Friday Morning Notes

Bulova Reflects on 31 Years as County Board Supervisor — Sharon Bulova, chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, wraps up 31 years of service this month. She discusses her career and the evolution of Fairfax County with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. [Fairfax County EDA]

Three Orange Line Stations to Close Next Summer — “Three Orange Line stations will be closed next summer as part of Metro’s platform repair program, similar to shutdowns last summer that impacted Blue and Yellow line commuters.”[Inside NOVA]

Racial Equity Council Shares Key Insights — The Chairman’s Stakeholders Council on Race – a group appointed in February that is composed of residents, staff and the civic, faith, nonprofit, philanthropic and business communities – has concluded its work and presented its findings to the Board of Supervisors at its Dec. 3 meeting. The goal of the group was to foster open and honest discussions on issues surrounding race.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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County Honors Local Companies for Best Green Commuter Programs

Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recognized more than a dozen employers for excelling in implementing green commuter programs.

The award, which is managed by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation and Best Workplaces for Commuters, recognizes companies for offering transportation benefits and incentives, including teleworking, ride-matching services, and bike parking.

The board recognized 17 companies for receiving the award, including the following six employers based in Herndon and Reston:

“Employers offering commuting alternatives receive value through enhanced recruitment and retention of staff, decreased parking expenses as well the ability to limit employee absenteeism. It’s a win-win for the employers, the employees and Fairfax County,” said Marcus Moore, lead employer outreach specialist with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

The designation is offering through Best Workplaces for Commuters, a membership program managed by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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Board Approves Sale of Land to Comstock Near Wiehle-Reston East

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has officially OK’d the sale of a one-acre parcel of land to Comstock, the developer of Reston Station.

Last week, the board approved the sale of the land for roughly $3 million., in addition to a density transfer of roughly 147,690 square feet to the plaza area near the county-owned Wiehle-Reston Station East garage.

The sale of the land, which is valued at roughly $10.8 million, also includes other conditions.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins noted that keeping the land has no value for the board. The parcel will be incorporated into Reston Station.

County officials estimate the transfer will bring in additional rental stream from Comstock, which currently pays an annual base rent of $2.9 million. The rent is expected to increase as more phases of the mixed-use development project move forward.

The agreement also includes a requirement to allow campaign and voter registration activities on the plaza.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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County Looks to Sell Land to Comstock Near Wiehle-Reston East

The county is planning to sell a roughly one-acre parcel of land north of Reston Station Boulevard.

Under the proposal, which will be considered by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors tomorrow (Tuesday) will consider selling off the land so it can be integrated in the rezoning of Reston Station Promenade, a mixed-use project by Comstock that was approved in April last year.

The sale of the land would “enable a more efficient redevelopment” of that project, according to the county.

If approved, the developer would pay roughly $3 million for the parcel and offer a density transfer of roughly 147,690 square feet to the plaza area near the county-owned Wiehle-Reston East garage.

County officials estimate that transfer would bring in a rental stream of roughly $8.6 million from Comstock, which currently pays an annual base rent of $2.9 million for its leases with the board at Reston Station.

Rents will increase as Comstock builds more pieces of its mixed-use project under a 99-year lease between the developer and the county.

An appraisal states the sale area has a value of roughly $10.8 million.

County staff recommend approval the sale, which would result in more density near the Metro Station, simplify the ownership structure  of Reston Station Promenade.

Approval of the sale will require amending the lease with Comstock.

One major change in the lease includes a requirement for Comstock to permit electoral campaign and voter registration activities on the plaza near the entry to the north entrance of the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station.

Earlier this year, free speech advocates and candidates seeking office raised concerns about Comstock’s restrictions on campaigning and electioneering at the plaza, which is considered a public space. County Concerned about civil rights violations, Board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova threatened legal action if Comstock did not take steps to allow campaign activities on the plaza.

The board is expected to make a decision on the sale tomorrow. More information about the proposal is available online.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Here’s Where to Vote in Reston, Herndon Today

Fairfax County voters are headed to the polls today.

In the Hunter Mill and Drainsville districts, there are several seats up for election including the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Fairfax County School Board positions and Board of Supervisors seats.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and voters can swing by anytime throughout the day.

There are several options for anyone wishing to monitor turnout and results. Fairfax County’s Twitter account will be posting updates at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.

There are around 20 various polling locations, which will be open throughout the area. Voters can find their designated polling location using the My Neighborhood Map or through the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Below is a map of all the voting locations throughout Reston and Herndon.

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After Appeal Denial, Norton Scott Explores Options for Library Square Property

Developer Norton Scott is considering its options after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously rejected an appeal to build a $50 million condominium building at its Library Square property.

The board rejected the appeal in late October after the developer protested the Planning Commission’s denial of the project due the project’s lack of connectivity with the future extension to Library Street and what county planners said is a lack of available density in the area.

Norton Scott proposed to build a 13-story condominium building with 58 for-sale units at the 0.8-acre site. The developer came forward with the by-right plan after a previous proposal by Norton Scott and MRP Realty to redevelop the site and surrounding properties was rejected by the county due to its high cost.

Mike Scott, a developer with Norton Scott, told Reston Now the company “disappointed” the county rejected the appeal.

We firmly believe the by-right use to bring 58 luxury condominiums to the Reston Town Center would fulfill an unmet need to provide for-sale housing aimed at professionals as well as baby boomers wishing to downsize and remain in Reston.  The building height and density met all the zoning requirements and were in keeping with the adjacent Paramount condominium and the approved project on the Winwood Child Care Center site.   Given the Board’s decision, we are exploring our options on moving forward,” Scott said.

At the Oct. 29 meeting, county planners said the project lacks a needed connection with the future extension of Library Street.

Residents, including representatives for the Paramount, an apartment building next to the site, said the project’s scale was overwhelming for the area.

Jean Werner, a member of the Paramount Task Force, said the developer was attempting to “shoe horn” a building in the site, raising concerns about how people would get in and out of the proposed building.

Springfied District Board of Supervisor Pat Herrity abstained from a vote on the project, which he said posed a difficult property rights decision.

“I’m not buried into the details of Reston,” Herrity said.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who has been involved in decision-making for previous proposals in the area, concurred with the concerns of residents and county planners.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Election Roundup: Local Races to Follow on Election Day Next Week

The election is less than one week away for Fairfax County voters. 

While Democrat Walter Alcorn won the primary seat for Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who is retiring, there are still plenty of local races to follow.

The makeup of the Fairfax County School Board is expected to change considerably, with nine contested seats. Six district seats and the chair are contested on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. 

Two candidates are running for the seat of Pat Hynes, who currently holds the Hunter Mill District seat on the school board. Earlier this year, Hynes said she would not seek reelection after serving on the 12-member board for the last seven years.

Reston Now will be covering the race for the chair of the Board of Supervisors, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the at-large seat for the school board, and the Hunter Mill District Seat for the school board.

Chairman of Board of Supervisors

Fairfax County School Board — Hunter Mill DistrictLaura Ramirez Drain

Fairfax County School Board — At-Large Seats (voters choose three)

Commonwealth’s Attorney

Absentee voting, which is offered at 10 locations, runs through Saturday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. Polling locations are available on the county’s website.

Residents will also vote on a number of bond referendums for schools, including planning funds for a new “Silver Line” elementary school.

Election returns will be posted by the Virginia Department of Elections online. Stay tuned for more information and coverage next week. 

File photo

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One of Reston’s First Office Developments is Approved for Major Redevelopment

One of Reston’s first office developments has officially been approved for major redevelopment.

A 32-acre piece of Isaac Newton Square — which is roughly a quarter-mile from the Wiehle-Reston East Development — will be transformed with 2.8 million square feet of new construction, including around 2,100 residential units.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors officially approved the project, which is a joint venture between MRP Realty and landowner Peter Lawrence. Cos., on Tuesday (Oct. 15).

Isaac Newton Square is currently developed with around 437,000 square feet of office and industrial space. The first industrial tenant in Reston came to Isaac Newton Square in November of 1964. Reston’s first residents came a month later.

The redevelopment plan includes 10 blocks of development, including 300 hotel rooms, 260,000 square feet of office space and around 69,000 square feet of retail.

An athletic field is proposed along the southern edge of the property. Parking garages throughout the site will provide 3,920 of the 4,063 total spaces on the site. The full-size athletic field, which would be located next to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, is nearby a planned amphitheater and a public civic plaza.

The existing internal roads on the site — Isaac Newton Square North, East, South and West — form the basis of the grid-of-streets for the site. Isaac Newton South, a two-way roadway, is the only public road proposed on the property, providing a second access point from Wiehle Avenue.  Southbound traffic turning right from Wiehle Avenue on westbound Isaac Newton Square will use a proposed 88-foot taper.

Subsequent development plans for specific blocks will go before local and county planning bodies as the project comes close to groundbreaking.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Capital Bikeshare Ridership Dips in Reston This Year

Capital Bikeshare ridership has dipped in Reston this year.

Between January and August, bicyclists took 11,476 — 4,705 fewer trips than last year’s total. Ridership dipped ever so slightly between 2017 and 2018 — decreasing by 222 total trips.

The data are presented in the Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s latest status report. The status update will be discussed on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisor’s meeting today (Tuesday).

Currently, there are 16 stations in Reston. Staff are currently finalizing the locations of the second phase of stations in Reston, which would add more than 20 stations to the area. Most of the stations will be located outside Reston’s transit areas, according to the county.

File photo

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Developer Appeals Denial of Proposal for Apartment Building Near New Dominion Parkway

The developer of a proposed 13-story apartment building near Reston Town Center has filed an appeal against the county’s decision to deny the project earlier this year.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission denied the project in June due its size and scale. NS Reston is proposing to build a 58-unit residential building on the north side of New Dominion Parkway.

The site, which is currently vacant, is next to the Paramount Condominium building and the Winwood Children’s Center, which is approved for a mixed-use building with 125 dwelling units. The county’s planning documents place a 746 unit cap on the two sites, including NS Reston’s project area.

Planning Commissioners said NS Reston’s proposal would exceed the planned density in that area, which is known in planning jargon as Reston Town Center Park 5. The site was also previously marked as a park for more than 20 years.

“There’s some density left, but not 58 units worth,” said Planning Commissioner John Carter at a June 19 meeting, adding that the proposal does not promote circulation and access in a congested area with a major intersection.

The appeal request heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Oct 15.

Renderings via NS Reston/Fairfax County Government

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Nominees for Hunter Mill and Lee District Supervisor Pitch Plan to Promote Emerging Technology

Two incoming county board members who won the Democratic nomination launched a policy platform on Tuesday (Oct. 1) to attract and increase technology development in the county.

Walter Alcorn, the Democratic nominee for Hunter Mill District Supervisor, and Rodney Lusk, the Democratic nominee for Lee District Supervisor,  pitched the plan at a public event in Tysons.

In their first year of office, both Democrats say they want to establish a technology accelerator on the historic Richmond Highway Corridor that focuses on creating technology for governments and commercial markets.

They also want to forge partnerships with colleges, universities and governmental research firms to identify emerging technology markets.

By doing so, they hope Fairfax County will become a “test bed” for demonstrating new technologies like last mile delivery systems and self-driving cars.

“Over the years we have done a terrific job of diversifying our economy and ensuring that we remain on the cutting edge of innovation. However, as new technologies continue to emerge at an ever-increasing rate, it’s critical that as a county we not only work to keep pace, but also leverage the economic opportunities created by these developments to address the many needs and challenges that still exist in our region,” Alcorn said.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) lauded the incoming supervisors for their work.

“This is an area that’s new, it’s exciting, and my hope is that through partnering with Walter and Rodney my office can help move this forward,” Warner said.

Both Alcorn and Lusk are running unopposed in the Nov. 5 general election. They expect to release more details on their plans early next year.

Photo via Walter Alcorn

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Fairfax County Board Approves Plan to Redevelop Old Reston Avenue Properties

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan to redevelop a three-story office building on Old Reston Avenue into two, three-story office buildings and a campus-style setting.

American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association will redevelop its headquarters, which are located at 1856 Old Reston Avenue. The 5.2-acre site is home to a historic A. Smith Bowman Manor House.

A 45,000-square-foot office building is planned on the north end of the property and a 94,000-square-foot office is planned on the southern end. Both structures will be connected by an underground parking garage and a shared conference facility. A 6,600-square-foot rooftop terrace will also run between the two buildings.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the plan was a good balance of “old and new.” She also said the new buildings would complement the historic structures that are already on the site.

“I think it’s a great application,” Hudgins said at a board meeting earlier this week.

AAFMAA is working with DBI Architects to design the project. Modern-looking buildings will act a backdrop to the historic manor house, which was built in 1899 and is listed on the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites.

It was originally constructed to be the Wiehle Town Hall and was used as a church, general store, and distillery.

AAFAA is a nonprofit organization that offers life insurance and survivors services to the U.S. Armed Forces communities.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Planning Commission Approves Isaac Newton Square Redevelopment Plan

The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved a plan to redevelop Isaac Newton Square Thursday night, green-lighting another major mixed-use development near the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station.

APA Properties is seeking to rezone nearly 32 acres of land from industrial use in order to accommodate up to 2,100 units, including around 300 hotel rooms. Ten blocks of development are proposed, with 260,000 square feet of office and around 69,000 square feet of retail space.

Unlike other developments, an athletic field proposed along the southern edge of the property. Parking garages are planned throughout the development, but single-family units will have surface parking.

The project is located north of Sunset Hills Road and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail between Wiehle Avenue to the east and Hidden Creek Country Club to the west. Planning commissioners approved the project after ensuring it complied with current stormwater management guidelines — not old regulations the developer sought to retroactively apply to the current project.

Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter also noted the athletic field will be composed of synthetic turf. Crumb rubber was dropped in favor of other materials.

APA Properties plans to construct a southbound, right-turn lane from Wiehle Avenue onto Isaac Newtown Square North. An eastbound right-turn lane is proposed exiting the property onto Wiehle Avenue. Isaac Newton South, a two-way roadway that runs across the southern portion of the property, is the only public. Road proposed on the property.

In a recent report, the county’s planning and zoning staff recommended approval of the project. The proposal heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote on Oct. 15.

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Fairfax Officials Question Budget Implications of Police Body Cameras

Fairfax County officials want to take a closer look at the costs linked to adding body worn cameras to the county’s police department.

After studies observing the impact of police officers wearing body cameras while on duty, several members on the Board of Supervisors came out in support of the new proposal draft. As body worn cameras get closer to receiving the board’s approval, two supervisors want more information to determine the fiscal impact of the project.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity kicked off the discussion of the body worn cameras at the Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday (Sept. 17) by asking what the fiscal impact would be.

The program would cost about $6.2 million by fiscal year 2022, Deputy County Executive for Public Safety Dave Rohrer told the board.

“That includes the Commonwealth Department of Information Technology, the police officers, the cameras, the storage and equipment,” Rohrer said. “It’s an all-in number.”

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook said that if Board of Supervisors approves the action items on the body worn cameras at the meeting next Tuesday (Sept. 24), he will request a report on how it could affect the budget for the Public Defenders’ Office.

Cook noted that the presentation about the pilot program included information about costs for the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Photo via Fairfax County Police Department

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Fairfax County Board Expected to Vote on Police Body-Worn Camera Program This Month

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on a body-worn camera program for the Fairfax County Police Department later this month.

If the board’s public safety committee votes in favor of the program today (Tuesday), the board will likely vote on the project on September 24.

Earlier this year, American University researchers analyzed the effects of body-worn cameras on the use of force, changes in policing activities, community members’ assessments of police legitimacy, and the number of community complaints. The report detailed mixed findings. While residents supported the adoption of the program, there was no evidence the cameras directly impacted community member’s satisfied with FCPD.

The program, which would be phased out over three years, will cost $4.3 million next year — a sum that will be covered from the county’s reserve funds. In 2021, the program is expected to cost $5.5 million and roughly $1.1 million in 2022.

If approved, more than 1,200 camera will be deployed to all district stations. Overall, 34 new full-time employees will be hired, including five staff members for FCPD, 23 staff members for the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and six positions with the Department of Information Technology.

Police officers at the Reston District Station — which was included in last year’s pilot program — would be the first to receive the devices if the program is approved.

School Resource Officers are also expected to receive body-worn cameras. However, the committee cautioned that decisions to deploy the devices will be made in concert with the Fairfax County School Board and the Board of Supervisors.

The county contracted American University researchers to study the effects of the pilot program after FCPD Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. recommended implementing the program in June 2015. A six-month pilot began in March last year in the Mason, Mount Vernon and Reston district stations.

At a committee meeting in June, board supervisors largely expressed support for the program.

Photo via FCPD

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