While the topic was not on the agenda of last week’s Reston Association Board of Directors meeting, Director Ray Wedell spoke for about 10 minutes in regard to a rumor that an email question-and-answer opportunity with Bozzuto was being set up by RA for members.
“To open the door in any manner for any member to directly confront Bozzuto or discuss with Bozzuto anything about this when we have on the table that we’re firmly opposed to this… would be a huge, huge, huge mistake,” Wedell said. “If I’m wrong, at least make the board vote on it to say that.”
CEO Cate Fulkerson said, contrary to the rumor, no email service for members to submit questions for Bozzuto has been created. She did say that in response to a member’s suggestion, there had been discussion about setting up a page on RA’s website for staff to answer member questions about Bozzuto’s proposal.
The most recent proposal for the redevelopment of St. Johns Wood called for two multifamily residential buildings totaling 467 units, along with 44 townhomes. Last year, the Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution stating it is firmly against the plan. A letter communicating such was sent to the county in September. Considering that, Wedell said, RA should not entertain any further discussion of the proposal.
“If we can’t kill this abomination, we’ll never kill anything,” Wedell said. “And there’s a hell of a lot of abominations coming, as we all know.”
Fulkerson reiterated to Wedell that no work has been done by her or staff to extend the conversation through a Q&A with Bozzuto.
“We have done nothing,” Fulkerson told him. “I want to make it very clear, no email Q&A has been set up [and] nothing has changed on the Association’s website.”
While the RA Board and concerned members have both expressed their displeasure with the proposal to Bozzuto, the property owner remains within its rights to propose the redevelopment. That could be approved by the county through waivers and exemptions to the Master Plan. The plan is scheduled to be reviewed again by the Fairfax County Planning Commission on May 25.
Tonight’s meeting of the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee to hear Bozzuto’s latest proposal is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
Kensington Senior Development LLC hopes to put an assisted-living facility on Sunrise Valley Drive, and the public is invited to give its input.
Fairfax County’s Health Care Advisory Board will hold a public meeting on the proposal Monday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the county Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax). At the meeting, a special-exemption application from Kensington to put the facility at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive will be reviewed.
The sale of the property to Kensington by its current owners, the Good Beginnings School, is contingent upon the approval of the plan by the county.
The application is scheduled for a Sept. 27 hearing before the county Planning Commission. The Health Care Advisory Board, meanwhile, is tasked with reviewing the application from a health care perspective rather than land use, using criteria such as community and medical need, access to care, cost, quality, and continuity of care.
HCAB will make recommendations regarding the proposal to the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission.
The current plan for Kensington’s proposed 91,000-square-foot Reston facility includes 91 units and 125 to 135 beds. The 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-story facility would feature underground parking. A representative from Cooley LLP presented the plan to Reston’s Design Review Board on Feb. 21.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the April 3 meeting of HCAB and provide comments. Anyone who wishes to speak should call 703-246-8664 by Friday. Written comments can also be considered, if they are received prior to the meeting. They can be sent by email to [email protected] or by mail to HCAB Staff Coordinator, Health Department, 10777 Main St., Suite 203, Fairfax, VA 22030.
Fog Advisory in Effect Through Morning — A dense fog advisory that has been in effect for the area since early this morning has been extended until noon. Visibility of a quarter-mile or less remains possible in spots. [National Weather Service]
County Conducting Homelessness Survey — Fairfax County’s Office of Public Affairs and Office to Prevent and End Homelessness are collaborating with George Mason University communications students to collect data about the perception of homelessness in the county. Citizen feedback is requested by April 8. [Fairfax County/Survey Monkey]
Local Artist Featured in DC Show — J’han, an artist from Herndon, will be featured in the “Pancakes and Booze” art show at Penn Station (801 E St. NW) on April 6. J’han is an expressionist, surrealist and abstract artist. [Facebook]
More Taking the Toll Road So Far in 2017 — The Dulles Toll Road collected $23 million in tolls in January and February. That number is up from the collected totals in 2015 and 2016. The number of trips on the road in January and February was about 3.6 percent more than predicted. [WTOP]
Coffee Shop Hopes to Be Up and Running Soon — Roasting operations at Weird Brothers Coffee (321 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) are underway, and they hope to be serving espresso, nitro cold brew, blended chillers, fruit smoothies and more soon. [Weird Brothers Coffee]
HHS Grad Has Sights Set on World Championships Run — Hiruni Wijayaratne, a 2009 Herndon High School graduate, is training hard in the attempt to qualify to represent her native Sri Lanka as a marathon runner in the 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships. [Sunday Times in Sri Lanka]
Discussion got heated Thursday night at Reston Association Headquarters during talk about a potential future project at Hook Road Recreation Area.
The park was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated last year. The idea is to take a facility that has pieces of replacement work in the plans in the capital reserve study and, instead, doing comprehensive work to upgrade the facility all at once.
The Hook Road park was chosen by PRAC as a “pilot” project for the full-facility enhancement plan, said RA capital improvements director Garrett Skinner, because it has a number of amenities all in one place and hasn’t been substantially upgraded for more than 40 years.
“For the capital department, this is also a great pilot to really use and demonstrate all of the new policies and procedures we’re putting into place for project management, for communications, for engagement with not only these departments within the Association, but all of the committees and work groups as well,” he said.
Director Ray Wedell, who said he lived near the park for seven years, took exception to the plan to upgrade the facility. During an animated speech, he said it is “an excellent field as it sits” and “what Reston should represent.”
“For the life of me, I have no idea what you people are going to propose to change it,” he said. “[People who live near the park] are quite content with how it is right now.”
The plan as proposed by staff was to advertise a public information session for next month to determine what the community would like to see changed at the park. Concerns about parking and restroom facilities are among those floated in the plan. CEO Cate Fulkerson and Skinner, though, said the community would have the final say through its input on what — if anything — would be done.
“The capital department isn’t going into this project suggesting any solutions, any removal of anything or the addition of anything,” Skinner said. “The question will be up to the community: ‘Do you want anything at all and, if so, what?’ We can [then] determine going forward what that could look like.”
Hook Road Recreation Area has about $122,000 in as-is maintenance expenditures scheduled through 2020, Fulkerson said.
“We can stop [this proposal] now, it’s entirely up to you,” she said. “But according to the reserve study, I’m supposed to be doing stuff at this facility between 2016 and 2020.”
The vote was not unanimous, but the Reston Association Board of Directors decided Thursday to begin working toward a plan of action to adopt the recommendations in StoneTurn Group’s review of the Tetra/Lake House purchase.
Following a public meeting on the issue Monday, it was proposed Thursday that CEO Cate Fulkerson and her staff draft and develop the implementation plan for board consideration at their May meeting. The plan is to take into account the recommendations in StoneTurn’s report as well as all input received from the community at Monday’s meeting, and it is to be designed to have all recommendations ready to be implemented by September.
“It is to share with us what needs to be done, even shifting some of [Fulkerson’s] goals down the road in order to make implementation of the recommendations from StoneTurn an absolute priority,” said Director Michael Sanio, the board’s vice president and a member of RA’s Tetra Review Committee.
The recommendations made by StoneTurn include the drafting of new foundational documents that have an overreaching principle statement to define ethical concerns that may arise during transactions such as the Tetra/Lake House purchase and renovation.
The September deadline was an issue of contention for Director Sherri Hebert, who said the timeline seemed too tight for the amount of work that needs to be done. In addition, she said, the creation of a task force and a community review group should be part of the remediation process.
“[They need to have] an oversight role to make sure that these things are getting done,” she said of the recommendations. “We’re trying to build that trust back with the community, and the community needs to be involved in this implementation.”
Director Ray Wedell said the creation of the task force should be done “immediately.” Other directors stated that if a task force is to be created, it should be the decision of the incoming board in April, after the election. Four new members will be a part of the nine-person board.
Fulkerson said the Board of Directors will have funding issues to consider during the implementation process, as well.
“There is a lot of it staff can do, but there are some things where I’m going to need outside expertise,” she said. “That’s going to cost you money, and you’re going to have to take that up and decide if that’s what you want to do.”
The motion passed by a vote of 5-3, with Hebert, Wedell and Lucinda Shannon voting against it. Director Jeff Thomas was not present.
Meeting screencap via RA/YouTube
Report: Golf Course Could Sell for $25-$35M — Real-estate news website GlobeSt.com reported earlier this week that it hears anyone who buys Reston National Golf Course for that price and gets approval for development might be looking at a $200 million windfall. [GlobeSt.com]
Mobile DMV Service Coming to Reston — DMV 2 Go, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ mobile service, will soon visit Reston. DMV 2 Go is a handicapped-accessible full-service office that provides all DMV transactions. The mobile DMV will be at the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 3-6. [Virginia DMV]
Independent Panel to Study Metro’s Woes — Former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood will take charge of a panel to examine Metro’s governance and long-term financial needs. Meanwhile, Metro’s general manager says the system needs major work to fix its “unsustainable cost model.” [Washington Post]
South Lakes Lacrosse Team Kicks Off 2017 — The Seahawks’ boys lacrosse team won its conference and advanced to the state tournament last year. They started the 2017 season with a 16-3 win over Fairfax last week, and though they dropped their second contest to Stone Ridge, they still have big dreams. [South Lakes Athletics]
The Fairfax County Police Department celebrated Thursday the one-year anniversary of its partnership with neighborhood networking site Nextdoor, and several local communities were honored for their participation as well.
At a press conference, FCPD said its involvement on Nextdoor has helped it more effectively communicate and engage with residents. On Nextdoor, community members can form social networks that are specific to their neighborhood, and only visible to registered members of those neighborhoods. According to information provided by Nextdoor, more than 100,000 residents in more than 760 county neighborhoods are using the site to connect with each other and police — numbers that have doubled in the past year.
“Our county is stronger and safer when we have informed and involved residents,” said Edwin C. Roessler, FCPD chief. “Nextdoor has been a great way for residents to become more engaged within their own communities and with the police department. We are excited that so many neighborhoods are participating and encourage more residents to join.”
Good things are happening thanks to FCPD’s partnership with Nextdoor, the company’s senior city strategist Joseph Porcelli said.
“The Fairfax County Police Department is one of the top Nextdoor counties in the country,” he said. “Many residents feel a stronger connection to their neighbors and the police department, and we are honored that Nextdoor has played a role in that.”
Several Fairfax County communities were honored for their engagement with the site, including three in Reston:
- Hunters Green Cluster, which won an award for being the most supportive neighborhood. They had the highest number of “thanks” per member on Nextdoor among Fairfax County neighborhoods. (Nextdoor has a “thank” button, similar to the “like” button on Facebook, where neighbors can thank each other for a post.)
- Old Trail, which won for being the most watchful neighborhood. They’ve shared the most crime and safety posts on Nextdoor among Fairfax County neighborhoods.
- Bentana Park, which won for being the most talkative neighborhood. They’ve shared the most content on Nextdoor among Fairfax County neighborhoods.
Eighty Reston communities have established networks on Nextdoor, according to its website.
Photo courtesy Nextdoor/Fairfax County Police Department
According to a release from FCPD, 30-year-old Cory Lee Boback of Sterling was found at about 9 p.m. Wednesday in a car off Hiddenbrook Drive near Dranesville Road, in the Herndon area. Boback was transported to the hospital in life-threatening condition and pronounced dead a short time later.
Police say their preliminary investigation suggests the car was stopped at the light at the intersection of Hiddenbrook Drive and Dranesville Road when Boback may have passed out and the car rolled backward, down the embankment and off the road, without striking anything.
The incident remains under investigation, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Solvers, text a tip by sending “TIP187” plus the message to CRIMES(274637), or call 1-866-411-TIPS(8477) or 703-691-2131.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been granted permission to continue work on expanding the parking lot at its Poplar Grove Drive facility.
The decision to re-approve the church’s expired permit through July was given by the Design Review Board during their Tuesday meeting. The permit had originally been granted by DRB in 2014, with work to be completed by February 2016.
Both then and now, residents of neighboring Birchfield Woods Cluster have expressed their displeasure with the project, with concerns including potential decreases of property value, impact to wildlife, and the loss of a “buffer zone” between the church and the community. DRB members heard their statements during Tuesday’s meeting.
“We did go through all of those topics originally, and it’s always a balance when you’re trying to make decisions about this,” said DRB chair John Kauppila. “On any application, there’s always some challenges that we have to work through and try to find compromise, and it’s tough.”
The church had originally applied to add 51 spaces to the property. During the approval process in 2014, that number was whittled down to 39. The number of trees to be removed was also changed, and the church is being required to plant replacement trees and shrubs. Church representatives said a landscape bond is being held by Fairfax County, and it will not be released until an inspection of that work has been completed.
The project was delayed during the Fairfax County permitting process, church representatives said, which resulted in the permit expiring. Birchfield Woods residents also said they would like to see the church punished for conducting work on the project in December 2016, after the original permit had expired. That work was halted after residents filed a complaint with RA staff.
Nick Georgas, DRB’s landscape architect member, said the delay was punishment in itself.
“I think their penalty is having to demobilize the site for a significant time, at cost to the developer and the church,” he said. “I think they’ve been penalized through that effort [for] lack of paying attention to the permits.”
Chip Boyd, Birchfield Woods Cluster president, remains concerned that a traffic study has not been completed on the entrance to the community and church — a single entrance from Lake Newport Road.
“We have a lot of issues with cars not following traffic patterns there,” he said. “If we’re adding 39 more cars that are going to be involved in that situation, I didn’t see as part of this a traffic review study.”
Any such study would be under the purview of Fairfax County, Kauppila said.
(Updated 11:35 a.m. with more information from lawsuit and link to view document; updated 4:30 p.m. with statement on behalf of Boston Properties)
The first lawsuit regarding Boston Properties’ paid parking system at Reston Town Center has been filed.
In a press release Thursday morning, Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food and Lucky Lounge (11927 Democracy Drive) announced the suit, which includes a motion for a temporary injunction over the “cumbersome paid parking system [Boston Properties] implemented in January 2017.”
Representatives of Town Center businesses have been meeting among themselves to discuss their options since paid parking began, and the threat of potential legal action was first made public in early February.
The suit by Jackson’s (view) was filed Wednesday afternoon in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County. In addition to the injunction, the restaurant seeks “an award of damages of $500,000 or other specific amount to be established at trial.”
According to the lawsuit, Jackson’s says it negotiated lease terms preventing Boston Properties from implementing parking controls that “unduly impede” guests and requiring Boston Properties to assure that any paid parking system must allow Jackson’s to validate parking — at no expense to the restaurant — for guests and employees. The lawsuit claims the validation system imposed by BXP violates the restaurant’s lease rights and the requirements it sought.
“Our team has been inundated with complaints from guests who tell us that the process to use the validation system is cumbersome and confusing,” said Orson Williams, managing partner at Jackson’s, in the announcement. “On top of that, Boston Properties’ parking attendants often give incorrect and misleading instructions when our guests seek help in getting unlimited free parking.”
Jackson’s, operated by Great American Restaurants, opened in the Town Center in 2008.
Restaurants and other businesses within the Town Center have claimed major decreases in business since the paid parking system went into place. An organized protest that took place earlier this month saw hundreds of participants from throughout the community.
Boston Properties has said the impact of paid parking on Town Center business has been “far less” than claimed.
“We did not want to have to sue and we tried to work with Boston Properties to address our concerns and our rights under the lease to give our customers free and hassle-free parking, both before and after Boston Properties implemented this parking system. But they were uncompromising and appeared disinterested in working with us to provide our guests a better experience at Reston Town Center,” said Jon Norton, CEO of Great American Restaurants, in the announcement. “It appears to us that they are focused on maximizing revenue instead of honoring the spirit and terms of our lease, and seem unconcerned with the impact their system has had on the Town Center. It is disappointing that they have spent so much time bolstering a PR campaign rather than working with us to fulfill their lease obligations.”
Spokesperson Kathy Walsh of the Fallston Group, speaking on behalf of Boston Properties, said it “would be inappropriate to discuss pending litigation, particularly as there is a confidentiality provision that prevents either party from discussing many of the lease terms.”
Reminder: RA Board Meeting Tonight — The Reston Association Board of Directors meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The meeting will also be streamed live on RA’s YouTube channel. [Reston Now]
SLHS Students Attend Science Symposium — South Lakes High International Baccalaureate chemistry students recently attended the event at Georgetown University, sitting in on seminars and hearing talks from experts. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Warm Weather Once Again on the Horizon — We were spoiled by temperatures in the 70s in February and early March before winter came back for one more round. The thermometer is on the rise again, though, and it is expected to top that 70 mark again Saturday. [Capital Weather Gang]
Longtime Herndon Town Manager Honored for Work — Arthur Anselene retired from his position as Herndon town manager last month. His more than 40 years of service to the town was honored at the town council’s meeting last week. [Reston Connection]
Police Seek Ashburn Assault Suspect — Police in Loudoun County are looking for a man who is believed to have assaulted a woman in an Ashburn parking lot last week. [Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office]
Proposed rezoning of Golf Course Plaza, a three-acre parcel on the west edge of Isaac Newton Square, is scheduled for a Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing June 21.
The proposal, which first came to light in May 2016, would see the property (11480 Sunset Hills Road) become the home of a 392,600-square-foot multifamily residential structure with three levels of underground parking. Currently on the parcel is a three-story office building and a surface parking lot.
The residential building would feature 413 units. Developer Golf Course Overlook LLC seeks to rezone the property from I-5 (General Industrial) to Planned Residential Mixed-Use. According to the summary of Reston Association’s March land development tracker, it is “unclear whether any commercial uses would be retained” on the property.
The site is between the W&OD Trail and the fourth hole of the Hidden Creek Country Club golf course. It is about a third of a mile from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. According to the land development tracker summary:
“The site is located in the Wiehle Station Transit-Oriented Development District and designated Residential Mixed Use, which seeks to retain a 75/25 mix of residential and non-residential uses respectively, at intensities of up to a 1.5 FAR [Floor Area Ratio]. Isaac Newton Square is planned to be home to 3,200 (of the 4,600) residential units for this district.”
A county staff report on the project is to be released June 6. Signs advertising the hearing are to go up May 31.
Images via Golf Course Overlook LLC
More Attention for Town Center Parking Debate — Reston Town Center merchant Aaron Gordon was on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on D.C. radio station WAMU on Tuesday speaking about paid parking at the Town Center. Supervisor Cathy Hudgins was also on the show to give her thoughts. [WAMU/player.fm]
Whole Foods Purchases to Benefit Fairfax County Charity — Five percent of purchases today at Northern Virginia locations of Whole Foods — including in Reston at 11660 Plaza America Drive — will benefit Firefighters and Friends to the Rescue, which partners with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue to provide coats, books, toys and needed supplies to families. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]
Elected Officials to Discuss Economic Growth in Area — Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and delegates Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax/Loudoun) and Kathleen Murphy (D-Fairfax/Loudoun) will be among the speakers at a forum on economic drivers and opportunities March 30 in Herndon. [Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce]
County Officials Worry About Effects of Immigration Fear — At Tuesday’s meeting of Fairfax County’s Public Safety Committee, officials discussed concerns that members of the immigrant community will become afraid to report crime, ask for help or provide police information. They say that distrust may jeopardize overall safety in the county. [WTOP]
The results of an independent review of Reston Association’s purchase of the Tetra/Lake House property are in, and now the discussion is shifting toward how to make best use of its findings.
That discussion began Monday during a special meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors. Deirdre Flaherty, partner and co-founder of forensic accounting firm StoneTurn Group, answered questions from both RA members and directors during the session, and offered her advice for RA’s remediation process following the controversial purchase and a renovation process that cost $430,000 more than budgeted.
Flaherty’s advice, which built upon the recommendations offered in StoneTurn’s review in February, included the drafting of foundational documents that have an overreaching principle statement to define ethical concerns — something she says is lacking in RA’s current policy structure.
“When you have an unusual transaction and you don’t have that bedrock foundation, there’s no touchstone,” she said. “It would be my strong suggestion that great consideration is given to what those overarching principles that you want for how you do business, and then take that and drill it into writing, into practical policies and procedures for the staff, that details exactly what is to be done.”
The Board of Directors voted unanimously to accept the review delivered by StoneTurn and to begin working toward implementing the recommendations made therein. Flaherty made a number of other recommendations for how to do so, including giving staff and CEO Cate Fulkerson the time to develop new policies that are in line with the goals of the Association.
“You have some very strong, qualified people in your Association staff [who are] doing a lot of the day-to-day work, and as a result, they haven’t had the opportunity to step back and put those foundational documents into place,” she said. “My strong advice would be to have them do it — to hire people, even on a temporary basis, to handle some of your day-to-day operations so that you can elevate people like your CFO or your new head of capital projects [or] Cate to actually stepping back and giving thought and consideration to what those documents should look like, to having the communications with the membership and the board to make sure you’re comfortable with them, and then to putting them in place.”
It was also suggested by Flaherty that an RA audit committee be formed to independently make findings and assess staff.
“Anytime you have a board, you want the board to be communicating with the auditor [and] you want the auditor to have the ability to communicate with the board to the extent that they have input that is independent of management,” she said. “You want that communication to be open and direct with your board, not filtered in any way.”
At its meeting tonight, the Design Review Board will consider the renewal of a permit to expand the parking lot at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (1515 Poplar Grove Drive).
The church, located near the intersection of Fairfax County Parkway and Lake Newport Road, was given permission by DRB in 2014 to expand the lot. The work was not completed immediately afterward, however, which has resulted in the expiration of the church’s permit.
Residents of Birchfield Woods Cluster on Poplar Grove Drive have continued to express their opposition to the project, which would add 39 parking spaces to the southern end of church property. Residents are concerned about, among other issues, an increase in noise and a loss of trees that create a “buffer zone” between the church and the community. That will have an adverse effect on their property values, they say.
“The only way into and out of the Cluster is via the entrance off of Lake Newport Road, [and] that entrance is the first impression potential buyers receive of our community,” said Marcelo Borda, vice president of the cluster association, in a letter shared with Reston Now. “The planned parking lot expansion proposed by the Church directly, negatively impacts that first impression.”
Other agenda items for tonight’s DRB meeting include site grading for the Glade Drive sidewalk project, the site lighting and landscape plan for the IntegraCare facility at 2222 Colts Neck Road, and a tear-down project on Ring Road.
The DRB meeting will begin tonight at 7 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
Map via Google