Herndon Prepares for Metro — Town officials reflect on how they’re preparing for Metro’s arrival. The town has 38 acres of developable land north of the new Metro station. [Washington Business Journal]
Aslin Beer Co. to Expand — The brewery, which has locations in Alexandria and Herndon, is opening a 7,000-square-foot taproom in The Terminal, a large redevelopment of Pittsburg. [Washington Business Journal]
QR Codes Now Available to Verify Vaccine Status — The state’s health department has announced that QR codes are now available to verify an individual’s vaccination status. Virginia is now the fifth state in the country to adopt the QR code method. [Fairfax County Government]
Although Election Day is still more than six weeks away, Fairfax County residents can start casting their ballots when early voting begins tomorrow (Friday).
The county will have three sites open for voting in the Nov. 2 general election for Virginia’s governor and other state offices: the Fairfax County Government Center, the Mount Vernon Governmental Center, and the North County Governmental Center.
The county anticipates a turnout of about 50% for this year’s general election, according to county spokesperson Brian Worthy. But the Office of Elections is prepared for a turnout of 75%.
In the last governor’s race in 2017, turnout stood at around 56% when Gov. Ralph Northam — who cannot seek re-election due to term limits — ran against Republican nominee Ed Gillespie and Libertarian Party candidate Clifford Hyra.
Worthy tells FFXnow that the county is now adept at running elections during the pandemic.
“We have been holding elections since the pandemic and there is no significant impact on our operations at this point,” he said.
Terry McAullife (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R) are running to succeed Northam as governor, while Hala Ayala (D) and Winsome Sears (R) are running for lieutenant governor. Republican Jason Miyares is challenging incumbent Mark Herring, who is a Democrat, for attorney general.
All 100 House of Delegates seats are also up for grabs, with Democrats seeking to maintain a majority in the legislative chamber for the first time since 1999. Sample ballots for each of the Fairfax County races can be found on the Office of Elections website.
Finally, the ballot includes a bond question concerning $360 million in capital improvement bonds for Fairfax County Public Schools.
How to Vote
The Fairfax County Government Center will be open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., while the other sites will be open from noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays. All sites will be open on Saturday, Sept. 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
All registered Fairfax County voters can vote early. The last day of early voting is Oct. 30.
This year, county officials are encouraging residents to vote early using an electronic ballot-marketing machine called an ExpressVote.
The system allows voters to use the machine’s touchscreen instead of filling out a ballot by hand. Ballots are then printed by the machine, a system that county officials say will prevent voters from missing any races on the ballot or accidentally voting for more than one candidate per office.
An additional 13 early voting locations will open up on Thursday, Oct. 21. Those sites will operate from noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Weekend hours will be added later: from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 23 and 30, and from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 24.
Voters must bring identification when they vote, though a photo ID like a driver’s license is no longer required. Accepted forms include a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or another government document with the voter’s name and address.
Voting by mail, an option now open to all registered voters, will also kick off tomorrow. Requests to receive a mail-in ballot must be received by Oct. 22.
Masks are required for voters and poll workers at polling places, according to Worthy. Voters who do not wear masks will be able to vote outside.
“Everyone will be given the opportunity to vote,” he said.
The county is still looking for bilingual election offices who speak Korean or Vietnamese in addition to include. Bilingual speakers can apply online to become election officers until Oct. 8.
After a couple of relatively dry weeks, the weather in Fairfax County is about to take a turn for the rainy today (Thursday).
The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch for the D.C. area at 2:44 p.m. Set to remain in effect until 9 p.m., the alert warns that showers and thunderstorms could produce up to two inches of rain per hour, potentially leading to floods in some areas.
Here is the full alert:
…FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM EDT THIS EVENING…
The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a
* Flash Flood Watch for portions of DC, Maryland and northern Virginia, including the following areas: in DC, District of Columbia. In Maryland, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Central and Southeast Howard, Central and Southeast Montgomery, Frederick MD, Northern Baltimore, Northwest Harford, Northwest Howard, Northwest Montgomery, Prince Georges, Southeast Harford and Southern Baltimore. In northern Virginia, Arlington/Falls Church/Alexandria, Eastern Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William/Manassas/Manassas Park and Western Loudoun.
* Until 9 PM EDT this evening.
* Slow moving showers and thunderstorms will produce very heavy rainfall, potentially leading to areas of flash flooding. Rainfall rates may reach two inches per hour.
The NWS advises residents to monitor weather forecasts later in the day and prepare to take action if the watch escalates into a Flash Flood Warning.
[9/16 at 2:52 PM] A Flash Flood Watch has been issued until 9 PM tonight. Slow moving showers and thunderstorms will produce very heavy rainfall, potentially leading to flash flooding. Stay weather aware this evening and know what to do if a warning is issued. #VaWx pic.twitter.com/CoUkSmc4qC
— Ready Fairfax (@ReadyFairfax) September 16, 2021
A residential development project that’s stalled for years and would run along Hidden Creek Golf Course is moving forward.
Project leaders with Golf Course Overlook LLC and Golf Course Plaza LLC say they could demolish an office complex that housed a Montessori school, law offices and more.
“We get excited for each and every new development and measure of progress that we come across each day,” said Curt Adkins, vice president of Golf Course Overlook, which is based at the site (11480 Sunset Hills Road).
All of Golf Course Plaza’s tenants have vacated and a crew involved in the project remains at the site.
“We were asked to leave,” attorney JohnPaul Callan of The Callan Law Firm said, noting his office moved to Sterling. “It was probably about two months ago.”
A county database says a demolition permit for the property was processed in March but the permit’s “date issued” status is listed as not available. The county’s Land Development Services department wasn’t immediately able to address a Reston Now message seeking clarity on the matter by the time this article published.
The project was submitted to the county in 2016, put on hold in 2017 and downsized in 2019.
The project has called for constructing a 300-unit residential complex that’s nine stories tall. A rendering shows the project with rectangular building wings meeting into a center that has floor-to-ceiling glass walls on each level for that section.
A hauler or hauling companies to remove the debris could be picked in six weeks, Adkins said.
The developer plans to submit a building permit soon.
In the market for a job? Whether you’re looking for a part-time gig or full-time role, there are plenty of openings around Reston.
We scoured job boards and company sites to find opportunities. Companies hiring locally include Reston Hospital Center, Leidos, the Virginia Department of Transportation and Walmart.
Take a look:
- Software engineering manager — Fannie Mae
- Workday integrations consultant — Deloitte
- Federal client development executive — Iron Mountain
- Patient safety attendant — Reston Hospital Center
- Senior staff software engineer — FireEye
- Chemist, data validator (remote) — Leidos
- Surgical scheduler — Virginia Cancer Specialists
- Senior product manager — Walmart
- Lead proposal writer — CACI
- Bridge maintenance crew member — Virginia Department of Transportation
- Manager grievance/appeals — Anthem
- Business development representative, public sector — Salesforce
- Assistant teacher (part-time) — Bright Horizons
- Floor tech — Reston Hospital Center
- Tutor — Grade Potential Tutoring
Are you a business owner or manager who’s hiring? Get your opening in front of more local job seekers with our featured Job of the Day posts. Reach out to [email protected] or give us a call at 703-348-0583 for more details.
Reston Association’s IT director has resigned, an IT committee has no chair and the organization has been working for over a year to upgrade its website.
It comes after Ven Iyer, a former RA board member, raised concerns about information technology issues, noting issues in March that included an email breach of former RA CEO Hank Lynch resulting in a loss of $187,000.
Clara William took on the role in September 2019, but RA spokesman Mike Leone said she resigned last month.
The organization temporarily took down its website in July 2020 and has been using a platform called Squarespace, a website builder that doesn’t require coding. A DropBox — a popular file hosting service — is used to house meeting materials for the public.
“We upgraded the website in July 2020, and it currently resides on SquareSpace,” Leone said in a statement. “It is secure and no member data is housed on that platform so there are no security concerns.”
In late February, the board agreed to have staff create a report by its next board meeting about all IT incidents in the past two years that resulted in the loss of “data, money or website capacity,” costs associated with the incidents and more. The motion said it would be released to members at the earliest date possible.
The board again reviewed the issue in executive session during a June 24 regular meeting, referred “the matter of the website to the IT Committee for review and recommendation” and instructed the association’s CEO to have “staff answer all Board questions” by Aug. 18.
Staff has completed the document but it’s not being made available to the public. Leone said it’s an internal document that addresses website capability and security. It wasn’t immediately clear whether dues-paying RA residents will have access to it. Leone said the IT committee will have access to the questions when they officially meet.
According to RA, it hopes to launch a new website sometime in 2022 but a timeline won’t be set until the IT committee meets.
Meanwhile, Lynch resigned in August. Larry Butler has since been named acting CEO as the search for a permanent CEO continues.
In a meeting room that more resembles a college classroom than the stateliness of the board auditorium just two floors down, 20 volunteers are redrawing the lines that divide and define Fairfax County.
Appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on June 22, the 2021 Redistricting Advisory Committee (RAC) has been meeting regularly since late July, but members got their first opportunity on Monday (Sept. 13) to present the district maps they’ve created to determine the county’s leaders for the next decade.
Some members suggested limited changes, moving the Fort Buffalo precinct across the district line from Providence to Mason, for example. Others crafted entirely new districts around Lorton or a swath of Herndon and Chantilly east of Dulles International Airport.
Fairfax County has developed a publicly available mapping tool that allows communities to be realigned with a simple click of a button, but each alteration could have significant implications for what the county will look like in the future.
“These are not just lines on a map,” said Linda Smyth, who now represents Providence District on the RAC and previously represented it on the Board of Supervisors. “It’s about neighborhoods. It’s about people.”
The pressure on this year’s redistricting effort is even higher than usual as the county races to complete a year-long process that has been condensed into roughly five months, thanks largely to coronavirus-related delays in the release of data from the 2020 Census.
The RAC voted on Monday to request a timeline extension after complications in getting adjusted Census data from the Virginia Division of Legislative Services further delayed county staff’s ability to build the online mapping tool that the committee needs to do its work, according to Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw.
Under the schedule originally approved by the Board of Supervisors on June 8, the RAC was expected to finish its work and turn in all the map options they think the board should consider on Friday (Sept. 17).
However, the committee didn’t get the new Census population and demographic data until last Friday (Sept. 10). Prior to that, members had been using old data for training purposes, RAC Chairman Paul Berry says.
“We got the numbers much later in the calendar year than we expected. We would’ve been doing this in the spring if not for the pandemic,” Berry said Monday night. “…The board and Chairman [Jeff] McKay felt it was prudent to give everyone more time to do the work, because we’re all volunteers at the end of the day.”
After a motion put forward by Walkinshaw, the board voted unanimously on Tuesday (Sept. 14) to give the RAC until Sept. 28 to finalize its maps. The initial Sept. 10 deadline for members of the public to submit their own proposed maps has also been extended to this Sunday (Sept. 19).
Board members acknowledged that the new timeline remains less-than-ideal, giving the RAC under two weeks to evaluate its own maps and those from the public, but flexibility is limited by state law, which requires localities to send a redistricting plan to the attorney general for approval by the end of the year.
The need for localities get the attorney general’s approval is a new step introduced by the Voting Rights Act of Virginia, which combats voter suppression and discrimination. The General Assembly adopted the law in April, making Virginia the first state in the U.S. with its own voting rights act, and Gov. Ralph Northam formally signed it on Monday, though it took effect on July 1.
“It’s unfortunate we have to change the schedule, but it’s a very minor modification to make sure the public still has the opportunity to be involved in this,” McKay said. “The driver here is a whole lot of laws and other things we have to abide by, but it’s also to make sure the committee has a schedule and any member of the public can see where that window is.”
The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on its redistricting plan on Nov. 7 and vote on a final ordinance on Dec. 7.
Conducted every 10 years by state and local governments, redistricting involves drawing electoral district boundaries to ensure each district has about the same population, though gerrymandering has often undermined that goal of equal voting representation.
Fairfax County’s newly drawn districts must meet several legal and policy criteria, including standards for compactness, a maximum 10% deviation in the populations of the most and least-crowded districts, and compliance with voting rights protections.
The Board of Supervisors also adopted rules to consider existing geographic, political, and voting precinct boundaries as well as “communities of interest” — neighborhoods or areas where residents share “social, cultural, and economic interests.”
Balancing the different criteria is one of the primary challenges facing the Redistricting Advisory Committee.
For instance, Saif Rahman, who represents the Arab American community on the RAC, proposed a map with a 10th “Lorton” district where all the districts had less than a 2% standard deviation in their populations.
Achieving that uniformity, however, required bumping the Springfield District Office out of Springfield and removing Mount Vernon from its eponymous district to create the new Lorton district, among other tweaks.
Because of the groups’ different timelines, the RAC also can’t refer to the work of the new Virginia Redistricting Commission, which was been hampered by partisan conflicts and last-minute process changes in its efforts to draw new House of Delegates and state Senate districts.
“I wish that they could finish first and that we could then do our work, because that would make it easier for us to align magisterial districts around the House and Senate maps,” Berry said. “That alignment, in my opinion, it’s less confusing for people who vote and live and work in these areas.”
As if redistricting wasn’t ambitious enough, the RAC also waded into the ongoing debates on renaming county landmarks with ties to slavery or the Confederacy, agreeing on Monday to include a passage in its report supporting a future reevaluation of the names of Fairfax County’s magisterial districts.
The committee’s discussions focused on Lee and Sully districts, which are respectively named after Confederate general Robert E. Lee and an 18th-century slave plantation, but the report will have broader language that doesn’t mention specific districts.
“We’ve been tasked by the Board of Supervisors to redraw the magisterial districts,” Berry said. “It seems very natural to me that we would, in addition to that work, add in, in the interest of equity, a recommendation that says we need to open up the naming discussion formally after our process is done.”
Reston Resident to Lead County Park Authority — Jai Cole, a Restonian, has been named the executive director of the Fairfax County Park Authority. Cole has more than two decades of leadership experience with recreation and park agencies. [Fairfax County Government]
Finland-based Company Choses Reston for North America Headquarters — Cloudpermit, a software company, has selected Reston as its North American headquarters. The company’s CEO says that Virginia was the right choice because of the “the highest concentration of tech talent in the U.S.” [PR Newswire]
Health Department to Improve COVID-19 Contact Interviews — The county’s health department is working on improving how to expedite contact with students who have been exposed to COVID-19 but haven’t been notified by health department staff. [Fairfax County Government]
The developer behind Halley Rise, the mixed-use project currently under construction, is now offering more details about amenities: a dog park and an outdoor fitness park.
The parks will be open to the public during daylight hours, and the dog park will have separate sections for small and large dogs, developer Brookfield Properties tells Reston Now.
The combined 4,500-square-foot dog area, just under the size of a basketball court, will also have wooden bridges and other elements for canines, benches for people and water fountains for dogs and their owners.
Meanwhile, the 8,000-square-foot Apex Fitness Park will include Trekfit outdoor equipment such as a cargo net as well as push-up, pull-up and parallel bars.
The over $1 billion complex began construction in October 2019 along Sunrise Valley Drive and Reston Park, which will place it next to the forthcoming Reston Town Center Metro station.
The parks are expected to open this fall, the developer says.
Other amenities for the complex include a Wegmans and over four football fields’ worth of retail space.
Parts of the project are slated to open this year and next, including move-ins for The Edmund, a luxury apartment building there, starting in the next few weeks, spokesperson Laura Montross says.
After nearly two years of discussions and 15 meetings, a study group has voted in favor of ditching three pedestrian crossing options offered by a developer of an approved mixed-use development near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
TF Cornerstone plans to transform an aging office park east of Wiehle Avenue between Sunrise Valley Drive and the Dulles Toll Road into a 1.3-million-square-foot development called Campus Commons. The county approved the project in late 2019 — but how the development will connect to Metro and provide safe passage to pedestrians remains a significant concern.
The developer proffered to encourage the formation of a study group that would assess three proposed pedestrian overpasses or identify another crossing option at the crossing of Wiehle Avenue at the Dulles Toll Road ramps at the northwest corner of the site.
All of the study group’s members voted against the developer’s proposal for a pedestrian overpass. Instead, a major of the 17-member group voted in favor of an underpass — an option that would up the cost of the project.
The study group did not vote on a singular option to address the issue and instead provided a general sense of preferences voiced by members and other community members.
The report noted that while the developer’s proposal for an overpass would be developer-funded, the option presents design, utilization, and maintenance concerns.
The first developer-proposed option would include a ramp and stairs on the west side of the road and elevators and stairs on the east side. The second bridge option would include elevators and stairs on both sides. The third option would include a ramp on the west and egress into the building on the east side.
An underpass would utilize the existing grade, provide the shortest consistent crossing time, and provide easier ADA access, according to the report. But cost and feasibility due to surrounding utilities remain a concern.
At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, Hunter Mill District Supervisor formally accepted the group’s findings. The board now has one year to select the best and most feasible option. If the county for pedestrian crossing. If it does not select one of the three options proposed by the developer, the developer will provide $1.65 million towards another solution.
Additionally, the board will determine if an at-grade crossing at Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road eastbound ramps should be provided by the developer. This proffer is separate from the grade-separated crossing options discussed above.