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Board of Supervisors Gives Thumbs Up to Roland Clarke Place Project

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved Woodfield Acquisitions’ redevelopment of Roland Clarke Place at its Tuesday (Dec. 4) meeting.

The redevelopment is set to replace a vacant, two-story office building at 1941 Roland Clarke Place with a 308-unit residential complex just south of the Dulles Toll Road.

The seven-story apartment building will be about a mile between the Wiehle-Reston East and Reston Town Center Metro stations. Plans for the building include two interior courtyards, an outdoor pool, seating on a third-floor patio and a 409-space, eight-level parking garage behind the building. About one-third of the new development is slated to remain as open space.

The existing office buildings on the site were constructed in the early 1980s.

The board delayed making a decision after the project’s public hearing on Nov. 20. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved a series of proffers for the redevelopment on Nov. 15.

The board also greenlighted three other developments in Reston, including the Midline and the Tall Oaks Village Center, at the Tuesday meeting.

Images via Fairfax County and Fairfax County Planning Commission

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Reston Real Estate: Just Sold

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

It’s been an interesting fall market in Reston. Our housing inventory has been very constrained with fewer than 200 houses on the market — we’re especially tight right now with just 148 active listings on the market.

Even with the constrained inventory property is not selling so fast that you could call it a “Seller’s Market.” The average days on market is a whopping 80 days!

The buyers are out there but they are being very particular and, they aren’t over-paying. Seller’s need to put the time into getting their homes ready for the market and they need to price them competitively.

Here are a few of the recent sales:

11081 Pelham Manor Place
5 BR/3.5 BA
List Price: $1,025,000
Sold Price: $998,000

 
 

11005 Burywood Lane
4 BR/3.5 BA
List Price: $819,000
Sold Price: $800,000

 
 

1609 Greenbriar Court
4 BR/3 BA
List Price: $625,000
Sold Price: $597,000

 
 

11763 North Shore Drive
5BR/3.5 BA
List Price: $579,900
Sold Price: $564,000

 
 

11783 Indian Ridge
3 BR/2.5 BA
List Price: $510,000
Sold Price: $514,500

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Planning Commission Defers Controversial Sign Changes

Fairfax County Government is currently mulling over changes to its sign ordinance that has everyone from schools and parks to local realtors concerned.

At a Planning Commission meeting last night (Wednesday), the commission deferred a decision on the new sign regulations until Jan. 16 to allow for more discussion on the impact of the ordinance.

Currently, county staff are reviewing changes to the zoning ordinance to make the language content-neutral. The change is in response to the United States Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, which ruled that localities that define sign categories based on the message expressed, or content-based, is unconstitutional unless it furthers a compelling governmental interest.

Rather than allow free reign for Fairfax residents of businesses to erect signs regardless of content, a proposed amendment would clamp down on sign regulations across the board.

Changes to the sign ordinance are widespread but often minor corrections. One of the biggest changes is that one freestanding building identification sign is permitted for each detached building and such signs must be limited to identifying the name of the building or the individual enterprises located therein, the address, trademark or identifying symbol of the building occupant.

According to county staff, minor signs (formerly referred to as temporary signs) were the largest challenge in the zoning ordinance rewrite.

“While staff acknowledges that the proposed language could negatively affect some developments that are currently exempt from regulation, we continue to recommend the language found in the draft text as it provides the closest level of regulation as the current provision.”

A representative from real estate investment company Macerich said at the meeting said the company had a laundry list of concerns but has been working with county staff to whittle those issues down. Another local realtor at the meeting said the new ordinance could push the open house signs and corner signs off of local lawns and into the already crowded right-of-way spaces.

The sign ordinance changes sparked concern with the inclusion of language that would remove government exemptions from sign ordinances.

“Staff has received comments from both Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), neither of which is in favor of eliminating the current exemption status. Of particular concern to the Park Authority is the limitation on the size, number and location of minor signs permitted for non-residential uses in a residential district. These signs are used to announce summer concert series, camps and other activities at the parks. The schools have raised concerns with the proposed height of permitted freestanding signs for non-residential uses in residential districts which is proposed to be limited to 8 feet in height.”

As a result, staff said at the Planning Commission meeting that there would be modifications to the ordinance allowing some exceptions for schools and parks.

Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner said at the meeting he was generally in favor of holding Fairfax County government accountable to many of the same sign regulations as the public.

“There’s something to be said with us being able to model our behavior consistent with what we expect from the private sector,” said Niedzielski-Eichner. “There is a different benefit to be realized to the public with the park authority and public school [having] latitude with signs, but frankly I’m comfortable with them doing it within a regulatory context… not unfettered.”

Photo via Flickr/Alan Levine

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Board of Supervisors Chairman to Retire After Term Ends Next Year

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova announced today (Dec. 6) her plans to retire after her term ends Dec. 31, 2019. Her departure adds to the list of supervisors who have also decided to retire.

Supervisors Linda Smyth, for the Providence District, and John Cook, for the Braddock District, recently said that they won’t seek reelection.

Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay plans to run for the top seat, as well as Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who faces a Democratic challenger for his district seat, The Washington Post reported. The upcoming election for the county’s Board of Supervisors will take place on Nov. 5, 2019.

Bulova, who hits the 10-year mark in February for leading the board, joined the board in 1988 as the Braddock District Supervisor.

The announcement arrived in her monthly newsletter. In one section, she wrote:

Local government is an awesome place to be. It’s the level of government closest to the people you represent. It’s the place where you can truly make a tangible difference, touch lives, and engage with the community in a personal, positive way. Deciding when to stop is just as hard as making the decision to start down the road of elective office. For me, however, that time has come.

When questioned by Tony Olivo of the Washington Post about my plans for running, I told him I was going to use the Thanksgiving holiday to think about it, and to talk to my family and friends. On Thanksgiving Day my son David arrived for dinner equipped with a large flip chart and colored stickies for voting. He titled the Chart “Family Decision Making Matrix” and separated it into “Pros” and “Cons.” It was a fun, light-hearted after dinner activity. Many of the items listed on the “Pro” side of the chart were some of the reasons that had already persuaded me to not seek another four-year term. More time with family and grandchildren, time for travel, to entertain, to smell the roses. It has been an honor to serve the Fairfax County community on the Board of Supervisors. During these past thirty years, I have been privileged to work alongside dedicated elected officials at every level of government, with talented, caring county staff and a county full of enthusiastic community volunteers. While I will not be running for re-election in 2019 I sure do have a lot to look back on with satisfaction.

Congress members representing Virginia have applauded Bulova’s leadership style and accomplishments.

“As former mayor to a city of 200,000 people, I have enormous respect for Sharon Bulova’s leadership of a county of 1.1 million,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a statement. “Over the past 30 years, Fairfax County’s population has grown by nearly half, and Sharon’s service during that time has played a major role in ensuring the prosperity and quality of life accompanying that growth.”

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who was the chairman before Bulova, said in a statement that Bulova “is a true community treasure,” whose time on the board will be remembered for decency and commitment to improving Fairfax County.

“Under her leadership, she turned the idea of the Virginia Railway Express into a reality,” Connolly said. “As Chairman, she guided the county through the worst of the Great Recession, while still maintaining the critical investments and services that Fairfax residents have come to expect.”

Reston Now reached out to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins for a comment and has not heard back.

Pat Hynes, the Hunter Mill District representative for Fairfax County Public Schools, board supervisors and Eileen Filler-Corn, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing Fairfax County, took to Twitter this afternoon:

Photo via Fairfax County. Second photo via Evan Michio Cantwell.

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Del. Ken Plum: Inconvenient But Still True

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.

Former Vice President Al Gore entitled his book on climate change “An Inconvenient Truth.” Many years have passed, but the truth he put forth that the climate is changing and that human behavior is causing it may continue to be inconvenient for a few to acknowledge because of personal biases, ignorance or financial interests.

But climate change is even truer today than when Gore first focused public attention on it and its causes.

Over the last several weeks I have written three columns in this space on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change brought together by the United Nations. It issued a report last month, written and edited by 91 scientists from 40 countries and based on a review of more than 6,000 scientific reports, predicting much more dire consequences of climate change much earlier than previously had been expected.

Some may see such predictions as inconvenient, but I and most of the world see them as “a warning too dire to ignore.”

Last week the federal government came forth with its National Climate Assessment publication of over 1,000 pages produced by 13 federal departments and agencies overseen by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The researchers found that climate change “is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us.”

Most significant to this report that has been produced annually over the last four years is the conclusion that “humans must act aggressively to adapt to current impacts and mitigate future catastrophes to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.”

As clear as the evidence is about climate change and the near unanimous endorsement of it by climate scientists, the current federal executive branch continues to ignore this truth. Ideally, a national response to climate change could ensure the effectiveness of mitigation and other responses to our country and the globe. Since that seems unlikely in the next few years, state governments must step up. I share the concern that the pace of state action seems too slow, but progress is being made.

Last year in Virginia we moved forward with grid transformation that will allow consumers and utilities to have the information needed to make informed decisions on their electricity usage. The best way to eliminate the need for more electricity is to reduce demand even as the population grows and the economy expands. Since 2015 the solar capacity in Virginia has increased by more than 700 times to 825 megawatts — still a small number, but we are clearly on our way.

What was once described as an inconvenient truth is well documented for all but a few skeptics and is recognized as an emergency by most. I plan to maintain my 100 percent voting record with the League of Conservation Voters and my commitment to making Virginia a leader in ending the behaviors of people and companies that lead to climate change.

File photo

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New Steel Sculpture in Reston Town Center Delayed Until Spring

The Greater Reston Arts Center has pushed back the completion of a new 50-foot steel sculpture in Reston Town Center from this fall to spring 2019. 

Reston Now previously reported the installation and an opening ceremony were expected in August.

Now, the sculpture’s anticipated unveiling is set for spring after the project faced construction delays, Lily Siegel, executive director and curator of the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE), told Reston Now.

“As we embarked on [the project], things have shifted and got a little bit delayed,” she said.

Titled “Buoyant Force,” the sculpture by artist Sue Wrbican is inspired by the work of Kay Sage, an American surrealist who was known for her paintings of scaffolded structure and furled fabric in barren landscapes. GRACE previously featured Wrbican’s work last fall.

Currently, the sculpture is being fabricated by two fabricators. The main 50-foot piece is getting welded together at one fabricator’s shop in Rockville Md.

Siegel said that the GRACE team has dropped in several times on the fabrication, describing the tall piece as reminiscent of scaffolding or the inside of a skyscraper. Even though the 50-foot piece is lying on the ground, “it’s very impressive,” she said. “The impact is pretty powerful.”

A second fabricator is making other steel structures that will get attached to the sculpture. Both sourced preexisting, pre-fabricated materials at Wrbican’s request. 

While the main work on the pieces is “pretty much done,” technical details still need finishing before installation. Once the pieces are on site, the installation will require a crane and boom lift, she said.

“Buoyant Force” marks Seigel’s first public sculpture — an undertaking that has taught her quite a bit throughout the process. For starters, the project initially planned to have one fabricator, before she decided the work required two people, she said.

“It’s taking a whole team of professionals to get this done,” Seigel said That team includes architects, inspectors, a concrete team, engineers, movers and — of course — the artist.

Seigel also took a new approach to fund the sculpture. For the first time, GRACE started a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs. Locals can donate online.

So far, the campaign raised about $50,000 — nearly half of the required funds — in roughly five months, she said. The Reston Town Center Association, Reston Community Center, ArtsFairfax and Public Art Reston are some of the places that have donated.

Seigel said the “slow” fundraising efforts are not causing the delay.

Additionally, the architect, engineer, concrete company and transportation company are providing pro bono work — a donation of its own kind, she said.

Siegel said a community celebration to mark the grand opening will happen.

After that, she plans to host programming, including dance, poetry and education, around the sculpture, which is expected to be on view for five years. “We’re looking for different ways to bring the community back around the sculpture” with different perspectives, she said. “We are incredibly excited about this project.”

Images via Greater Reston Arts Center 

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Thursday Morning Notes

Warm up with a run — Join the Reston Runners tonight at 6:30 p.m. for a 50-minute run/walk starting at Reston Town Center. [Reston Runners] 

Holiday book sale — The Reston Friends Holiday Book Sale starts today at 10 a.m. and continues through the weekend at the Reston Regional Library. [Reston Library Friends]

Reston executive is a winner — Jay Shah, the executive vice president for healthcare and commerce for Octo Consulting Group, was recognized as a 2019 FedHealthIT 100 award winner, marking his second time receiving the award. The FedHealthIT 100 honors individuals recognized for driving change and advancement in the Federal Health Information Technology Market. [Business Wire]

Measles reported in Virginia — As cases of measles increase across the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed that Virginia is one of 26 states hit. [Reston Patch]

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