A fire at a home in Herndon displaced two residents yesterday (Wednesday).
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel brought the fire under control on the 1500 block of Millikens Bend Road around 2:11 p.m. that day.
A resident who was home at the time discussed the fire on a stovetop. Fire investigators believe the fire started in the kitchen after cooking oil ignited and spread to nearby combustibles.
The fire caused $255,675 in damages. A dog that resided in the home died during the incident.
Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
Like other entities in the country and around the world, Fairfax County Public Schools are preparing for a potential outbreak of the coronavirus.
In an email sent to parents and staff Wednesday evening, FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said the school system is reviewing its existing flu response plan and making necessary revisions to respond to the coronavirus. Currently, there are no confirmed cases in the county or the D.C. region.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directed school officials, childcare centers, and workplaces to prepare for a possible outbreak.
Here’s more from Brabrand’s letter:
The plan is dynamic and sections will be revised and updated as new information becomes available. FCPS’s response plan addresses the specific activities necessary to keep schools open and operating while providing a clean and safe environment during an outbreak and the essential functions that must be performed by FCPS, if schools are closed. Other variations of these scenarios could also be considered. While the full impact of an outbreak cannot be predicted, planning for operations under such conditions can mitigate the impact of the event on our staff, facilities and mission.
We recognize the growing concern about the possible spread of coronavirus to our region. To date, we have cancelled international field trips and short-term visitations to and from some countries, based on CDC guidelines. We have also updated our web page and will continue to work closely with health officials and monitor this evolving situation. Additional information is available at this link: https://www.fcps.edu/news/coronavirus-update. This link will be updated as we receive new information.
As a reminder, common cold and flu viruses are not unusual during the winter season. Precautions are recommended. We ask that everyone do their part to stay healthy. Wash hands frequently, monitor your health, and stay home when ill.
FCPS recently suspended international field trips and short-term visits to and from countries flagged by the CDC. The temporary suspension is valid through June 30.
Governments around the world are ramping up measures to battle what could be a looming global pandemic. So far, the virus has infected more than 80,000 people and killed nearly 2,800 individuals.
For the first time, the number of infections outside China — which was the source of the outbreak — exceeded the number found within the country.
Photo courtesy Fairfax County Public Schools
Apartment Fire in Greywing Square — A fire started in the kitchen of an apartment unit on the 12000 block of Greywing Square yesterday evening. The cause of the fire is under investigation. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]
Reston Association Meeting Moved — Next week’s Board Governance Committee has been moved to March 3 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting takes place at the Walker Nature Center. [Reston Association]
Submission Sought for Mary B. Howard Invitational — The Greater Reston Arts Center invites artists to submit a proposal for the new exhibition, “An Excellent Thought About a Quality Idea.” Submissions are due by March 15. [Greater Reston Arts Center]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The fashion designer and celebrity author stopped by Lake Anne Plaza for filming purposes on Saturday. While celebrities have notified Lake Anne tenants or managers in the past, France’s visit seemed to come out of nowhere, according to a Lake Anne business owner.
Yesterday, he gave Virginia a shoutout on his Instagram, posting “Virginia, you is purrrty.”
A reader told Reston Now that the crew said France, who was raised by Muslim Pakistani parents, was working on filming independent material, not footage for Queer Eye.
His PR manager and media company did not return multiple requests for comment from Reston Now.
Photo by Brian Pittack
Great Falls has taken a tiny hit in Bloomberg’s annual index of the richest place in the D.C. area.
The community ranks #20 on the list, down from #16 last year. Great Falls has an average household income of $311,255. Still, the average income of Great Falls rose by 2.7 percent over last year.
Bloomberg’s list is based on average household income and only includes places with at least 2,000 households.
The list includes nine places in the DC area as the richest places in America. McLean ranked 30th on the list, with an average household income of $292,323.
Although Virginia only has a few spots on the list, Maryland ranks sixth among states with six places that made it on the list. Unsurprisingly, Silicon Valley area towns nabbed three of the top five spots.
The Reston Association’s Design Review Board bid farewell to two longtime architects and board members this month.
Richard Newlon, who served on the board for 21 years, and Neal Roseberry, who served on the board for 18 years, ended their terms in mid-February, leaving two vacancies on that board.
Reston Now caught up with the retired board members to get their thoughts on how the board has changed since they joined the DRB, as well as their top concerns as Reston continues to grow over the coming years.
After a 21 year tenure on the DRB, quite a bit has changed in Reston. Probably the largest aesthetic and environmental impact I’ve seen in Reston is the intense development occurring in the Toll Road corridor. We’ve seen the Transit Corridor vacate all of their covenants in 2011 in their effort to allow residential development along the Toll Road. At the same time, the owners removed their own Architectural Review Board…leaving no entity to review any of the “Transit Area’s” designs. It’s pretty obvious Reston has lost a lot of its Planned Community identity by this intense development without any design review of the Transit Area.
When I first became a member of the Design Review Board (DRB) in 1999, Reston wasn’t completely built out…there were remaining residential lots still available. Many of our clusters were aging, and to this day, remain targets of developers seeking profits with dense residential proposals. Intense “internal” development is a continuing concern to the essence of Reston. The DRB has been instrumental in working with these developers to make their proposals more contextual and with a density more appropriate to the neighborhood. This continues to be a major challenge to our community. Growth and change are going to happen, but the strength of Reston’s initial Governing Documents that created the DRB, gives our members a chance and a voice to affect any future development. It is important for our members to remain aware of all development proposals and become a part of the process.
Our Stream Restoration has been a major success and provided both safety and beauty to our forests and valleys. Snakeden Branch was the first and perhaps the most controversial. It launched a major environmental solution to the years of development and lack of stormwater management in the county. Now, 15 years later, the forest that surrounds Snakeden Branch has returned, and the stream monitoring has kept all in place for years to come. The restored areas have certainly assisted in solving some of the run-off issues that have plagues Reston sine its inception.
Serving on the DRB for these years has been a personal community involvement and educational experience for me. It has been a way to get to know our planned community with its many architectural styles and association members. At the same time, it has made me aware of the boundaries of our PRC and the areas of the DRB’s purview. The “shotgun” developing happening in the Corridor is certainly not Reston-like or internally coordinated. This was an enormous opportunity for the developers to continue the nature of a planned community, but they have consistently maximized their particular development to the exclusion of the potential of a beneficial design opportunity.
Our clusters are aging, and every week at our DRB meetings we have Cluster Boards coming to us with concerns and desired revisions to update their Cluster Standards. It is imperative our clusters continue to work together and with the RA Covenants Staff toward this updating. The Cluster Boards must be more active and part of the process. There remains much to do to keep Reston as the flagship of a planned community. Our Village Centers will be coming under the developers gaze as more development opportunity for them. I’m sure the remaining (and new) members of the DRB will be up to the task, and hold on to all that makes Reston such a wonderful place to live.
How has the DRB’s role evolved as Reston has evolved?
In some ways, DRB’s role is the same as originally set forth in the Governing Documents: ensuring quality design that is harmonious with nature and neighboring architectural context. However, with intensifying redevelopment of older neighborhoods, the bar is raised, and the challenges to meeting the goals of design review are more significant than ever. Reston needs to evolve with the times, but we must respect existing context and neighborhoods in the process. Design Review helps ensure orderly redevelopment with continued emphasis on context and good design, understanding and mitigating the impact of redevelopment that in most cases is overly intensive upon first review. The role of the DRB today more than ever is a first defense against redevelopment that is inconsistent (sometimes entirely inconsistent) with the design goals of Reston.
What would you say has been the most rewarding part of serving on the board?
Working to keep our neighborhoods and clusters harmonious and compatible; ensuring that redevelopment understands how Reston is different from much of the rest of Northern Virginia; keeping a focus on the natural areas, lakes, trails and recreational facilities that truly make Reston a great place to live, work and play. Reston has been, and should continue to be, a special place to live in Northern Virginia. The DRB helps ensure that, and when we do our job well, it is exceedingly rewarding. The things we do well, very few people notice; when we miss an element of new development, we see those mistakes for years to come. Our goal is consistent, careful, thoughtful review. As a volunteer, my greatest satisfaction comes from believing I’ve used my skills and talents as an architect to keep Reston a special place to live.
What are the top three challenges the DRB faces as Reston grows as a community?
- Newer members of the community don’t always understand or appreciate the things such as design review that help keep Reston a special design blend of nature and quality development. We need to be careful that in the process of necessary updates and redevelopment, Reston doesn’t disappear into the rest of Northern Virginia sprawl. Design Review is one small tool that RA has to help do that on its covenanted land.
- The Metro Corridor, with its abandoned design covenants, is not the model of orderly design and development that one would hope for Reston. Traffic, unsightly above-ground parking decks, lighting and signage that would not be approved by the DRB are occurring on non-RA properties, bisecting Reston into northern and southern halves with what often appears visual chaos. This dilutes the image of Reston as a special place to live. Much of the newer toll road development is not as community-oriented as our older RA neighborhoods and clusters tend to be. And yet to the average Washingtonian, this is now “Reston.”
- The dilemma of our two golf courses is hard to ignore. Huge swaths of north and south Reston are special places to live just because of the open space nature of the golf courses around which many communities are built. Redevelopment in those areas, apparently outside of DRB review, could ruin Reston as many of us have known it. Community activism at the Fairfax County level is important for all of these areas where there is no RA design review.
Photo via Reston Association
Voting in the 2020 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 2 through April 3. This is the last candidate profile. Featured here is Sarah Selvaraj-Dsouza, who is running against Paul Berry for an at-large seat with a one-year term.
With the exception of minor formatting edits, the Q&A candidate profiles are published in an unedited form. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.
How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?
I have been fortunate to call Reston my home for the past 12 years. What brought me here was fate, but what has kept me here is a love and appreciation for Reston and its many wonderful offerings, the nature, the amenities, the attractions, and most of all the people who make our community so vibrant and unique.
When I came to Reston, I brought with me a business degree, ideas, and dreams. In 2013, I launched a small business that has since grown to three stores in Northern Virginia including one in Lake Anne. The Reston community helped me realize this dream. Ceramic classes and studio offerings at the Reston Community Center were an intricate part of my growth. I spent countless hours with the amazing instructors there, playing with clay. And as a mom, I have thoroughly enjoyed all that Reston has to offer from museums, art galleries, trails, parks, lakes, even a zoo, kids classes, ice-skating, pools, tennis courts, shopping, and so much more.
Each of our stories on what brought us to Reston and what keeps us here is unique and what makes this area an amazing place to live work and play. I want to hear about your story. Visit me on SARAH4RESTON.com so we can get to know each other and chat, I would love to talk, text, email or simply good ol’fashioned meet for coffee.
What inspired you to run for the board?
While this is an election, I am not a politician nor do I have aspirations for higher office. I am in this race because I believe the Reston Association must focus on its core purpose of serving dues-paying members and maintaining our amenities. And I believe the RA board must be committed to smart money management, transparency, and accountability. I am committed to championing these principles as your representative.
Facing challenges at my Lake Anne store from our condo association (see restonnow article), I realized that good governance, sustainable process and reasonable controls were paramount for the well being of the membership. I then championed for these principles, and with the help of my neighbors have enabled change. I want to bring the same for Reston Association as I think that RA like any organization, can have better governance, be more responsive to members without compromising service and be financially stable without the constant need to raise assessments.
In particular, I want to ensure the Board always remembers that RA’s money is not RA’s but our neighbors’. Our board has a fiduciary duty to the members to make sure money is spent wisely, and if they hold true to this principle, Reston will flourish without compromising our core values.
What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?
- Affordability – From affordable housing to affordable RA assessments, affordability is KEY to all of us. We need to ensure our assessments are affordable. Being a mom and a small business owner I know every dollar spent towards an assessment is a dollar not spent on my family or my business. Density and Redevelopment – RA must be an advocate for Restonians on Land Use issues. We need a strong board that can effectively represent us to the county on plans that conflict with our members’ best interests. New development must be part of RA. Many of these developments tout RA’s wonderful offerings like our amenities, lakes, and trails to entice new owners but are not members of RA and do not contribute to the upkeep.
- Climate Change – The urgency of climate change cannot be ignored. Reston under the RA Environmental Advisory Committee’s leadership is working towards being a leader on this front. We can and must do more. I invite you to learn about and take the biophilic pledge with me and to visit Reston Today’s informative video.
- These are big issues and need lots of conversations and voices to find the right solutions for Reston. I want to start these conversations now. If you would like to join in, visit SARAH4RESTON.com for a list of events in Reston where we will have speakers and community leaders discuss these topics and more with all of us. We sincerely hope you can make it to at least one of these events to join the conversation.
What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?
- Greater Fiscal Responsibility: I believe smart money management does not mean raising assessments or pay cuts for hard-working RA staff. Smart money management means the efficient and effective use of available resources, including the knowledge and experience of the RA Fiscal Committee. It also means exploring the possibility of public/private partnerships and other non-assessment revenue streams to meet membership needs.
- Greater Transparency and Communication: The RA Board must be committed to transparency and empowering the membership through meaningful engagement. We can achieve this by disseminating necessary documents and reports sufficiently prior to board/committee meetings to allow member participation and comment. I also support the continued development and maintenance of a USER-friendly website.
- Action-Oriented Leadership: I will use my skill set as a successful business owner for creative problem-solving, where consensus building, communication, and firm deadlines will be key. I will encourage implementing action items in a timely manner.
How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?
I have been incredibly fortunate to achieve the Reston Live, Work, Play dream. I own a store in Lake Anne Plaza and a home adjacent to Reston National Golf Course. Making a small business grow and prosper over the last seven years has required the ability to adapt and innovate. Those skills would benefit the RA board and our community.
Diversity, innovation, and adaptation have been an integral part of my life. I grew up in India, completed my engineering degree in Singapore, obtained my MBA in Bristol, England, and moved to Reston 12 years ago to start my family.
I am passionate about our community. I serve as VP for Outreach of the 23 member board of the George Mason University’s School of Music. I am VP for School Services on my daughter’s school PTA board. As a volunteer, I foster dogs for Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation. As a family, we have fostered and successfully placed over 16 dogs in under 7 months. I have 3 rambunctious 5-week old foster pups running around my desk as I write this today.
Most importantly, as a homeowner, a business owner, and a mom, I know the value RA brings to our community and lives, and I am also keenly aware of the strain we can face when assessments are raised or prices for programs and amenities become more expensive. I will ensure our money is spent wisely, I will champion accountability and transparency, and I will use my experience and passion for our community to implement creative solutions.
Reston Baker Builds Granola Empire — Reston resident Dania Abimourched recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of her business, Dano’s Granola. [Reston Patch]
Virginia Heads Toward Peer-to-Peer Auto Rental Law — “Virginia lawmakers are considering a bill that would establish rules for peer-to-peer car rentals, in which a car owner could rent a vehicle to a stranger, for a fee. Unlike traditional car rental companies that monopolize airport rentals, and established ride-sharing companies that enable a driver to rent a car by the hour, in peer-to-peer rentals, the car owner lists a vehicle for rent in an online, searchable marketplace.” [WTOP]
Reston-based Company Signs with CBS — Comscore, a digital audience measurement firm, signed a multi-year renewal with all 27 local television stations owned by CBS. [Potomac Tech Wire]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The real estate tax could increase by three cents in the next fiscal year if the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors accepts a budget proposed by County Executive Bryan Hill.
Hill pitched the budget to the board at a meeting today (Tuesday). One cent of the proposed tax, which increases the annual tax bill by roughly $346, will be earmarked for affordable housing initiatives. The remaining two-cent increase will go toward the general fund and other board priorities.
The increase is expected to bring in nearly $80 million to the county’s coffers.
“Unfortunately, we cannot provide appropriate levels of funding in these areas with no adjustments to our tax rates,” Hill wrote in a statement.
Hill is also proposing a four percent tax on tickets for movies, theater, and concerts. If approved, the tax would take effect in October. County officials say that the move could bring in $2.3 million in revenue to the county that would fund arts and tourism efforts.
The $4.6 billion budget represents a nearly four percent increase over last year’s budget. Although Fairfax County Public Schools would receive 3.7 percent more county funds than last year, Hill’s budget leaves $4 million in unmet needs for the school system.
Hill anticipates that the school system can make up the difference between what was requested and what will be allocated through expected increases in state funding this year.
At the meeting, Hill also unveiled the county’s new strategic plan, which outlines nine priority areas that will guide the county’s decision-making over the next 30 years.
9 priority areas of the strategic plan: pic.twitter.com/b49xZktANk
— Fairfax County Government (@fairfaxcounty) February 25, 2020
Highlights of the plan are below:
Funding to expand school readiness programs like the new Early Childhood Birth to 5 Fund and a recommended $25 million bond referendum for early childhood facilities in 2020 in the Lifelong Education and Learning priority area.
Dedicating one cent of the proposed tax increase to affordable housing under Housing and Neighborhood Livability.
Body-worn cameras and staff for the new Scotts Run Fire and South County Police stations under Safety and Security.
Funding to expand environmental initiatives, Diversion First and the Opioid Task Force under the Health and Environment priority area.
Funding for expanded library hours (11 of 22 locations will move to standardized hours), scholarship assistance for parks programs and use of admissions tax revenue to increase funding for the arts under the Cultural and Recreational Opportunities priority area.
Public hearings on the budget are set for April 14-16. The board will make changes to the proposed budget on April 28, followed by adoption on May 5.
Photo via Fairfax County Government
Update: The story was updated to include Reston Association’s comments on the issue.
Local boat owners are protesting Reston Association’s enforcement of boat-related rules after the homeowner’s association sent out a batch of letters threatening legal action earlier this month.
While the letters are intended to enforce RA’s boat rules regarding sizes, some boat owners say they’re being unjustly threatened to comply with rules that RA has not enforced consistently in the past. In some cases, boats are one-quarter of an inch larger than what is allowed.
In response to a request from Reston Now, Reston Association said it is working with boat owners to address concerns on a case by case basis.
“We recognize the recent letter sent to those 50 members may have created some confusion but the association is looking forward to work with each of these members to satisfactorily address their concerns,” the statement said.
Cris Revaz, who owns a boat on Lake Audubon, says he made sure he ordered a boat that was allowed by RA when he moved three years ago.
This year, he received a letter from RA’s General Counsel stating that his boat was oversized and offered to enter into a written settlement as a covenant against his property to continue using the boat.
His boat is half an inch longer than what is allowed, Revaz said.
“This is the kind of mindless bureaucratic interference with people’s lives that gives government a bad name. Is there not something better the Reston Association should be doing with their time than engaging in such frivolous enforcement actions?” he said.
Inder Sud, who has lived in Reston since 1973, said he was shocked to receive the letter from RA concerning the boat he’s had for more than 25 years. Sud said he has paid annual permitting fees for the boat, which is a quarter-of-an-inch larger than the 18′ by 10′ requirement.
“Surely RA staff should be able to exercise some reasonable judgment. Before issuing such notices,” Sud wrote in an email. “Is it really worth RA resources to. Have your staff enforcing such minor variations?”
Others like Jill Norvell said they received a similar letter concerning two boats they’ve had for eight years and 20 years. In the past, they’ve received no enforcement letters and have paid annual permanent mooring fees as required.
Residents say that RA should consider grandfathering all current boats, unless they have major compliance issues and focus on new boats in the area.
Here’s more from RA on the issue:
The Reston Association Board of Directors and staff are required to enforce all Deed requirements approved by the association’s 21,000 members. Included in the Deed are specific boat size requirements for the use of Reston’s lakes. Recently, 50 members received individual letters from RA indicating their boats do not conform to the Deed specifications. RA is in the process of making some adjustments to the measuring process which will remove some of the boats from their current non-conforming status. The association is also working with those affected boat owners that remain outside the approved measurements to memorialize an agreement between the parties that will effectively grandfather the existing non-conforming boats for the current homeowners. Should the property convey at some future time, the current owner would need to bring the boat into compliance with the deed requirements or have the boat removed from the lake.
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Burglary Reported on Friday — A burglar broke into a home on the 1500 block of Cameron Crescent Drive on Friday and stole personal property. Information about the incident was released yesterday. [Fairfax County Police Department]
High Honors for School Psychology Services — “Fairfax County Public Schools School Psychology Services has been recognized in the Excellence in School Psychological Services Recognition Program with an Exemplary rating from the National Association of School Psychologists. FCPS was the only school district in the U.S. to receive an Exemplary rating, the highest rating available.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]
County Board to Dive into Budget — The county executive will present his budget proposal to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a meeting today (Tuesday). The meeting will be televised on Channel 16 and streamed live online. [Fairfax County Government]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The Fairfax County Police Department is conducting an investigation into the Lake Anne Condominium Association.
A police spokesperson told Reston Now that the police department cannot provide any further information on the investigation because it is an ongoing case.
“We have received a report and currently we do have an investigation,” said police spokesperson Erica Webb.
Sources who are aware of the investigation told Reston Now that the review concerns the board’s past financial transactions and does not involve the board’s current operations. The investigation is not directed at any one individual, sources said.
On Feb. 18, The Connection published an opinion piece by John Lovaas on the subject.
In late 2019, three new board members were elected to the five-member body. Those members — including new president Senzel Schaefer — said there were committed to improving financial management practices and prioritizing maintenance and repairs to the Lake Anne Village Center.
Schaefer said that the association is complying with law enforcement requests for the results of an operational audit the board launched last month.
Photo via vantagehil/Flickr
A new salon is coming to Lake Anne Plaza soon.
County permits indicate that the salon, which is listed as “My Salon” in documentation, will open up at 1613 Washington Plaza.
An application for interior changes was processed by the county on Feb. 12.
The space was previously occupied by Zen Nail and Day Spa, which moved a few doors down from its current location in 2018, a business representative told Reston Now. That spa is now located at 1635 Washington Plaza.
No word yet on when the new salon is expected to open.
Photo courtesy Zen Nail and Day Spa
Update: Kunicki has been found and is safe, according to police.
Local police are searching for a woman who was last seen in the 14000 block of North Point Village Center.
Maggie Kunicki, 49, was last seen on Saturday, Feb. 22. The Fairfax County Police Department issued the following description for Kunicki:
“She is 5’7″, 145lbs, green eyes, bro hair, white long sleeve shirt and dark pants. Endangered due to mental and/or physical health conditions,” police said.
Anyone with information should call 703-691-2131.
Photo via Fairfax County Police Department
A study group will scout the area this week to find the best option for constructing a future pedestrian crossing at Wiehle Avenue near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
The walkthrough is part of a proffer for Campus Commons, an approved project by TF Cornerstone that would redevelop an aging office park at 1900 and 1902 Campus Common Drive into a 1.3 million-square-foot development. The meeting is set for Feb. 27 at 5 p.m. at the site.
Community opposition to the project — including the successful surge of a grassroots organization Rescue Sunrise Valley — resulted in a number of changes to the application, which was approved last year.
One of the most contentious issues was a proposed crosswalk at ramps to enter and exit the Dulles Toll Road at Wiehle Avenue. The developer’s original pitch — a crosswalk at the current stoplight in the area to get to the other side of Wiehle Avenue across two traffic islands in the multi-lane roadway — was rejected by the county due to serious safety concerns.
TF Cornerstones agreed to find a better solution for walkability. A proffer part in the approved application requires the developer to convene a workgroup with community representation through the office of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.
The workgroup is tasked with finding the best type of pedestrian bridge for the area. Options on the table include but are not limited to an above-grade bridge or a below-grade underpass or tunnel.
A final recommendation for the pedestrian crossing will be presented to the board by October. The developer will either build the crossing or give the county $1.5 million to complete the work.
Concerns on the lack of pedestrian connectivity to and from the Reston Town Center Metro Station and Wiehle-Reston East were also flagged by the board last year.
The developer plans to build three buildings with 655 apartments, more than 520,000 square feet of office space, and a little over 28,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. A 24-story tower and two small towers are proposed.
For more information about the meeting, email Jose Delcid at [email protected].
Photo via Fairfax County Government, Google Maps