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by Dave Emke — June 23, 2017 at 10:15 am 45 Comments

(This article was updated at 1:15 p.m. after Ganesan confirmed to Reston Now that he is stepping down from his role as Reston Citizens Association president.)

Eschewing recent precedent, the Reston Association Board of Directors decided Thursday evening to directly appoint a replacement to a vacant At-Large seat.

Sridhar Ganesan, who had been named the Board’s treasurer last month, was selected to fill the seat vacated by Eve Thompson earlier this month. Ganesan will occupy the position until next spring, at which time the final year of the term will be voted upon by members in the Board election.

In at least the last three instances when a seat was vacated mid-term, a call for candidates was posted and members of the community were able to put their hats in the ring. Ray Wedell, At-Large director, presented to the board that they should choose between Ganesan and Ven Iyer, who finished a close runner-up to Eric Carr in the most recent At-Large election. He said Ganesan and Iyer were clearly the top two candidates and that opening it up to the community would only create the opportunity for more controversy.

“The idea that we have some great candidate out there and there’s an open competition — it’s not. It’s a way to bring somebody who could a good resume writer, a good interviewer, who knows somebody else on the board, to slip in without running for the office,” Wedell said. “This [would be] potentially opening it up to some charges of cronyism and everything else. We don’t need that.”

Not everyone agreed with Wedell’s assessment. John Mooney, North Point District director, said consistency with recent past practice should be followed by the Board.

“It’s unlikely that people would come forward who would be a surprise, but it is possible,” Mooney said. “I don’t believe that as we strive for openness and asking the community to participate that we should foreclose that possibility.”

President Sherri Hebert said that as the Board is in the middle of crafting its biennial budget, filling the position as quickly as possible was preferable.

“We’re telling you what we want to do and why we want to do it, and that’s about as open and transparent [as we can be],” she said. “Whether people in the community agree or disagree, that’s always going to be [the case].”

Julie Bitzer, South Lakes District director, pointed out that the Board has no budget sessions planned between now and their July meeting.

“Bringing someone on tonight [as opposed to waiting until July] would make basically no difference in our ability to move forward with our budget and our discussions,” she said.

Hebert responded by saying there is budget work going on “behind the scenes,” and she believes there “could be a gap” if the Board continued for a month or two with a vacant seat.

A motion to put Ganesan and Iyer up for an immediate vote to fill the seat carried by a narrow 4-3 margin. Hebert, Wedell, Carr and David Bobzien voted for it; Mooney, Bitzer and Victoria White voted against it. (At-Large Director Michael Sanio was not present at the meeting.)

Ganesan was then elected to the Board by a vote of 6-1, with Wedell casting the lone vote for Iyer. In addition to his work with the Board, Ganesan is also a chief financial officer with over 20 years of experience in media, technology, satellite and telecom sectors. He also led Mediaworld Ventures LLC in its efforts to review the Lake House purchase.

He was the president of the Reston Citizens Association; however, he told Reston Now on Friday morning that he has withdrawn from that role.

“A new RCA board will sit next week on June 26, 2017 and it is the right time to step away and given RA’s budget cycle, I plan to focus on my role as Treasurer and At-Large Director. This morning, I have withdrawn myself from the North Point district seat on RCA’s new board and there will be a new president for RCA on Monday.”

The RA Board’s discussion of the appointment can be viewed on the Reston Association YouTube channel.

Photo via Reston Association

by Dave Emke — June 23, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Last Day of School — Today is the final day of the 2016-17 Fairfax County Public Schools year. Congratulations to all the students and enjoy your time off!

Fourth of July Schedule in Herndon — It’s only a couple weeks away. Get ready for the July 4 celebration in Herndon, which will take place at the Herndon Community Center and will culminate with fireworks choreographed to music. [Town of Herndon]

SLHS Students Get Arduino Kits — STEM Engineering students at the school recently received Arduino kits. An Arduino consists of a physical programmable circuit board and a piece of software that is used to write and upload computer code. The kits were funded by a $4,000 grant from AIS Inc. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

‘Field Guide’ to Ticks — Fairfax County has provided a list of need-to-know information about ticks, which have been out with great force this season. [Fairfax County]

Metro Work in Evening Hours — After 10 p.m. tonight, Saturday and Sunday, the Silver Line will only run from Wiehle-Reston East to Ballston. This is due to work on the Orange and Silver lines. [WTOP]

by Dave Emke — June 22, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Folk Music Tonight at Lake Anne — The “Take A Break” concert series at Lake Anne Plaza will continue tonight with a performance by contemporary folk artists Sweater Set. [Lake Anne Plaza]

Car Hits Pole in Reston — A Wednesday evening crash on Lawyers Road at Soapstone Drive took out power and closed the road. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Fireworks Safety Urged — Fireworks can turn a holiday into a tragedy within seconds when illegal and dangerous fireworks are being used. Fire officials have released a video to promote fireworks safety this July Fourth. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/YouTube]

Shared-Use Path Planned — A meeting June 29 will discuss a proposed path from the future Innovation Station Metro station kiss-and-ride on the north side of the Dulles Toll Road. [Fairfax County Department of Transportation]

Photo via @butler_law on Twitter

by Katherine Berko — June 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm 21 Comments

Jo-Ann Duggan, the Director of Outreach at St. John Neumann Parish, knows there are people struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

“Yesterday, I was speaking to someone who was trying to find housing for a friend of hers who has three children and earns $23,000 a year,” Duggan said Wednesday. “She works in retail. She’s a single mother.”

St. John Neumann Parish (11900 Lawyers Road) will play host Thursday to a meeting with the Housing Matters program, opening the conversation about the need for affordable housing in Fairfax County.

The goals of the meeting, which will take place from 7-8:45 p.m. at the parish’s auditorium, include helping residents understand how housing can affect other facets of a community. Other related topics will include a discussion of how much affordable housing is needed for an economically sustainable Fairfax County.

Duggan is hopeful that the Housing Matters program will receive lots of community input to help alleviate the housing struggles of many residents. Duggan first heard of the program from John Horejsi, who works for Social Action Linking Together, a legislative advocacy group. Horejsi attended a Housing Matters program and thought it would be worthwhile to bring to the church.

“Housing Matters is all about safe and affordable housing so that communities can thrive,” Horejsi said. “When you achieve that — when you have safe and affordable housing — the families do better, there’s more upward economic mobility, the kids do better in school. We all benefit.”

Horejsi explained that when there is affordable housing, more businesses are attracted to the area due to its stable workforce. He said that currently, the average rent in Fairfax County is $1,700-$1,800 a month, while half of the jobs in the area reap less than $50,000 a year. Rents are increasing while salaries are not. Horejsi explained that as rent gets more expensive, workers start to move away.

“If the workers in our community whom we need can’t afford to live here, then they’re just going to clog up all the roads and that’s going to create more air pollution,” said Horejsi. “Doing nothing [for affordable housing] is going to cost a lot more in the long run.”

Thursday’s meeting will feature a presentation from Vin Rogers, the division director for the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development. After Rogers speaks, facilitators will help lead conversations among groups of attendees. Feedback and input will be encouraged during these group discussions.

“It’s going to be a dialogue first of all,” Horejsi said.

Duggan said she anticipates 50-100 people to turn up at the meeting. Anyone interested in the meeting is encouraged to fill out a survey about housing in the area.

For more details about the event, contact Duggan or Horejsi by email.

Chart via Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development

by Katherine Berko — June 21, 2017 at 4:00 pm 41 Comments

Following the resignation of Eve Thompson earlier this month, the Reston Association Board of Directors has a decision to make.

At their meeting Thursday, directors will discuss how to move forward. Thompson, who had served on the board since 2013 and was voted to an At-Large seat in 2016, announced her decision to step down June 6.

Thompson’s vacated term doesn’t expire until April 2019. This means the board has three options:

  • Do nothing. If this option is selected, the seat will remain vacant until next year’s RA Board election.
  • Appoint a member in good standing. If this option is selected, the eight remaining members of the board would decide among themselves who to put into the seat immediately.
  • Issue a call for candidates. If this option is selected, the position will be posted by RA within 24 hours, and qualified applicants will appear before the Board at its July meeting.

Staff has recommended the Board fill the position rather than leave it vacant for nine months. If a new director is selected, he or she will serve through April 2018. The final year of the term will be voted upon in next year’s election.

The meeting will be held Thursday, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). It will also be streamed live on RA’s YouTube channel.

by Dave Emke — June 21, 2017 at 2:45 pm 19 Comments

Homicide detectives from the Fairfax County Police Department will continue to lead the investigation into the death of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen of Reston.

Jurisdictional issues have arisen since the crime, which took place just before 4 a.m. Sunday. Police say Nabra was assaulted and abducted near the intersection of Dranesville Road and Woodson Drive, which is just east of the Fairfax/Loudoun county line. Police say she was then taken to Loudoun County, where she was assaulted again and her body was thrown into a pond.

According to police accounts, Nabra and a group of friends had been at a Ramadan service at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society and were on their way back after going to breakfast at the McDonald’s in the Town Center at Sterling plaza. Both of those places are just west of the Fairfax/Loudoun line.

“The Fairfax County Police Department has partnered closely with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office with the common goal of justice for Nabra as well as for her family, friends and community,” FCPD said in a news release. “Our department will continue to work alongside the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney as this case moves forward.”

Police have charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres, a Salvadoran national, with murder in the case. They say Torres became enraged with the group of teens and exited his car wielding a baseball bat, striking Nabra. An autopsy revealed her cause of death as blunt force trauma.

Nabra was finishing her sophomore year at South Lakes High School.

Police say they are not investigating Nabra’s death as a hate crime; however, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh has said he will continue to weigh the possibility before deciding how to proceed with the case. Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman says he supports the decision to keep the case in Fairfax County and “will lend any assistance if requested.”

(more…)

by Dave Emke — June 21, 2017 at 9:15 am 1 Comment

Volunteers Needed for Kids’ Triathlon — Help is needed for many different aspects of the annual Reston Kids’ Triathlon, scheduled for the morning of Sunday, Aug. 6. [Sign Up Genius]

Great Falls Woman Dies in Crash — Mai-Huong Nguyen, a 73-year-old woman from Great Falls, died Tuesday after her car ran off the road and struck a utility pole on Riverbend Road. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Reston Businesses Named to ‘Top Workplace’ Lists — The Washington Post has released its annual “Top Workplace” lists, and numerous businesses with ties to Reston are on them. [Washington Post]

Dulles Corridor Committee Meets Soon — The Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee will meet Friday, June 30 at 9:30 a.m. at the Center for Innovative Technology (2214 Rock Hill Road, Herndon). The public is invited. [Dulles Toll Road]

Local Man Wins Bay Swim — Andrew Gyenis, a 22-year-old from Herndon, scored the best time in the recent 26th Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Swim. He crossed the bay in 1 hour, 29 minutes. [Bay Weekly]

Photo via @maddy_davison on Twitter

by Dave Emke — June 21, 2017 at 8:15 am 2 Comments

(This article was updated at 10:20 a.m. to include the day’s schedule from the ADAMS Center.)

Services for Nabra Hassanen will take place this afternoon at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (46903 Sugarland Road, Sterling).

Hassanen was killed Sunday after what police say was an extreme road-rage incident on Dranesville Road. She was walking along with friends back toward the ADAMS Center from McDonald’s.

The ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the ADAMS Center. South Lakes High School released the following information this morning for those who would like to attend:

  • The ADAMS Center has two levels. Those attending who do not practice the faith will be seated either in the sanctuary area in chairs off to the side or on the balcony level. Men and women are separate in the sanctuary area and guests seated in that area will also be separate by gender.
  • Please dress conservatively — shirts should be elbow-length or below and pants or skirts should be at or below the knee. Dressing conservatively is expected. Head coverings or scarfs for women are appropriate if you choose.
  • The funeral service is not very long (30 mins). For those who are guests, our role will be to reflect in quiet while observing the traditional prayers. Unlike most Christian services, there are not usually speakers or tributes done.
  • There are no flowers — do not bring nor do any groups need to send.
  • The burial will take place afterward [at Sterling Cemetery]. The ADAMS Center is providing some transportation for those who would like to attend. Please note that the burial is a very quiet, somber ceremony with a lot of tradition. The men in the family take the active role. It is most appropriate for family and close friends to attend.

A public vigil in Nabra’s memory is also planned for 6:30 p.m. tonight at Lake Anne Plaza. More than 1,400 people have indicated on Facebook that they plan to attend. Check the Facebook page for information about parking.

by Katherine Berko — June 20, 2017 at 5:00 pm 35 Comments

A public space activist group is trying to fight increased density in Reston.

Reclaim Reston, a grassroots organization comprised of Reston residents, on Monday asked the Fairfax Board of Supervisors to issue a moratorium on proposed zoning ordinance amendments from the county’s Department of Planning & Zoning, as well as on approval of any development projects that haven’t yet been submitted.

“Many of the members of the public who have already signed the Reston Moratorium petition have expressed concerns that the things that attracted them to live in Reston, such as ample parks, trails and recreation facilities, quality schools, and reasonable commute times, are at risk as new development proceeds apace,” said Bruce Ramo, a member of Reclaim Reston.

The proposed zoning amendments would change the population density cap in Reston’s Planned Residential Community District, bumping the overall limit on people per acre in Reston’s PRC from 13 to 16. It would also allow for the Board of Supervisors to be able to approve individual developments in excess of 50 dwelling units per acre in TSAs within the PRC and when in accordance with Comprehensive Plan recommendations.

Reclaim Reston fears that the proposal would harm the safety, health, well-being and property values for citizens in the area. Ramo explained that he recognizes the County’s priority is economic development, but said other things are suffering because of this hyper focus.

“The engine driving greater density is far more powerful than that for the schools, parks, roads and other infrastructure needed to support the new residents and to maintain the overall safety and quality of living for the existing population,” Ramos said.

The DPZ says the current limitation of 13 persons per acre in the Reston PRC “cannot support the amended Master Plan.” It says an increase to 16 persons per acre would allow for up to 18,737 more people in the long term, beyond the current cap.

Reston’s PRC District is currently at about 11.9 persons per acre.

The letter from the group to the county states the following:

“We believe that it is critical for the Board of Supervisors to invoke a temporary moratorium on both zoning changes for increased density in Reston, and approval of new Reston development projects (not yet submitted to the County), pending a firm plan linking planned growth and infrastructure funding.”

When asked if Reclaim Reston is willing to comprise with the County and increase the population cap incrementally, Ramo said no.

“A moratorium means a moratorium,” he said. “Keeping the community’s hand on the spigot of density is the best means currently available to us to assure that that the County complies with the requirement of the Reston Master Plan for phased development and infrastructure.”

People in agreement with Reclaim Reston can sign the petition online.

by Katherine Berko — June 20, 2017 at 11:30 am 22 Comments

At its meeting Thursday (view agenda), the Reston Association Board of Directors will hold public hearings on a hunting request and a pipeline easement.

In 2014, the Board voted to allow residents of Sourwood Lane to hire a hunting service to help control the deer population in the area. Clearance to hunt was provided for three years, and now residents of 11624, 11626 and 11632 Sourwood Lane are asking for three more.

According to applicants Larry and Jan Gsellman, Rodney Jones, and James and Margo Sterling:

“During the first permit that ends in August 2017 a total of approximately 14 deer were removed from the two herds that had traveled our property. In spite of this we continue to see significant damage to plantings. The purpose of the renewal of the hunt is to continue reducing the deer population in and around our properties [to] a level that is sustainable.”

The applicants say they want to curb the spread of tick-borne Lyme disease and stop devastation of vegetation in the area. Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia would conduct the hunts, as it has in previous years.

A notification letter was sent out to residents in the area. Four responded with messages of approval, including one that said “deer sightings in the neighborhood have fallen off significantly [since 2014], and I feel sure the program has reduced the local risks of disease and potential traffic accidents.” Two responded negatively, including one who expressed fears about the danger of hunting to people, pets, structures and vehicles in the immediate area.

Any hunting would have to take place at least 50 yards from an occupied residence, with the exception of the requesting lot owners’ residences, and 50 yards away from any street, sidewalk, trail, pathway, bus stop, playground or other public place.

The other public hearing on the meeting’s agenda is a request from Williams/Transco Pipeline for an exclusive easement and right of way over a Reston Association common area. The area of interest is located off North Shore Drive, next to RA’s Golf Course Island plot. The discussion about this request began in the fall of 2016 and remains unresolved.

Williams/Transco currently has a 135-foot-wide easement to their pipelines, but they are requesting more easement so they can add additional equipment, such as valves. If this request is granted, Williams/Transco will have exclusive access to the allotted parcel of land.

During a board meeting on May 25, the Reston Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to continue negotiating with Williams/Transco and to hold a public hearing at their next meeting on June 22. A panel of the Design Review Board approved a site plan submitted by Williams/Transco, with the exception of a few enhancements which Williams/Transco agreed to change.

The meeting will be held Thursday, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). It will also be streamed live on RA’s YouTube channel.

Maps via Reston Association

by Dave Emke — June 20, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

SLHS Class of 2017 Graduates Tonight — The event is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Bank Arena on the campus of George Mason University. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Nationwide Vigils for Nabra Hassanen — The Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment has planned numerous vigils across the nation in honor of Nabra Hassanen, the Reston teen who was killed Sunday. Events are scheduled in DC, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and more. [WISE/Facebook]

Connolly Talks Issues — Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) held a town-hall meeting Monday night in Reston. Check out his Twitter feed to see what was discussed. [Gerry Connolly/Twitter]

Volunteers Sought for Century Ride — The 35th annual ride is scheduled for Aug. 27, and helpers are needed for planning, rest stops and cleanup. [Reston Bike Club]

Photo of Reston sunset courtesy Lizette Badillo Ryan

by Dave Emke — June 19, 2017 at 4:20 pm 0

Several thousand area residents are reported to be without power after a strong storm tore through, Dominion Energy reports.

Countywide, more than 26,000 customers were without power as of about 4:05 p.m. Monday. Crews are assessing damage and working to restore electricity.

Outages can be reported to Dominion Energy online or by calling 1-866-366-4357.

by Katherine Berko — June 19, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Reston Association is searching for members of the community to volunteer for a number of committees.

Members are needed for the Covenants Committee, Fiscal Committee and Elections Committee, as well as the Design Review Board. Residents appointed to a committee must serve for three years, unless otherwise stated.

The Covenants Committee oversees property values by ensuring that their physical appearances are properly maintained. The committee does this with the help of the Use and Maintenance Covenants, which are outlined in the Reston Deed of Dedication. According to RA, the covenants “were developed, in part, to ensure that properties are kept in good repair, acceptable in appearance and substantially similar to their original condition. The covenants require that the property, and any improvement or alteration, be kept in good condition so that it does not have a detrimental or adverse effect on other properties in the community.”

RA members who live in the Hunter Woods/Dogwood district are encouraged to apply for this committee.

The Fiscal Committee is responsible for RA’s monthly financials, draft budgets and annual audits. According to RA, it “advises the Board of Directors on the sound fiscal management of Reston Association’s resources.” People with financial backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply.

The Elections Committee is primarily in charge of the annual Board of Directors elections, when three board members are elected each  spring. Members of this committee do not meet as regularly as other committee members.

The Design Review Board is in charge of supervising the exterior alterations made to properties in Reston. Members use the Reston Association’s Design Guidelines when inspecting the various properties. There is one current opening on the DRB, for a 20-month term through March 2019.

Anyone interested in a position must apply by July 14 at 5 p.m.

by Dave Emke — June 19, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Update: Police Not Looking at Teen’s Death as Hate Crime — The Fairfax County Police Department says the killing of a 17-year-old Muslim girl from Reston is not being investigated as bias-motivated. We are continuing to follow this story and will provide more information as it becomes available. [Fairfax County Police Department/Twitter]

Connolly Hosting Town Hall Tonight — Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) will host a town-hall meeting at Sunset Hills Montessori School (11180 Ridge Heights Road) from 7-8:30 p.m. tonight. The congressman will provide a congressional update and then take audience questions. [Eventbrite]

County Seeks Volunteers for Attack Prep — The Fairfax County Health Department has robust plans in place to respond to a wide-scale bioterrorism attack. Volunteers are needed to help with a training exercise Saturday, July 29. [Fairfax County Health Department]

County Office for Children Gets Grant — The grant will allow the office to work with high-quality family child care programs in areas of Fairfax County with concentrated poverty to provide preschool services for eligible children. [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]

Herndon Woman Sees Central Asia — Cathy Alifrangis says her special birthday journey to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan was filled with culture, history and pleasant surprises. [Washington Post]

by Dave Emke — June 16, 2017 at 11:30 am 2 Comments

Mama Wok (12022 North Shore Drive) at Tall Oaks Village Center has officially closed its doors.

A sign on the restaurant’s front door says Thursday was its last day of operation, and the owners “thank you for all your support since 2005.” A second sign says the restaurant’s equipment, furniture and decor are up for sale.

Speaking with Reston Now earlier this month, owners Cheah and Lisa Lee said their lease was about to expire and they decided to retire. Commenters on that article said the restaurant had “the best Chinese food in the area” and that it would be “dearly missed.”

Just three restaurants now remain at Tall Oaks: Paisano’s Pizza, Vocelli Pizza and Phở Reston 75. All are in the process of planning for the future, as the redevelopment of the village center into a mostly residential area is expected to begin soon. (Paisano’s will stay at Tall Oaks, moving to the former 7-Eleven/Curves building.)

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