Locals Can ‘Adopt’ Fire Hydrants in Fairfax County

Residents and business owners can help firefighters potentially save lives by “adopting” fire hydrants.

Fairfax County’s “Adopt-A-Hydrant” program helps combat obstacles created by snow and ice during wintertime and weeds, leaves and shrubs in warmer weather.

Locals who adopt a fire hydrant pledge to keep it clear for firefighters to access in case of an emergency. For snowy weather, locals may need to clear a three-foot area around the hydrant and make a path to the road to ensure visibility and accessibility.

Locals can submit an online application to get one close to their home or business. A crew from the participant’s closest fire station will then deliver an “adoption certificate” identifying the hydrant.

The county encourages locals to take pictures with their adopted fire hydrants and share them on social media with #FCFRDHydrant. Because they are the property of the Fairfax Water Authority, people cannot paint, personalize or change the appearance of the fire hydrants.

Photo via Fairfax County

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Starting Friday: Free Holiday Lyft Rides to Combat Drunk Driving

Local nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) and ridesharing app Lyft are again partnering to offer free rides during the holiday season.

As part of an effort to combat drunk driving, WRAP will be sponsoring free Lyft rides starting this Friday (Dec. 14).

From 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., rides up to $15 are free with the use of a promo code. The user is responsible for any costs over $15. The offer will continue until Jan. 1.

Weekly codes will be posted at the Sober Rides website at noon on Dec. 14, 22, and 31. The weekly code is only valid for one ride.

According to the Virginia Highway Safety Office, there were 621 alcohol-related crashes in Fairfax in 2017, resulting in 331 injuries and 12 fatalities.

As the program is aimed at preventing alcohol related crashes, Lyft riders must be at least 21 years old to claim the offer. The code is valid for any rides inside the D.C. coverage area, which includes all of Fairfax County.

The SoberRide program operates during the December/January holiday season, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day and Halloween.

Image via Washington Regional Alcohol Program

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Reston Association Set to Oppose PRC Zoning Amendment Tomorrow

Reston Association is set this week to take up contentious proposed zoning changes that would increase the population density in Reston.

This upcoming meeting will focus a motion to oppose the zoning proposal and also consider approving $22,500 from its cash reserves to increase next year’s staff training budget at the public meeting tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. at RA’s headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

The proposal would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons up to 15. The current density is roughly 12.46 people per acre.

County planning officials have argued that the change is needed to put into action Reston’s Master Plan, which allows for future growth over the next 40 years.

Several community groups, including the Coalition for a Planned Reston and Reston 2020, are fighting the move. They argue that the proposed amendment is rushed through and under-explained.

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors clashed over community input on the proposed zoning changes at their Dec. 4 meeting, before authorizing public hearings on the proposal for 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 and 4:30 p.m. on March 5.

On the heels of adopting the 2019 operating and capital budgets for next year, RA’s Board of Directors will also consider whether or not to use $22,500 from the operating reserve funds for 2018 to expand the 2019 fiscal year budget for staff training and development.

The RA also will consider revisions to the third draft of the election schedule and receive the treasurer’s report. RA is also set to approve Sharon Canner as the chair of the 55+ Advisory Committee and Nancy Malesic as a member of the Environmental Advisory Committee.

The draft agenda for the meeting is available online.

Photo via Reston Association/Reston Today

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Pet of the Week: Buster

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Buster, a domestic short hair kitten available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society have to say about him:

Buster is a sweet boy. Full of personality.

He loves affection and is very playful. He loves to chase toys and play with laser lights. He is also found of wrestling with his brother, Baxter.

Buster was about three months old the beginning of September. Come meet this super young man!

(Note: Little Buddies has adoption events every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Pet Valu in the North Point Village Shopping Center.)

Are you and Buster 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.

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Paid Parking Under Consideration for Reston, Tysons

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is gearing up to study parking management options, which could add paid parking in Reston and Tysons.

FCDOT hopes to hire a professional parking consultant to explore parking management, which FCDOT says would fulfill the vision of the Comprehensive Plan for each area.

It would also reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions from drivers circling blocks to find free street parking and create a new revenue stream, FCDOT argues.

Henri Stein McCartney, a transportation planner for FCDOT, updated the county’s Transportation Committee yesterday (Dec. 11) on the proposal and gave examples of managed parking: pay for parking and time restricted parking.

The paid parking model can support different technologies — space occupancy sensors, space finding systems, smartphone apps, kiosks, etc. — that can help people find a spot, while also assisting enforcement, she said.

The other option is time restricted parking, which can limit parking during certain times of the days or set a certain allotted time for each car. While FCDOT expects the second option would pose more enforcement challenges, license plate readers, street cameras and space occupancy sensors can assist with policing the parking.

The consultant could measure existing on-street and off-street parking supply and demand in Reston and Tysons and then model future parking supply and demand. The consultant could also recommend appropriate strategies to the board and also put forward implementation and outreach plans.

McCartney highlighted one potential challenge: designing a parking plan that does not push cars into nearby neighborhoods with free parking. “That’s a scenario we want to avoid,” she said.

With the project in its “preliminary stages,” McCartney said the study — which FCDOT estimates will cost $100,000 — will help figure out what the projected revenue could be from paid parking and citations from parking tickets.

“I’m sure there will be interest in what kind of money it makes,” Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said at the meeting. “We need to keep that in mind.”

Some of the supervisors raised concerns about the proposal.

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook cautioned against spending the money on the study without a “functional purpose we are clearly stating.”

“We need to be clear about why we want to do this,” he said, noting that urban areas may need parking management. “I don’t think you get the consultant to come up with the reason.”

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity stressed that parking availability and fees drive behavior, mentioning the “angst,” loss in revenue for businesses and the complexity surrounding Reston Town Center’s paid parking system.

“It does have an impact on businesses,” Herrity said, adding that he supports hiring a consultant to conduct the study. “You have some good ideas in here.”

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins responded by saying that the “problem in Reston” stemmed from unclear goals. “I think the mistakes that were made in the past can be a helpful learning process,” she said.

She stressed that the purpose of the “needed proposal” should not focus on collecting money, but instead on helping transportation in an urban setting, especially Tysons.

FCDOT plans to update and consult with the board as the process continues.

While the plan does not have a timeline yet, McCartney said FCDOT “would move fairly quickly” to hire a consultant for the study acquires funding.

After board approval, FCDOT would work with stakeholders — the Office of County Attorney, Fairfax County Police Department, the Office of Community Revitalization, the Department of Planning and Zoning, Land Development Services and others. Together, they would update ordinances, set meter rates, select vendors and begin outreach efforts to businesses and the community.

“The last thing you want is employees and Metro riders parking on the street during the day, but short term-term customers don’t have a place to park,” the board’s Chairman Sharon Bulova said. “I think we’re doing the right thing starting out with a study.”

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Del. Ken Plum: What is Your Opinion?

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.

The opening of the 2019 session of the General Assembly is rapidly approaching! Just a little over a month away!

This session, held during the 400th anniversary of the founding of a representative legislative body in Jamestown in 1619, is shaping up to be a transitional — if not a transformative — one. The heightened awareness of the public on issues and the widened interest in public participation in civic matters add to the importance and significance of the General Assembly meeting this coming year beginning on January 9.

While I gather information on issues of public concern throughout the year from talking with individuals and groups, I have found that leading up to the legislative session is a time when others want to step up and make their opinions known.

That’s why Senator Janet Howell and I sponsor a community meeting twice each year and encourage public testimony. As has been announced in my newsletter and on social media, we will be meeting with constituents Wednesday evening, December 12 from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne. All are welcome. No advanced registration is required.

Likewise, you can make your views known to the entire Northern Virginia delegation on January 5. Pre-registration is recommended as there are many people who offer testimony at that event.

Another option of sharing your views with me is through my online Legislative Survey. Access the survey through my website, www.kenplum.com and click on Legislative Session Survey (top right). The information gathered through the survey is helpful to me not as a poll, but as an opportunity for anyone to express an opinion.

Polling information is valuable to get the overall pulse of the community. The most recent poll of Virginia voters on issues that primarily affect the Commonwealth was conducted by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. The poll found that 81 percent of Virginians sampled support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

There is a strong advocacy effort underway throughout the state to make Virginia the 38th and final state needed to ratify the amendment. As a supporter of the ERA throughout my legislative career, I look forward to the amendment getting out of committee and being voted on by the entire legislature.

My effort going back to the beginning of my legislative career to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process to draw legislative boundaries has the best chance of approval ever. Nonpartisan redistricting has the approval of 78 percent of voters. Amending the constitution requires legislative approval of two sessions of the General Assembly and a referendum of the voters in order to pass. Passage of an amendment this year is critical to having a process in place for redrawing district lines based on the 2020 census.

The poll found that 49 percent of Virginians sampled support an across-the-board tax cut. At the same time, there is support for increasing funding for education programs at all levels.

Please let me know your opinion on issues of importance to you.

File photo

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Lotte Plaza Market Opened in Herndon Centre Last Friday

Ethnic grocer Lotte Plaza Market officially opened last Friday (Dec. 7) in Herndon Centre.

Located at 490 Elden Street, Lotte Plaza Market joins a growing number of grocery options in Herndon Centre.

The shopping plaza is also home to MOM’s Organic Market. Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store is expected to take over part of the former Kmart space.

Lotte Plaza Market describes itself as “the premier source for Asian groceries in Maryland and Virginia.” It has seven locations in Maryland, five in Virginia and one “coming soon” to Orlando, Fla. — with plans to open 50 locations by 2020, according to its site.

Reston Now previously reported that Lotte Plaza Market was set to open earlier this year.

Photo via Lotte Plaza Market/Facebook

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Accident on Route 602 Causing Delays

Updated at 11:09 a.m. — The previously closed northbound lanes of Route 602 are now open, Fairfax County police confirmed.

An accident involving two vehicles on Route 602 by Bowman Towne Drive is causing lane closures and delays.

Both northbound lanes on Route 602  (Reston Parkway) are closed at Bowman Towne Drive.

So far there have been no reports of serious injuries.

Map via VDOT

This story has been updated

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Watch the ghosts from Christmas Past, Present and Future — Join the Reston Association on a chartered bus trip at 12:45 p.m. to see the performance of “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre. RA members pay $60, while non-members pay $70. [Reston Association]

Town hall with Del. Ken Plum and Sen. Janet Howell — The two politicians will host a town hall from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne. [Del. Ken Plum]

Herndon real estate startup aims to be the “Credit Karma of homes” — UpsideDoor decided to trash the brokerage model it launched in 2015 and instead gather data about homeowners to help match them with companies providing home services. The company is also embarking on a new fundraising effort. [Washington Business Journal]

Reston Hospital Center acquires second Mazor X System — The Virginia Institute of Robotic Surgery at Reston Hospital Center is the first in the nation to have two of these robotic spine surgery systems at one hospital location. [Reston Hospital Center]

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