This is an open letter submitted by residents of the North Point area, addressed to the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, Reston Design Review Board, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, Fairfax County Supervisors, and all affected community members. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now.
The undersigned residents of the North Point area of Reston seek your attention and assistance regarding anticipated changes to plans for redevelopment of the St. Johns Wood apartment complex.
The property is located at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Center Harbor Road. Please assure that Bozzuto Development Company Inc. (Bozzuto) provides all affected reviewing authorities and the public-at-large sufficient time and information to review the revised plans that the developer has indicated will be made.
The numerous submissions by Bozzuto for redevelopment of the property, seeking to convert 250 multi-family garden apartments in nine three-story buildings to 467 new apartments and 44 townhomes, have undergone many changes over several years. County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins currently advises on her website, “Bozzuto is in the process of revising their plan; therefore, the public hearing was deferred until May 25, 2017.” This postponement by County Planning follows deferral of review by the Reston Design Review Board in October 2016 and a statement of non-support for the Bozzuto application by the Reston Association in September 2016.
More recently, the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee calendared the review of a yet-to-be publically released revision of the developer’s redevelopment plans for St. Johns Wood. That meeting is scheduled for March 27.
Despite the rapidly approaching dates for Reston Planning & Zoning Committee review and the County Planning public hearing, to date Bozzuto has not provided the public with any information about changes to its application.
If the changes are not significant, it is unconscionable to withhold public scrutiny of this potentially neighborhood-altering project. If, as is suspected, the changes to the application are significant, it is even more imperative that the public be provided meaningful opportunity to examine and comment. This is particularly important given the troubling deficiencies cited by the Reston Design Review Board and the Reston Association.
The St. Johns Wood project will so greatly affect the quality of life, environment, safety and property values of the North Point area of Reston that the project must be reviewed in the most transparent manner possible. Please help!
The Fairfax County Police Department has released the name of the officer who shot and killed a Herndon man in January, ending a chaotic barricade/hostage situation.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Police Chief Edwin Roessler said 16-year FCPD veteran Master Police Officer Lance Guckenberger fired the shot that killed 32-year-old Mohammad Azim Doudzai on Jan. 16.
“Due to the escalating violent and threatening behavior by Mohammad Azim Doudzai and the urgent safety concerns for the person trapped in the home who was reporting to dispatchers that he was having trouble breathing, Master Police Officer Lance Guckenberger, a 16-year veteran currently assigned to the Special Operations Division, deployed his department-issued firearm to stop the active threat created by Mohammad Azim Doudzai and allowed the rescue of the trapped man in the home.”
First-aid was performed on Doudzai by officers at the scene, according to the statement, but the man died at the hospital.
Police say Guckenberger has been involved in two previous incidents where deadly force was deployed. Both incidents, according to the statement, were “determined to be lawfully justified uses of force in which the officer used great restraint while being exposed to suspects who were using weapons against the involved officer while the officer was attempting to preserve the sanctity of human life for others.”
In each of the previous incidents, in 2005 and 2010, the suspect had opened fire on police and Guckenberger’s shot was not fatal. For his role in the 2005 incident, Guckenberger was recognized with the Award of Valor from the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.
Guckenberger was placed on routine administrative leave after the Jan. 16 incident in Herndon. His name had not been previously released as police were waiting for a threat assessment against him to be conducted. No credible threat was discovered.
The Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County will present “Saturday Night in the Suburbs” on Wednesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. in the school’s lecture hall. The event will feature a panel of high school seniors talking about drug and alcohol use, teen parties, parent supervision, social media, and teen-parent communication and resiliency.
Jennifer Lewis-Cooper of the Unified Prevention Coalition will facilitate.
“Parents find this to be somewhat eye-opening,” Lewis-Cooper has said about the event. “We will not ask the panel specific names, dates, places of events or put them on the spot — their job is not to ‘snitch’ on others, but to educate parents to understand what teens are dealing with and help parents to set better limits.”
Parents of middle school and high school students are encouraged to attend, and only adults will be admitted. Exhibit tables with information and local resource materials will be available.
For more information about the event, call 703-938-8723 or email [email protected].
Rhonda VanLowe was appointed Tuesday to a one-year term on the panel. She is a member of the Governor’s Taskforce for Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response and served on the Public Safety workgroup.
According to a news release from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors:
“[VanLowe] has devoted much of her community service work to serving those with unique physical, mental, emotional, intellectual or cognitive backgrounds. Ms. VanLowe practiced law in law firm and corporate settings, served as Board Chair of The Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, Inc., and received the National Women of Color Special Recognition Award at the 2008 STEM Conference. Ms. VanLowe is a 36-year resident of Fairfax County and looks forward to working together with members of the Panel to develop procedures that will set the foundational tone and tenor for the work of the Panel.”
The Citizens Police Review Panel was created in December by the county Board of Supervisors. Its goal will be to look over police complaints and internal probes as part of a new effort to increase transparency in the area’s law enforcement.
The county’s Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission called for the panel in an October 2015 report to the Board of Supervisors. While the commission was established in the aftermath of a fatal police-involved shooting in 2013, the new panel won’t handle matters concerning potentially criminal uses of force.
Members of the panel can serve up to two three-year terms. The inaugural members of the board were randomly assigned one-, two- and three-year initial terms so that term expirations would be staggered, supervisors said Tuesday.
The full makeup of the panel is listed below:
- ONE-YEAR TERMS: Hansel Aguilar (Fairfax), Hollye Doane (Oakton) and VanLowe
- TWO-YEAR TERMS: Randy Sayles (Oak Hill), Jean Senseman (Lorton) and Adrian L. Steel Jr. (McLean)
- THREE-YEAR TERMS: Kathleen Davis-Siudut (Springfield), Steve Descano (Springfield) and Douglas Kay (Fairfax)
Steel will serve as the panel’s first chairman.
The General Assembly has adjourned its annual session. In future columns, I will write about bills that survived the governor’s veto pen and those that did not.
In the final days of the session, we honored once again a then-young woman named Barbara Johns, who contributed so much to the history of Virginia. On Feb. 23, Gov. Terry McAuliffe dedicated the renovated former Richmond Hotel and now Office of the Attorney General as the Barbara Johns Building. Barbara is also honored on the grounds of the State Capitol with a statue of her, prominently part of the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial.
Her story is a very meaningful one in the civil rights movement in Virginia, and her example of leadership is one that must be emulated today. Barbara attended Robert Russa Moton High School. While the white children in the community went to a brick school, her school was an overcrowded, dilapidated, tar-paper shanty. She was frustrated with the conditions of the facility. She dreamed of a school where the students did not have to keep their coats on all day to stay warm and where classes were not held in the auditorium.
In April 1951, before Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr.’s movements, 16-year-old Ms. Johns organized a strike at her school. She felt her idea to strike was divinely inspired and sought no outside validation for her actions. She was just a junior in high school when she met with several of her classmates to organize. On April 23, 1951, more than 450 Moton High School students walked out of their school and marched to the courthouse and to the homes of local school officials to protest the conditions of their school.
A few days into the strike, the students contacted the NAACP for legal counsel. Civil rights lawyers from the NAACP filed a lawsuit asking for full integration of the county’s public schools. The students who wished to file suit combined their names into a list, and Dorothy E. Davis, the daughter of a local farmer, was the first to add her name. One month later, the NAACP filed Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County in federal court. The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court combined its ruling in the Davis case with four other similar cases to form the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, that declared the segregation of public schools unconstitutional.
Although the Davis case did not result in the desegregation of Prince Edward County’s public schools — it took 10 years and 40 lawsuits to overcome Massive Resistance — Ms. John’s actions were vital for the future of civil rights movements.
In the words of Gov. McAuliffe, “Ms. Johns’ history is a lasting reminder to inspire men and women to fight for justice and equality and reminds us of the enormous impact one person can have when they fearlessly stand up for what they believe is right.”
Barbara Johns stood up to what she knew was wrong. Her example is one that those who ask “what can I do?” must follow today.
No Increase to Property Tax Rate — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday to advertise a property tax rate for FY2018 that is equal to the FY2017 rate. [Washington Post]
‘Epiphany’ Returning to NextStop — Herndon native and South Lakes High School graduate Derek Jasper is a magician, mentalist and deception expert. His show, “Epiphany,” returns to NextStop Theatre in Herndon (269 Sunset Park Drive) next weekend. [Connection Newspapers]
Herndon Police Led on High-Speed Chase — A traffic stop Sunday near the intersection of Crestview Drive and Herndon Parkway turned into chase when the driver fled. Herndon Police later found the vehicle, but not the driver. [Herndon Patch]
FCPD Gang Unit Involved in Search for Remains — Acting on recently received information, Fairfax County Police Department homicide, gang unit and crime scene detectives have been looking for human remains in Holmes Run Park and Lemon Road Park, near Falls Church. This follows an earlier investigation in which 10 people (including a Reston woman) were charged with gang activity in connection with the killing of a 15-year-old whose body was found near Lake Accotink Park in Springfield. [Fairfax County Police Department/WTOP]