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Weekend Discussion Topics

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Williams-Sonoma in Reston Town Center to Close in January
  2. Planned Reston Tower Still Seeking Tenants
  3. Reston to Nearly Double in Size Over Next Quarter-Century
  4. Darwin Martinez-Torres Pleads Guilty to Murder of Nabra Hassanen
  5. Police: Reston Man Arrested After Firing His Handgun Into the Air

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

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Proposed Zoning Changes Spark Local Backlash

As Reston is projected to continue growing at a dramatic pace, Fairfax County is moving forward with a proposed zoning amendment to allow for greater density. But a group of Reston citizens are protesting the move, saying the proposed amendment is rushed through and under-explained.

The zoning amendment would increase the maximum population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district from 13 persons to 15. Dwelling units per acre would increase from 50 units to 70 near Metro stations.

The Board of Supervisors is anticipated to authorize public hearings on the zoning changes at its upcoming Tuesday (Dec. 4) meeting. Public comment will not be heard at the meeting.

A group of citizens calling themselves the Coalition for a Planned Reston wrote a letter to Supervisor Cathy Hudgins saying that approval of the zoning amendment would be premature.

“The Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) is deeply concerned and dismayed by the announcement that you have requested County staff to move forward with the proposed PRC Zoning Ordinance Amendment,” the CPR wrote in the letter. “We strongly urge you to withdraw your request immediately and to complete the community dialogue to which you committed.”

The letter included a list of 23 areas where the groups say Fairfax County officials have supplied inadequate information. Among the criticisms of the zoning amendment are exemptions given to developers with proposals that do not conform with the Reston Master Plan.

Some of the topics of the letter involve the minutiae of zoning amendments but others — like what the CPR calls a lack of clarity over the expected number of students the added density would have on the school systems — could shape Reston for years to come.

This isn’t the first letter from the CPR over the issue. The group had previously sent a letter on Aug. 1 urging Hudgins to suspend action on the amendment. The Reston Association has also expressed concern about the impact of the zoning amendment.

Photo via Fairfax County

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Planning Commission Tackles Prickly Issue of Pet Hedgehogs

Chinchillas, hedgehogs and hermit crabs face scrutiny over health and safety concerns as the county debates legalizing them as pets.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission held a public hearing last night (Nov. 29) on possibly changing the definition of commonly accepted pets to include all three.

The proposed amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance was spurred by the increasing popularity of chinchillas, hedgehogs and hermit crabs as pets in recent years, according to the proposal.

Casey Judge, a senior assistant to the county’s zoning administrator, said that care for chinchillas is similar to rabbits and care for hedgehogs is similar to ferrets in her presentation to the commission.

Judge said that research for the proposal included consultation with nearby breeders and veterinarians for exotic animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was not contacted, she said.

Arlington and Loudoun counties allow hedgehogs and chinchillas as pets, with Loudoun County also permitting hermit crabs.

Arlington County has reported two hedgehog abandonments since 2013 and no reports of any strays, the presentation said.

Fairfax City and Falls Church either do not allow or are unclear about the legality of the three animals as pets.

During public comment, local James Hart brought up concerns about hedgehogs’ ability to spread salmonella. Hedgehogs, along with cats, dogs, frogs, hamsters and many other animals, can spread the bacteria, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In response to the salmonella concerns, Judge said that a common pet — turtles — poses the same risk for spreading the bacteria, according to the CDC.

Another concern that came up involved how well owners can care for hedgehogs, given their high levels of maintenance. Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that require space, exercise and room temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure they do not start hibernating, according to the Hedgehog Welfare Society.

Judge said that it would be difficult to enforce requirements on temperature and enclosures for the animals.

Phillip Church from the county’s Animal Services Advisory Commission, which opposes the amendment, said that three vets he interviewed said hedgehogs are expensive and challenging to care for.

“I don’t think many people who are going to take home a hedgehog will give them proper care,” he said, adding that he doesn’t want to give people the opportunity to abandon or unintentionally mistreat the animals.

Judge said that breeders self-regulate for responsible pet owners and provide a plethora of resources, guides and training to ensure the animals will be safe at their new homes.

Local Mark Spisak likened hedgehogs to porcupines in his public testimony and said that demand for them as pets fuels an exotic pet trade that poses risks to animals. “I can see no advantage to wild animals being kept as pets,” Spisak said. ‘They should live their lives outside as nature intended.”

The commissioners lauded testimony from a student from Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church, who argued for legalizing pet hedgehogs.

The student, who said he has cared for his turtle for eight years and his monitor lizard for two years, said that he believes hedgehogs are easier to care for than reptiles, based on his research. He also gave an overview of hedgehog breeding — since the importation of wild-caught African pygmy hedgehogs to the U.S. was banned in the 1990s, people have to go to local breeders for one.

If the county approves the amendment, he said he would get a hedgehog.

Mike Bober, president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council in Alexandria, also voiced support for hedgehogs as pets.

Mary Cortina, an at-large member of the commission, asked to delay a decision on the proposal until the meeting next Thursday (Dec. 6). The county’s Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the matter in January.

Hedgehog photo courtesy Kelly W.

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‘STRETCH’ Exhibit Coming to Greater Reston Arts Center

If you could do anything, what would that be?

The Greater Reston Arts Center selected five artists based on their answers to that very question for an upcoming exhibit called “STRETCH.”

The exhibit, slated for Dec. 15 through Feb. 9, will present new work by James Huckenpahler, Monroe Isenberg, Katie Kehoe, Melanie Kehoss and Harry Mayer.

The website provides a glimpse into what some of the artists plan to create.

Huckenpahler, a D.C.-based artist who works mainly in digital media, will make large digital prints of a three-dimensional landscape of his X-rayed laptop.

Isenberg, a sculptor and installation artist who mostly uses wood and steel, will create an immersive installation that “investigates the relationships that become apparent in the space between the spirit world and ourselves.”

For the exhibit, Kehoss, who focuses on light boxes, plans to explore the “origins of food-related phenomena related to the history of sugar.”

While specifics for the exhibit are not available yet, the website says Kehoe is currently diving into ecological concerns in places that are expected to go underwater due to climate change. Kehoe, who works in performance, interdisciplinary sculpture and drawing, documents herself carrying or wearing hand-made life-jacket, life ring, bodyboards and buoys made from salvaged materials.

Lastly, Mayer, who draws upon mundane experiences and humor to create his sculptures from construction materials, “proposes to give the viewer a visceral experience that encourages a sense of playfulness.”

“STRETCH” is curated by Don Russell, a guest curator, and Erica Harrison, the associate curator and festival director of the art center. This exhibit marks Greater Reston Arts Center’s third biennial exhibit with a guest curator supporting local artists.

The Greater Reston Arts Center plans to host a reception — free and open to the public — from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Photo via Greater Reston Arts Center website

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Book Talk With Bestselling Author and More This Weekend in Reston

There’s plenty to do this weekend around Reston. We posted a list of holiday events in the area throughout December, but for Reston Grinches already tired of Holiday cheer, here’s our Christmas-free list of weekend events — including a signing by New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci.

Tonight (Nov. 30)

Vinyl Invention at Crafthouse (10 p.m.-1 a.m.) — Rock/Funk band Vinyl Intervention returns to Crafthouse Reston (1888 Explorer St) tonight. The group is a Washington, D.C. based cover band that performs songs mainly from the latter 20th century.

Tomorrow (Dec. 1)

Mystery Author Extravaganza (1-3 p.m.) — The Sisters in Crime Chessie Chapter will host an afternoon of book talks at the Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Dr). The afternoon features mystery authors from throughout the region discussing their books and the genre, as well as a book market with authors available for autographs.

Monster Drawing Rally (1-5 p.m.) — Over 50 artists from across the Washington, D.C. region are scheduled to come together at the Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St) for a live drawing event. Artists will be creating their work on-site, all of which will be available for purchase at $75 each. The event is free and open to the public. All proceeds benefit the exhibition program.

Shrek The Musical (1-2:30 p.m.) — Tomorrow is the opening for the Nextstop Theatre Company’s (269 Sunset Park Drive) production of Shrek The Musical. Tickets are available online and the show will run until Dec. 22.

Sunday (Dec. 2)

Capital ‘Cross Classic (8:15 a.m.-4 p.m.) — This race is the series finale of the BikeReg Super series. The race will be held at Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive). Proceeds from the race will benefit the Lake Fairfax Sustainable Natural Trail System program, which aims to build new sustainable trails and restore existing trails in Lake Fairfax Park.

David Baldacci Author Talk and Book Signing (2-4 p.m.) — New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci will host a free author talk and book signing at the Reston Regional Library. Baldacci is scheduled to read from his new book, Long Road to Mercy, and free copies of the book will be given to the first 100 registrants.

Photo via Facebook

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Planning Commission OKs Parking Changes for Tall Oaks Village Center Redevelopment

The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved Thursday night (Nov. 29) parking and access adjustments for the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment.

Stanley Martin’s redevelopment would transform the Tall Oaks Village Center (12022 North Shore Drive) into a mostly residential neighborhood.

The redevelopment will create 156 residential units, which include 42 two-over-two multi-family units, 44 single units and 70 multi-family units in two residential buildings. It also plans to add nearly 8,500 square feet of retail and 5,800 square feet of office space.

The commission approved:

  • a 200-square foot privacy yard requirement for single-family units
  • tandem parking for the two-over-two dwelling units to count towards the off-street parking requirement for multi-family dwelling units
  • a modification for the required number of loading spaces
  • a modification for the transitional screening and barrier requirements

Ellen Hurley, who represents the Braddock District, abstained from the vote.

The shopping center, which was anchored by a Giant grocery store until it closed in 2007, has struggled without a stable grocer. Roughly 86 percent of the shopping center was vacant in 2016, according to the application.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved in July 2016 the owner’s plan to redevelop the retail center into a mixed-use project.

The development has been held up several times this year. Reston’s Design Review Board delayed voting on several aspects of the plan for several months. The garage size requirements stalled the redevelopment.

Another issue was the bus pad and bus service for the site. At the time of the approval, the county was planning to continue Fairfax Connector bus service through the development. The Fairfax Connector has since decided to no longer provide bus service through the development.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider the project on Tuesday (Dec. 4).

Rendering via Fairfax County Planning Commission

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Top Style by Kate Noda Hair Studio Moves to Lake Anne Plaza

A new hair salon arrived in Lake Anne Plaza last week.

Top Style by Kate Noda Hair Studio offers haircuts for women, men and kids; coloring; styling; makeup; and other services. The salon opened in Reston on Thanksgiving (Nov. 22), an employee told Reston Now.

The salon updated the address on its website from a location in Tysons Corner to the one at Lake Anne Plaza — 1641 N. Washington Plaza, Unit A.

A Facebook post in June said the salon would in Tysons until September and shows a video of the Lake Anne Plaza spot under construction.

Photos via Top Style by Kate Noda/Facebook

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Friday Morning Notes

Overcome writer’s block before NaNoWriMo ends — Join fellow locals from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Reston Regional Library to finish up the National Novel Writing Month challenge of writing a 50,000-word novel before midnight tonight. [Fairfax County]

Take a dip in the pool — Summer is long gone, but pool time isn’t. “The Family Splash” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Reston Community Center is $13 for residents. [Reston Community Center]

W&OD Trail project continues — A major 1.2-mile stretch of the trail’s bike path in Falls Church will be turned into a dual path — one for bikes and the other for pedestrians. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is providing $3.2 million for the project. The trail also faces planned construction over Wiehle Avenue. [Falls-Church News Press]

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Community Garden Plots Coming to Herndon’s Bruin Park

An environment-focused nonprofit has raked in funding for long-awaited community garden plots at Bruin Park.

The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved a funding request from the Herndon Environmental Network (HEN) for $20,000 at its Nov. 14 meeting.

HEN will use the grant money to help develop 40 garden plots on the west side of the tennis courts at the park, which is located at 415 Van Buren Street. The plan also includes adding fencing to protect the plots and accessible trails, according to a county press release.

The project’s budget totals $42,496.22 — a combination of the grant money with a $7,966.06 cash contribution and $14,530.16 of in-kind donations from HEN.

Plans for the community garden sprouted several years ago.

The Master Plan for Bruin Park was amended in January 2014 to allow for community garden plots. In April 2017, an agreement between HEN, the Town of Herndon — which owns the park — and the Park Authority authorized HEN to develop, manage and maintain community garden plots at the park, according to the press release.

HEN is set to celebrate the grant award at the monthly Bruin Park Community Garden planning meeting — free and open to the public — at 7 p.m. on Dec. 13 at the Herndon Fortnightly Library.

Photo via Herndon Community Garden at Bruin Park/Facebook

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Williams-Sonoma in Reston Town Center to Close in January

The Williams-Sonoma in Reston Town Center is set to close in January, a spokeswoman for the company told Reston Now.

“We plan on closing in early January, but do not have a specific date to share at this time,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email.

The store is located at 11897 Market Street. Other locations nearby include Tysons Galleria in McLean and the Mosaic District in Fairfax.

Questions have been raised about the status of the Pottery Barn, which is also operated by Williams-Sonoma Inc., at 11937 Market Street. Reston Now has not heard back yet from a representative for that store.

Image via Google Maps

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Crafthouse Plans to Open 100 New Locations Over 5 Years

(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Crafthouse, a growing beer-centric restaurant chain with a prominent Reston location, recently signed a $250 million deal to start franchising across the country.

As first reported by the Washington Business Journal, Crafthouse owner Evan Matz signed a deal with development firm American Development Partners to provide site selection, acquisition, and construction services for more than 100 new Crafthouse locations over the next five years.

Crafthouse currently has locations in Reston, Fairfax City, and Arlington’s Ballston neighborhood.

It’s a turnaround for Matz, who started his restaurants as franchisees of Florida-based World of Beer before going independent and rebranding the locations as “Crafthouse.” The move prompted a lawsuit from World of Beer, which has since been settled, according to the Business Journal.

Matz told Reston Now that the core idea of Crafthouse is not just locally sourced beer, but entire menus built around local specialties.

“Eat local, drink local,” said Matz. “I want to try to showcase local craft beer or local spirits. As we go forward, if we open one in North Carolina or Tennessee, I want to focus on the local beers there, like their whiskey or wine, but they’re also known for their ribs. If we open in Maryland it might be crab cakes or conch in Key West.”

As they begin looking at locations throughout the country, Matz said he’s excited by the variety of different locales and what they have to bring to the table.

“People love the concept, so I wanted to bring it to other possible franchisees to expand it throughout the country,” said Matz. “There’s a lot of exciting markets out there. Each one is unique in its own right.”

Crafthouse has arranged with American Development Partners to provide 100 percent funding for franchisees planning on placing a Crafthouse inside newly built, freestanding buildings.

While Matz said he plans to go to every location as they open and make sure they are being properly run, he said the emphasis is going to be on local owners independently owning and operating the restaurants.

Matz said Crafthouse is already beginning to get inquiries from across the country about potential new locations, and that he aims to have a franchised location open by late 2019 or early 2020. Matz said interested parties should reach out to Crafthouse through email at [email protected] or through the website.

Among the requirements for a new franchise location is at least $300,000 in liquid assets, a net worth over $1 million, and a credit score of 700 or above. But just as importantly, Matz said he’s looking for franchise owners who understand their community and are committed to it.

“Being directly involved as a local owner is key,” said Matz. “You have to be in touch with the community. Be involved and listen to what the customer wants. Forming your Crafthouse around the local area is key to success.”

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Carahsoft Partners with Google Cloud to Support NIH Initiative

Reston-based IT services provider Carahsoft will partner with Google Cloud to boost a National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative.

The partnership will provide Google Cloud services to support the NIH’s Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) Initiative, Carahsoft announced today (Nov. 29).

The initiative aims to reduce economic and technological barriers for accessing and computing on large biomedical datasets.

The NIH Institutes and Centers support researchers at more than 2,500 academic and research institutions.

The institutions’ data have traditionally been stored and made available via public repositories or at local institutions — a model that has become straining as data from research projects grows. “This makes it difficult for the research community attempting to integrate, analyze and share biomedical data sets,” according to the press release.

Carahsoft’s work with Google Cloud is meant to address those challenges by making high-value data more accessible through the cloud.

Google Cloud computing solutions will be available to the NIH and its designated recipients, and the NIH will work with the research community to develop policies utilizing the solutions.

The partnership to support the initiative will help accelerate the research institutions’ goal of enhancing health, lengthening life and reducing illness and disability, Terry Drinkwine, vice president of the Google Cloud team at Carahsoft, said in a statement.

Founded in 2004, the company is located at 1860 Michael Faraday Drive #100.

Photo via Google Maps

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Reston Historic Trust & Museum Kicks Off Commemorative Bricks Sale

Reston Historic Trust & Museum has started up sales during the holiday season for commemorative bricks.

Locals have until Jan. 20 to place their orders for installation in 2019. The annual brick sales support the museum.

Up to three inscribed lines with a maximum of 15 characters each cost $100, while up to six lines cost $250. The inscription has white text level with the surface of the brick.

The inscription guidelines do not allow for the phrase “In Memory Of” and dates commemorative a person’s lifespan. The inscription also cannot contain profanity, offensive language, logos, taglines, telephone numbers or advertising. Religious or political content or symbols are also banned.

Bricks are ordered and installed once a year, according to the museum’s website. It takes up to two months to finish the bricks after they are bought each February.

Usually, the bricks get displayed at the Reston Museum during the Founder’s Day celebrations in April and are then installed in Lake Anne Plaza.

Photo via Reston Museum/Facebook

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Del. Ken Plum: Amazon is Coming to Town

(Updated at 9 a.m. on Nov. 30) This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Amazon, which has made its way into just about every consumer’s home with its online goods and services, has announced that it is bringing its second headquarters — or at least half its east-coast headquarters — to Crystal City. The area — now being called “National Landing” — is actually in Arlington County. The other half of its headquarters, originally expected to be in one location, will be in Long Island City in Queens, New York.

There were few regrets in Virginia or the Washington, D.C. area at getting just half of the prize in the most competitive contest for an economic development project in recent times. Even half of the prize is expected to bring 25,000 top jobs to the region.

I attended the announcement of Amazon’s decision in an abandoned Crystal City warehouse that has in recent years fallen on hard economic times. The warehouse will be demolished to make room for the new HQ2. During Governor Ralph Northam’s remarks, I was thinking that we have truly reached a crossroads in economic development in the northern part of the Commonwealth. There will be little need for the structures like that warehouse.

Northern Virginia that includes Reston and Tysons Corner has fully moved into the arena of high technology and will be mentioned in the future as one of the centers of technological innovation in our country. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is just the latest of a long list of entrepreneurs who have seen the value of a NoVa location.

I am a skeptic of big pay-out deals that have been increasingly used by states and localities to lure companies to their locations. There seems to be almost unanimous agreement among economic development experts that Virginia may have pulled off one of the best deals they have seen in an economic development proposal in recent times.

There is cash to Amazon involved, but that cash is in the form of performance payments when Amazon reaches certain tiers of development and production of top-paying jobs. The math of the proposal shows that in the end, Virginia will be a substantial net winner from the economic activity coming from the new headquarters and supporting development and the new Virginia taxpayers it will include.

For many, the strength of the Virginia Amazon proposal goes beyond the location of a new headquarters. Governor Northam called Virginia’s efforts “a new model of economic development for the 21st century.” As he explained, most of Virginia’s partnership proposal consists of investments in education and transportation infrastructure “that will bolster the features that make Virginia so attractive: a strong and talented workforce, a stable and competitive business climate, and a world-class higher education system.”

The feature of the proposal that is getting the strongest kudos is the location of a billion-dollar extension of Virginia Tech that will offer graduate degrees in engineering, technology and innovation in the city of Alexandria. And yes, there will be transportation improvements to Metro and the highways to better accommodate the new residents who will be working at the new headquarters.

I believe Virginia was a really big winner in this announcement; even half the deal is certain to work to our region’s advantage!

File photo

This story has been updated

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Trial to Begin Next Week for 1995 Sexual Assaults in Reston

A man accused of a series of sexual assaults across Fairfax in the 90’s, including four women in Reston, is scheduled to go to trial this Monday (Dec. 3).

Jude Lovchik is charged with a series of felonies including multiple counts of abduction, sodomy, robbery and firearms offenses.

While Lovchik is being investigated for other assaults in Fairfax and Prince William counties, his charges stem from a 1995 assault where Lovchik is alleged to have climbed onto the balcony of an apartment building and subseqently tied up, blindfolded and sexually assaulted four roommates.

According to the Washington Post, the break in the cold case came when Lovchik’s wife went to the Arlington Police after she said Lovchik assaulted her during their divorce. She also told the police that Lovchik had told her about his string of assaults throughout Fairfax in the early 1990’s and had her recreate the sexual assault scenes for him. Police said Lovchik’s wife provided information about the case that had not been disclosed to the public.

After Lovchik’s wife spoke with the police in early 2017, his home was placed under surveilence until DNA was collected from trash that police say was connected to DNA collected from the Reston assault.

Lovchik moved to Florida in 2017, but was arrested in October and returned to Vriginia, where he is currently being housed in the Fairfax County jail.

Photo via Marion County Jail

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