Vienna officials hope mediator can craft compromise on development plan

Developers and residents still are trying to hammer out a compromise on a proposed mixed-use project at 374-380 Maple Ave., W., which would build 37 condominiums on top of 7,500 square feet of retail space.

The Vienna Town Council on June 17 again will consider a mixed-use rezoning application at 374-380 Maple Ave., W., but a former town manager is urging members to delay their vote.

John Schoeberlein, who retired in May 2011 after 26 years as town manager, requested in a June 8 e-mail to the mayor and Town Council that the Council refrain from voting on the application until after July 1.

The application, being advanced by Red Investment LLC and MJW Maple LLC, would build 7,500 square feet of ground-floor retail topped by three floors with a total of 37 condominiums.

The project is being considered under the town’s voluntary Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zoning ordinance, which gives developers extra building height and density in return for architectural features and amenities desired by the town government.

Although the MAC ordinance took years to craft and had copious opportunities for public input, some residents vehemently have opposed several proposed MAC projects, including the one at 374-380 Maple Ave., W., because of their size and impacts on traffic and town infrastructure.

Town officials last summer placed a moratorium on new MAC applications, in hopes of being able to make tweaks to satisfy the public. That freeze was supposed to end later this month, but the Council on June 3 extended it until Nov. 15.

Meanwhile, the Council will have two new members starting July 1. Incumbent Carey Sienicki did not seek re-election this year and voters defeated Council member Tara Bloch at the polls May 7. They will be succeed in July by newcomers Steve Potter and Nisha Patel.

Schoeberlein’s e-mail stated this political development was sufficient reason for the Council to hold off voting on the 374-380 Maple Ave., W., project.

“It is clear from the election results last month that the citizens of Vienna want the Town Council to move in a different direction on MAC projects and it would not be appropriate to hold a vote” on the project before the new Council members take office, he wrote.

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