A girl holds a book at last year’s reopening of the Lorton Library, one of two hosts of the inaugural Children’s Summer Reading Festival (courtesy Fairfax County Public Library)

Fairfax County Public Library is kicking off its summer reading program with a different approach this year.

The Fairfax Library Foundation will launch its inaugural Children’s Summer Reading Festival at two libraries this month to celebrate the beginning of FCPL’s annual summer reading program.

“We hope these festivals help get Fairfax County kids and adults excited for our Summer Reading Adventure,” FCPL Director Jessica Hudson said. “This year’s summer reading theme is All Together Now so we thought throwing a huge party would be a good fit! Thank you so much to the Fairfax Library Foundation for organizing these festivals.”

The first festival takes place on June 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lorton Library (9520 Richmond Highway). The second event takes place on June 24 from 4-7 p.m. at Chantilly Regional Library (4000 Stringfellow Road).

The festival will include games, crafts, a bounce house, mini zoo, snacks, face-painting, food trucks and a photo booth.

Although both festivals are free, online registration is encouraged.

Registration for the summer reading program opens online on June 10. Paper logs will be available at all branches before the program kicks off on June 16. Individuals who register early will get priority for raffle entries to win Scrawl Books gift cards.

Adults who finish the program will get a coupon book and will be entered into other raffles for $25 gift cards for AMC, Barnes & Noble and VISA, along with other prizes — including four tickets to Escape Room Herndon.

In Chantilly, the festival will be followed by a free outdoor screening of Disney’s “Frozen: Sing-Along Edition,” Fairfax Library Foundation Development Director Cheryl Lee said.

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A planned renovation of Armstrong Elementary School in Reston will include a new main entrance vestibule (via FCPS)

The renovation of Reston’s Armstrong Elementary School is expected to begin in the spring of next year, according to Fairfax County Public Schools.

The school system has formally submitted a proposal before the county to add 126,000 square feet and modern amenities to the school.

“The increase in space will accommodate anticipated future enrollment,” FCPS spokesperson Julie Moult said. “Additions will provide a new administration wing with a new main entrance vestibule, a new library, an extension of the classroom wing, and two new pre-K classrooms. Renovations will enhance current classrooms and learning and support spaces, improve the bus and kiss and ride loop, and create new outdoor play areas.”

The project is currently in the design phase and was funded by a 2021 bond, Moult wrote in a statement. Built in 1985, the school’s current enrollment is 360 — well under its design capacity of 786 students — but the school building is in need of “significant” improvements, according to the application.

The renovated building will feature a new one-story administrative suite and a two-story classroom addition along the front of the school building. A one-story library addition is also planned on the west side.

“With the proposed renovations, the existing design capacity will increase by 14 students for a design capacity of 800 students,” the application states.

Three new playgrounds are also planned on the southern portion of the property. The parking lot will also get 36 more spaces on the existing playground area — a number that includes eight ADA spaces.

The project is expected to finish in the summer of 2026.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

Kids explore the Red Caboose in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Vienna Featured Live on TV Right Now — “Lights. Camera. Action! Tune into the @fox5dc Zip Trip LIVE from the Town Green [today] from 6-11 a.m. as the Town gets its 15 minutes of fame (really it’s five hours, but who’s counting?)! See familiar faces, businesses, favorite spots, and more!” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Air Quality Alert Issued — “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued a Code ORANGE Air Quality Alert Friday for Northern Virginia. A Code Orange Air Quality Alert means that air pollution concentrations within the region may become unhealthy for sensitive groups.” [National Weather Service]

County Updates Covid Data Dashboard — “In alignment with the CDC, the Fairfax County Health Department has shifted COVID-19 surveillance and data sharing to focus on measures of disease severity including COVID-19 hospitalization rates, death rates, and emergency care visits.” With some data no longer available after the end of the federal public health emergency, the dashboard will now be updated every Friday. [FCHD]

Man Sought for Alleged Sexual Assault — “Police are searching for a man accused of sexually assaulting and attempting to rob a woman in Centreville. He was last seen fleeing from the scene on foot into a nearby wooded area. A sketch of the suspect has been released to the public in hopes of identifying him.” [WUSA9]

FCPS Concerned About Lack of Finalized State Budget — “Additional funding for the most vulnerable Fairfax County Public School students is at risk as Virginia lawmakers remain divided over how they will distribute a revenue surplus and pass an amended budget. In a letter to the Fairfax County General Assembly Delegation…school board members” said the standstill and a calculation error have “created uncertainty.” [WTOP]

Initial Results of Blake Lane Safety Review Shared — “VDOT’s presentation Tuesday night shared only a partial list of problems that the audit has identified corridor-wide. These included potentially limited accessibility at some curb ramps and segments of sidewalk, lack of visual cues of the presence of pedestrians for drivers approaching Blake Lane” and more. [Patch]

Departing NFL Owner to Sell Mount Vernon Mansion — “The Washington Commanders’ soon-to-be former owners Dan and Tanya Snyder have left the $48 million Fairfax County home they bought less than two years ago, moving their belongings across the pond to England…River View, the Potomac River-fronting estate near George Washington’s Mount Vernon, has not yet been relisted” [Washington Business Journal]

Document Shredding Event Coming to Burke — “The Springfield District and Marian Homes will host a shredding event at the Rolling Valley Park & Ride parking lot on Saturday, June 3rd, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Donations are graciously accepted and will benefit Marian Homes’ mission to purchase and maintain affordable homes for individuals with intellectual disabilities” [Pat Herrity/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Sunny, with a high near 92. Light and variable wind becoming east 5 to 8 mph in the morning. At night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 66. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm. [Weather.gov]

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The American Legion Bridge into Maryland (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

If you find trips on the Capital Beltway into Maryland nightmarish now, imagine what they would be like without any transit options.

That’s the scenario posed by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) in a new study on the value of the region’s transit network, including Metro, local bus services like Fairfax Connector and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE).

Released today (Thursday), the study found that the American Legion Bridge — the only direct link between Fairfax County and Maryland — would need to carry 24,653 or 8.2% more vehicles per day in 2025 if there was no transit (325,619 vehicles) compared to the projected traffic volume with transit (300,965 vehicles).

The other bridges across the Potomac River would see even bigger differences, led by a 39.2% increase on the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

“These bridges are congested today, and congestion will increase in the future. Without transit, however, the capacity constraint on the bridges would be substantially greater,” the study report says.

The report notes that rush-hour traffic on all of the Potomac crossings is projected to exceed capacity in 2025 regardless of transit availability. The American Legion Bridge would exceed capacity by 3,651 vehicles under the “base” conditions and by 7,379 vehicles under the “no transit” scenario — a 102% difference.

Projected Potomac River bridge peak traffic volumes in excess of capacity (via NVTC)

Construction is underway to widen the Capital Beltway (I-495) by adding two toll lanes in each direction from the Dulles Toll Road to just south of the American Legion Bridge. The Virginia Department of Transportation has forecast that the 495 NEXT project will move approximately 2,500 more people per hour in both directions, starting in 2025.

However, Maryland’s plans to replace and expand the bridge remain in limbo following the exit of its private partner. Replacing the American Legion Bridge would allow the Beltway to move 5,400 more people an hour, VDOT has said, but the endeavor will cost an estimated $1 billion.

According to an NVTC spokesperson, the study’s calculations incorporated the 495 NEXT project, but it didn’t include the possibility of future bus service between Tysons and Bethesda, as proposed by both Fairfax Connector and Metro.

“Our study evaluated the difference between what’s currently planned for 2025 and a scenario in which all transit in Northern Virginia is removed,” NVTC said. “That means the proposed future route from Tysons to Bethesda, using the American Legion Bridge, was not included since it won’t be in service by then.”

Widening the Potomac crossings without also providing transit “is not a viable scenario,” NVTC says in its report, noting that the low-income households most dependent on transit “would likely not be able to live in Northern Virginia without” it.

“Even with planned capacity improvements, the region would not be able to accommodate the number of households and employment numbers currently forecasted for 2025,” the report said.

According to the report, NVTC projects that 193,558 transit trips will be made from Fairfax County, including the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, in 2025. About 72% will be taken by households earning $100,000 or less.

Overall, the county would see 122,918 more vehicle trips without transit, a 4.7% increase. The impact would be widespread for outgoing trips, but trips coming into Northern Virginia would be concentrated around employment centers, including Tysons and the I-66 corridor as well as Reston and Herndon along the Dulles Toll Road.

Without transit, Northern Virginia would see more vehicle trips, particularly to employment centers like Tysons and Reston (via NVTC)

Transit generates $1.5 billion in annual personal income and sales tax revenue for Virginia, about $1 billion of which can be attributed to Metro, according to NVTC, but ridership for all of Northern Virginia’s systems is still below pre-pandemic levels.

Fairfax Connector had just under 5.2 million riders in fiscal year 2022, which ended June 30, 2022. That’s 62% of the riders seen in FY 2019 and just 53% of the 9.7 million riders reported in FY 2015.

Metro usage in Virginia is even lower, with buses sitting at 56% of FY 2019 levels and rail at 33%.

The region saw a total of 52.3 million transit riders in FY 2022 — 40% of the nearly 130.9 million seen in FY 2019 and 33% of the 158.2 million riders in FY 2015.

NVTC says it used 2025 as the target date for its study to take into account “the impacts of a post-pandemic travel environment.”

The Value of Northern Virginia’s Transit Network to the Commonwealth Study will be presented at the NVTC’s commission meeting at 7 p.m. today.

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The redevelopment of the Herndon Taco Bell is proposed (via Google Maps)

A Taco Bell in Herndon could soon be temporarily out of commission.

A proposal before Fairfax County seeks to demolish and redevelop the fast-food restaurant, which is located at 2170 Centreville Road, into a larger restaurant with a second drive-thru lane, according to a May 24 application.

“This redevelopment will bring a modern Taco Bell restaurant to the site, where the applicant will continue to service customers in the greater Herndon area,” the application from Virginia Restaurants LLC says.

The new restaurant will have the franchise’s new modern look and a slightly larger footprint. The increase in the building area — 2,380 square feet to 2,710 square feet —  accommodates a larger on-site freezer, but the restaurant will likely be in the same position as the previous restaurant.

Because of a decrease in the use of interior seating, the restaurant will have fewer seats. An outdoor patio is also planned with 12 seats. The drive-thru — which is driven by demand — will provide 11 stacking spaces for customers, according to the application.

“The additional drive-through lane will allow the applicant to provide a more efficient customer experience and respond to trends at quick service retail facilities, which are seeking increased demand for drive-through space utilization, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the application states.

The restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. The applicant estimates that the expansion will generally only 26 net new morning and afternoon peak hour trips.

The application is in the early phases of the county’s approval process and has not yet been formally accepted for review.

Image via Google Maps

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

It is important to obtain legal advice prior to meeting with security clearance investigators when potential security clearance problems are anticipated.

When individuals have difficulties in the security clearance process or anticipate future problems, the best advice that can be given is to prepare in advance for the meeting. Preparation for the first security clearance meeting can make the difference between a government contractor/federal employee successfully obtaining/retaining a security clearance or being denied one.

Preparing for the Initial Security Clearance Investigator Meeting

One of the most important considerations in meeting with a security clearance investigator for the first time is to adequately prepare for the meeting, especially where there may be potential disqualifying security concerns. We find that most government contractors and federal employees have a general sense of potential security concerns that could arise at the time that they begin to review or complete their e-QIP/SF-86 submissions.

In the most common scenario, an individual is usually alerted to potential problems that may require preparation for the clearance process when they find that they may have to answer “yes” to a certain question and then provide formal disclosures to an uncomfortable question, such as the use of drugs or past financial debts. When these types of issues are anticipated, then one should seek counsel and prepare in advance of a meeting with a security clearance investigator.

Review Relevant Documentation

If a potential security concern exists, it is important to gather as much information and documentation one has on the issue of concern in preparation for the interview.  Such information, if useful, can be provided to security clearance investigators at the start.  At other times, the information can be useful for later in the clearance process, if needed.

For example, suppose an individual knows that they have a large outstanding debt on their credit report. If so, then that information will certainly be important to review prior to a meeting with a security clearance investigator.

Respond to the Questions Asked

In regard to meetings between government contractors/federal employees and security clearance investigators, one other issue that we run across is the tendency of some individuals to provide information not sought by an investigator.

We advise government contractors and federal employees to answer the questions asked by investigators as honestly as possible but stick to the actual questions that are posed. On many occasions, individuals can get sidetracked or provide information that is not relevant to the questions asked by an investigator, which may cause clearance difficulties later or cause frustration for the investigator.

The usual key to a successful interview is to be as responsive as possible to any areas of concern but to make the meeting with the clearance investigator as efficient as possible. Investigators tend to have many cases to review and like to focus on their particular areas of concern. The better an individual can honestly address specific issues raised by an investigator, the better the potential outcome.

When issues arise, it is important to consult with counsel to obtain the best legal advice possible in presenting one’s response to difficult questions.

Follow-up Interviews or Requests by the Investigator

A security clearance investigator may need additional information regarding potential security concerns or need to interview an individual a second time. We typically advise individuals to attempt to anticipate these requests in advance.

For example, if an investigator appears to have questions about one’s psychological issues during an initial interview, it may be helpful to attempt to obtain a letter from a medical professional soon after that shows that the psychological concerns are under control and have been resolved. Doing so in advance can save time and effort later and may resolve issues early should the investigator come back with additional questions.

Contact Us

If you are in need of security clearance legal representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

The Mosaic District will hold its second annual Pride Parade this Saturday (via Mosaic District/Twitter)

Pride Month starts today (June 1), and opportunities to celebrate in Fairfax County extend through the month.

This Saturday (June 3) features events in the Mosaic District, Reston and the City of Fairfax. Closer to the end of the month, folk-rock musician Brandi Carlile will headline the Out & About Festival at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

Pride Month marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan and has become an occasion to celebrate LGBTQ individuals and communities.

Below are more details about Pride Month celebrations across the county this June:

Mosaic Pride Festival
Saturday, June 3
2-8:30 p.m.
District Avenue

A parade begins at 2 p.m. in front of One Medical (2987 District Ave.) and will proceed down District Avenue to the main stage. Performances will feature drag queens, dance, and live music by George Mason University’s Green Machine band and more.

Reston Pride
Saturday, June 3
12-6 p.m.
Lake Anne Plaza

Indie pop trio BETTY will headline the Reston Pride Festival at Lake Anne Plaza (1609-A Washington Plaza). The event will also feature comedian Chelsea Shorte and local businesses including Elden Street Tea Shop and Scrawl Books.

Fairfax Pride
Saturday, June 3
5-10 p.m.
Old Town Hall

The City of Fairfax and George Mason University are hosting the first Fairfax Pride at Old Town Hall (3999 University Drive). The evening will begin with face painting, crafts and other activities. Later, there will be drag queen performances and a dance party.

Drag Bingo
Tuesday, June 6
6 p.m.
Starr Hill Biergarten at Capital One Center

Drag queens Crimsyn and Logan Stone will host a drag bingo night at Starr Hill Biergarten at Capital One Center (1805 Capital One Drive South, Suite 1100). There will also be music and drinks. An encore is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Pride Flow and Celebration
Sunday, June 11
10-11:30 a.m.
Lakeside Park

Celebrate pride with a colorful outdoor yoga class at Lakeside Park (5216 Pommeroy Drive). Attendees should bring their own yoga mats and water and plan to wear bright colors.

The Out & About Festival
Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25
Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods performances at 10:30 a.m.; festival starts at 4 p.m.
Wolf Trap National Park

Brandi Carlile, Yola, Rufus Wainwright and other artists will gather at Wolf Trap (1645 Trap Road) in the last weekend in June for a three-stage festival. The festival features LGBTQ+ artists and allies.

Pride Month Poetry Reading
Saturday, June 24
3-4 p.m.
Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

Poets Sunu Chandy, Kim Roberts, Holly Mason Badra, and Malik Thompson will convene at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly (5040 Walney Road) for a reading. “This reading lifts up a variety of voices and experiences to honor the rich legacy and contributions of poets and poetry in the queer community,” according to the event description from Arts Fairfax.

Fairfax County Public Library is also hosting events throughout the month, including a “crafternoon” on Sunday (June 4) and a screening of the 2018 film “Rafiki” on June 7.

Photo via Mosaic District/Twitter

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The theater is set to open in the third quarter of the year (staff photo by Fatimah Waseem)

The opening timeframe for Reston Town Center’s new theater has been pushed again.

LOOK Dine-In Cinemas is now expected to open by the third quarter of 2023, which would be this fall, a company spokesperson told FFXnow. The opening estimate was first pushed in late 2022 and then delayed to sometime in the first half of this year.

A spokesperson for the company said that once a date is available, it will be shared on the cinema’s website.

In a statement to FFXnow, the spokesperson said it was not clear why the date changed, adding that sometimes things get pushed or delayed.

This is the first location in the D.C. area for the company, which is renovating the Reston theater. Other features of the “luxury” brand include a food, beverage and cocktail menu, according to the company’s website.

LOOK replaces BowTie Cinemas, which closed in May 2022 after more than a decade at 11940 Market Street.

A spokesperson for Reston Town Center said that there was no information to share on any openings in the town center, including CitySwing and the Peruvian restaurant Pisco Y Nazca.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

Fog hovers over Lake Audubon in Reston (photo by Terry Baranski)

Second Arrest Made in Idylwood Double Homicide — An 18-year-old from Falls Church was charged on Tuesday (May 30) with robbery resulting in death in connection with Monday’s fatal shooting and stabbing at the Tysons View Apartments. Police announced earlier that a 17-year-old had been charged in the incident, which left two people dead and two injured. [FCPD]

N. Va. Dems Criticize National Guard Deployment — “Local Democrats slammed Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s decision to deploy Virginia National Guard service men and women to Texas to ‘secure’ the southern U.S. border with Mexico.” Democrats, including Fairfax County senator Scott Surovell, blasted Youngkin for “using service men and women for political gain” as speculation swirls that he plans to run for president. [Inside NoVA]

Man Hospitalized in Annandale Nightclub Shooting — “A man was shot at the Diamond Lounge, a nightclub in Annandale, at 2 a.m. [Wednesday], the Fairfax County Police Department reports…The Diamond Lounge, at 7203 Little River Turnpike, has been the scene of several violent incidents. In 2020, a man was fatally shot in the Diamond Lounge parking lot.” [Annandale Today]

FCPS Revises Messaging for College Help Program — Fairfax County Public Schools has taken out mentions of race and ethnicity from an email and website seeking applications to a College Partnership Program, which assists students who face barriers to higher education. The Virginia Attorney General’s office told FCPS on March 9 that the original message violated the Virginia Human Rights Act. [WTOP]

Amtrak Works to Address Traffic From Train Backups — Amtrak has added a message board and revised its queuing procedures at the Lorton Auto Train Station (8006 Lorton Road) after community members raised concerns about traffic spillover from vehicles being loading onto trains. For a permanent solution, the South County Federation has proposed that more land for an outbound vehicle queue is needed. [On the MoVe]

Snake Rescued After Wandering into Springfield Home — “Sneaky snake! [On Monday], Animal Protection Police Officer Paisley rescued a copperhead snake after it slithered into a home in Springfield and got stuck in a glue trap. Officers worked carefully to free the snake and send it on its way!” [FCPD/Facebook]

GMU to Compete for College World Series — “For the eighth time in school history, the George Mason Patriots will send a baseball team to the NCAA Division I Regionals. The school has not advanced to that level of play since 2014, but now GMU will be one of 64 teams vying for a chance to compete in the College World Series.” [WUSA9]

County Marks National Pollinator Month — “June is National Pollinator Month and the Fairfax County Park Authority is encouraging residents to celebrate and raise awareness about the significant impacts that bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and even bats have on our surroundings and what we can do to protect them.” [FCPA]

It’s Thursday — Partly sunny, with a high near 84. Northeast wind around 7 mph. At night: Mostly clear, with a low around 60. Southeast wind around 6 mph becoming calm in the evening. [Weather.gov]

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Writs of eviction issued in Fairfax County (courtesy Department of Housing and Community Development)

After a recent study showed an uptick in homelessness, Fairfax County staff say that data connects pretty cleanly to a matching rise in evictions over the last year.

The county saw a 10% increase — 119 people — in people experiencing homelessness for an estimated total of 1,310 people.

“In many ways the connection between housing and homelessness are logical, as homelessness is essentially defined as not having housing,” said Tom Barnett, deputy director of the county’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness. “Much of the work of a homeless system is helping people in housing crisis find and secure new housing opportunities that match their means and unique needs.”

Barnett said the increase in evictions, in turn, came at the same time as the end of federal and state eviction moratoria.

“The latest trends in evictions coincide with the ending of federal and state eviction moratoria and declining federal resources for emergency rental assistance from pandemic-era funding,” Barnett said. “The federal eviction moratorium ended in August 2021 and the Virginia eviction moratorium ended on June 30, 2022.”

According to the county’s eviction dashboard, there were 2,674 formal writs of eviction issued between June 1, 2020 and the end of 2022. Before Virginia’s moratorium ended, there were only two months in that period with 100 or more writs, but those numbers soared to 280 in October, 317 in November and 248 in December.

Barnett noted that some households are “evicted informally” and can’t be tracked.

In 2021, the county established a Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program that assisted households who couldn’t pay rent or utilities during the pandemic, allowing thousands to stay in their homes when they might otherwise have been evicted.

A new program was set up to cover some of those expiring benefits, but Barnett says the $14 million funding that program only accounts for a fraction of the $95 million in federal assistance provided over the last three years.

According to Barnett:

In anticipation of expiring federal benefits, [Health and Human Services] created the ERA Bridge Program in May 2022 and began accepting applications on July 1, 2022. The goal of this program is to keep significant resources in the community while beginning to transition to a new post-COVID operating and funding level still to be determined. The ERA Bridge Program totals approximately $14.0 million and is funded through a combination of federal and County funding. This funding is supplemented by leveraging community-based organization funds (private and federal) in addition to their Consolidated Community Funding Pool (CCFP) funding. This support is facilitated through the County and nonprofit partnership model that existed pre-COVID-19.

It is important to note that pre-pandemic, all rental and transitional housing assistance funded through CCFP totaled approximately $4.0 million. It is understood that post-pandemic funding needs will significantly exceed that amount, and the ERA Bridge Program provides time and space to evaluate future funding level needs.

Barnett said the long-term answers are going to come from investing in housing stability and eviction prevention.

The county has partnered with the Legal Services of Northern Virginia to provide legal aid for residents in the court system and has participated in direct outreach to landlords. The legal services partnership is funded for one year, with staff set to determine whether or not those services are required beyond that.

Within the court system, the county has also worked to streamline the rental assistance process and to proactively identify and assist residents at risk of eviction, Barnett said.

Even so, Fairfax County is experiencing higher demand in shelters for those experiencing homelessness, particularly in shelters designed for families, according to Barnett.

Shelter demand for families with children has surged since late 2021, which has increased the number of families in emergency shelters. As of March 6, 2023, County-contracted family shelter providers were serving 140 households, which is 246 percent of the number of households that they were contracted to serve in shelters. Similar trends are seen in the County’s two domestic violence shelters.

To address increased demand, HHS is currently working with emergency shelter providers to evaluate existing program models to determine if additional investments are needed to support emergency financial and rental assistance to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. HHS is committed to working with its nonprofit partners to ensure that no families with children are unsheltered.

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Aura is a residential building proposed on the final land bay in the Arrowbrook Centre development (via Fairfax County)

The final pieces of the massive Arrowbrook Centre development near Herndon’s Innovation Center Metro station got the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s unanimous support last week.

The commission recommended on May 24 that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approve changes to the final, nearly 10-acre section of the mixed-use development, which is being built and managed by a Launders Charitable Trust.

Specifically, the proposal swaps a 435-unit residential building called Aura from the eastern corner of the property with an office building directly east to it. Aura will be constructed by Trinsic Residential Group.

The swap pushes a hotel planned at the site further east, leaving space for two office buildings at the corner of the site, according to Tabatha Cole of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development.

The proposal also removes a parking structure in the land bay.

“Arrowbrook is not seeking to increase any density or any of the uses that are approved,” said John McGranahan, a partner with Hunton Andrew Kurth LLP.

But it’ll be a few years before the office and residential units will go online. To maintain the terms of the charitable trust that govern the development, the developer plans interim uses.

Early talks are underway for a potential partnership with the Virginia Tech Foundation and Virginia Cooperative Extension, a venture that focus heavily on sustainable agriculture, culinary arts and urban farming programs.

“That will be the home run,” McGranahan said. “That is what we’re hoping for. That’s what we’re planning for.”

If that plan falls through, the developer plans to install a community garden in addition to other uses like a lighted trail and outdoor plaza.

Jeff Fairfield, the trust’s manager, said the lease could be ready by the first half of next year, with the community garden as a fallback.

“My preference would be community-wide, first come, first serve,” Fairfield said regarding how use of the garden would be determined.

Hunter Mill District Commissioner John Carter clarified that the setback of the building near the Dulles Toll Road will be 71 feet instead of 200 feet — the current requirement in the county’s zoning ordinance. An exemption was supported by county staff.

Several planning commissioners lauded the developer for the quality of services provided. Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina called Arrowbrook Park — a park created by the developer — “stunning.” The developer also built a nearly 1,550 linear feet trail from Centreville Road to the Metro station.

“It’s pretty striking to go to that colosseum of a field out there and to see the high quality that it is,” Cortina said, adding that “you can really see the work that was done on that park.”

But some residents said they were concerned about issues related to traffic from construction and unmet promises of a grocery store and other retail on the site.

So far, the development includes Ovation at Arrowbrook, a 274- unit development for lease for tenants earning between 30 to 60% of the area median income. It includes roughly 36,000 square feet of retail space, 75% of which is leased.

As previously reported, upcoming tenants at the development include South Asian grocery Hello2India, Ornery Beer Company Public House and Paris Baguette. Those tenants are “coming soon,” Fairfield said.

Chef Peter Chang has also leased 3,500 square feet at the development for a Mama Chang restaurant, according to The Burn.

Granahan noted that Pulte — which has built most of the housing on the site — plans to conduct a community meeting once control of the streets flips from the builder to the homeowners’ association.

“The challenge is we’re in that period of developing a master plan community where the control of the streets is with the builder, not necessarily with the homeowners’ association,” he said.

He also said residents should have been aware of the intensity of the proposed development, which has been on the books for years.

Fairfield said Pulte hopes to transition control to the homeowners sometime in June.

The Launders’ trust was created after the death of the last remaining member of the family, which ran a cattle-grazing operation.

With the planning commission’s vote, the application is now scheduled for a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors next Tuesday (June 6).

Read more on FFXnow…


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