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Reston Companies Added to ‘2018 Best Workplaces for Commuters’

Reston and Herndon companies made up nearly half of Fairfax County’s list of top workplaces for commuters.

The county’s Board of Supervisors recognized 14 employers last Tuesday (Dec. 4) who have taken steps to become more commuter-friendly.

The Reston employers include:

KeyW Corporation and Northwest Federal Credit Union in Herndon also received the designation as “Best Workplaces for Commuters.”

The county’s Department of Transportation partnered with “Best Workplaces for Commuters,” a membership program managed by the National Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida.

The designation recognizes employers who have excelled in implementing green commuter programs, including ride-sharing, transit benefits, biking and walking, teleworking, alternate work schedules and other strategies. The program provides qualified employers with national recognition and an elite designation for offering outstanding commuter benefits.

Julie Bond, the program manager of “Best Workplaces for Commuters,” said that employers in Fairfax County supporting commuter options like taking the bus, biking, teleworking or carpooling can all reduce travel time and costs for employees.

“Employee-provided commuter benefits give them a competitive edge in employee recruitment, retention and brand recognition,” Bond said. “We also know that commute options can lead to an increase in productivity, employee retention, and put us on the map for attracting top talent in our sector.”

The county has some programs in place to help foster commuter-friendly workplaces. Fairfax County Commuter Services — a program of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation — works with employers, residential properties and commuters to encourage alternatives to driving alone to work.

With this year’s additions, Fairfax County totals 93 companies with the recognition since 2010.

Photo via Believe It, Reston/Facebook

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President Trump Praises Fairfax County Detective Last Friday

President Donald Trump praised two local police officers for helping to dismantle the gang MS-13 during his speech at a conference last Friday.

Trump lauded Fairfax County Police Department Detective Ray Betts, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger and Sgt. Claudio Saa from the Herndon Police Department as “three trailblazing leaders.”

The praise came during remarks Trump made at the 2018 Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference in Kansas City, Mo. last Friday (Dec. 7).

The conference brings together U.S. Attorneys; federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement; community partners; and others to share ideas on violent crime reduction.

Trump’s remarks included the following:

Every American citizen is entitled to a safe community and a secure border. Here in the audience today are three trailblazing leaders — they truly are — who are working to dismantle MS-13 over the past two years. They’ve helped so much. They’ve done such an incredible job. Twenty-nine MS-13 members have been charged and convicted just recently, despite being targeted for retaliation.

These three patriots are U.S. Attorney Zach Terwilliger — where is Zach?  Hello, Zach. Heard great things about you. Herndon Police Sergeant Claudio Saa. Thank you, Claudio. Thank you very much. And Fairfax County Police Detective Ray Betts. Thank you. Thank you. All three, thank you very much.

At the conference, Terwilliger, Betts and Saa joined Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Miller and Rebeca Bellows, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew and Major Roger Russell of the Richmond Police Department in a team presentation on best practices for investigating and dismantling MS-13.

MS-13 started in Los Angeles before heading to Virginia and then making its way to El Salvador.

Betts accounted for more than 100 felony arrests and 30 misdemeanors in a one-year time period two years after he joined the gang investigations unit. He has been to El Salvador to investigate cases and train his Salvadoran counterparts, WTOP reported.

Saa has also traveled to El Salvador, where he explored MS-13’s ties to Virginia, NBC4 reported.

Photo via FCPD/Twitter

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Monday Morning Notes

Vote for Reston as “Best Holiday Parade” — Voting closes at noon today for USA Today’s holiday parade contest. Last year, Reston landed in sixth place on the list. [USA Today]

Faulty work on Silver Line — A man who admitted faking records to hide faulty Silver Line concrete panels was sentenced Friday to prison time. [WTOP]

New zoning rules for artisan manufacturers — Fairfax County recently adopted new zoning rules to help more small-scale production businesses. [Fairfax County]

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Pottery Barn Set to Close in Reston Town Center in January

(Updated at 10:58 p.m. on Dec. 9) The Pottery Barn in Reston Town Center will shut its doors in January, along with the Williams-Sonoma down the block.

Williams-Sonoma Inc. operates both brands.

A store employee told Reston Now that the store will stay open until its closing date — sometime around Jan. 21.

Pottery Barn (11937 Market Street) started a final sale with 30 percent off items throughout the entire store on Monday (Dec. 3), the employee said.

The Williams-Sonoma at 11897 Market Street is also planning to shut its doors in January.

“We plan on closing in early January, but do not have a specific date to share at this time,” a spokeswoman for the company wrote in an email.

This story has been updated 

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Trauma Patient Reunites with Crew, Reston Hospital Staff One Year After Motorcycle Collision

 

Most of the Fairfax County crew and Reston Hospital Center hospital staff who treated a motorcyclist critically injured from a 2017 collision had a reunion on Wednesday at the hospital.

Crews responded to a call for a collision involving a motorcycle and a car on April 27, 2017. When they arrived on the scene, they found that Michael Hyman, the motorcyclist, was critically injured, according to a Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department post.

More from the Dec. 6 post:

Our firefighters and paramedics knew time was of the essence. They exhibited excellent teamwork assessing and treating the patient. Medic 416’s time on scene was six minutes before they were off to the trauma center at Reston Hospital.

The crews thought they had done they best they could to give the young motorcyclist a chance to survive. That said, many thought the young man may not make it. As with many critical medical or trauma calls, our personnel deliver the patient to the hospital not ultimately knowing the outcome for that patient.

Hyman, the Fairfax County crew and the hospital staff went over the details of what happened to Hyman on-scene and at the trauma center, along with the treatment, recovery and physical therapy processes Hyman went through.

“He had extensive injuries that none of us had really seen before,” Liz Klemens, a nurse at the hospital, recalled in a Reston Hospital Center YouTube video.

Some of his injuries included a fractured a segment of his spine in his neck, a broken right arm, a snapped femur in his left leg, broken bones in his ankles and three to four places broken in his hip and pelvis.

Hyman now has a metal rod from his shoulder to elbow in his right arm, which he can’t move due to stretched nerves. He also cannot feel anything in his right hand.

The Dec. 5 evening ended with Hyman and his mother, Kim Hyman, thanking the firefighters, paramedics and hospital staff involved in his care.

“Reston saved my son’s life,” Kim Hyman said in the video.

The crew and units that responded on April 27, 2017:

  • Engine 417, Centreville: Captain I Bobby Stricklen, Technician Gary DeFriest, Technician Eric Hoffman and Firefighter Anthony Harley
  • Medic 416, Clifton: Lt. Matt Louzonis and Firefighter Greg Morton
  • EMS 403: Captain II Jennifer Svites

Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and screenshot via Reston Hospital Center/YouTube

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Planning Commission Moves Forward Pet Hedgehog Proposal

Chinchillas, hedgehogs and hermit crabs are one step closer to legalized pet status in Fairfax County.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission last night (Dec. 6) approved changing the definition of commonly accepted pets to include all three.

“All those hedgehogs in Fairfax County are extremely happy tonight,” Chairman Peter Murphy, who represents the Springfield District, said after the vote.

Hunter Mill District Commissioner John Carter voted against the proposal, along with Vice Chairman James Hart and Mason District Commissioner Julie Strandlie.

Strandlie said that while she supports chinchillas and hermit crabs as pets, more input from professionals is necessary regarding hedgehogs.

The increasing popularity of chinchillas, hedgehogs and hermit crabs as pets in recent years spurred the proposed amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance, according to the proposal.

Arlington and Loudoun counties allow hedgehogs and chinchillas as pets, with Loudoun County also permitting hermit crabs. Fairfax City and Falls Church either do not allow or remain unclear about the legality of the three animals as pets.

The commission tackled health and safety concerns mainly around hedgehogs as pets at a public hearing last Thursday (Nov. 29), deferring a decision to last night at the request of Mary Cortina, an at-large member of the commission.

Some of the concerns that came up involved hedgehogs’ ability to spread salmonella and how well owners can care for hedgehogs, given their high levels of maintenance.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that require space, exercise and room temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure they do not start hibernating, according to the Hedgehog Welfare Society.

Hart said he concludes that hedgehogs still fall under the “exotic pet” definition based on the temperature requirements raised during the testimonies last week.

Dranesville District Commissioner John Ulfelder said he took four areas into consideration when deciding how to vote — public safety, public health, environmental impact and animal welfare.

Addressing the salmonella concerns, Ulfelder said that other animals, such turtles, can spread the bacteria.

For him, the prickliest issue concerned animal welfare. “It is true these animals are a little bit difficult to take care of,” he said. “I think for people who are up for that, they can be very nice pets.”

Strandlie praised a student from Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church, who argued at the public hearing in favor of legalizing pet hedgehogs.

The student, who said he has cared for his turtle for eight years and his monitor lizard for two years, said he believes hedgehogs are easier to care for than reptiles, based on his research. If the county approves the amendment, he said he would get a hedgehog.

Even though Strandlie voted “no,” she said the student probably persuaded some of the commissioners to support the proposal.

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors authorized a public hearing at 4 p.m. on Jan. 22 to consider the controversial proposal.

“I think we should be allowing people if we can — if they have the ability — to have hedgehogs as pets,” Ulfelder said.

Photo via Planning Commission

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Friday Morning Notes

County remains among the richest — the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Fairfax County ranks second as the richest county from 2013 to 2017, following Loudoun County. [U.S. Census Bureau]

It’s snow joke — With snow predictions looming, the Virginia Department of Transportation wants residents to stay safe by looking over its 2018-2019 “snow facts.” [VDOT]

Fine arts photography collection — The “La Lumiere DuBois VII” exhibit by Michael DuBois, who highlights his love of nature, opens today at the Reston Community Center Hunters Woods. The exhibit is open until  Jan. 6. [Reston Community Center]

“She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition” — Watch students from the Herndon High School perform a contemporary dramatic comedy tonight at 7 p.m. Parental guidance is recommended. [Herndon High School Theatre]

Photo by Susan Berger

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Board of Supervisors Gives Thumbs Up to Roland Clarke Place Project

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved Woodfield Acquisitions’ redevelopment of Roland Clarke Place at its Tuesday (Dec. 4) meeting.

The redevelopment is set to replace a vacant, two-story office building at 1941 Roland Clarke Place with a 308-unit residential complex just south of the Dulles Toll Road.

The seven-story apartment building will be about a mile between the Wiehle-Reston East and Reston Town Center Metro stations. Plans for the building include two interior courtyards, an outdoor pool, seating on a third-floor patio and a 409-space, eight-level parking garage behind the building. About one-third of the new development is slated to remain as open space.

The existing office buildings on the site were constructed in the early 1980s.

The board delayed making a decision after the project’s public hearing on Nov. 20. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved a series of proffers for the redevelopment on Nov. 15.

The board also greenlighted three other developments in Reston, including the Midline and the Tall Oaks Village Center, at the Tuesday meeting.

Images via Fairfax County and Fairfax County Planning Commission

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Planning Commission Defers Controversial Sign Changes

Fairfax County Government is currently mulling over changes to its sign ordinance that has everyone from schools and parks to local realtors concerned.

At a Planning Commission meeting last night (Wednesday), the commission deferred a decision on the new sign regulations until Jan. 16 to allow for more discussion on the impact of the ordinance.

Currently, county staff are reviewing changes to the zoning ordinance to make the language content-neutral. The change is in response to the United States Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, which ruled that localities that define sign categories based on the message expressed, or content-based, is unconstitutional unless it furthers a compelling governmental interest.

Rather than allow free reign for Fairfax residents of businesses to erect signs regardless of content, a proposed amendment would clamp down on sign regulations across the board.

Changes to the sign ordinance are widespread but often minor corrections. One of the biggest changes is that one freestanding building identification sign is permitted for each detached building and such signs must be limited to identifying the name of the building or the individual enterprises located therein, the address, trademark or identifying symbol of the building occupant.

According to county staff, minor signs (formerly referred to as temporary signs) were the largest challenge in the zoning ordinance rewrite.

“While staff acknowledges that the proposed language could negatively affect some developments that are currently exempt from regulation, we continue to recommend the language found in the draft text as it provides the closest level of regulation as the current provision.”

A representative from real estate investment company Macerich said at the meeting said the company had a laundry list of concerns but has been working with county staff to whittle those issues down. Another local realtor at the meeting said the new ordinance could push the open house signs and corner signs off of local lawns and into the already crowded right-of-way spaces.

The sign ordinance changes sparked concern with the inclusion of language that would remove government exemptions from sign ordinances.

“Staff has received comments from both Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), neither of which is in favor of eliminating the current exemption status. Of particular concern to the Park Authority is the limitation on the size, number and location of minor signs permitted for non-residential uses in a residential district. These signs are used to announce summer concert series, camps and other activities at the parks. The schools have raised concerns with the proposed height of permitted freestanding signs for non-residential uses in residential districts which is proposed to be limited to 8 feet in height.”

As a result, staff said at the Planning Commission meeting that there would be modifications to the ordinance allowing some exceptions for schools and parks.

Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner said at the meeting he was generally in favor of holding Fairfax County government accountable to many of the same sign regulations as the public.

“There’s something to be said with us being able to model our behavior consistent with what we expect from the private sector,” said Niedzielski-Eichner. “There is a different benefit to be realized to the public with the park authority and public school [having] latitude with signs, but frankly I’m comfortable with them doing it within a regulatory context… not unfettered.”

Photo via Flickr/Alan Levine

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Board of Supervisors Chairman to Retire After Term Ends Next Year

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova announced today (Dec. 6) her plans to retire after her term ends Dec. 31, 2019. Her departure adds to the list of supervisors who have also decided to retire.

Supervisors Linda Smyth, for the Providence District, and John Cook, for the Braddock District, recently said that they won’t seek reelection.

Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay plans to run for the top seat, as well as Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who faces a Democratic challenger for his district seat, The Washington Post reported. The upcoming election for the county’s Board of Supervisors will take place on Nov. 5, 2019.

Bulova, who hits the 10-year mark in February for leading the board, joined the board in 1988 as the Braddock District Supervisor.

The announcement arrived in her monthly newsletter. In one section, she wrote:

Local government is an awesome place to be. It’s the level of government closest to the people you represent. It’s the place where you can truly make a tangible difference, touch lives, and engage with the community in a personal, positive way. Deciding when to stop is just as hard as making the decision to start down the road of elective office. For me, however, that time has come.

When questioned by Tony Olivo of the Washington Post about my plans for running, I told him I was going to use the Thanksgiving holiday to think about it, and to talk to my family and friends. On Thanksgiving Day my son David arrived for dinner equipped with a large flip chart and colored stickies for voting. He titled the Chart “Family Decision Making Matrix” and separated it into “Pros” and “Cons.” It was a fun, light-hearted after dinner activity. Many of the items listed on the “Pro” side of the chart were some of the reasons that had already persuaded me to not seek another four-year term. More time with family and grandchildren, time for travel, to entertain, to smell the roses. It has been an honor to serve the Fairfax County community on the Board of Supervisors. During these past thirty years, I have been privileged to work alongside dedicated elected officials at every level of government, with talented, caring county staff and a county full of enthusiastic community volunteers. While I will not be running for re-election in 2019 I sure do have a lot to look back on with satisfaction.

Congress members representing Virginia have applauded Bulova’s leadership style and accomplishments.

“As former mayor to a city of 200,000 people, I have enormous respect for Sharon Bulova’s leadership of a county of 1.1 million,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a statement. “Over the past 30 years, Fairfax County’s population has grown by nearly half, and Sharon’s service during that time has played a major role in ensuring the prosperity and quality of life accompanying that growth.”

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who was the chairman before Bulova, said in a statement that Bulova “is a true community treasure,” whose time on the board will be remembered for decency and commitment to improving Fairfax County.

“Under her leadership, she turned the idea of the Virginia Railway Express into a reality,” Connolly said. “As Chairman, she guided the county through the worst of the Great Recession, while still maintaining the critical investments and services that Fairfax residents have come to expect.”

Reston Now reached out to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins for a comment and has not heard back.

Pat Hynes, the Hunter Mill District representative for Fairfax County Public Schools, board supervisors and Eileen Filler-Corn, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing Fairfax County, took to Twitter this afternoon:

Photo via Fairfax County. Second photo via Evan Michio Cantwell.

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Thursday Morning Notes

Warm up with a run — Join the Reston Runners tonight at 6:30 p.m. for a 50-minute run/walk starting at Reston Town Center. [Reston Runners] 

Holiday book sale — The Reston Friends Holiday Book Sale starts today at 10 a.m. and continues through the weekend at the Reston Regional Library. [Reston Library Friends]

Reston executive is a winner — Jay Shah, the executive vice president for healthcare and commerce for Octo Consulting Group, was recognized as a 2019 FedHealthIT 100 award winner, marking his second time receiving the award. The FedHealthIT 100 honors individuals recognized for driving change and advancement in the Federal Health Information Technology Market. [Business Wire]

Measles reported in Virginia — As cases of measles increase across the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed that Virginia is one of 26 states hit. [Reston Patch]

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County Board of Supervisors Approves Several Developments

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved changes to several developments at its Tuesday (Dec. 4) meeting.

The board approved modifications to the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment.

Stanley Martin’s redevelopment plans to transform the Tall Oaks Village Center (12022 North Shore Drive) into a mostly residential neighborhood. The redevelopment is set to create 156 residential units, which include 42 two-over-two multi-family units, 44 single units and 70 multi-family units in two residential buildings.

It also plans to add nearly 8,500 square feet of retail and 5,800 square feet of office space.

The board approved the following waivers and changes:

  • a 200-square foot privacy yard requirement for single-family units
  • tandem parking for the two-over-two dwelling units to count towards the off-street parking requirement for multi-family dwelling units
  • a modification for the required number of loading spaces
  • a modification for the transitional screening and barrier requirements

At the time of the Board of Supervisors approval in July 2016 of the owner’s plan to redevelop the retail center into a mixed-use project,  the county was planning to continue Fairfax Connector bus service through the development. The Fairfax Connector has since decided to no longer provide bus service through the development.

The board greenlighted the Midline, a mixed-use project near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, that would bring 1.8 million square feet of development across 17.5 acres east of Wiehle Avenue and south of Sunset Hills Road. 

The development plan will add eight buildings across four blocks, including:

  • an eight-story, independent living facility with 127 units
  • an eight-story, 325-unit apartment building
  • a 14-story office building
  • an eight-story, 225-unit apartment building
  • a seven-story, 218-unit apartment building
  • a six-story, 39-unit apartment building
  • a six-story, 70-unit apartment building
  • 56 townhomes

The project will set aside 14 percent of the residential units for affordable housing.

The entire development also includes ground-floor retail in every building except the office and townhomes.

The county’s approval allows JBG and EYA to pursue two alternative development plans, based on how many retailers want to move into the new spaces.

The county also ok’d rezoning of a property by Sunrise Valley Drive and Reston Pkwy for a residential development of 145 multi-family dwelling units and office space on 4.31 acres of land.

Images and renderings via Fairfax County and Fairfax County Planning Commission

This story has been updated

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Opening night for “The Nutcracker” — The Conservatory Ballet begins performances tonight of the holiday classic at 7 p.m. at CenterStage. [Reston Community Center]

Deadline pushed for Silver Line project contractors — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority extended the deadline yesterday for proposals to accommodate the vendors interested in operating the extension of the Metrorail Silver Line to March 18. [WMATA]

Reston-based technology developer is raking in the money —  OpenLegacy has raised $30 million in funding. Silverhorn Investment Advisors led the round. [OpenLegacy]

Snow possible this weekend — Get your snow boots out. Forecasters say a chance of wintery storms could hit Reston over the weekend. [Reston Patch]

Photo via Marjorie Copson

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County Approves $4 Million Grant for Appian’s Move to Tysons

Cloud computing company Appian Corporation will receive $4 million from Fairfax County for the company’s expansion and new headquarters in Tysons Corner.

The Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved the Development Opportunity Fund grant from the Commonwealth at its meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 4).

The funds will pay for the leasing, improvements, equipment and operation of Appian’s Tysons Corner facility (7950 Jones Branch Drive), which is expected to lead to 600 new jobs there.

News of the company’s move from Reston to Tysons first broke in April.

Currently, Appian is headquartered at 11955 Democracy Drive, Suite 1700 in Reston Town Center.

Fairfax County competed with another jurisdiction for the expansion of Appian’s headquarters, according to county documents.

As part of the grant, Fairfax County must provide a local match which will be in the form of the Lincoln Street project, a roadway improvement which is already planned and funded in the county budget. The road improvement was identified by coordinating with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

Additionally, the county will provide an estimated funding of $288,000 from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority will monitor Appian’s performance metrics agreed upon for the grant funding, updating the Office of the County Executive annually on the number of jobs and capital investment achieved during that time.

Photo via Appian/Facebook

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Board of Supervisors Clash Over Community Input for Proposed Zoning Changes

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors disagreed about community input on contentious proposed zoning changes, before authorizing public hearings early next year on the changes at their meeting today.

The proposal, which would increase the population density in Reston, has sparked a backlash from community groups, including the Reston Association, Coalition for a Planned Reston and Reston 2020.

County planning officials have argued that the change is needed to put into action Reston’s Master Plan, which allows for future growth over the next 40 years.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust vented frustration at the Dec. 4 meeting that Reston residents have not heard back from the county regarding the public hearings for the zoning proposal.

In response to Foust’s concerns, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said that locals have had plenty of opportunities to get the desired information.

County officials began small workgroup sessions hosted by the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots organization, and the Reston Association in July to discuss the controversial plan.

“Yes, there are some questions that people have,” Hudgins said. “Those questions have been answered before or are not relevant to this.”

Hudgins stressed that consideration of the proposed zoning changes is moving forward because of the work, including 13 follow up meetings since May and regular meetings with the Reston Association, already done.

Hudgins praised the “noble” staff for answering community questions.

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook said that verbal responses from staff to locals are not enough, adding that the community would benefit from written questions and answers available online.

“I don’t think it’s enough to have oral questions,” Cook said. “Not everyone can get to public meetings.”

Cook added that community input must have limits. “It’s fair to have a cut off date for questions,” he said.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has 100 days from the referral — the staff report published Dec. 4 — to take action on the zoning proposal. The Board of Supervisors authorized public hearings on the zoning changes for 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 and at 4:30 p.m. on March 5.

“The clock starts today,” Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay said.

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