Editor: On July 1, the Vienna Town Council (with two new members having been sworn in) voted to approve a motion to hold a public hearing and Town Council vote on July 15 on rescinding and repealing the June 17 vote that approved the rezoning of 380 Maple Ave., W., under the MAC (Maple Avenue Commerce) ordinance.

Developers have worked for the past three years with the town government to develop plans for 380 West, a new mixed-use residential and retail building, spending over $300,000 on architectural renderings, engineering plans, traffic studies, legal counsel and more. (A link to the current renderings for the building can be found at https://www.380maplewest.com/.)

The developers held countless informal meetings with the neighbors and the town government, and then nearly a year of formal meetings to arrive at the vote to approve the new development. The movement to rescind the vote is an unprecedented move to repeal a rezoning approval that met all requirements under the MAC code.

If this vote is rescinded on July 17, not only could the town government face significant legal action, it will set a precedent that will discourage all new commercial development in Vienna.

It only takes a five-minute drive down Maple Avenue to see over 20 shuttered retail businesses and even more commercial “For Lease” signs.  If thoughtful and responsible development is stunted by the Town Council, Vienna will become a ghost town, and residential taxpayers will be held accountable for the loss of commercial tax income.

Arlington County and the cities of Fairfax, Alexandria and Falls Church have all embraced mixed-use zoning of five-plus stories and affordable-housing options, while the Town of Vienna has been silent.  If action isn’t taken by Vienna’s business community, Vienna will be left behind as an afterthought as a commuter route between Tysons and Fairfax.

This is not just about 380 West; the future of Vienna is at stake. The Town Council made a commitment to approve the rezoning of 380 Maple Avenue that took three years to design while implementing the town’s requests for modifications to approve the rezoning application.

The most disconcerting issue is the Town Council’s failure to honor the approval that took over three years to attain. Now the new Town Council is trying to strip the developer of its rights. What is next?

Christina Zahakos Rice, on behalf of 380 West

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