Cemetery #FX242 near Lake Fairfax Park in Reston (via SEM Fairfax Land Associates/Fairfax County)

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A redevelopment proposal for nearly 9-acre parcel of land near Lake Fairfax Park is headed for a vote before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this month.

The plan by SEM Fairfax Land Associates calls for eight single-family homes on a cul-de-sac off of Lake Fairfax Drive, along with the preservation of a log house that was built in the 1790s.

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 26, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn introduced a board matter to set a board date for the application.

“In addition to the aforementioned preservation of the Log House, these Applications will ensure that the currently unmaintained unnamed cemetery #44FX1397 is well maintained in perpetuity and most importantly, that the cemetery remains undisturbed,” Alcorn wrote in the board matter.

The application went before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on July 26 and Sept. 27, when the commission recommended it be approved.

Hunt Club Cluster residents in Reston pushed back against the redevelopment of the property, which includes a possible slave cemetery.

At the commission’s hearing, attorney John McGranahan said that the applicant made several changes to the proposal. The applicant relocated lot six — one of the most significant changes in response to residents’ concerns about the encroachment of the lot on the cemetery.

“It was a lot harder than changing the lines on the drawing,” McGranahan.

Other changes include adding landscaping along Lake Fairfax Drive, added a sign to identify the cemetery as the Johnson Farm Cemetery and increased open space.

Electric buses have at last joined Northern Virginia’s largest local bus fleet.

Fairfax Connector launched the eight battery-powered vehicles out of its West Ox Operations and Maintenance Center (4970 Alliance Drive) at 10:30 a.m. last Thursday (Sept. 28), a critical first step forward in the transit system’s plan to phase out diesel or gas-fueled buses.

Supported by four newly installed, 150-kilowatt chargers with two dispensers each, the buses have 39 passenger seats and can travel up to 250 miles on a single charge, according to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

“Battery electric buses represent a monumental leap forward in eco-friendly transportation,” FCDOT said in a news release. “These vehicles offer a wide range of environmental benefits, including a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a significant reduction in air and noise pollution, and decreased dependence on fossil fuels.”

Another eight electric buses are in the works as part of the new pilot program. Four vehicles currently in production will be delivered to the Huntington Bus Garage, while the other four haven’t started production yet and aren’t slated to arrive until 2025.

The initial eight buses will be deployed on six different routes, covering a wide swath of the county:

  • 310: Franconia Road-Rolling Valley
  • 395: Gambrill-Pentagon Express
  • 901: Herndon Metro-Centreville
  • 632: Westfields Blvd-Walney Road
  • 463: Maple Avenue-Vienna
  • 615: Fair Oaks-Greenbriar

The next eight buses will also be tested “on various routes in the coming months,”  FCDOT communications head Freddy Serrano said.

The pilot is launching a little behind schedule. The county had previously hoped to have electric buses on the road by December 2022.

“Additional supply chain impacts caused by the pandemic delayed manufacturing,” Serrano said. “Also, a factory recall was issued and remedied before acceptance of the buses.”

Electric bus recalls sparked by a battery fire this spring also delayed deliveries to Metro, which is expecting 12 vehicles for the first phase of its transition plan and recently landed funds to help convert its Cinder Bed Road Bus Division garage in Franconia into a fully electric facility.

Fairfax County started exploring using electric vehicles for public transportation by piloting an autonomous Relay shuttle in Merrifield until this past June. The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services recently unveiled its first electric trash truck, and Fairfax County Public Schools has added a few electric school buses to its fleet.

While these are Fairfax Connector’s first electric buses, the agency already had several electric support vehicles, including 14 sedans and chargers at its Fair Oaks offices (4050 Legato Road) and two electric vehicles with six chargers at the Herndon Bus Garage (268 Spring Street).

“The pilot program includes several phases and is the first of many steps toward a more sustainable transit system in Fairfax County,” FCDOT transit services division chief and Fairfax Connector head Dwayne Pelfrey said. “Information obtained during the pilot program and on-going evaluation of various technologies will guide strategic decisions in the coming years as we work to build tomorrow’s transit system today.”

Pledging to become carbon-neutral by 2040, Fairfax County adopted an operational energy strategy in 2021 with goals that included halting all diesel bus purchases after this fiscal year — which ends June 30, 2024 — and fully transitioning all buses and fleet vehicles to electricity or a non-carbon-emitting power source by 2035.

Fairfax Connector has more than 300 buses that carry approximately 26,000 riders on 93 routes daily.

Read more on FFXnow…

Reston Association (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Reston Association’s Board of Directors has a new vacancy.

Mike Collins — who represents apartment owners within RA’s membership — resigned Friday (Sept. 29).

Collins, who also served as the board’s secretary, said he resigned due to new career commitments.

Board president John Farrell thanked Collins for his leadership and “multiple stints of service” for Restonians.

“We wish him and his family the very best and thank him for his many contributions to our community,” Farrell wrote in a statement.

The vacancy triggers a new election process. Nominations will be accepted through noon on Oct. 12. Apartment owners — known as Category B members — will then receive a list of nominees and get a five-day voting period, after which staff will announce the results.

The new board member will begin the position on Oct. 26.

Collins joined the board in April 2020. He was reelected this April for a second three-year term and previously served on the board from 2010 to 2013.

This is the second unplanned vacancy to open on RA’s board this year after former president Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza resigned in May.

The nine-member board consists of one apartment representative, four district directors and four at-large members. Members typically serve three-year, staggered terms.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

A belated Mosaic Fall Festival, postponed by rain, takes over Strawberry Park on Saturday, Sept. 30 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Metro Still Recovering From Derailment Near National Airport — “Most Metrorail customers will see nearly normal train service [Monday], even as Metro continues to inspect the fleet’s oldest railcars…However Blue and Yellow line trains will depart every 15 minutes while work continues to repair tracks damaged in Friday’s derailment.” [WMATA]

County Seeks Input on Pedestrian and Bicycle Projects — “Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) has developed a proposed list of projects that will be narrowed down further with input from the community to receive a portion of $100 million funding allocated by the Board of Supervisors.” Virtual meetings will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) and noon on Thursday (Oct. 5) to discuss the projects. [FCDOT]

Man Arrested at Franconia Park for Sex Offenses — “A man Fairfax County police believe is responsible for multiple sex offenses in the Groveton area was arrested Thursday after he was spotted on a surveillance camera…According to authorities, [the man] tried to flee when officers responded, and while doing so, started to take off his clothes and throw them into the woods nearby.” [WTOP]

Reston Association Expresses Opposition to Potential Casino — “In the wee hours of Friday morning, Reston Association Board of Directors approved a motion to oppose the construction of a casino in Reston…The board also directed CEO Mac Cummins and Board President John Farrell to work together to come up with a strategy for opposing the casino.” [Patch]

McLean Road Closed for Pipe Replacement — “Rector Lane (Route 760) between Alvord Street and Old Dominion Drive (Route 738) will be closed to through traffic, weather permitting, Monday, Oct. 2 through Thursday, Oct. 5 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day for stormwater pipe replacement…Through traffic will be detoured.” [VDOT]

Reston and Springfield Dog Parks Named Among N. Va’s Best — “The Baron Cameron and South Run dog parks made the list of ’10 Best Dog Parks in Northern Virginia 2023′ published in the magazine’s October issue, which hit newsstands Sept. 22…The Park Authority maintains 11 dog parks countywide.” [FCPA]

Participants Wanted for EV Charging Program — “The application period for the Charge Up Fairfax pilot program will close at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday November 12, 2023…Approximately 5 communities will be selected for the Charge Up Fairfax pilot program and HOAs will be notified whether they were selected to participate the first week of December 2023.” [OEEC]

FCPS Partners With Nonprofit to Introduce Students to Careers — “In collaboration with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), the national not-for-profit Think Big for Kids has officially expanded to the Greater Washington region, and their first area school district partner is Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)…Think Big for Kids’ mission is to help break cycles of poverty by preparing students to excel in today’s workforce.” [FCEDA]

It’s Monday — The forecast for Monday shows sunny conditions and a high temperature near 81 degrees, accompanied by a mild north wind around 6 mph. During Monday night, expect mostly clear skies and a low temperature around 60 degrees. [Weather.gov]

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A Fairfax County Fire and Rescue truck (file photo)

A 17-year veteran of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has been arrested for allegedly stealing drugs stored at two stations for her personal use, police announced today (Friday).

Aleksandra Olegoyna Kazmar, 40, of Front Royal faces one felony charge of obtaining drugs by fraud after investigators determined that she had tampered with or stolen vials of morphine and fentanyl from the Frying Pan and North Point stations, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

The FCPD launched a criminal investigation after it was notified of the incidents on Sept. 6 by the fire department, which had already conducted an internal investigation:

On August 1, during a monthly inspection of medication at Fire Station 36, a technician identified a vial of morphine that appeared to be tampered with. The technician observed the volume of the liquid contained within the vial was not consistent with similar vials and there appeared to be a hole in the plastic-controlled substance kit. The technician immediately reported the inconsistencies to his supervisor.

FCFRD began an internal investigation into the tampering of the controlled substance. During the investigation, three additional events were identified where vials of morphine and fentanyl were either tampered with or stolen during the months of August and September. The tampering occurred at Fire Station 36 and 39.

The FCFRD has been assisting with the police investigation, according to the news release.

Kazmar, a relief lieutenant in the fire department, has been placed on administrative leave, police said. She was released from custody on an unsecured bond and is scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment on Oct. 4, Fairfax County General District Court records show.

Fire Station 36 (Frying Pan) is located in Floris at 2660 West Ox Road, and Fire Station 39 (North Point) is at 1117 Reston Avenue in Reston.

Read more on FFXnow…

A Capital Bikeshare station at Market Street and St. Francis Street in Reston (courtesy FCDOT)

A total of six new Capital Bikeshare stations may soon arrive around the Innovation Center Metro station.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will host a meeting this coming Wednesday (Oct. 4) to discuss the proposal. The virtual meeting begins at 7 p.m.

So far, proposed locations include:

  • Innovation Metro South
  • Corta Way and Sayward Boulevard
  • Coppermine Road and River Birch Road
  • Dulles Technology Drive and Sunrise Valley Drive
  • Woodland Park Road and Cooperative Way
  • McNair Farms Drive and Thomas Jefferson Drive

Comments on the proposal will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 20.

County staff will then work with supervisors John Foust (Dranesville) and Walter Alcorn (Hunter Mill) as well as the Virginia Department of Transportation to install the equipment sometime next year, according to Freddy Serrano, a spokesperson for FCDOT.

“The recently opened Innovation Center Metro provides an ideal first and last mile destination for Capital Bikeshare riders. County staff also wanted to propose expansion into Supervisor Districts with few, if any existing stations such as [the] Dranesville District,” Serrano wrote in a statement.

The new stations are funded by a grant from the Federal Highway Administration. The grant covers a total of 10 stations and roughly 69 electric bicycles. Capital Bikeshare has 738 stations in the D.C. area, 79 of which are located in Fairfax County.

Next week’s meeting will also include an update on Bikeshare’s new electric bicycles, which started rolling out this spring.

Read more on FFXnow…

Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479.

As your neighborhood expert in Fairfax County and a Florida girl who appreciates the fall season, I’m excited to guide you through the breathtaking beauty of fall foliage in our picturesque corner of Virginia.

These spots promise to be a vibrant canvas of autumn hues, with several stunning spots to witness this natural spectacle. Here are my top five places you won’t want to miss:

  1. Great Falls Park

Located along the banks of the Potomac River, Great Falls Park offers a stunning backdrop for autumn’s transformation. The trees that line the park’s trails burst into a mesmerizing palette of red, orange, and gold. For the best views, hike along the River Trail or enjoy a picnic near the overlooks. As the leaves fall, the Potomac River rapids make the experience even more captivating.

  1. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna is a hidden gem when it comes to fall foliage. This 95-acre oasis is home to a diverse collection of trees and plants that explode with color in the autumn months. Stroll through the serene gardens and admire the reflection of the vibrant leaves in the ponds. The Korean Bell Garden is particularly enchanting during this season.

  1. W&OD Trail

Fairfax County’s portion of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail offers an exceptional opportunity to experience fall foliage on a bike or on foot. Stretching over 45 miles, this former railroad route meanders through forests, farmland, and charming communities. The trail is particularly picturesque as it winds through the lush woods, making it perfect for a leisurely autumn ride or hike.

  1. Burke Lake Park

Burke Lake Park is a serene escape into nature’s autumn brilliance. The 218-acre lake is surrounded by a 4.7-mile trail enveloped by hardwood trees. Rent a canoe or paddleboat for a unique perspective of the fall foliage, or simply take a leisurely stroll around the lake while enjoying the colorful scenery.

  1. Prince William Forest Park

While technically not in Fairfax County, Prince William Forest Park, located just south of the county line, is well worth the short trip. This hidden gem boasts over 15,000 acres of protected woodlands. The varied terrain and dense forests come alive with vibrant colors, and there are numerous hiking trails to explore, including the scenic South Valley Trail.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a photography enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of fall, Fairfax County offers an incredible array of options for experiencing the magic of autumn. Don’t miss your chance to witness nature’s masterpiece right in our own backyard!

Explore Fairfax with Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney.

Sharmane Medaris | Live Fairfax | www.soldbysharmane.com | [email protected] | @soldbysharmane | 813-504-4479 | 374 Maple Avenue Suite 202, Vienna, VA 22180

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Town of Herndon government offices (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Terms for Herndon Town Council members will remain unchanged after the council unanimously agreed to drop a proposal to increase the term from two to four years.

The council voted on Tuesday (Sept. 26) to remove consideration of the item from its legislative program for the Virginia General Assembly’s 2024 session. A similar effort came up almost a decade ago but was dropped by a previous council after lack of public support.

Changing term limits would require an amendment to the town charter and the state’s constitution. Councilmember Clark Hedrick described the proposal as “self-indulgent.”

“If people aren’t clamoring for four-year terms, I’m not sure we are the appropriate people to be necessarily asking for it,” Hedrick said.

But Councilmember Donielle Scherff emphasized that the current council would not be directly impacted by the change if it was approved. She noted that the council could look into two-year staggered terms so that it wouldn’t start from scratch every two years.

“I don’t know if that’s self indulgent,” Scherff said, stating that running for election every two years isn’t easy and requires staff to acclimate new council members every other year.

Councilmember Pradip Dhakal said the intention of the proposal was to provide more continuity.

“There’s nothing political about this. It’s all about bringing continuity to the government,” Dhakal said.

Mayor Sheila Olem emphasized that the council shouldn’t pass the proposal if it didn’t have significant support from the current council.

“You always need to make sure that this is something that you have someone to carry,” Olem said.

She said the public didn’t appear to support the proposal when it came up in 2014. It was discussed again last year.

Ultimately, Dhakal removed the pitch from the town’s legislative program.

As approved, the legislative program includes a push for the state to expand where localities are allowed to place photo speed monitoring devices. They’re currently allowed in school zones and work zones.

Fairfax County has cameras in place at eight sites under an ongoing pilot program.

Read more on FFXnow…

A person can be seen panhandling on the median of International Drive in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

After years of debating the issue of “panhandling” in board rooms, Fairfax County will now actually talk to the people asking for money, often from sidewalks and street medians.

At Chairman Jeff McKay’s request, the Board of Supervisors approved $75,000 for a survey of people engaged in panhandling as part of a budget carryover package adopted on Tuesday (Sept. 26).

“Understanding that asking for money is a protected act under the First Amendment, it is imperative that the County better understand the needs of the people who are panhandling and explore innovative approaches to responding to panhandling,” McKay wrote in his request that the item be added to the package, which allocated $203 million in leftover funds from fiscal year 2023.

Per the memo, the survey will be conducted by a contracted firm that should have experience surveying “marginalized populations” and “a proven track record of producing high-quality data.”

Collected data could include:

Demographics; reasons for panhandling; how long they have been panhandling; experiences with employment, poverty, and homelessness; panhandling income and spending patterns; possible coercion and collaboration among people panhandling; and opinions on what it would take to stop panhandling.

The memo notes that the surveys “must be conducted safely and confidentially.”

A start date hasn’t been determined yet, but the survey is expected to take six months. The results will be presented to the board at a future committee meeting.

The planned survey will be the county’s latest effort to address panhandling, following rejected attempts to prohibit the practice or install anti-panhandling signage. The county did launch a clean-up program in 2019 that gives temporary work to people experiencing homelessness.

While panhandling is protected as free speech, the county discourages community members from giving money to people on the streets who ask for it, arguing that it’s more effective to connect them with long-term assistance.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who has led the charge against panhandling, said earlier in Tuesday’s meeting that he’s reviewing “ordinances involving prohibiting the exchange of objects in the roadway that have been successful in other jurisdictions,” including Loudoun County. Read More

Morning Notes

A portable mini golf course at Fairfax Corner (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

State Senate Candidate Almost Fired by FCPD — “Republican state Senate candidate Bill Woolf, who is running in Virginia’s Nov. 7 election on his record as a former Fairfax County Police detective and human-trafficking foe, would have been fired had he not resigned in 2017 during an ongoing internal affairs investigation into hours he reported on duty while at another job, according to police records.” [Washington Post]

What a Government Shutdown Would Mean for Virginia — “A government shutdown would be a double whammy for Virginia, a state that’s home to more federal civilian employees and active-duty military personnel than almost any other.” The funding halt would also affect public programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, which supports about 15,490 people just in Fairfax County. [Washington Post, Associated Press]

Mars Shares Plans to Expand McLean HQ — “Mars Inc.’s McLean headquarters expansion features an environmentally friendly design, public and private amenity spaces, and connections with an adjacent property’s pathways. Representatives of the candy-making corporation provided the latest updates Sept. 27 at a breakfast meeting of the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce.” [Gazette Leader]

Last Chance to Comment on Metro Improvements — “Riders and commuters have until Saturday to complete an online survey of proposals to improve service and reliability on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. Thursday morning, riders at the Vienna station on the Orange line weighed six alternatives that Metro has compiled. They discussed whether a larger Metro footprint would make them even more likely to use transit.” [WTOP]

What to Know About RSV Vaccines — “Last year’s “tripledemic” shined a spotlight on another respiratory illness that adversely affects children under 6 and adults over 65 — Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV. And while most children are infected with RSV by the time they turn 2 years old, anyone can become infected with the virus.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

McLean Private School Named Best in Virginia — BASIS Independent McLean was ranked as the best private K-12 school in Virginia for a second consecutive year by Niche, a data analysis company. The school also topped Niche’s 2024 lists for the best private high school and the best college prep private high school in Virginia. [Patch]

County Public Health Worker Seeks to Reach Hispanic Community — “Claudia Morcelo, una latina en Virginia, está luchando por disminuir la brecha de paridad en el acceso a la salud de las comunidades hispanas, principalmente en las mujeres latinas. Desde el Condado de Fairfax, esta inmigrante está ayudando a construir una mejor red de salud para apoyar a las inmigrantes.” [El Tiempo Latino]

McLean Mansion May Set Rental Price Record — “With a monthly price at $38,500, a mansion in McLean may end up breaking the Virginia record for priciest rental if it ends up leasing at that price. Since early September, the nearly 20,000-square-foot property has been up for grabs at 938 Peacock Station Road, listed by TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.” [WTOP]

It’s Friday — The forecast predicts patchy drizzle and a 30% chance of showers until 2pm, with mostly cloudy skies and a high of 69°F accompanied by a north wind at 9 mph. For Friday night, expect mostly cloudy conditions with a low of 60°F and an 8 mph north wind. [Weather.gov]

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Downtown Herndon is slated for redevelopment into a mixed-use community (staff photo by Fatimah Waseem)

The redevelopment of downtown Herndon — a long-delayed partnership between the Town of Herndon and Reston-based developer Comstock — continues to advance after more than a year-long pause.

At a Herndon Town Council meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 26), Town Manager Bill Ashton II said building permits for the project have gone to the fire marshal for approval.

The project will transform nearly 5 acres of land into a mixed-use community with 273 apartments and roughly 17,000 square feet of retail. A new arts center and a 726-space parking garage are also planned.

Staff have also sent comments and revisions back to Comstock after the developer submitted revised plans for the project. The revisions are not substantive updates, instead simply bringing the delayed project up to code.

Ashton II said Comstock’s representatives noted “there was nothing difficult in the comments.”

That process could take between two to four weeks, Ashton II said. Building permits would then receive approval.

In the interim, Comstock will send the project out for a contractor rebid in the next “couple of weeks,” Ashton II said. Town staff will then examine the project about two months after that process is underway.

The developer elected to pause the project in July 2022 due to “economic conditions.” The $101 million cost increased by $25 million as a result of rising expenses for materials, labor and workforce restrictions, FFXnow previously reported.

The pause can be in place for up to two years after it went into effect. That means the latest construction can begin is April 2024.

Read more on FFXnow…


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