shirt from the county’s No. 1 local news source. [Amazon]

ACPD Officers Helping in Puerto Rico — The Arlington County Police Department is among the departments nationwide sending officers to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to provide emergency assistance. The third ACPD team to rotate in is working on the island through Dec. 18. Officers who’ve gone say many challenges remain but there are hopeful signs as well. [Arlington Connection]

Westover Townhouse Battle Continues — Arlington County is weighing both a historic district and a “Housing Conservation District” for Westover, to protect aging but affordable garden apartments from being redeveloped into $800,000 townhomes. [Falls Church News-Press]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Chris Teale December 7, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) Surveillance video appears to show a man loading The Italian Store’s Vespa scooter into his car and then driving away.

The still-missing 1966 Celeste Green Vespa scooter disappeared Saturday evening from outside The Italian Store’s Westover location around 5 p.m., the business said.

The footage shows a man allegedly loading the Vespa into a red Ford Focus before driving away on N. Longfellow Street. The video is from behind the nearby Ayers Variety & Hardware Store (5853 Washington Blvd).

In a recent Facebook post, The Italian Store said they are waiting for the case to be assigned a detective by the Arlington County Police Department for more examination. They also urged anyone with surveillance cameras along N. Longfellow Street to share any footage they may have from that day.

There was a possible sighting of the car at around 10:30 a.m. yesterday (Wednesday) at the nearby intersection of 10th Street N. and N. Kensington Street, prompting a police response.

A woman said she saw a “suspicious” red car in the neighborhood and posted about it on an app. Someone who saw that post told the store owner, who then called the police. The woman thought the car was suspicious because she had never seen it before.

Several police units responded to the scene but the car was nowhere to be found and there was no evidence that it might have been the same suspect vehicle.

Vespa Update:We have obtained video of a man loading up the Vespa into the red Ford Focus shown behind Ayers Hardware…

Posted by The Italian Store on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Photos via Facebook

by ARLnow.com December 4, 2017 at 9:45 am 0

Arlington, we need your help! Yesterday (12/2) between 3-6pm the 1966 Celeste Green Vespa was stolen from the Westover…

Posted by The Italian Store on Sunday, December 3, 2017

Long-time local business The Italian Store has lost a piece of its history to a thief.

The restaurant’s 1966 Celeste Green Vespa scooter, which “has welcomed customers to the store for the past 20 years,” was stolen Saturday evening around 5 p.m. from its Westover location, the business said on Facebook.

The Italian Store also released a screenshot from a surveillance video (below) showing the alleged Vespa bandit absconding with the vehicle down N. Longfellow Street.

The restaurant said it has contacted the Arlington County Police Department but it is seeking the public’s help in getting the Vespa back. Dozens of people have commented with words of sympathy and encouragement on the Facebook post.

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