The Weekly Planner is a roundup of events coming up over the next week in Reston, Herndon and Great Falls.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Reston and Herndon. Know of any we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Wednesday (Oct. 14)

Thursday (Oct. 15)

  • Digital Drinking with Atlas Brew Works (Online) — 6 p.m. — This free event is for ages 21 and older. Those who wish to participate can choose a time to pick up a free six-pack of beer from The Kelvin and register for the Zoom link with Atlas Brew Works. The brewery is asking participants to post their favorite beer on October 15, tagging both @thekelvindc and @atlasbrewworks  on Instagram. Three people will then be chosen to receive a $125 bar tab covered by The Kelvin.

Friday (Oct. 16)

  • NASCOW (Online) — Friends of Frying Pan Park will race 11 of the park’s cows against each other online. Sponsors can use this form to choose their favorite cow. All proceeds will support the park as they make up for the revenue lost during the pandemic.

Saturday (Oct. 17)

  • Reston Community Cleanup – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Reston Community Center (2304 Hunters Woods Plaza) — Volunteers should plan to clean up along the Reston Association Trail behind Hunters Woods Shopping Center, between Glade Drive and Reston Parkway, the website said. Registration is required, and those who register should gloves, sturdy shoes and expect to follow pandemic precautions. The cleanup is for the Hunters Woods Shopping Center.

Photo via Friends of Frying Pan Park/Facebook

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Friends of Frying Pan Park, a local park in Herndon, will host its first NASCOW race next Friday (Oct. 16)

This event will race 11 of the park’s cows in efforts to replace revenues lost by the COVID-19-related cancellation of the park’s annual Farm Harvest Days fundraiser, the event ad said.

“Farm Harvest Days usually bring in 8,000 people per day,” said Yvonne Johnson, Manager of Friends of Frying Pan Park. “Due to COVID-19, we found a different way to generate revenue to support the farm and park.”

The cows that will race are of different ages from nine-months to four-years-old:

  • Bandit (Age: 1)
  • Brandy (Age: 3)
  • Evee (Age: 3)
  • Florence (Age: 2)
  • Guinness (Age: 9 months)
  • Helene (Age: 2)
  • Hokie (Age: 3)
  • Marybelle (Age: 4)
  • Rain (Age: 3)
  • Skipper (Age: 9 months)
  • Smokey (Age: 1)

The race will be videotaped and aired online.

Sponsors for the NASCOW race can use this form to pick their cow and donate. So far the park has raised $8,000 of its $10,000 goal.

Photo via Friends of Frying Pan Park/Facebook

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Two friends teamed up to create Herndon’s new coworking space called Rowan Tree, which debuted today (Jan. 15) in Sunset Business Park.

The coworking space, which describes itself as “geared for women but welcome to all,” offers an open workspace, meeting rooms, onsite yoga and professional and personal growth workshops at 280 Sunset Park Drive.

As a part of the grand opening, Rowan Tree’s co-founders Amy Dagliano and Kate Viggiano Janich announced a scholarship for local entrepreneurial women who may face financial barriers with the membership. (Memberships cost either $2,400 for the year or $275 per month, which totals $3,300 per year.)

Janich said the scholarship is meant to support a diverse and inclusive environment. For every five members, Rowan Tree will fund one full scholarship.

Reston Now caught up with Dagliano to find out the details behind Rowan Tree’s name and why they picked Herndon.

Reston Now: How did you come up with the name “Rowan Tree”?

Amy Dagliano: We are best friends — and we also happen to share the same birthday: April 9. We found that just like with birthstones, there are actually trees associated with birthdays.

The Rowan Tree is the tree of April 9. The tree represents vision, power, connection, transformation, and balance. All things we knew we wanted in the community. The tree is known as the portal tree, taking you from one place to another, and it seeks the highest of altitudes to grow and thrive.

Rowan is also a family name of Kate’s cousin — the same cousin who helped Amy heal from Lyme Disease.

RN: Why Herndon?

AD: We found most women-focused coworking places are in cities, but we are working moms who live in NoVA. We like having our parking lots and yards — but we are still really interested in growing our careers, connecting with others and being part of a movement.

There is nothing like Rowan Tree in Herndon or the surrounding area. Before we opened, we interviewed a lot of women in the NoVA area. We found that those who lived in Herndon and nearby were very enthusiastic about the concept. Many of them were launching something new for themselves, but they didn’t have a place to land. Then, as we started pop-up events, we received incredible community support. We love this small town with a big heart and its strong sense of community.

Finally, it’s HERndon. What better place to open our flagship coworking and cogrowth space focused on women than a town with “HER” in the name?

RN: How did you choose the Herndon location?

AD: Our original intention was to open 10,000 square feet with private offices. Soon into research, however, we realized something smaller and more community-focused would better fit our vision of a close, collaborative network of women. When we held pop-up coworking at ArtSpace Herndon, our ArtSpace friends suggested we check out this place for rent.

We took one look and knew it would be perfect for Rowan Tree. The owner understands and supports our vision, and by adding our furniture, touches of color, twinkle lights and artwork, we were able to create a warm and inviting space. It’s the perfect “treehouse.”

RN: How many people can occupy the space?

AD: If everyone is sitting at tables and utilizing the conference rooms, we can fit about 40 to 50 people at once. But the great thing about the space is that it’s flexible. We can roll the tables out of the main space and have more than 50 people in chairs watching a presentation or more than 75 people for a cocktail event or fundraiser.

We also have an open studio space that can we can bring tables and chairs into to add seating or to hold wellness or artistic activities.

RN: What are you most excited about?

AD: We are blown out of the water by the caliber of the women joining our community. Our members are forming relationships. They are sharing ideas and leaning on each other. They are connecting each other to their networks. They are growing. They are making Rowan Tree their own.

We are truly looking forward to the impact we will have on our local community and economy — and hopefully, far beyond.

Photos via Rowan Tree 

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A cow’s lunchtime stroll raised some eyebrows last week when the Black Angus cow, named Hokie, sped off onto a Route 28 exit ramp from her new home in Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon.

The 1,200-pound heifer, which had been purchased by the park from Virginia Tech just two days before the incident, was under routine quarantine at the farm when she suddenly jumped over a 3.5-foot tall wagon during stall cleaning and bolted through the Herndon area, surprising onlookers as she jumped over guard rails and jersey walls to evade capture.

According to the Fairfax County Park Authority, the help of some “agile” drivers resulted in the capture of the cow on an exit ramp roughly 2.5 miles from the park. Drivers used their cars to help emergency personnel corner the cow on the ramp, with one driver raising his hands on the opposite side of the ramp to prevent Hokie from jumping over the wall.

Help was also lassoed in from the Fairfax County Police Department and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, who promptly joined in the hot pursuit.

The Fairfax County Park Authority offered the following thanks in a Facebook post following the incident:

“Thanks to the entire community for coming together to ensure the safe return of our newest cow. Farm staff is working to acclimate Hokie to her new home and have increased security measures to prevent the surprisingly nimble cow from escaping again. 

Photos via Fairfax County Park Authority

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This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

Meet Cowboy, a Terrier & Boxer mix puppy available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

Adorable little Cowboy is a great pup, a blend of boxer and terrier most likely. He’s just eight weeks old and is super friendly and cute — just look how he hammed it up for his pictures!!!

He’ll likely be a nice medium size when grown, perhaps around the forty to forty five pound range.

This beautiful baby is a nice blend of friendly affection and normal puppy playfulness and will be great company.

Are you and Cowboy 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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11911 Freedom DriveRefraction, a coworking space sponsored by Canvas, has taken over new space at Reston Town Center and will hold an open house on Thursday to show it off to prospective tenants.

The Grand Opening event is from 6 to 9 p.m. at Refraction, 11911 Freedom Drive, Suite 850.

Refraction says it will have space for 50-60 companies in the new digs. The 23,000-square-foot expanded space has room to “house 250+ entrepreneurs, 23 meeting spaces, 14 offices, 2 kitchens, 1 multi-purpose event space and heaps of room for informal collaboration,” Refraction representatives say.

Refraction memberships will include free coffee and Wi-fi, meeting rooms and other collaborative space. Rates start at $30/daily for a drop-in desk to $300 for a co-working desk. Full offices are also available; inquire for prices.

From Refraction:

For three years and across three continents, we have studied every aspect of a successful startup office — speaking to entrepreneurs and their teams, boomers, millennials, investors, mentors, unicorns, academics, designers, and architects. The result of this research and consultation has been distilled into Refraction’s expanded space and the brand new HQ of Canvas, our major sponsor. We know what a team needs to be productive, collaborative and engaged.

Want to attend Thursday’s event? RSVP with Refraction.

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(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) All Fairfax County Public School employees will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing, the school system announced this morning.

The requirement will take effect “by late October,” according to the news release:

To keep our commitment to provide students with five days a week of in-person instruction this year. Vaccination is the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent severe illness. We must take every measure possible to keep our schools safe.

To give employees the peace of mind that comes with knowing their workplace is a safe place. Knowing coworkers are either vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 provides confidence and comfort so we can focus on our mission- educating kids.

To reassure FCPS students and families they are learning in the safest environment possible. We can assure everyone who enters our building that our workforce is either vaccinated or is reporting to work with a negative COVID-19 test.

To lead by example. FCPS continues to promote vaccination for everyone, including our students, as soon as they are eligible. Our goal is for every eligible employee to be vaccinated. The sooner our community reaches a high vaccination rate, the sooner we begin to put the pandemic behind us.

FCPS had already established a universal masking policy for all students, staff, and visitors inside school buildings, but as recently as Wednesday, officials had said that they were not mandating vaccinations, though the option had not been definitively ruled out.

The change comes days after two unions representing FCPS employees — the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers and the Fairfax Education Association — issued statements saying that they would support a vaccine mandate.

“Our teachers and staff have gone above and beyond to keep their students safe and healthy during the pandemic. Most signed up for vaccines as soon as they were available,” Providence District School Board Member Karl Frisch said in a statement. “This was the right decision. To keep our students safe and our schools running smoothly, it is critical that everyone in our community who is eligible gets vaccinated — not only our educators and school employees. That is how we will ultimately put this pandemic behind us.”

As of 9:50 a.m. today (Friday), a majority of respondents in an informal poll conducted by Reston Now and sister site Tysons Reporter said they would support a vaccine requirement not just for staff, but also for students. However, the opposition to a mandate has grown since the results were checked last night.

Students will return to classes on Monday (Aug. 23).

“FCPS continues to encourage vaccination for everyone, including students, as soon as they are eligible,” Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a message sent out to families this morning. “This summer, Fairfax County has seen vaccination rates for our young people soar. We have some of the highest vaccination rates across the country for this age group.”

According to FCPS, 61.9% of adolescents aged 12-15 in Fairfax County are now fully vaccinated, along with 74.4% of 16 to 17-year-olds.

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The Fairfax County Police Department has concluded for a second time that allegations of racial profiling by one of its officers during a 2019 incident in Herndon were unfounded.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed police to revisit the case in question in January after the county’s Police Civilian Review Panel recommended an additional review in its first-ever challenge of police findings.

According to a June 1 FCPD memo obtained by Reston Now, the second review — this time under a new police chief — found no evidence that a police officer who followed and questioned a Black driver was motivated by racial bias.

“I have reviewed the supplemental investigative findings and concur that no new evidence was revealed to support the allegation of bias-based policing,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said in the memo.

Davis took over as police chief on May 3 amid criticism of his past work in Baltimore and Prince George’s County. In the initial months of his tenure, he has emphasized his willingness to introduce reforms, including revisions to the department’s vehicle pursuit policy and the addition of a data director.

For its follow-up investigation of the Herndon incident, Fairfax County police asked eight employees in the Reston District Station’s Criminal Investigations Section the following question:

“Do you have any direct or indirect knowledge which would indicate [employee name] has engaged or is engaging in behavior that was or is motivated by bias toward a victim’s race, religious conviction, ethnic/national origin, disability, and/or sexual orientation?”

Police said no one indicated there was any evidence of bias exhibited by the detective.

Davis also suggested options for reviewing the case were limited, noting that FCPD started collecting data on officers’ interactions with civilians last October that it wasn’t measuring at the time of this particular incident.

The change aligns with new state requirements for police data collection that took effect on July 1.

“Due to recent updates in Virginia legislation, the Virginia Community Policing Act, the Department has updated our current record management system to capture additional details pertaining to the circumstances of community contacts,” the FCPD said in a statement. “The further details will allow our Department to better understand the contacts we have within our community.”

In his memo, Davis wrote that the department has “further enhanced our transparency by creating a Police Data Sharing Dashboard” that allows people to search information related to warnings, citations, and arrests.

The civilian review panel began reviewing the Herndon incident on May 23, 2019, when it got a citizen’s complaint about an officer who followed him into the parking lot of his apartment complex and repeatedly questioned whether he lived there. Read More

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Dairy cow (via Harry Dona/Pixabay)

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Monday, August 16

  • Miniature Ceramics (7-8 p.m.) — Head to the Centreville Regional Library to design and create your own mini ceramic. This workshop is in-person and designed for teenagers.

Tuesday. August 17

  • Kids on the Green (10 a.m.) — Get the morning started right by heading to Vienna’s Town Green for some music and fun with the kids. This week, Bill Wellington will bring his unique brand of kid-centric folk music and storytelling to the town green.
  • Bollywood Fitness (6-7 p.m.) — Dance, dance at this virtual Bollywood dance fitness class through the Fairfax County Public Library. Taught by local instructor Aparna Rao, this class is guaranteed to be fun and to get you sweaty.

Wednesday, August 18

  • Dairy Days (12 p.m.) — Churn butter, crank ice cream, and milk a (fake) cow at Sully Historic Site. This hour-long program will teach kids about what it’s like to work on a dairy farm, which were once common in this region.

Thursday, August 19

  • Arlington County Fair (5-10 p.m.) — After a year off due to the pandemic, the Arlington County Fair is back with a full slate of events, activities, and fun. Throw an ax, compete in a pie-eating contest, and be thrilled on a ride. The fair starts Wednesday night and lasts through Sunday evening.

Friday. August 20

  • Movies in the Park (7:30 p.m.) — Grab a blanket, chair, and head to the Hook Road Recreation Area for an evening under the stars to watch the Disney classic “Wreck it Ralph.” While the last “Movie in the Park” was cancelled due to rain, the weather for Friday night currently looks promising.

Saturday, August 21

  • Making Opera Soup (11 a.m. & 3 p.m.) — Join award-winning opera singer Mirabal at Boro Park in Tysons for a one-woman opera. This performance is intended for both children and adults.
  • Tinner Hill Music Festival (11 a.m.-9 p.m.) — The 27th annual version of this music festival in Falls Church City will feature some pretty big headliners this year, including B.B. King Blues Band featuring Michael Lee of “The Voice” and the Legendary Wailers. There will also be food trucks, a kids’ village, and art.

Sunday, August 22

  • Alexandria Restaurant Week — Alexandria’s restaurant week starts this weekend, featuring more than 70 businesses offering both in-person and to-go deals.

Photo via Harry Dona/Pixabay

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Similarweb attends the Web Summit 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal (via Web Summit/Flickr)

The online metrics firm Similarweb is expanding into Reston.

The company, which has its global headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, announced yesterday (Monday) that it is opening an office at the coworking site Spaces that launched in Reston Station (1900 Reston Metro Plaza) in December 2018.

Similarweb is adding around 10 employees and expects to keep hiring more here.

“Our office in Reston, VA is now open,” the company said on Twitter. “A big welcome to our amazing team members who will collaborate there.”

Despite the announcement, the office is scheduled to open Sept. 1, the company said in a statement to Reston Now.

Similarweb provides marketing and research data to businesses looking to measure the effectiveness of their websites and other digital platforms.

With economic development leaders seeking to make sure companies have the talent they need in the area, Similarweb’s hiring between local candidates and those outside the area will serve as yet another example for whether an employee pipeline is meeting needs.

The Reston office is the company’s fourth in the U.S. and its first opening since going public earlier this year. Donna Dror, Similarweb’s general manager for North America, says the technology industry’s growing presence in Reston made it an attractive location for expansion.

“We see the Dulles Tech Corridor as a great opportunity to bring in new talent, especially for our Marketing and Sales teams,” Dror said in the statement. “We’re excited to join the many great companies already based in Reston and surrounding areas.”

Dror told Technical.ly that the company has 200 open positions that are remote, and half of those will be based in the U.S. She said the company is still reviewing its return-to-work strategy and would like to see at least 25 roles filled locally, but the openings aren’t tied to the Reston area specifically.

“We are actively hiring and planning to add a number of new employees before the end of the year and beyond,” she told Reston Now. “In the U.S. alone, we have nearly 100 open roles today, and we hope that many of those can be based in Reston.”

The new office will be home for the company’s chief marketing officer, Kevin Spurway, along with other employees in the sales and marketing departments.

Similarweb launched its initial public offering in May and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Its clients have included DHL, Lego, and Lending Tree.

Photo via Web Summit/Flickr

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Fairfax County residents in need of Department of Motor Vehicle services are finding they need to book an appointment months in advance.

In response to those reported concerns, the county Board of Supervisors agreed on Tuesday (July 27) to contact the state to see how it will address wait times.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity said residents have reported that they’re traveling as far as three hours away to South Hill to get DMV services.

“Given that DMV services are essential, Fairfax County residents should not have to wait over a month or be forced to go to other parts of Virginia for an appointment,” Herrity said.

The DMV introduced the appointment system when it reopened sites in May 2020 after a pandemic-induced shutdown. During that time frame, it has also added more online capabilities to help reduce foot traffic.

“We are not yet where we need to be, but we are proud of the progress we’ve made from implementing a brand new appointment system in the height of a global pandemic a little more than a year ago,” DMV spokeswoman Jessica Cowardin said in a statement.

On a recent visit to a DMV center in Tysons, Great Falls resident Barbara Martin found the experience quite different compared to when walk-ins were allowed, which would result in dozens of people crowding into the building.

Martin booked her appointment about a month and a half ago and said she was relieved to be there, expressing appreciation for the staff’s attention to details.

With no DMV centers in the immediate Reston/Herndon area, the closest location for residents is the Sterling center (100 Free Court), which reopened in August 2020. The department also opened a new customer service center in Sterling (22360 S. Sterling Blvd., Unit D112) this past January.

“By installing an appointment system we have become more efficient, transactions are conducted quickly and customer wait times have been minimized,” Cowardin wrote. “And appointment availability will continue to increase as we are able to hire and train employees and emerge more fully from the pandemic, which is still ongoing.”

Chai Chala of McLean says he lucked out and only had to wait 10 days for an appointment at the Tysons DMV center (1968 Gallows Road), which he visited to register a new car.

“The experience was really nice,” he said, adding his only complaint was the sun’s heat.

Since reopening, the DMV added several services to its website that can save customers a trip to a physical building.

In September, it introduced two-year renewals for driver’s licenses and ID cars by online and mail, and in November, it began online renewals for commercial driver’s licenses. As of February, it also now offers drivers the ability to replace licenses and permits that were lost or stolen.

Customers can also get appointments with DMV Select partner officers, which conduct vehicle-related transactions, as well as DMV Connect, a team of mobile workers whose regular stops include the Fairfax County Government Center.

Cowardin said the DMV intends to keep the appointment system for the foreseeable future, noting that the vast majority of transactions conducted since May 2020 have been conducted remotely.

“During the pandemic, customers shifted the way they conduct business with DMV in that more customers are now conducting DMV business by service delivery methods other than the [customer service centers], such as mail, internet, online dealers or DMV Select partners,” she noted.

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One of the two residential towers planned for the Faraday Park development near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station is now open to residents.

Move-ins for 242-unit Faraday West tower officially began on April 17, a spokesperson for the property confirmed to Reston Now. Reston Skylines reported in June that the building had opened to its first residents.

Delivery of Faraday East, however, is taking a little longer than anticipated. Developer Rooney Properties previously projected that construction on both towers would finish in May, but two months later, work is still going on the eastern tower, which will consist of 166 apartments.

“No exact completion date to share at the moment beyond being in the next few months,” the Faraday Park spokesperson said by email.

When completed, the seven-story towers will have more than 400 residential units and a total of about 10,000 square feet of retail space. On-site amenities include a maker’s workshop, a rooftop pool and sundeck, a fitness center, coworking spaces, dining room, commercial and baking kitchens, and a bike repair space.

The towers are accompanied by 13 four-story townhomes, according to Rooney Properties.

“The Rooney team is proud that Reston residents are officially calling Faraday Park home!” Rooney Properties senior associate Jake Ballard said in a statement. “The development is one of the fastest-leasing properties in Reston, and was designed with community in mind and meant to be a hub for active and amenity-filled living.”

Redevelopment of the 3.85-acre site at 11201 Reston Station Boulevard has been in the works since 2017, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved conceptual plans for mixed-use development to replace an existing office building.

Faraday Park is part of a larger boom in development along Sunset Hills Road spurred by the arrival of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, which opened in July 2014.

Next door to Faraday Park, the developer Knutson started selling the Union Towns townhomes that it built on Easterly Road in September.

That same month, EYA broke ground on its Townhomes at Reston Station, the first step forward in the Reston Midline development that the company is working on with JBG Smith and The Chevy Chase Land Company. That project will eventually bring 1.8 million square feet of new development south of Sunset Hills Road and east of Wiehle Avenue.

On the other side of Wiehle Avenue, Comstock Companies has been building out the first phase of its massive Reston Station development, which will eventually consist of four districts.

Retailers that have been confirmed for Faraday Park so far include the gym F45, the salon A+ Nails, and the Vietnamese restaurant Alo Vietnam.

Those prospective tenants were first announced in December 2019, but the Faraday Park spokesperson says it’s still too early to give a timeline for when they will move in.

F45, which added a site at Reston Town Center in February, told Reston Now then that they expect to open at Faraday Park this summer. Alo Vietnam opened a location near the future Innovation Center Metro station in January, though they’re still waiting to get the anticipated boost from the long-delayed Silver Line Phase 2 opening.

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Driving by Reston on the Dulles Toll Road (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Virginia is reconsidering the future of funding for transportation infrastructure, as the rise of electric and more fuel-efficient vehicles has cut into the gas tax revenue that helps pay for those projects.

One option the Commonwealth has started pursuing is a “mileage-based user fee” that drivers would pay depending on how much or little they travel. Drivers could opt into the voluntary system in lieu of paying a mandatory highway user fee that first took effect on July 1, 2020.

State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd District) says the highway use fee — which applies to cars that average at least 25 miles per gallon and is calculated based on the fuels tax at the time of a vehicle’s registration and the average number of miles it travels in the state — is a precursor to Virginia’s planned mileage-based user fee program.

“For most of the past decade, Virginia, like the rest of the country, has been wrestling with the challenge of identifying the best approach to generating sufficient revenues to support transportation investments,” she said in a statement. “As cars have become more fuel efficient and electric vehicle adoption increases, it is increasingly difficult to strike the right balance of raising adequate revenues from traditional sources and adhering to a usage-based philosophy of highway financing.”

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is currently fielding requests from private contractors to operate the program, which it anticipates rolling out in July 2022. Led by the DMV, a workgroup tasked with developing the program is slated to deliver an interim report to the Commonwealth this December.

The working group is identifying all requirements to Virginia’s mileage-based user fee program with “a priority on consumer privacy protection and equity,” DMV spokesperson Jessica Cowardin said in a statement.

Seeking new ways to fund road repairs and transit projects, Virginia established the mileage-based fee program in April 2020 when the General Assembly adopted a major transportation bill that also established the highway use fee and raised gas taxes for the first time in more than three decades.

The bill also lowered vehicle registration fees by $10 and repealed an annual $64 fee for electric and alternative fuel vehicles.

The changes, which include tying the gas tax rate to the Consumer Price Index to keep up with inflation starting next year, will help Virginia diversify its funding sources to offset stagnant or declining gas tax revenue, state legislators say.

The consultant KPMG previously estimated that Virginia would lose nearly 33% of its gas tax revenues by 2030 due to fuel efficiency, or approximately $260 million.

“Neither the [Highway Use Fee] nor the EV Registration fee are intended to suppress the sales of fuel efficient or electric vehicles, but simply recapture the average annual revenue from the foregone gas taxes,” Howell said.

The idea of taxing drivers based on how much they travel instead of the fuel they use has been gaining traction throughout the U.S. over the past decade.

Despite inflation, the federal gas tax rate has been locked in at 18.4 cents per gallon since it went up from 14.1 cents in 1993, meaning there’s less money to fund highway improvements.

“Many cars are not using gas at all, such as electric, so that system of highway finance has been coming apart for a long time,” said Jonathan Gifford, director of George Mason University’s Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership Policy in Arlington.

If Virginia wants to encourage a transition to clean energy and electric vehicles, which “is absolutely essential to addressing climate change, we will need to look to other options” to pay for transportation projects, Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance President Jason Stanford says. Read More

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New images show what future residents and visitors can expect from a $1.4 billion project near a forthcoming Reston Town Center Metro station.

As first reported by the Washington Business Journal, developer Brookfield Properties has released more details on the upscale housing coming to the Halley Rise residential, office, and retail complex under construction along Reston Parkway.

Preleasing for apartments in The Edmund — a seven-story apartment building with 353 luxury units — is slated to begin this summer before residents are welcomed in the fall, the developer tells Reston Now.

“As we meet this next major milestone, we’re a step closer to creating a visionary neighborhood that blends nature, technology, entertainment, and art, enabling residents, workers and visitors to curate their ideal day every day, in a vibrant and engaging community,” Greg Meyer, executive vice president and head of the D.C. region for Brookfield Properties, said in a statement.

The Edmund will feature common areas and outdoor seating as well as a pool, fitness center, coworking space, yoga lawn, and more. An interactive virtual tour offers a glimpse of one of the 1,600 units expected at the 36-acre mixed-used campus.

The luxury apartments will include mostly one-bedroom apartments, with 17% of the units being studios, 17% two bedrooms, and 3% three bedrooms, Brookfield Properties U.S. communications director Laura Montross said in an email.

Rental details are not yet listed with the developer’s website.

When completed, Halley Rise will have 1.9 million square feet of office space (about five and a half times the size of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool), 240,000 square feet of retail (just over four football fields), over five acres of public open space, and new public streets.

The development will be anchored by a Wegmans grocery store slated to arrive in 2023, slightly later than the late 2022 timeline that Reston Now last reported.

Real estate developer Akridge is looking to add 480 residential units and retail as part of the complex. That addition is currently scheduled to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission for approval on Dec. 8.

Construction for Halley Rise began in October 2019, and it’s already showing off one of its amenities: self-driving vehicles within the complex. The service has also expanded in the DC region.

Halley Rise is one of several developments in the works in anticipation of the second phase of Metro’s Silver Line. Also near the impending Reston Town Center station, Boston Properties is working on the massive Reston Gateway project, which is undergoing some changes that were set to go before the Board of Supervisors today (Tuesday).

The board’s meeting package indicates that it will defer the public hearing on that application until July 13.

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Fairfax County is developing a new grant program intended to help small businesses and nonprofits recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but in a change from previous relief efforts, this program will first award money to hotels before determining recipients in other industries by lottery.

If it’s approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today (Tuesday) as scheduled, the proposed PIVOT Business Recovery Grant program will be supported by $25 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in March.

“The estimated 48,200 jobs lost in Fairfax County through December 2020 were heavily concentrated in the food service, hospitality and retail sectors,” county staff said in the agenda for today’s meeting, which starts at noon.

Staff added that approximately 50% of job losses in the county in 2020 were lodging, food services, retail, arts, entertainment, and other services.

But why hotels should get first dibs on the new money over restaurants and other affected businesses remains unclear. A county spokesperson says it’s a draft and subject to change.

The background provided in the agenda item does note that Northern Virginia’s lodging industry has been struggling in comparison to the rest of the state:

According to the global hospitality data firm STR, Virginia lodging businesses experienced a 2020 monthly average 50.5 percent decrease compared to 2019 — totaling more than $2.2 billion in lost revenue. Northern Virginia is the only region in Virginia that continues to decline and as of March 2021 has the lowest revenue per room in the Commonwealth.

The plan says hotels with at least 10 rooms will be eligible for a grant. Businesses in the program could get the money if they have 500 employees or less and their principal place of business is in the county.

Hotels are not the only industry hit hard by the pandemic. An International Monetary Fund report shows that in the U.S., the pandemic at one point led to a crash in restaurant bookings as well as steep drops in flying and driving.

Small business owner Caleb Max, who acquired Pica Deli in Reston early in 2020, says it’s good that another part of the hospitality sector would be helped. While restaurants have gotten a boost from relief funds and promotional efforts like restaurant weeks, he said hotels seem to have been left out.

Max shared his thoughts even as his own business has became a victim of COVID-19, according to a handwritten sign on the restaurant’s door announcing the business’s closure.

Max received Paycheck Protection Program money to the tune of $17,241 for his eatery as well as other assistance, saying the money helped but still left a significant deficit with office workers no longer around as consistent customers.

“The aid was good, but for restaurants, we were hit so hard,” Max said.

The new business assistance plan comes after Fairfax County distributed around $52.6 million to small businesses and nonprofits last year through the Fairfax Relief Initiative to Support Employers (RISE) program. Recipients had to have less than 50 employees across all locations.

The RISE program, which helped over 4,800 recipients, dedicated at least 30% of the money to women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses, which ended up with 72% of the funding, according to the county.

That aligns with the findings of a consultant report completed in January that said the county should target further assistance to help those most affected by the pandemic. It detailed how low-income and minority households faced greater difficulties in the workforce, along with women, who have been held back by affordable child care challenges.

Photo via Febrian Zakaria/Unsplash

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