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by Dave Emke — March 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm 8 Comments

Woodland Park Development/Fairfax County

A development project just west of the future Herndon Metro station has been given the go-ahead by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who approved it at their meeting Tuesday.

Woodland Park Development/Fairfax CountyThe mixed-use Woodland Park East development will include 678 residential units: 74 single-family attached homes, 90 two-over-two stacked townhomes and 515 multifamily dwelling units within two buildings. Two office buildings — 16 stories and 14 stories — that will include 20,000 square feet of optional ground-floor retail are also part of the plan. The property will also include 6.1 acres of public parks and 2.8 acres of private open space.

The county Planning Commission recommended the project for approval in January.

The development is planned to provide affordable housing, with 12 percent of the total units (approximately 81) set aside as affordable or workforce housing.

“It really does reflect the opportunity of need, if you think about the development that has come forward with the workforce there and all of the housing,” said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District). “How do we meet the needs of work and living throughout the tiers of incomes? I really do appreciate working on that. I think this is a very good project.”

The property, which borders the Dulles Toll Road to the north and Monroe Street to the east, is owned by Tishman Speyer. Development will be done by NVR Inc.

Illustration and map via Fairfax County

by Dave Emke — March 1, 2017 at 2:45 pm 32 Comments

Reston Transit Area/Fairfax County

At its meeting Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the $2.27 billion Reston Transportation Funding Plan.

Included in the plan is a 2.1 cent/$100 of assessed value tax assessed to properties in the Reston Transit Station Area (pictured). Under the agreed-upon plan, current homeowners in the TSA will be responsible for up to $44.6 million of the estimated cost. The remainder of the tax funds (totaling $350 million) will be collected from commercial/industrial properties and from residential properties built in the future.

The rest of private funds, about $716 million, is expected to be collected through in-kind contributions to the grid by developers.

The residential tax issue was a concern of several of the speakers during a public hearing before the vote.

“FCDOT implicitly declares that Reston homeowners must be taxed because the County cannot move any current tax revenues in its $4 billion budget to improve Reston’s streets, the County can’t use any future station area property tax revenues to invest in Reston’s streets [and] the County can never raise the rates on any countywide taxes that would help generate billions in future tax revenues,” said Terry Maynard of the Reston 20/20 committee, who has been an outspoken detractor of the tax. “To insist on these assumptions is an outright falsehood, and FCDOT and [the Board of Supervisors] know it.”

Reston resident Tammi Petrine also addressed the board with similar concerns about forcing residents to pay for needed infrastructure. In addition, John McBride, land-use attorney representing Reston Association, addressed the board to share the RA Board of Directors’ stance against the residential tax.

Representing the Reston Network Analysis Advisory Group, chairman Andy Sigle said the “alternative funding sources” beyond the in-kind developer contributions were necessary.

“Following much discussion and additional community input, a majority of the advisory group voted to endorse staff’s recommendation,” Sigle said. “While the vote was not unanimous in regard to the specific road fund and service district contribution rates, the advisory group was in agreement regarding the general structure of the funding plan.”

Maggie Parker of developer Comstock Partners, who was also a part of RNAAG, said the group’s meetings were “informative, inclusive and impactful.”

“This funding plan is burdensome; however, after dozens of meetings, revision of scope and countless financial models, it is what it is,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s an investment in our community and the citizens who live and work here.”

In addition to the grid, private funds are slated to be used for upgrades to intersections. Public funds — from local, state, regional and federal sources — totaling $1.2 billion are to be used for roadway improvements including the construction of a bridge over the Dulles Toll Road at Soapstone Drive and a Town Center Parkway underpass of the Toll Road.

Two supervisors abstained from the vote. Supervisor Pat Herrity (Springfield District) said he continues to have concerns about the overall cost of the project, and Supervisor Linda Smyth (Providence District) said she could not support the plan when she has continually opposed a similar tax in Tysons.

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) said she understands taxes are unpopular, but she believes the impact is outweighed by the benefits.

“I think the relative point is that the majority of [the plan] is being paid for by public dollars and by developers,” she said. “It is a difficult ask, but we think it is an important ask. As Reston continues to grow, we have congestion — very bad congestion — and these infrastructure improvements need to get started.”

Pet of the Week: Diesel

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — March 1, 2017 at 1:45 pm 1 Comment

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

This week’s Pet of the Week is Diesel, available for adoption from the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association. Here is what his foster mom, Lucinda, had to say about him:

Diesel loves going for hikes and runs, and will be a terrific companion for someone who enjoys the outdoors with him. Despite his energy, he is calm when at home and has been given free rein of the house at night with no issues. He is crate-trained and housebroken.

Diesel came to us very overweight, but has started to slim down. His forever home should be committed to maintaining his activity so he can get to the vet’s recommended weight. Diesel is about 2 1/2 years old and weighs about 42 pounds.

Diesel has barked at some tall men and a few dogs, probably due to previous experiences. He’s been great with our dog but I don’t think he’d be good with cats or small kids. He’ll benefit from some training and positive reinforcement to overcome some bad habits, like pulling on walks. I think his new home should have some experience with working dogs.

He loves the water and riding in cars.

Diesel is being fostered in Reston. Questions? Email sendamessagetoadam@gmail.com or submit your application now.

Are you and Diesel a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

by Dave Emke — March 1, 2017 at 1:05 pm 1 Comment

National Weather Service radar map

The National Weather Service in Sterling has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area until 1:45 p.m.

From the bulletin:

* At 104 PM EST, severe thunderstorms were located along a line
extending from Broadlands to near Haymarket to 9 miles east of
Orange, moving east at 50 mph.

HAZARD…60 mph wind gusts.

SOURCE…Radar indicated.

IMPACT…Damaging winds will cause some trees and large branches
to fall. This could injure those outdoors, as well as
damage homes and vehicles. Roadways may become blocked by
downed trees. Localized power outages are possible.
Unsecured light objects may become projectiles.

* Locations impacted include…
Arlington, Alexandria, Stafford, Centreville, Waldorf, Dale City,
Rockville, Bethesda, Reston, Bowie, Leesburg, Annandale, Clinton,
Springfield, College Park, Fredericksburg, South Riding, Fort
Washington, Herndon and Greenbelt.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

Get indoors to protect yourself from wind and lightning. Trees around
you may be downed from damaging winds, so if you are near large
trees, move to an interior room on the lowest floor. Don’t drive
underneath trees or in wooded areas until the threat has passed.

Radar map via National Weather Service

by Dave Emke — March 1, 2017 at 11:15 am 51 Comments

Lake House/Reston AssociationStoneTurn Group’s independent review (available here) of Reston Association’s Tetra/Lake House purchase has given 15 recommendations to the Board of Directors for how to avoid a similar situation from happening again.

The forensic accounting firm was contracted by the Reston Association board in January, at a cost of $45,000, to review the controversial purchase and the cost overruns associated with the building’s renovation. The 30-page report, released Wednesday morning, focuses on “identifying areas for process improvement, potential changes to internal controls and/or modification to governance procedures to help ensure situations like the Lake House cost overrun can be avoided in the future.”

Among the findings of the StoneTurn Group were a lack of written internal control policies for RA staff to rely upon during the transaction; internal control processes that are “not sufficient” to account for funds when they are contracted or encumbered; and an estimation process for renovations that “was not performed in a manner that could have yielded a reasonable estimate and was not documented.”

In the review, the firm noted a lack of a comprehensive Code of Conduct or Code of Business Ethics, which are “generally considered to be cornerstone documents for an effective internal control environment.” (The Board’s Governance Committee is now in the process of creating such a code.)

The firm also noted that its analysis of items discussed in executive session was “significantly hampered by the absence of any meeting minutes and retained packages of information presented and discussed.” In addition, the review reads that RA “does not have a clear or central document retention policy and procedure” and that StoneTurn had to rely on finding documents “from various employees and directors based on their individual retention decisions.”

The recommendations made by StoneTurn to the RA Board of Directors in the review are as follows:

Recommendation 1: Policies should be established, documented and then reviewed and updated on an annual basis. All updates to the policies should be tracked within the policy itself.

Recommendation 2: For every established policy, internal written processes should be established and “owners” of the internal processes should be identified. We recommend that these internal processes include both the procedures required to execute the policy (a preventative control) as well as procedures that will verify that the process has been followed properly (a detective control).

Recommendation 3: Establish a comprehensive Code of Conduct for both the Association Board of Directors and staff.

Recommendation 4: Consider adopting a policy that will provide greater transparency to the considerations undertaken in Executive Session.

Recommendation 5: Establish a process whereby the threshold is calculated and included in the budgeting documents. Establish a procedure at the estimation of Capital Projects to compare the aggregate estimated cost of a project to the threshold.

Recommendation 6: Clarify the existing policy to provide guidance for situations where a project expands or where an estimate is found to be insufficient. This should include guidance on when an overrun should be brought to the attention of the Board of Directors as well as guidance on the appropriate process to follow when the revised amounts exceed the threshold.

Recommendation 7: Prepare a long term Capital Improvement Plan and update it on an annual basis.

Recommendation 8: Establish written policies and procedures for the evaluation and management of capital projects which should include: 1) a requirement to specify the design in advance of the estimate or budget being prepared; 2) a requirement to identify and disclose the key assumptions including in the estimate or budget; and 3) a requirement to maintain the documentation supporting the estimate or budget.

Recommendation 9: Establish a process to ensure that purchase orders and contracts cannot be issued without encumbering the funds and ensuring that the approved budgeted amounts are sufficient.

Recommendation 10: Establish a quarterly or semi-annual review process where the aggregate amount of encumbered amounts plus estimates of all amounts remaining to be contracted are compared to the annual approved budget.

Recommendation 11: Revise the resolution to remove the language stating the policy is only required to “the extent practical”. In the event that written quotations are deemed not to be necessary require that a memorandum be prepared and approved detailing the reasons and authorizations for the decision.

Recommendation 12: Develop a process to ensure that prior to an invoice being paid they are matched and agreed to properly approved contracts or purchase orders. This should include an analysis of the aggregate amount paid under any to ensure that the invoice is within the approved terms.

Recommendation 13: Establish a formal document retention policy specifying the nature of the documents required to be maintained which should include specific requirements for financial documents, documents presented to either the Board of Directors or a Board Committee, etc.

Recommendation 14: Establish a procedure to record and track all proffered amounts and any restrictions on such amounts.

Recommendation 15: Establish a procedure to analyze likely annual covenant compliance at interim periods but no less frequently than semi-annually.

In a community meeting with a StoneTurn Group representative in early February, many residents spoke to express what they were hoping to see in the review — including individual culpability, specific conflicts of interest and potential law-breaking that may have occurred in the process of the purchase. That type of information, which the StoneTurn representative at the meeting said was outside the scope of their work, is not explicitly outlined in the review.

The Reston Association Board of Directors plans to review the report, and a special public meeting will be held Tuesday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m. regarding its findings.

Photo via Reston Association

by Dave Emke — March 1, 2017 at 10:15 am 33 Comments

Reston National Golf Course

An investment advisory firm has listed Reston National Golf Course as a property “coming soon” for developers, which has angered a local advocacy group.

Rescue Reston was formed in 2012 to oppose efforts to redevelop the golf course’s open space into a residential area, and it was successful. However, it now appears the group has a new fight on its hands.

ARA Newmark has recently distributed information announcing that “168 acres of by-right residential development” would soon be available at the golf course. In an emailed statement to media, Rescue Reston says the advertisement’s use of the term “by-right” is “highly misleading.”

“The Development Plans filed with Fairfax County for the Golf Course and the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan clearly designate the land as open space to be used as a golf course. Any residential development plan would require a review by County Planning Commission staff, a public hearing before the County Planning Commission, a public hearing before the County Board of Supervisors, and ultimately an amendment to the County Comprehensive Plan.”

Rescue Reston president Connie Hartke says her group believes the ownership of the golf course, RN Golf Management, is putting out feelers to potential developers.

“After consulting with our attorney, we suspect this is the first round to determine what the market will bear. A call for bids, if you will,” she said. “RN Golf let it be known in this letter of March 4, 2016 that they intend to pursue ‘available redevelopment options’ to develop Reston’s permanent open space. This is why we have remained vigilant and are able to react so quickly to this news.”

The Reston National site is listed on ARA Newmark’s website, with a price designated as “TBD by Market.”

Hartke said Rescue Reston plans to “mobilize [its] allies and supporters as necessary to oppose any attempt to amend the Comprehensive Plan that would threaten our open space.”

by Dave Emke — March 1, 2017 at 9:00 am 2 Comments

Morning Notes

Strong Storms Possible Later Today — Temperatures in the 70s are again predicted for this afternoon. However, showers and thunderstorms are possible into the evening, with damaging winds and large hail also possible. [Capital Weather Gang]

More Craft Beer on the Way? — New zoning regulations approved Tuesday by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors may open the door for more small breweries in Reston. There are currently seven licensed craft breweries in the county. [Fairfax County]

Rider: Metro Worst System He’s Used — David Ballard, of Reston, compares his experience on the Metro to public transportation systems in Denver, Salt Lake City, Portland, Dallas and Mexico City. He says the DC system not only is “by far” worse than the others, it’s more expensive. [Washington Post]

Metro Ridership Down Dramatically — At the Wiehle-Reston East station, ridership was down 13.4 percent in the last quarter of 2016. Ridership on the Silver Line as a whole was down 9 percent. [WTOP]

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