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RA Shares Letter Sent to County Supervisors Opposing PRC Density Cap Increase

Reston Association staff posted a copy of a letter sent to Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins officially opposing the county’s proposed increase in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) District Residential Density Zoning Ordinance Amendment, following last week’s community meeting.

The amendment would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Reston PRC from 13 persons up to 16.

The zoning change could also open up Reston’s village centers to increased major residential development. The proposal would allow the Board of Supervisors to approve developments above 50 residential units per acre within the district’s Transit Station Areas (TSAs) — so long as the projects comply with the area’s master plan that guides development.

The letter comes in response to spirited opposition from several hundred people who attended a public meeting on Monday, Oct. 23 at Reston’s South Lakes High School. Passionate residents spoke out for roughly two hours against the proposal. The auditorium’s 600+ seats were full, with a solid perimeter of standing audience members as well, plus an overflow room nearby was full of even more people, following along on video. A video of the meeting is available to watch on RA’s YouTube channel.

The letter thanks Sup. Hudgins and the other board members for providing detailed information and holding the community meeting, which RA staff said were “crucial in order to reach an informed decision regarding whether or not to support the amendment, proposed by County staff.”

“The Community Meeting held at South Lakes High School on October 23, 2017, with well over 900 in attendance, was informative. Based on both the County staff panel discussion and the community comment, the Reston Association Board of Directors opposes the County Staff’s proposed PRC District Residential Density Zoning Ordinance Amendment,” the letter reads.

In the letter, the RA staff also asks county supervisors to hold off on any further consideration of the PRC density cap increase until RA staff and county staff together can examine the Reston Master Plan portion of the county’s Comprehensive Plan:

“The Reston Association Board acknowledges and greatly appreciates your willingness, as stated at the conclusion of the Community Meeting on October 23, to initiate a review of certain elements of the Reston Master Plan portion of the Comprehensive Plan. Accordingly, the Association respectfully requests that the County defer further consideration of the proposed PRC amendment until certain elements in the Reston Master Plan portion of the Comprehensive Plan can be reviewed.

Next month, the Association will provide you with a detailed outline of the important areas the Reston community believes need to be reviewed in the Reston Master Plan before the PRC Ordinance matter is again considered by County staff and the Reston community.”

In conclusion, RA staff said they would like to work collaboratively with supervisors and county staff on matters that affect Restonians’ futures.

“Your reply to these requests is eagerly awaited by Reston Association and its members. We look forward to hearing back from you
soon on next steps,” the letter concludes.

RA President Sherri Hebert signed the letter, and said in a statement regarding it on the RA website, “The sustainability of Reston’s unique planned community structure is everyone’s goal. Because we share this common goal, I am confident we can work together to attain it.”

In addition, the statement said that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has voted to direct RA staff to “work with Fairfax County staff to exclude Reston from the proposed Building Repurposing Comprehensive Plan amendment as it applies to the conversion of office to residential.”

Read a full copy of the letter on the RA website.

Documentation regarding the Land Use Agreement and Board discussion is available on the RA website.


Construction Begins on New Herndon Metro Station Parking Garage

Herndon Metro station garage groundbreaking (Photo courtesy of Fairfax County Department of Transportation)

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday to kick off construction of a new parking garage at the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, which will service the forthcoming Herndon Metro Station as part of the Silver Line extension.

Several local elected officials were on hand with shovels to make the first ceremonial dig, including Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova.

“As we celebrate the ground-breaking of this new multi-modal parking facility, we reaffirm our efforts to provide alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles, to improve mobility, and to provide greater opportunities for people to connect with the entire metro region and the rest of the world,” Bulova said in a statement.

The new garage will have spaces for 2,007 cars, as well as feature a pedestrian bridge leading from the new garage to the future Metro station, and connections for both cars and pedestrians to the existing Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride lot, which contains 1,745 parking spaces.

The new garage also will have secure bicycle storage facilities, a spot for bus pick-offs and drop-offs and a “kiss-and-ride” area.

Construction of the garage, done by Manhattan Construction Co., will cost $44.5 million, and is expected to wrap up in the spring 2019, Fairfax County officials said.

Though officially named the Herndon Metro station, the stop is technically located at 12530 Sunrise Valley Dr. in Reston, just across the street from the border with Herndon.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax County Department of Transportation




Crossfield Cell Phone Tower Decision Will Wait Until Nov. 16

Proposed cell tower (tree) at Crossfield ES/Courtesy Verizon

The process to decide whether a 138-foot tall cell phone tower can be constructed at Crossfield Elementary School has been stalled.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission, which held a public hearing on the application by Milestone Communication and Verizon Wireless on Sept. 28, was slated to render a decision on the issue Wednesday, pending the opinion of the Hunter Mill Land Use Committee. However, the land use committee deferred decision, so now the issue will have to wait.

The issue is back on the planning commission docket for Nov. 16. The planning commission will either recommend the project for approval or denial; the application then goes to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for final approval.

Many Crossfield-area parents spoke out — as they did before the planning commission in September — at the land use committee meeting Wednesday.

The parents say radiation exposure 127 feet from the elementary school’s playground provides an unacceptable risk for the students, among other concerns. They also said on Wednesday that the Fairfax County Public Schools Facilities Department did not follow policy and overlooked multiple errors in the application.

A county planning staff report recommends approval of the application, which Milestone says is necessary to fill in gaps in coverage in the areas off Lawyers Road, including Reston’s Fox Mill Woods neighborhood adjacent to the school.

The pole, which would be built to look like an evergreen tree, would be able to carry signals from five mobile carriers. The pole would be on a 2,500-square-foot area surrounded by an 8-foot fence.

Fairfax County Public Schools have towers on more than 30 properties, the vast majority of them are high schools and middle schools (including South Lakes High School in Reston).  The cell phone companies pay the landowners to lease the pole space. FCPS, for instance, has made more than $4 million from the arrangement over the last several years, FCPS officials said.

Milestone collects rent from the wireless carriers on its towers, 40 percent of which goes to FCPS. Schools receive $25,000 each time a tower is built, and then $5,000 from each wireless carrier that leases space on the tower.

Photo: Proposed cell phone tower at Crossfield Elementary School/Credit: Milestone Communications.


Hudgins: “I Remain Committed to All Our County Residents and to Our School System”

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy HudginsIn the wake of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passing an advertised tax rate of $1.13 per $100 of home value, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins says she remains committed to the citizens of Fairfax County and the Fairfax County Public Schools.

The supervisors passed the maximum 4-cent tax hike on Tuesday, but school advocates say the increase is not enough. Each penny accounts for an additional $23 million in revenue, which will fall short to fully fund FCPS Superintendent’s request for nearly $2 billion from the county for 2017.

Garza said in January that a fully funded budget would mean raises for teachers, a commitment to keeping elementary class sizes under 30 students and no cuts to programs. FCPS may now have to consider cuts.

After the supervisors passed the tax rate increase 7-3 on Tuesday — supervisors Dan Storck (D-Mt. Vernon), Kathy Smith (D-Sully) and Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) voted no — Hudgins made a motion that the board look into a county meals tax to generate additional revenue. The motion passed.

And hours later, the board was asked by Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) to consider voting again on the tax hike and getting another shot at raising it to 5 cents. That was met with a contentious discussion before the board ultimately voted again. The do-over resulted in a 5-5 tie (Hudgins voted no), so it failed.


Here is the full statement from Hudgins:

I remain committed to all our county residents and to our school system and would like to share the following information.

As you may know, the annual real estate tax is a combination of the January 1 assessed property value and a real estate tax rate determined each year by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

This year Fairfax County property increased 1.2% over last year’s assessed values. In Hunter Mill District, as a whole, property values do better than the county average; our increase was 1.6%.

On March 1 2016, at the General Meeting of the Board of Supervisors, the Board voted to advertise

a maximum Real Estate Rate of $1.13 per $100 of assessed value of property. This is an increase of $0.04 from the previous year.

As in past budget cycles, the Board of Supervisors tried to set the Real Estate Tax Rate at a level sufficient to fund the service needs of the county, which includes the needs of Fairfax County Public Schools. Before casting my vote on the rate to be advertised, I heavily considered the impact to all the real estate taxpayers. My challenge is how to serve all residents who depend on county services while the impact on the taxpayer.

In the FY2017 budget, the County Executive recommended a 3% increase in the funds transferred to the school system. It was, and remains, my belief that our school system requires additional support, and we must have a serious conversation about those needs, the county’s needs, and the ability of our residents to support our collective needs.

A word of explanation – In this budget, each penny in the Real Estate Tax rate produces approximately $23 million in revenue. Therefore, the Board approved advertised rate of $0.04 higher at $1.13 will raise the average home owner’s tax bill $303.86 over last year’s tax bill.

As a taxpayer and supervisor, I recognize and share concerns regarding the increase to our tax assessment. I hope you share my concern in the limited taxing authority Fairfax County has compared to Virginia’s cities and towns, and the Board of Supervisors inability to diversify our revenue streams. In order to alleviate some of the burden from our home owners, we must minimize overdependence on the Real Estate Tax revenue.

Therefore, at 1 March Board meeting, on my motion, the Board directed county staff to provide the following information regarding

a. An updated report from the 2014 “Meals Tax in Fairfax County Task Force;”

b. A timeline of implementation of the meal tax for the restaurant industry should a meals tax referendum be successful;

c. An explanation of the cost relating to implementation to help the industry prepare for implementation should a meals tax referendum be successful; and

d. An implementation timeline for the Board of Supervisors and steps necessary to be in compliance for a November 8, 2016 voters referendum.

Again, I remain committed to our county residents and to our school system.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins/file photo


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