Amidst Community Concern, County Board Approves Campus Commons Project

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Campus Commons on Tuesday — the first major redevelopment project in a transit-oriented area in Reston near established neighborhoods.  Although community criticism pushed developer TF Cornerstone to amend its plan, citizens and resident groups remained concerned about the scale and impact of the 12-acre development.

TF Cornerstone plans to redevelop 1900-1902 Campus Commons Drive with two residential towers with 656 units, an office building, and seven public parks. Two office buildings will remain on the site.

The scale of the project — as well as a controversial proposed on-grade pedestrian crossing at Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road — prompted the eruption of community consternation and the formation of Rescue Sunrise Valley, a community group that pushed the developer to scale back the site.

Last month, TF Cornerstone shifted roughly 86,550 square feet from an office building near Sunrise Valley Drive to a residential building and reduced its height from 12 to seven stories. The setback along the curb of Sunrise Valley Drive was also increased to a minimum of 50 feet.

The approval of the project highlights the challenge of transitioning the community to mass transit. Community planners rely on the hope that transit-oriented developments like Campus Commons will reduce the number of vehicles — a transition that will likely happen over time and raises questions about community impacts in the interim.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, residents said the project adds additional congestion in an area that already has high traffic volumes.

Although the developer’s plans show an on-grade crossing at the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and the toll road, TF Cornerstone will work with the county to explore three options for a pedestrian bridge. The study group, which will also represent local residents, will work for up to three years to explore the best way forward. TF Cornerstone committed to constructing the bridge of contributing $1.5 million to help finance any alternative.

Michelle Kimmel, a member of the Coalition for a Planned Reston, said that while she supports transit-oriented communities, Campus Commons does not hit benchmarks for well-planned development, especially because it is not harmonious with existing residential areas.

“We got people ending up on a pork chop in the middle of the toll road,” Kimmel said. “It’s just beyond me how this project can succeed.”

Reston Association President Cathy Baum said the project illustrates the association’s longstanding concern about high densities planned for transit station areas and the inadequacy of transportation to keep up with development.

Baum also encouraged the board to remove the on-grade crossing at Wiehle Avenue from plans “as an assurance to our members that it is truly not an option.”

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins thanked residents for their involvement in the project and said she hopes the county will work diligently to ensure the developments like Campus Commons reduce traffic in the long-term. Hudgins also noted that the county’s planning documents call for redevelopment projects like Campus Commons in the corridor of Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset. Hills Road.

Hudgins also said she hopes the developer will continue to work with residents as the project is built.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Annual Run to Support South Lakes High School’s Food Pantry This Sunday

The South Lakes High School PTSA is sponsoring a 0.5k run to help support the school’s food pantry this Sunday. From 3-5 p.m.

Proceeds from the event will go directly toward the pantry, which provides students in the SLHS pyramid food and toiletries.

The run is titled, “The Best 650 Steps You’ll Ever Take.”  The run begins and ends at the Lake Anne Brew House, with a stop in between for donuts and water.

To prepare for Halloween, organizers will be offering medals for the biggest team, best costume, most exuberant, best-dressed team and any other categories the judges “deem worthy,” according to organizers.

Registration is open online. Individuals can register as a student, adults, teams or families.

Raffle prizes include a diamond necklace with a value of $1,500 that was donated. Aspen Jewelry Designs. Other prices include a gift basket from Custom Ink, peanut putter basket, gift cards and a massage by Meg Donnelly.

The race is sponsored by Lake Anne Brew House, Reston Community Center, Restoration Church, Century 21 Redwood, CustomInk, Aspen Jewelry Designs, Dev Technology, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Del. Ken Plum, OmMade Peanut Butter, AKG Designs, and Friends of Lake Anne.

Photo via Roberta Gosling

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Fairfax County Seeking Input on Fairfax Connector Changes

Fairfax County is seeking more feedback from commuters who use the Fairfax Connector.

A new round of meetings will give community members another chance to provide critiques for plans for the future of the Fairfax Connector and the Silver Line Metrorail expansion around Reston and Herndon, according to a press release.

People who want to give feedback can attend any of the three upcoming meetings, which are all accessible from the Fairfax Connector.

  • Herndon Middle School Cafeteria (901 Locust Street) on Thursday (Oct. 28) from 7-9 p.m.
  • Ox Hill Baptist Church (4101 Elmwood Street) on Friday (Oct. 29) from 7-9 p.m.
  • Reston Community Center at Lake Anne (1609-A Washington Plaza) on Saturday (Nov. 2) from 10 a.m.-noon

Anyone unable to attend the meetings in person may give feedback online. The form will be open from Oct. 23 until Nov. 30.

Comments can also be mailed to Fairfax County Department of Transportation, 4050 Legato Road, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033.

Feedback from the meetings will be synthesized and converted into another design to “provide better access to destinations, improved travel times, increased schedule reliability and more dependable service,” the press release said.

This final plan will be available in early 2020 for a final round of critiques.

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New Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce CEO Looks to Maintain Reston’s Value in the Evolving Marketplace

Charles Kapur, a lifelong resident of Northern Virginia and a banking industry professional, is now at the helm of the Greater Reston of Commerce. As Kapur begins his position as president and CEO, Reston Now discussed his upcoming priorities and goals for the chamber.

What are your top three goals over the next year?

The goals that I have in this role over the next three years will be principally guided by the strategic plan that was recently adopted by our Board of Directors.  This plan represents the culmination of a strategic process that was conducted by special committee of board members earlier this year. The plan consists of three overarching pillars.

First, we aim to raise awareness of Reston’s position as a regional leader in this market and a premier destination for business leaders seeking diversity of resources and connectivity to top influencers.  Second, we will increase value to our members by evaluating how our membership models can best attract and engage businesses seeking to leverage the mission-driven marketing, business networking and educational opportunities we provide.  Lastly, the Reston Chamber will grow in promoting workforce development to meet the pressing needs of the region’s employers. We will work with respected partners, along with enhancing our existing program offerings, to help shape a more nimble and capable workforce that will best support the entrepreneurial infrastructure of our region.

As more businesses come to the area, how do you think the chamber should evolve to meet the needs of the growing business community?

The activities of a truly effective chamber of commerce are those that most accurately reflect the business goals and objectives of its membership.  As the composition of the surrounding business community evolves, so, too, must the Greater Reston of Commerce evolve our programming to continue to serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurial growth in our region.  There are a number of ways this is accomplished. We must continue to empower the members who lead our various committees and councils to enhance the events they produce throughout the year. We’re also constantly securing member input from a variety of local, economic sectors to confirm we’re hitting the mark on the value of our programs.  We’re also improving the methods we employ to connect with our membership – developing a more well-defined strategy of using the latest social media and communication channels to keep current, and prospective members, fully aware of the benefits we provide.

In what ways do you plan to bring creativity and innovation to your position and the chamber’s position within the business community?

Creativity and innovation born in isolation will not allow the Greater Reston Chamber to be as effective as we want to be.  My goal is to be able to engage with as diverse a mix of our members early and often as I transition into the role of the CEO.  I’ve been a member of the Northern Virginia business community my entire professional career. I’ve engaged with numerous business development and networking platforms in that time.  I’ve also, at one time or another, participated with events many of the chambers of commerce in our region. My goal is to incorporate the feedback I receive from our membership, my own past professional experiences, and the relationships I’ve built with my neighboring chamber colleagues to develop new events that highlight the diversity of the industries we support, promote regional collaboration with neighboring organizations and better reflect the changing ways in which business professional engage with each other.

What is the top challenges faced by the chamber in the next 3 – 5 years and how do you plan to address it?

The top challenge facing the Chamber over the next 3 – 5 years is maintaining our value to an increasingly diverse and evolving marketplace.  Economic development in this region is exploding. We’ve seen, over the last few years, the impact of organizations like Nestle, Amazon and Micron growing their presence.  We’re seeing greater entrepreneurship as other businesses migrate to this region to be a part of that growth. These businesses will continue to evolve the methods they employ to grow their networks, develop their workforce and meet their business development objectives.  The Chamber’s ability to adapt our programs, our communications and our delivery channels will be critical to our success in maintaining relevancy in the marketplace. My plan is to consistently, and strategically, evaluate how we deliver those mission-driven activities throughout the year and be reactive to identified opportunities for improvement.  In a market as dynamic as we have, there is no such thing as maintaining the status quo. You are either moving forward with a goal of continued improvement or you are preparing to recede in your ability to serve your constituents.

Photo via Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce

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Del. Ken Plum: Evolution of Women’s Rights

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis 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.

Women first came to the English colony at Jamestown Island in 1619–400 years ago, and hence their arrival is part of the American Evolution 1619-2019 commemoration going on throughout the Commonwealth. As with the other events that marked the historic significance of this year and that I have written about in this column, the real meaning of the events comes about in examining the decades and centuries that followed from 1619. There is no surprise that the land developers who were making investments in the new colony would advertise free voyage to women to come to this new land of potential opportunity and freedom from poverty and oppression they may have felt at home. If the colony was to have success in developing economic opportunities and stability that families would bring, it needed women to come and find themselves adventure…and a husband.

English women who came were not slaves although they no doubt had to work hard to start a life and a home in the wilderness. If they came with an indenture to pay off their voyage fare, they could work off their obligation over a number of years. But just like in the society they left, even with the indenture paid off, women were not free or in the same category as men. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence nearly a century and a half later, he proclaimed that “all men are created equal.” We speculate that if he were writing a document today that he would say “all persons,” but his writing at the time reflected women’s lesser role in society. The story of women’s rights continues to evolve even until today.

The capital of Virginia moved to Richmond in 1780, but it was not until this week that a memorial noting the contribution of women to the Commonwealth’s history was finally dedicated on Capitol grounds. The twelve women chosen to be depicted as bronze statues in the Virginia Women’s Monument represent women from all corners of the Commonwealth, both widely-celebrated women, as well as those with previously unknown but equally important stories. Many more women will be memorialized on the Wall of Honor and in the accompanying virtual educational modules. To get to know these women, most of whom I dare to say few have heard of, visit Women’s Monument.

Also recognizing the struggle of women for their rights, the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association (TPSM) is building a national memorial to American suffragists–with a special focus on those imprisoned at Occoquan, VA, who endured harsh conditions and abuse to win voting rights for American women. For more information on the women who led the suffragist movement and the hardships they endured, visit suffragistmemorial.org. The nineteenth amendment ensuring women the right to vote was not ratified until 1920. Virginia rejected it in 1920 and did not vote for ratification until 1952.

A fitting tribute to Virginia women 400 years after their arrival would be passage of the Equal Rights Amendment by the General Assembly at its next legislative session.

File photo

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Thursday Morning Notes

Light the Night Set for Tomorrow — The Leukemia  & Lymphoma Society hosts the annual walk at Reston Town Center tomorrow (Friday) from 5-9 p.m. [Reston Town Center]

Supervisors Consider Reston Town Center in Parking Meters Decision in Loudoun — Loudoun County supervisors are thinking about allowing on-street parking meters — a move that some said is not comparable to RTC b because Boston Properties reversed longstanding free parking to paid parking. [Loudoun Now]

Lanes Reopen After Downed Power Pole Prompts Closure — Lanes reopened Wednesday night after a downed power pole at Herndon Parkway and Dulles Place changed the traffic pattern. [Herndon Police Department]

Photo via Dario Piparo/Flickr

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