Reston, VA

Tuesday Morning Notes

Comscore to Launch New Movie Measurement Solution — The Reston-based company is launching Comscore Movies Everywhere, a cross-screen measurement tool that allows companies to track box office movies performance across all platforms. [Comscore]

Investment Firm Invests in Reston Tech Startup — ‘New York City-based Tracker Capital Management LLC announced Monday that one of its affiliates has acquired a controlling interest in Reston-based tech startup Presage Security. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.’ [Virginia Business Monthly]

Reston Association Seeks to Fill Board Vacancies — The association is seeking to fill new vacancies on its Design Review Board. An application is available online. [Reston Today]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Friday Morning Notes

Candidate Sought for Design Review Board — Reston Association is seeking a candidate for a design professional position on the board. The application is available online. Members must be in good standing to be considered for a committee. [RA]

Reston Hospital Center to host ‘Crush the Crisis’ Opioid Take-back Day — “With the opioid crisis still raging throughout the nation, Reston Hospital Center will be taking part in “Crush the Crisis,” an opioid drug take-back day, which will allow the community to safely dispose of unused or expired opioid medications.” [Reston Hospital Center]

Indictments Secured in Bihar Ghaisar Killing — “Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said on Thursday that he has secured indictments that include manslaughter against the two U.S. Park Police officers who shot and killed Bijan Ghaisar, an accountant from McLean, Virginia.” [WTOP]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Vantage Hill Condominium Association has tweaked its designs for the vacant pool and parking lot in response to concerns from neighbors and the Reston Association’s Design Review Board this summer.

The pool, part of the condominium complex at 11619 Vantage Hill Road, has accumulated algae and mosquitoes for about seven years. Craftmark Homes, a homebuilding company with property in Virginia, Maryland and D.C., is proposing a facelift for the 2.1-acre plot that includes new townhouses.

The new plan allows for fewer townhouses than the 31 that were originally drafted, Rob Schumann, the treasurer of the Vantage Hill Condominium Association, told Reston Now. They will also be situated farther back from the road.

Vantage Hill, comprised of 152 one- to three-bedroom units, was one of Reston’s early developments, built in the 1960s. But condo association members say the complex is falling apart and the high HoA fees barely cover upkeep, let alone needed upgrades, which could cost $30,000 to $40,000 per unit, Schumann said.

The project would bring in the needed cash to redo the 60-year-old shared electrical and water meters, which are plagued with problems, and replace the single-paned windows and sliding doors with energy-efficient ones.

“The answer to people who say, ‘Vantage Hill should take care of itself,’ is that’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re not going to the government, and we’re not asking for a handout.”

When the project came before the DRB on June 23, neighbors said there were too many townhouses and predicted increases in light pollution, traffic and tree removal. Some cautioned against any work, while others asked for measures to calm traffic and minimize noise.

In response, Vantage Hill and Craftmark have agreed to build fewer townhouses, although the final number has not yet been decided, Schumann said.

The townhouses will be farther back from Wainwright Drive, which he said responds to concerns that having them too close to the street would break with the character of nearby clusters and subject more trees to the ax.

The updated plan will receive more feedback from the Reston Association’s Design Review Board during a task-force meeting on Oct. 1. A vote is not planned at the meeting, Schumann said. After the meeting, if no further work sessions are needed, the association and Craftmark Homes will present their project to the board in a regular meeting, when members will vote whether to proceed.

This application has no defined timeline, said Mike Leone, the spokesman for the Reston Association, in an email. Infill and redevelopment applications typically involve multiple work sessions and assignment to the agenda of full Design Review Board meetings, he said.

After five years spent finding a way to fund these updates, members are pinning their hopes on selling the 2.1-acre plot to Craftmark Homes. The homebuilding group is the third developer to work with the association.

As for carving out land to sell to a developer, Leone said “it is not uncommon for associations and their boards to consider all of their options as they prepare to pay for costly infrastructure repairs.”

Photo via RA

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Monday Morning Notes

Micro-school Launches in Reston — “NOVA Labs, the largest Makerspace in the DMV, has launched a micro-school with COVID-19 regulated in-person classes starting in September.” [Local DVM]

Walking Tour Set for Reston Town Center North Plans — Reston Association’s Design Review Board is hosting a walking tour of the parcels on Sept. 24 with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn. [Reston Association]

Reminder: Complete Census — County officials say that one out of four households in the county have not completed the 2020 census. “For each resident who does not respond to the census, Fairfax County could lose $12,000 in potential funding over the course of a decade,” according to the county. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association’s proposal to repurpose the Hunters Woods Ball into a more welcoming community area is moving forward.

The association is working with Kimley-Horn Associates to activate the site. A pathway is proposed around the perimeter of the site, along with a walkway that cuts through the area.

“The purpose is to activate the site and make it more usable and interesting to the surrounding neighborhoods,” RA wrote in its proposal.

Community features like a rain garden, library book share, landscaping, and a mile marker sign are also proposed on the site.

The plan heads to RA’s Design Review Board for a vote on tomorrow (Tuesday). Because the proposal impacts a significant area of the site, a minor site plan is required for approval.

RA worked with neighboring property owners and associations to move forward with the project.

In written testimony submitted to the DRB, the Hunters Woods Village Condominium Association voiced its full support for the project.

“The repurposed ballfield can be a great example of RA listening to its neighborhoods and moving forward smartly,” wrote Julia Doherty.

Doherty added that the proposed design makes good use of the area’s natural beauty and creates a welcome educational space near a stormwater collection area. The proposed walkway also gives residents more options to walk in the area beyond the parking lot of the condominium.

The complete proposal is available online.

Photo via handout/RA

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Reston Association is considering opening more pools to the public as four pools begin some operations today (Monday).

If state health orders and funding allow, the association may open at least two more facilities by September.

But pools at Lake Audubon, Shadowood, and Uplands will remain closed this year– in addition to pre-planned closures at Lake Thoreau and North Shore due to ongoing construction projects.

“We will open as many pools as we possibly can, when can we can, based on the rules and resources we have,” said RA CEO Hank Lynch at a meeting late last week.

Lake Audubon and Shadowood will remain closed. Plans to replace the plaster last year were delayed “during budget development with hopes of it lasting until 2021,” according to a staff presentation. Loss of revenue from member fees due to COVID-19 also complicated funding efforts.

Uplands pool will also remain closed due to delayed work on a roof project. Delays with RA’s Design Review Board were also caused by the pandemic.

Members and nonmembers can purchase pass options at half price beginning July. Recreation passes, which include tennis, pickleball and pools, have brought in roughly $117,00 in revenue between this year. Full refunds are also available to those who request them.

At the meeting, Laura Kowalski, RA’s director of recreation and environmental resources, stressed that decisions about pools and other facilities are fluid due to changing recommendations from health officials and the state.

Currently, pools at Glade, Golf Course Island, Lake Newport, and Newbridge are opening for lap swimming and fitness classes only. Other pools may open in the coming weeks. Spas, hot tubs, and water park features are closed due to state orders.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Friday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Needs Contact Tracers — “The Virginia Department of Health said Thursday it’s searching for bilingual candidates as it hires 1,300 contact tracers.  It says it will deploy tracking software and enforceable quarantine orders alongside these tracers to more aggressively counter the spread of the virus.”

Design Review Board Meeting Set for Next Week — Reston Association’s Design Review Board will meet on May 27 at 6 p.m. The board is responsible for reviewing additions and changes to different types of Reston properties. [RA]

Weekly Wages Rise in Fairfax County — “The average weekly wage for those working in Fairfax (wherever they may live) stood at $1,735 in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to data reported May 20 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s an increase of 2.1 percent from the same period a year before, below the national growth rate of 3.5 percent (to $1,185).” [Inside NoVa]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Coronavirus Hampers Tegna Sale — Reston television operator Tegna, Inc. says the novel coronavirus has hampered its sale talks. Two potential acquirers ended deal discussions with the company following the “market dislocation” fueled by the global coronavirus outbreak. [Nasdaq]

Cornerstones Honored — State Sen. Janet Howell sponsored resolutions to honor the Reston-based nonprofit organization for “50 years of advocating for and promoting self-sufficiency among people in need of food, shelter, and human services.” [Inside NOVA]

Nearby: Inmate at Fairfax County Adult Detention Center Has COVID-19 — A man who had been incarcerated since Jan. 29 tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It is possible that additional cases will occur because individuals have already been exposed, the county says. [Fairfax County Government]

New Coronavirus Call Center Hours — The health department has changed the hours of its call center, which is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekends. [Fairfax County Government]

Online Reviews Scheduled by Design Review Board — Reston Association is offering online review by two members of the board for applications that were previously scheduled for panel meetings in April. Applicants can also defer the review of their application once the regular meeting schedule resumes. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Reston Association’s Design Review Board bid farewell to two longtime architects and board members this month.

Richard Newlon, who served on the board for 21 years, and Neal Roseberry, who served on the board for 18 years, ended their terms in mid-February, leaving two vacancies on that board.

Reston Now caught up with the retired board members to get their thoughts on how the board has changed since they joined the DRB, as well as their top concerns as Reston continues to grow over the coming years.

Richard Newlon

After a 21 year tenure on the DRB, quite a bit has changed in Reston. Probably the largest aesthetic and environmental impact I’ve seen in Reston is the intense development occurring in the Toll Road corridor. We’ve seen the Transit Corridor vacate all of their covenants in 2011 in their effort to allow residential development along the Toll Road. At the same time, the owners removed their own Architectural Review Board…leaving no entity to review any of the “Transit Area’s” designs. It’s pretty obvious Reston has lost a lot of its Planned Community identity by this intense development without any design review of the Transit Area.

When I first became a member of the Design Review Board (DRB) in 1999, Reston wasn’t completely built out…there were remaining residential lots still available. Many of our clusters were aging, and to this day, remain targets of developers seeking profits with dense residential proposals. Intense “internal” development is a continuing concern to the essence of Reston. The DRB has been instrumental in working with these developers to make their proposals more contextual and with a density more appropriate to the neighborhood. This continues to be a major challenge to our community. Growth and change are going to happen, but the strength of Reston’s initial Governing Documents that created the DRB, gives our members a chance and a voice to affect any future development. It is important for our members to remain aware of all development proposals and become a part of the process. 

Our Stream Restoration has been a major success and provided both safety and beauty to our forests and valleys. Snakeden Branch was the first and perhaps the most controversial. It launched a major environmental solution to the years of development and lack of stormwater management in the county. Now, 15 years later, the forest that surrounds Snakeden Branch has returned, and the stream monitoring has kept all in place for years to come. The restored areas have certainly assisted in solving some of the run-off issues that have plagues Reston sine its inception.

Serving on the DRB for these years has been a personal community involvement and educational experience for me. It has been a way to get to know our planned community with its many architectural styles and association members. At the same time, it has made me aware of the boundaries of our PRC and the areas of the DRB’s purview. The “shotgun” developing happening in the Corridor is certainly not Reston-like or internally coordinated. This was an enormous opportunity for the developers to continue the nature of a planned community, but they have consistently maximized their particular development to the exclusion of the potential of a beneficial design opportunity. 

Our clusters are aging, and every week at our DRB meetings we have Cluster Boards coming to us with concerns and desired revisions to update their Cluster Standards. It is imperative our clusters continue to work together and with the RA Covenants Staff toward this updating. The Cluster Boards must be more active and part of the process. There remains much to do to keep Reston as the flagship of a planned community. Our Village Centers will be coming under the developers gaze as more development opportunity for them. I’m sure the remaining (and new) members of the DRB will be up to the task, and hold on to all that makes Reston such a wonderful place to live.

Neal Roseberry

How has the DRB’s role evolved as Reston has evolved?  

In some ways, DRB’s role is the same as originally set forth in the Governing Documents: ensuring quality design that is harmonious with nature and neighboring architectural context. However, with intensifying redevelopment of older neighborhoods, the bar is raised, and the challenges to meeting the goals of design review are more significant than ever. Reston needs to evolve with the times, but we must respect existing context and neighborhoods in the process. Design Review helps ensure orderly redevelopment with continued emphasis on context and good design, understanding and mitigating the impact of redevelopment that in most cases is overly intensive upon first review. The role of the DRB today more than ever is a first defense against redevelopment that is inconsistent (sometimes entirely inconsistent) with the design goals of Reston.

 What would you say has been the most rewarding part of serving on the board? 

Working to keep our neighborhoods and clusters harmonious and compatible; ensuring that redevelopment understands how Reston is different from much of the rest of Northern Virginia; keeping a focus on the natural areas, lakes, trails and recreational facilities that truly make Reston a great place to live, work and play. Reston has been, and should continue to be, a special place to live in Northern Virginia. The DRB helps ensure that, and when we do our job well, it is exceedingly rewarding. The things we do well, very few people notice; when we miss an element of new development, we see those mistakes for years to come.  Our goal is consistent, careful, thoughtful review.  As a volunteer, my greatest satisfaction comes from believing I’ve used my skills and talents as an architect to keep Reston a special place to live.

What are the top three challenges the DRB faces as Reston grows as a community? 

  1. Newer members of the community don’t always understand or appreciate the things such as design review that help keep Reston a special design blend of nature and quality development.  We need to be careful that in the process of necessary updates and redevelopment, Reston doesn’t disappear into the rest of Northern Virginia sprawl. Design Review is one small tool that RA has to help do that on its covenanted land.
  2. The Metro Corridor, with its abandoned design covenants, is not the model of orderly design and development that one would hope for Reston.  Traffic, unsightly above-ground parking decks, lighting and signage that would not be approved by the DRB are occurring on non-RA properties, bisecting Reston into northern and southern halves with what often appears visual chaos. This dilutes the image of Reston as a special place to live. Much of the newer toll road development is not as community-oriented as our older RA neighborhoods and clusters tend to be. And yet to the average Washingtonian, this is now “Reston.”
  3. The dilemma of our two golf courses is hard to ignore. Huge swaths of north and south Reston are special places to live just because of the open space nature of the golf courses around which many communities are built. Redevelopment in those areas, apparently outside of DRB review, could ruin Reston as many of us have known it.  Community activism at the Fairfax County level is important for all of these areas where there is no RA design review.

Photo via Reston Association

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Reston Sophomore Helps Elementary School Students — “South Lakes High sophomore Andrew built a simple sitting bench last summer for the fun of it. He then considered building an improved bench that he could donate to a worthy cause.  A few brainstorms later, he contacted Herndon Elementary garden lady Jill Vinson and floated the idea of creating a planters table.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

A Senior Caught in a Dating Scam — A 72-year-old senior from Reston shares a story about how she was caught in an online dating scam. She says the man convinced her to sell her condo and give him large amounts of cash. [WAMU]

Reston Association Seeks Volunteers for Design Review Board — Lisa Heath, the DRB’s meeting manager, discusses the need for architects, land planners and landscape architects on the board. [Reston Today]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Applicants Sought for Design and Review Board — Reston Association is seeking two volunteer positions for the board: an architect and a landscape planner or landscape architect. Applications are due by Jan. 31. The term is in effect in March. [Reston Association]

Regional Groups Band Together at Chestnut Grove Cemetery — “Wright and other members of the Woman’s Club, the Herndon Fortnightly Club, South Lakes High School Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Color Guard of Reston, the Reston Chorale Bobby Pins and more were there to support the ceremony and the staff at the town-owned cemetery.” [The Connection]

Comscore Strikes Agreement with Draper Media — The Reston-baed company announced an agreement to provide Draper Media with measurement services for its CBS, NBC and FOX television station in Salisbury, Maryland. [PR Newswire]

Reston Hospital Center Welcomes New Chief Medical Officer — “Dr. Thomas Taghon is the new Chief Medical Officer at Reston Hospital Center, HCA Healthcare, as of Dec. 2. Dr. Taghon comes to Reston from his previous role as Associate Chief Medical Officer at Dayton Children’s Hospital in Ohio and as a Board Certified Pediatric Anesthesiologist. Ending his second week at Reston Hospital Center, Dr. Taghon shares his views on a variety of topics, including things that might surprise people about him.” [The Connection]

Photo by vantagehill/Flickr

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Herndon Police Department Offers Safe Trade Zone — If residents are planning to buy or sell online or need a safe place to meet for the exchange of payment and goods, the police department offers a place to do so at 387 Herndon Parkway. [Herndon Police Department]

Design Review Board Training — Reston Association’s Design Review Board met yesterday (Tuesday) at the organization’s headquarters to receive training on responsibilities, objectives of design covenants, and design guidelines. [Reston Association]

Be Wary of Black Ice This Morning — State transportation officials remind residents to drive safely due to possible slushy areas and black ice after last night’s rain. [Virginia Department of Transportation]

Photo via Flickr/vantagehill

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Reston Town Center North, a 47-acre site that serves as a transition from Reston Town Center to surrounding residential areas, now has a new name: Cameron Green.

With a rebranded mixed-use redevelopment proposal, a conceptual approval for a grid-of-streets plan was approved by Reston Association’s Design Review Board earlier this week.

The plan includes nine acres of open space, with a central green — which is intended to act as a “Reston park in a new forest” that rests in the center of the site. The project will also include an athletic field and a county recreation center.

The central green is intended to be more neighborhood-focused and have “a Reston community feel,” according to application materials submitted to the DRB.

At a Tuesday meeting, the DRB unanimously gave conceptual approval for the plan. Members noted that the panel would have an opportunity to follow up on the inclusion of trees and the placemaking nature of planned open space once the development team submits a zoning application.

Richard Newlon, the DRB’s chairman, said plans approved for conceptual approval often differ significantly from the final and completed product — a change that he said raises some concerns.

In some cases, the final product is merely “in the spirit” of the conceptual approval, Newlon added, noting that dots denoting trees may look “cute” on paper.

Future concerns about trees and buffering could be addressed in future discussions, Newlon said.

Photos via handout/Reston Association

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Once the Lake Anne Fellowship House is redeveloped, bronze canvas-like art will wrap around the garage that rests below the 240-unit building.

Reston Association’s Design Review Board approved the final design at on Tuesday (Nov. 12).

At the meeting, Suzane. Welch, vice president of the Community Preservation and Development Corp. said the company was considering relocation trees planned in front of the screen.

The concept was approved by Public Art Reston‘s public art committee, which suggested relocating the trees to showcase the artwork more effectively.

Overall, DRB members said they were pleased with the design.

Richard Newlon, chairman of the panel, said the company should consider retaining the trees in order to create a buffer between the sidewalk and the building. He added that he liked the aesthetic of the screen, which consists of a perforated metal panel.

“It’s supposed to be background. It’s not supposed to be canvas art,” Newlon said.

Other members noted that the art would require maintenance due to its design.

The county approved the redevelopment of the fellowship house, which offers affordable housing for seniors, in October 2018.

Once the building is redeveloped, the development team will build 36 market-rate townhouses to the west side of property. 

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A dozen Reston residents voiced criticism for a new two-story addition to a home on Round Pebble Lane Tuesday night (July 16).

Neighbors said the two-story structure, which was approved by Reston Association’s Design Review Board in January, was incompatible with the neighborhood and set precedent for applicants seeking approvals for home additions.

Criticism of the DRB’s decision during the board’s meeting this week comes months after the approval and the appeals period granted by Reston Association.

The project is located at 1148 Round Pebble Lane and includes a two story addition. The application was approved with several conditions, including a requirement that all colors, materials, windows, doors, light fixtures, and other exterior elements match the existing home.

Holly Weatherwax, a local realtor, said that neighbors did not have enough information about the project when they signed off on the proposal.

“It looks like it belongs in Colonial Williamsburg, not in our street,” Weatherwax told the DRB.

Other residents said the structure — which is roughly 2,700 square feet — is incompatible with the community and is not sufficiently screened from Reston Parkway and neighboring properties. Some unsuccessfully pushed members of the DRB to respond to their comments at the meeting. Per the DRB’s rules and procedures, the board reviews members comments and does not respond directly to member comments when there is no application to consider at the meeting.

Weatherwax suggested that the DRB should ask residents to initial all pages of application in order to ensure residents are well-aware of proposed projects. She said the DRB’s approval on Round Pebble Lane should be an exception — not a precedent-setting new normal for future structures with similar design elements.

Residents said they were unaware of the nature of the application and did not know the appeals period had passed.

The project is currently under construction.

Photos by Holly Weatherwax

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