Reston, VA

A plan to redevelop an abandoned pool behind Vantage Hill Condominiums (11619 Vantage Hill Road) is moving forward.

Craftmark Homes, a homebuilding company with properties in the region, hopes to redevelop the pool, which has been closed for the last seven years, into a site with 31 townhouses. Proceeds from the development would help find improvements and maintenance that the condominium’s leadership says are sorely needed. The site was, which has 152 units spread out across 24 buildings, was one of Reston’s first housing projects and offers workforce housing.

Rob Schuman, the community association’s president, said the future of Vantage Hill is extremely uncertain of infill development does not proceed. The community’s aging infrastructure is difficult to main, operate, and needs to be repairs. The area is also shifting toward rental units with high homeowners’ association fees.

“If we don’t find a way to get access to the cash for this rebuild, this is a bad trajectory for Vantage Hill,” Schuman said.

The project highlights the challenge of redevelopment and infill development area’s outside of Reston’s transit-oriented core.

At a meeting in late June with Reston Association’s Design Review Board, members said they were concerned about how close the townhouses are to the road, the loss of tree canopy, and the orientation of the row of houses towards the street.

“The density is just far too high for the site,” said DRB member Michael Wood, adding that he is not opposed to the development overall.

Others said they were concerned that townhouses facing the street would create set a dangerous precedent for other infill development.

Some struggled with the challenge of incorporating the new development into 1960s-era housing by adhering to Reston’s core design principles while also giving the developer the flexibility needed to build a new product.

Mark Looney, an attorney representing the developer, stressed that the community, RA, and the county would have to work with Craftmark if infill development is preferred instead of completely redeveloping the site.

“I don’t know if any community — inner city or suburb — can remain the same for 100 years without adjusting or changing along the way,” Looney said at the meeting.

The developer has presented preliminary design concepts to Reston Association. At the DRB meeting on June 30, Looney said the developer sought to get “buy in” on its proposal and how to move forward.

He added that the developer is trying to honor the 2.1-acre site, which has challenging topography due to its grade, by pitching a creative design.

“There’s only a small ability to vary the design from what Craftmark has shown,” Looney said.

The proposal has not been formally filed with the county yet.

Photo via Reston Association/handout

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A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for the area until 11 p.m. today.

The National Weather Service says that strong and widespread thunderstorms are in the afternoon and into the evening.

Forecasters also say to watch out for damaging winds, large hail and an isolated threat for flooding.

A flash flood watch is also in effect until 6 p.m. today in Herndon and Reston.

THE FLASH FLOOD WATCH CONTINUES FOR

* PORTIONS OF MARYLAND, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA, INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING AREAS, IN MARYLAND, ANNE ARUNDEL, CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST HOWARD, CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST MONTGOMERY, NORTHERN BALTIMORE, NORTHWEST HARFORD, PRINCE GEORGES, SOUTHEAST HARFORD, AND SOUTHERN BALTIMORE. THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA, ARLINGTON/FALLS CHURCH/ALEXANDRIA.

* UNTIL 9 PM EDT THIS EVENING

* THUNDERSTORMS WILL DEVELOP THIS AFTERNOON AND CONTINUE THIS EVENING ALONG THE I-95 CORRIDOR. SOME AREAS MAY EXPERIENCE MULTIPLE THUNDERSTORMS THROUGH THIS EVENING. RAINFALL AMOUNTS  OF 1-2 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE, WITH SOME ISOLATED AMOUNTS OVER 3  INCHES POSSIBLE. THIS AMOUNT OF RAIN OVER URBAN AREAS MAY LEAD TO INSTANCES OF FLASH FLOODING, AS WELL AS A POTENTIAL FOR CREEKS AND STREAMS TO RISE RAPIDLY IF SOME OF THE HIGHER AMOUNTS ARE REALIZED.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A FLASH FLOOD WATCH MEANS THAT CONDITIONS MAY DEVELOP THAT LEAD TO FLASH FLOODING. FLASH FLOODING IS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS BE ISSUED.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Several businesses in the Town of Herndon can soon take advantage of outdoor dining space on town property.

The Herndon Town Council is considering a proposal to approve the use of town property and public right-of-way for temporary outdoor dining. The proposal heads to the council for a vote tomorrow (Tuesday).

Although restrictions on indoor dining have been lifted, the businesses are seeking space to expand their operations on town property. Previously, the town streamlined its temporary approvals process for outdoor dining on private property.

Here’s more from Lisa Yeatts, the town’s attorney:

Under standard town procedures, requests for a License to use the town sidewalks, streets or parking lots, must be approved by the Town Council after a public hearing causing the entire process to take several months before a License is issued. In order to expedite the process established Phase I Temporary Outdoor Dining Permits, the Town Council amended Ordinance 20-O-23, Continuity of Governmental Operations during Pandemic Disaster (COVID-19), as amended, on May 26, 2020 by Ordinance 20-0-30, authorizing the Town Manager to approve and sign instruments necessary to address the phased reopening of the town. Such instruments are subject to final consideration and ratification by the Town Council at its next available Public Hearing

Seven business plan to expand outdoor dining:

The council meets tomorrow at 7 p.m. Other items on the agenda include discussion on federal funding due to COVID-19 and restructuring the town’s debt.

Photo by George Nikolopoulos

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July marks the fifth month of reported COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County — and testing for the virus is becoming more widely available.

In total, Fairfax County has seen more than 14,000 COVID-19 cases, 1,600 hospitalizations and 495 deaths since March, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The number of cases reported daily has been decreasing for the last few months while testing has ramped up in the Fairfax Health District, according to the state health data.

People can get a viral test — called a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test — to test for a current infection or antibody tests, which test for recent or past infections, according to Fairfax County.

The Tysons area has several testing sites, including Inova Urgent Care and certain CVS stores. People looking to get tested can check out lists of testing sites from the VDH websiteFairfax County and CVS.

Fairfax County officials are encouraging residents with symptoms to get tested, along with supporting increased contact tracing efforts and community testing sites.

When we asked readers on May 1, a resounding 85 percent of respondents said they did not get tested Roughly eight percent said they planned too, but hadn’t yet.

Let us know in the poll below, and if you’re willing to share, we’d be interested in hearing what your COVID-19 testing experience was like. Feel free to share in the comments or send us an email at [email protected]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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With Virginia’s transition into Phase 3, Reston Association pools are further opening to the public today (Monday). Those interested in swimming can begin making reservations and can reserve as far ahead as August 6, according to a statement from Reston Aquatics.  

The pools open include Lake Newport Pool, Golf Course Island Pool, North Hills Pool, Glade Pool, Newbridge Pool and Dogwood Pool. To make a reservation, click on the link for the desired facility. Reservations are made through Sign-Up Genius, which does not require an account to set up. 

There are limited activities allowed at the pools due to extra safety precautions. Swimmers can use the lap pools, go diving, free swim and exercise. Swim lessons and fitness classes are open for instruction, and in certain locations, self-guided exercise spaces are now available. 

However, spas, wading pools and play features are still closed, according to Reston Aquatics. Pool goers must also provide their own swim equipment such as goggles and lifejackets since the facilities are not loaning equipment to the public. 

Health questionnaires will be provided to each patron upon entrance to the pool with questions regarding symptoms and the likelihood of having the virus.

Pools are requiring face coverings when patrons are within 10 feet of each other but are not to be worn in the water. Additionally, 10 feet of space is required at all times indoors. Patrons must bring their own water, as all water fountains will be closed to the public. 

Locker storage is also closed to the public, so patrons must plan on storing their belongings on the pool deck. Lounge chairs will be sanitized after each reservation to ensure cleanliness. 

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Monday Morning Notes

Weather Alert for Today — The work week begins with hot and humid weather.  Afternoon showers and thunderstorms are also expected. Forecasters say some storms could be strong to severe, with damaging. Winds, large hail, and an isolated threat for flooding. [National Weather Service]

COVID-19 Count Begins Climb — “Both Virginia and the Northern Virginia region reported the highest daily number of new coronavirus cases in almost a month on Saturday, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Northern Virginia reported 256 new cases, and statewide 716 new cases were reported. Both numbers were the highest since June 7.” [Inside NOVA]

Virtual Town Hall for Return to School — The Fairfax County Public Schools System is hosting a downhill to discuss return to school options on today (Monday). A meeting in Spanish will be held on Wednesday. [FCPS]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The county plans to close on a long-awaited workforce housing development in Herndon this fall.

Construction on the 274-unit project, which is located south of the Dulles Access Road, will be completed in the summer of 2022.

The apartment building is located in the Arrowbrook Centre, a mixed-use project that includes Arrowbrook Centre Park, for-sale townhomes and condominiums and office buildings.

Once construction is completed, roughly $7.7 million in Housing Blueprint funds will be issued.  The Fairfax County Housing Redevelopment Authority will also issue roughly $22 million in bonds for the transaction this summer. Closing is expected in the fall.

“We’re really excited about this one,” said Tom Fleetwood at a Fairfax County Board of Supervisor’s housing committee meeting earlier this week.

The rental community targets households with incomes at or below 30, 40, 50 and 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). The county will provide 14 units using state and federal vouchers that target households at 40 percent of the AMI. Half of the remaining units will be financed through Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

Units will vary between 422 square feet for studio sand 1,305 square feet for three-bedroom units.

A Feb. 2019 market feasibility analysis noted that Arrowbrook Centre is located in a market area. That is “younger, affluent section of an equally affluent county.” Roughly 40 percent of the primary market area’s renters are young adults under the age of 35, according to the report.

Image via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Last night’s town hall with Fairfax County’s police chief covered a variety of issues related to police reform, from progress on the demands made by Fairfax County NAACP to body-worn cameras.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn hosted the meeting last night to give locals a chance to provide input and ask questions. The conflict-free town hall mainly focused on Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. answering questions from audience members and explaining FCPD’s policies in detail.

Roessler highlighted the reforms made by FCPD since the shooting of John Geer, an unarmed Springfield man, in 2013. They have shifted towards a “co-production” method of policing, which emphasizes the importance of community engagement by bringing in advocates to review issues and discuss police report narratives.

A big goal of the police department is to increase diversion of tasks, including sending mental health or substance abuse cases away from the police. Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who is the chair of the county’s Public Safety Committee, also emphasized that the current range of issues diverted to the police is “too much to ask of them” and is in support of the Diversion First model.

The chief addressed terminology that the public wanted to be defined, including the FCPD’s definition of the use of force as “anything beyond a guide or escort, or above putting handcuffs on.” Roessler said that anything beyond that is subject to investigation. Additionally, he clarified that chokeholds are prohibited in Fairfax County.

Roessler also touched on the development of body-worn cameras. He said that the idea has been in the works since June 2015, and he wants to adopt the co-production model of community engagement in this development.

He says they are making “great progress” on this project and that the policies regarding the cameras are addressed online in an American University pilot program testing the same model of body camera policies. They plan to evaluate the body cameras again in-person in September to ensure the policies are exceeding community expectations.

Roessler discussed the evaluation and promotion process of officers, saying that evaluation begins upon application. He described a thorough path of training that officers go through before assignments. Additionally, they value community engagement when evaluating candidates for senior staff positions to ensure officers “embody the spirit of what the community needs for the future.”

“We want our officers to engage with the community members in a positive fashion, not just calls for service,” Roessler said in describing what they look for upon officer evaluation.

Other issues covered included the presence of the MS-13 gang, to which Roessler said they “will be relentless on gang activity in Fairfax County.”

When asked how the police department addresses domestic and sexual violence, Roessler said they use the Lethality Assessment Program — Maryland Model to assess the situation and connect victims with immediate help, such as counselors, attorneys or volunteers from the community.

Photo via Youtube Live

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LA Fitness finally opened its doors in Herndon Center yesterday (July 1).

The fitness gym was expected to open in early January, but permitting issues and the COVID-19 pandemic delayed opening day. The gym is located at 494 Elden Street.

Kristhian Reyes, the general manager of the location, said he is excited to welcome patrons to the facility.

“In all honesty, we are just glad to be open and be able to actually show everyone what they’ve been waiting for. So far the opening has gone great members are excited to see the facility and be able to finally get in and use it,” he said.

For now, LA Fitness will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m.  to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Photo via Kristhian Reyes

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