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.

I don’t usually subscribe to the notion that there are good months and bad months to sell a home.

People have to move every day for a wide variety of reasons, but even I have to admit that the week running up to Labor Day is pretty darn sleepy.

That being said, 103 properties have changed hands in the past 30 days. We still have very limited inventory with just 170 houses on the market. The average days on market is 36. We should begin to see inventory climb as we move into the fall market.

Here are a few of the recent sales in Reston real estate.

12079 Kinsley Place
3 BR/3.5 BA
List Price: $995,000
Sold Price: $977,500

 

 

1277 Lamplighter Way
4 BR/3.5 BA
List Price: $789,000
Sold Price: $789,000

 

 

2143 Cabots Point Lane
3 BR/2.5 BA
List Price: $950,000
Sold Price: $925,000

 

 

11400 Washington Plaza #804
1 BR/1 BA
List Price: $210,000
Sold Price: $200,000

 

 

1563 Church Hill Place
2 BR/1.5 BA
List Price: $324,900
Sold Price: $325,000

 

 

2318 Glade Bank Way
3 BR/2.5 BA
List Price: $389,900
Sold Price: $384,000

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Reston Residents Accuse Local ‘Music Man’ of Repeated Overcharging

Two Reston families said they’ve been waiting months to get their money back after suing a music school for “random” credit card charges.

Michele Chesser said that she learned about District Music Academy from a parent-teacher association event last June at a Reston school and signed up her daughter, who “loves music and trying new things,” for a free lesson.

“It was a good lesson,” Chesser said. “What I liked about District Music Academy is they come to the house. We don’t have to go anywhere.”

At first, she said she communicated mostly with the piano teacher who would come to the house. Then the business owner reached out later in the fall to let her know that the teacher had left and would be replaced by a new one.

A couple of months later, she noticed the company was double-billing her credit card for the lessons, charging her at the beginning and end of the month. In total, according to court documents, District Music Academy overcharged her $1,260.

Chesser said she contacted business owner Jeffrey Levin in November, and he took her credit card off of automatic billing, telling her that it was a billing mistake that was taking care of caused the issue.

In December, he offered to give her credit toward future classes, but Chesser declined, saying the amount he offered was incorrect.

At that point, Chesser said there was one lesson left that she had paid for. When that lesson came around on Dec. 28 at 3:10 p.m., Chesser said that the teacher never showed up — upsetting both her and her daughter.

“After a month of emailing and calling him, I realized he wasn’t going to do anything about it,” she said, so she contacted her credit card company, which was able to credit her two out of the five months of double billing. She decided to try to recover the rest of the money in court.

Earlier this year, she tried to serve Levin his court summons three times, finally resorting to a process server, according to court records. The judge heard the case in May and ordered Levin to pay the full amount.

But as of August, Chesser said she hasn’t gotten the money back.

“I don’t think I’ll ever see my money again,” she said.

The Breakdown

District Music Academy offers private in-home lessons, after school programs, entertainment for retirement communities in the D.C. area and other services, according to its website.

Chesser is not the only one in Reston who has sued Levin’s company for unwanted credit card charges in small claims court.

Anjia Nicolaidis told Reston Now that her daughter started ukulele and voice lessons once a month in February 2018 and the family scheduled lessons through August.

For a family with two full-time working parents, she said that District Music Academy seemed like a convenient solution, adding there are “not a lot of companies offering that in-home instruction in the immediate area.”

But by July of that year, Nicolaidis noticed double charges and “random charges.” When she reached out to Levin, “first there was some delay in getting him to acknowledge that our records and the teacher’s record were consistent,” she said.

“We asked for that reimbursement and gave him a number of opportunities to give it to us,” Nicolaidis told Reston Now, adding that Levin at first offered to make up the amount with credits to future lessons. After she declined the offer, the discussion over repayment broke down.

According to court records, Nicolaidis emailed Levin back on Sept. 10, writing:

As of this morning, September 10, 2018 you have not refunded the money you owe us. It has been a week since we received your email indicating you would process the refund. We have been corresponding about this issue for nearly two months…

We feel victimized and are in contact with other families that have had the same experience with District Music Academy.

Levin responded via email the same day, saying, “We have resolved all issues with our credit card system, but the process to refund the money is taking longer than expected. If it is acceptable to you, I can mail you a check today for the money due so that you can receive the fund more quickly.”

Nicolaidis said Levin never sent the check and she hasn’t heard from him since.

Taking Levin to Court

Early this year, Nicolaidis took Levin to court and the judge ordered him to pay to $1,526 with 6% interest starting Feb. 15.

“We still have no compensation to date,” she said as of Friday.

Records from the General District Courts for Fairfax and Loudoun counties indicate that 11 other people have individually sued Jeff Levin, District Music Academy, or Sebbie Enterprises — a limited liability company started by Levin — since 2014 for alleged unpaid debts.

The judges sided with the plaintiffs in two cases in Loudoun and four in Fairfax — totaling $11,842 in damages. One case in the Loudoun General District Court is still pending.

In one of the Fairfax cases, a judge sided with a Great Falls family suing Levin for $960 after the business owner wrote them on Nov. 5 that he was “waiting on long overdue vendor payments from our retirement communities and it has put us in a tight spot” and offered to pay back the money by hand-delivering a check for the $960 on Nov. 9, per court records.

Levin told Reston Now that the Nicolaidis and Chesser families and one in Great Falls have all been repaid.

“Also, we no longer process credit cards in house,” Levin said. “More than 90% of our clients pay by check and the remaining clients use our online system to input their own payments after receiving and approving an invoice.”

Today, there are about 30 former contractors and families are sharing their experiences with the company and its owner in a private Facebook group called District Music.

“Part of the reason the Facebook group has been such an important resource for everybody who is on it [is] we can compare notes and learn from each other,” Nicolaidis said.

Disharmony Within District Music Academy

Five former contractors spoke to Reston Now on the condition of anonymity, citing a non-disparagement clause in their contracts. The workers alleged that District Music Academy paid them less than it promised, paid late, and in some cases didn’t pay at all.

“I was never objecting to how much I was getting paid,” one former contractor told Reston Now. “I was objecting to not getting paid.”

The contractor alleged that Levin has yet to pay wages for three months of work over the summer of 2018.

Another former contractor who played gigs at retirement communities said that Levin would blame payroll problems on complex invoices and the retirement communities not paying on time.

A third contractor told Reston Now that Levin still hasn’t paid the several hundred dollars owed from their brief work with the company.

“I smelled the BS almost immediately,” the contractor said, adding that the lack of lesson plans and the “promise of ‘next week it would change'” concerned them.

“Regarding the contractors, I’d be happy to review their invoices with them,” Levin said, in response to a question from Reston Now about the allegations. “We now pay our contractors the day of their events or lessons so that there are no issues regarding payments.”

“We do great work in [the] community and my intent is [to] continue to build good relationships and to mend any fences where needed with past customers and contractors,” Levin said.

The contractors who spoke with Reston Now said that Levin ran his music business from two separate apartments in Reston. Today, District Music Academy lists an Ashburn address.

Levin is also the founder of Bach to Rock, a chain of musical schools that lists 39 locations across 18 states and D.C. on its website.

“Jeff Levin started the original Bethesda school that we acquired and used to launch our Bach to Rock business,” Angela Sakell, the vice president of marketing and operations for Bach to Rock, told Reston Now. “He was involved in the business in the early years before moving on to other interests and isn’t currently involved in running the business today.”

Image via District Music Academy/YouTube

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NextStop Theatre Presents ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in October

NextStop Theatre Company takes on “Pride and Prejudice,” Jane Austen’s literary classic that explores the themes of love, marriage and social status.

The theatre company, which is located in Herndon, promises to present a “spirited new adaptation.” The show runs from October 3 through 27.

The company wrote the following about the show, which is sponsored by Griffin Owens Insurance Group:

The headstrong Elizabeth Bennet faces mounting pressure from her status-conscious mother to secure a suitable marriage. But is marriage suitable for a woman of Elizabeth’s intelligence and independence? Especially when the irritating, aloof, self-involved… tall, vaguely handsome, mildly amusing, and impossibly aristocratic Mr. Darcy keeps popping up at every turn?! Literature’s greatest tale of latent love has never felt so theatrical, or so full of life than it does in this effervescent new adaptation.

Ticket prices range from $35 to $50 and can be purchased online.

Photo via NextStop Theatre Company

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Town of Herndon Launches Comprehensive Plan Review Process

Town of Herndon officials have launched a process to review the town’s comprehensive plan, a planning document that guides current and future development.

The comprehensive plan, which state law states must be reviewed by the local planning commission at least once every five years, will head to the town’s planning commission for review.

Although dates have not been announced, the commission plans to review public input and make suggestions on changes to the plan. The commission will then draft a resolution for the town council that states the plan’s priorities and direction. By law, the Herndon Town Council is not required to take action on the resolution.

In previous years, the town has incorporated major changes to the plan, including planning for downtown Herndon and areas near the Herndon Metro Station.

The following amendments have been approved in recent years since the original plan was adopted in 2008:

  • Downtown Master Plan
  • Downtown Streetscape Map
  • Metrorail Station Area Plan
  • Cycle Track on Herndon Parkway
  • South Elden Area Plan

Changes to the future plan could include updating the parks and recreation chapter, sustainability policy, multigenerational planning, and economic development.

Residents interested in submitting their comments and suggestions on the plan can email [email protected].

Image via Herndon Planning Commission

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Legal Insider: States Began to Offer Employment Rights to Domestic Violence Victims

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

Some states are beginning to offer victims of domestic violence employment law rights.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has not done so yet, but this article focuses on the jurisdictions that have enacted such legislation. The most major legislation in this area has come from New York and California. It is hoped that more states (and Virginia) will begin to enact these types of employment law protections for victims of domestic violence.

New York and California Laws Offer Employment Law Protections

The State of New York recently enacted Bill A5618/S1040, which offers employment law protections to victims of domestic violence. The new law enhanced previous New York protections which prohibited discrimination against victims of domestic violence within the workplace. The new law adds the following:

Reasonable Accommodation: The law requires employers to reasonably accommodate victims of domestic violence who must be absent from work for a reasonable amount of time to seek medical attention, therapy or legal services in connection with domestic violence.

Anti-Discrimination: The new law further ensures that domestic violence victims are considered a protected class and that employment discrimination against them is considered another form of illegal discrimination.

The State of California has enacted similar protections for victims of domestic violence. In some ways, the protections given to employees in California are slightly stronger than those in New York. California Labor Code §§ 230 and 230.1 provides employment law protections to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Like in New York, California requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to domestic victims. California also makes it illegal to discriminate or retaliate against a victim of domestic violence for taking time off of work to seek help.

Virginia Lags Behind in Protections

Virginia lags far behind in the protection of domestic violence victims in the workplace. The legislature should move to adopt a law similar to those enacted by California and New York to ensure that employees suffering from domestic violence are not terminated or discriminated against for taking time off to get medical or mental assistance needed in order to get better.

Currently, Virginia only protects victims of domestic violence (and other crimes) for the time taken to respond to a summons or subpoena related to the criminal proceedings. Va. Code § 18.2-465.1. Virginia also requires an employer to permit a victim of a crime to be present at all criminal proceedings related to a crime against the employee. Va. Code 40.1-28.7:2.

Virginia also offers suggested (not binding) guidance to employers asking them to consider allowing victims of all crimes (including domestic violence) to be able to attend court without loss of pay. Va. Code § 19.2-11.01(A)(3)(a). Virginia should follow the lead of New York and California and protect domestic violence victims in the workplace.

Conclusion

If you need assistance with employment law issues, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

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After Storm Damage, Onelife Fitness Reopens

Onelife Fitness has reopened after a large tree fell on the gym and health club last week.

Although most of the business is fully operational, the mind and body studio will require repairs over the next several weeks.

The fallen tree damaged Onelife’s HVAC unit. Punctures in the roof also led to major flooding.

Onelife is offering additional yoga classes in the main group exercise studio beginning today (Monday):

  • Monday 7:30 p.m., Sunset Yoga
  • Tuesday: Noon, Vinyasa Flow Yoga; 7:30 p.m., Slow Flow Yoga
  • Wednesday 7:30 p.m. Vinyasa Flow Yoga
  • Saturday 11:30 a.m.Power Yoga
  • Sunday: 8:00 a.m. Vinyasa Flow Yoga

“Even though most of the damage was in the Mind/Body studio, the team has worked non-stop since Tuesday night and we will be able to host classes on Monday morning,” Nancy Terry, senior vice president of marketing at US Fitness Holdings, told Reston Now.

The kids club opened last Wednesday and all amenities in the women’s locker room opened later in the week.

Onelife Fitness is located at 11445 Isaac Newton Square.

Photo via @codesurfer_/Twitter

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Monday Morning Notes

Safety Reminders as School Begins — As the first day of the school year begins today, state officials are reminding residents to be careful as more pedestrian and vehicular traffic returns to neighborhoods and around schools. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Elden Street Sidewalk Funding Goes Before Commission — The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on an application to seek state funding for improvements to the sidewalks of Elden Street. [Town of Herndon]

Reston Association Board to Review Budget — The board is expected to discuss and review the first draft of the 2020-2021 budget at its September 26 meeting, which takes place at RA headquarters at 6:30 p.m. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Missing SLHS Teacher Found Dead Near Crashed Motorcycle

A South Lakes High School teacher who was reported missing earlier this month was identified as the motorcyclist found dead Thursday near Fairfax County Parkway.

Simon Chang, 39, of Ashburn, was a special education teacher and a member of the boys basketball coaching staff. He was reported missing on August 16.

The news comes just days before students return to SLHS. Kim Retzer, the school’s principal, wrote the following message to parents about Chang’s passing:

The South Lakes High School community is mourning the death of one of our teachers, Simon Chang. As a special education teacher and member of the boys basketball coaching staff, Mr. Chang was as a beloved member of the Seahawk family. He will be remembered for his positivity and dedication to our staff and students.  He will be greatly missed. We have been in contact with Mr. Chang’s family to offer our condolences and support. 

We feel it is important for you to be aware of this situation so that you can provide any support your children might need.  Our counselors and an FCPS crisis team will be available Monday to meet with any students or staff who need assistance.  All staff will have information on where to direct students who need support. We are taking every step we can to be responsive to the needs of our students and families.  Please reach out if there are ways we can support you.  

Our thoughts are with Mr. Chang’s family and friends during this difficult time.

Police believe Chang was riding a motorcycle from Lee Highway to northbound Fairfax County Parkway when the motorcycle ran off the shoulder of the ramp and drove into a wooded area near a pond.

Chang’s body was found on Thursday, August 23 after a groundskeeper found the wreckage.

Detective do not believe other vehicles were involved in the accident. It is unclear if speed or alcohol were factors.

Photo via Loudoun County Government

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