— Fairfax Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) September 28, 2017
Check out these “Throwback Thursday” photos of the early days of Station 25, Reston, posted on Twitter today by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.
Soon, the station as it has been known by longtime Reston residents will change forever.
The station, at 1820 Wiehle Ave., was built in 1972 and last renovated in 1986. It was one of five fire stations approved for replacement and/or renovation under the county’s 2015 Public Safety Bond Referendum. The new fire station on Wiehle Avenue, according to the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, will cost about $13 million. It is needed due to “outdated infrastructure and critical operational space deficiencies.”
The work on the new station is estimated to take place from spring 2019 through late 2020.
While the permanent station is being replaced, a temporary fire station will stand at 1800 Cameron Glen Drive. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously gave its OK to the plan for the temporary fire station earlier this month, and the County Board of Supervisors did the same at their meeting this week.
You can see more historical photos of the Wiehle Avenue station at the FairfaxFirefighters.org website.
Developer Rooney Properties’ plans for the property include 13 single-family attached and 283 multi-family dwelling units, along with up to 10,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. The property owners say the multi-family structure would have seven stories, approximately 85 feet in height, and will have an attached seven-story parking garage.
McGuireWoods LLP attorney Scott Adams, representing Rooney, said the project “hits the goals and the vision of the Comprehensive Plan” by creating vibrant streets and providing publicly accessible park space.
“The site is designed to really anchor what’s an important corner within this quadrant of the Wiehle Metro TSA, providing those ground-floor retail restaurant uses with outdoor seating to really activate that street frontage,” Adams said. “In addition … the public open space is designed to be fully coordinated with the project to the east of us, and ultimately that combined open space will contain over an acre of publicly accessible park space, with both active and passive recreation amenities — a half basketball court, tot lots, a large grass area — [which is] something that just doesn’t exist anywhere else in this quadrant and isn’t really planned in this quadrant.”
The project east of the property is 11111 Sunset Hills Road, which has a Planning Commission hearing scheduled for Nov. 16. In addition to townhouses and courtyards that mirror the 1831 Michael Faraday Drive site, it would include an extension of the open space at the southeast corner of the site to create a “more extensive and coordinated park” on the southern portion of the properties. Four developers are also working together to redevelop the 17.5 acres west of the property, on Wiehle Avenue across from the Metro station.
“We look forward to the outcome of the collaboration with the adjacent parcels, because I think that’s also a plus in order to make sure this site works well,” said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, Hunter Mill District representative.
Affordable housing would make up 12.8 percent of the residential units, using 70/80/100 percent AMI (area median income) tiers. A quarter of those units would have two or three bedrooms.
“We’re very excited that were able to get rid of that 120 percent AMI level, and really provide a more targeted AMI level,” Adams said. “We think it really serves a need in the area, and there aren’t a lot of those units out there, so we’re excited we were able to find a way.”
The Board unanimously approved the rezoning, conceptual development plan, and accompanying waivers and modifications. In addition, a parking reduction request (2 spaces/single-family unit; 1.3 spaces/multi-family unit; and 1.5 spaces/five seats and 1 space/2 employees for retail) was approved, based on the proximity to a mass transit station. The Board voted to require that 20 guest spaces for residential uses be designated.
“In looking at an old industrial area and seeing what the vision was in changing the [Comprehensive] Plan, we’re slowly moving through that part and getting there,” Hudgins said. “I think this application is a good reflection of it.”
Rooney hopes to begin construction on the project in the first half of 2018.
Public Safety Forum Set for Tonight — The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station will hold a community public safety forum tonight from 7-9 p.m. at McNair Elementary School (2499 Thomas Jefferson Drive, Herndon). Police leaders will discuss the “State of Reston,” pedestrian safety initiatives and crime prevention, and they will introduce the community to valuable resources. [Supervisor Cathy Hudgins]
Morning Crash Causes Traffic Delays — At about 6:15 a.m. today, FCPD reported a crash on Sunrise Valley Drive in the area of Fairfax County Parkway that caused “significant traffic delays.” All lanes were reported open again before 7 a.m. [Fairfax County Police Department/Twitter]
Supervisors Approve Budget Carryover — At its meeting Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors approved $59.6 million in FY2017 carryover funding, to be used in part to fund reserves and infrastructure needs, along with other projects including the demolition of the Massey Building. [Fairfax County]
Review: ‘Disgraced’ Challenges and Chafes Audiences — The play about Muslim assimilation and identity in America, now being performed at NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) left a reviewer “examining [his] own life experiences and [his] own long-time, deeply-held progressive values and beliefs.” [DC Metro Theater Arts]
A public hearing on redevelopment at 1831 Michael Faraday Drive will take place at this week’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting.
In July, the county’s Planning Commission voted to recommend to the Board that the 3.85-acre property be rezoned to residential, with an option for 10,000 square feet of non-residential uses. Rooney Properties has plans for the property include 13 single-family attached and 283 multi-family dwelling units. The property owners say the multi-family structure would have seven stories, approximately 85 feet in height. In addition to residential units and parking, the first floor of the multifamily building would include retail space, a bicycle storage room, and a loading area with two loading spaces. The attached parking structure would be designed with seven parking levels.
Rooney hopes to begin construction on the project in the first half of 2018.
The adjacent 11111 Sunset Hills Road property, which is also up for rezoning, would have mirrored townhouses and courtyards. In addition, it would include an extension of the open space at the southeast corner of the Michael Faraday site to create a “more extensive and coordinated park” on the southern portion of the properties. That site has a Planning Commission hearing scheduled for Nov. 16.
At the hearing on 1831 Michael Faraday Drive, scheduled for about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Board will discuss the recommendation from the Planning Commission that they approve the rezoning and the conceptual development plan. In addition, the Planning Commission has suggested the Board go along with waivers on the setback from the Dulles Toll Road, the requirement for 200-square foot privacy yards for single-family attached dwelling units, the barrier requirement and more.
The project is just one of many sets of redevelopment plans on the table for the Wiehle Avenue/Michael Faraday Drive area. Numerous developers are working together to turn the property east of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station into what they call the “gateway to Reston.”
As Fairfax County considers developing regulations to govern the use of short-term rentals (e.g., Airbnb), three community meetings — including one in Reston — have been scheduled to gather community input.
The community meeting in Reston will be held Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). Additional meetings are slated for Alexandria on Sept. 13 and McLean on Sept. 25.
Community members are also invited to submit their input in an online survey, which is available through the end of August.
Currently in Fairfax County, short-term rentals — properties rented for less than 30 days at a time — are only allowed with approval of a special exception by the Board of Supervisors to classify a home as a bed and breakfast. In Reston, where residents must follow county laws related to the practice, short-term rentals have been the source of debate. Most recently, at the May meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors, short-term rentals at a home on Trails Edge Lane were the topic of controversy.
At that meeting, the Board decided to consider amending its governing documents to clarify the RA’s position on homesharing, to strengthen its standing in the effort to stop violations of county rules.
This county’s proposed zoning rules for short-term rentals may address issues including where the rentals will be allowed in the county, how often they can be rented out, what types of properties can be rented out, and how many people will be allowed to stay in a property at any one time.
According to information provided by the county:
The county is considering the regulations as a result of new state law passed this year that allows localities to require registration of short-term rentals. The Board of Supervisors directed county staff to initiate an analysis of STRs and propose draft zoning regulations.
Ultimately, the board will decide whether to adopt the new rules, and both the Planning Commission and board will hold public hearings on the zoning rules before any action is taken. No public hearing dates have been scheduled at this time. Any additional meetings and the future public hearing dates will be posted on the short-term rental webpage.
To get more information or to offer feedback, contact the county’s Zoning Ordinance Administration Division by email or call 703-324-1314.
Reclaim Reston is upset with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who they say are ignoring their urging to slow down development.
The grassroots activist group wrote to the Board of Supervisors last month, asking for a moratorium on proposed zoning ordinance amendments from the county’s Department of Planning & Zoning and on approval of any development projects that haven’t yet been submitted.
After receiving no response in over three weeks, the group is not happy.
“By silently thumbing their noses at the legitimate concerns of the Reston community, the Board of Supervisors sent the unambiguous message that they hold all the cards and view the Reston residents as powerless to interfere with the Supervisors’ cozy relationship with developers,” group member Bruce Ramo wrote to Reston Now.
An online petition Reclaim Reston set up in support of the moratorium has nearly 700 signatures.
Reclaim Reston is urging the Board of Supervisors to control development and ensure that planning and funding for infrastructure such as schools, roads, bridges, parks and other recreational facilities, remains in sync with the influx of new residents.
When asked by Reston Now about Reclaim Reston’s request, Hudgins provided the following statement (presented as written):
I recognize that good economics time, particular the last two years, provides more economic opportunity for new development. This does not mean the support for that development will not occur. While it would be great if all the planned transportation projects were already built, however, infrastructure improvement depend on those developing the land and a blending of federal, state and county funding. Three new Reston north/south crossings and three new rail stations scheduled to open in Reston and Herndon area, will relieve much of the traffic that travel today to Reston and Wiehle stations on many primary Reston arteries. I am working to build these sooner than planned.
My pledge is the outcome of future growth will more than conform to Reston’s planned community. Bob Simon believed people should be concentrated around Villages. Today’s village comes in a more urban form with the support of transit, retail and parks, in addition to housing. Mr. Simon voted for the Comprehensive Plan. I hope the outcome will meet his and your desires when we see it completed.
Ramo, though, says that the board’s silence on Reclaim Reston’s call for a moratorium shows that the County will go forward with its plans no matter what, leaving potential infrastructure problems to be resolved at some future time.
“Fairfax County has every intention of moving forward to convert Reston to the County’s cash cow, regardless of what it means for the education of our children, or the quality of life, safety or environment of our community,” Ramo said.
Need for More Athletic Fields Broken Down — In Reston Association’s latest “Reston Today” video dispatch, land-use attorney John McBride talks about the requirement for athletic fields in Reston’s Transit Station Areas. The video shows five potential sites where they could be considered. [Reston Association/YouTube]
Transportation Authority Info Session — The public is encouraged to attend an informational meeting tonight with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, to learn about its Draft TransAction Plan and provide comments. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). [Northern Virginia Transportation Authority]
Another Potomac River Bridge? — The idea to ease traffic in the region has been debated since the 1950s, and the North Capital Region Transportation Planning Board will consider listing the bridge project at its July 19 meeting. [WTOP]
Cancellation of FBI Replacement Decried — Fairfax County was one of three finalists for a new FBI headquarters before plans were scrapped. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay, among others, say the decision to abort the project was driven by President Trump’s conflicts of interest. [Washington Post]
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at its meeting next week will vote on moving a $315 million Fairfax County Public Schools bond referendum closer to a public vote.
In Virginia, a referendum can be put on the ballot for consideration by the voters only if it is ordered by the Circuit Court. At Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors is being recommended to give its stamp of approval to the referendum. At that point, the county attorney would be directed to petition the court to order the referendum to be on the Nov. 7 ballot.
The bond sales would be maintained in the annual amount of $155 million. Future debt service payments are referenced in the FY 2018-FY 2022 Adopted Capital Improvement Program.
One of the most expensive items on the list of projects to be funded is construction at Langston Hughes Middle School. More than $41 million is budgeted for the work.
Click here for the full list of projects included.
Some Reston Association members have strong feelings about the community’s relationship with Fairfax County — and specifically, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.
“In terms of what Reston looks like, what Reston feels like — she’s moving Reston away from it,” Stephen Canner said. “We don’t want that.”
Canner was speaking to RA Board directors and CEO Cate Fulkerson during an informal feedback-gathering meeting Thursday evening at RA Headquarters. Canner and others expressed their displeasure with how they feel Hudgins and other members of the County Board of Supervisors are allowing developers to take over Reston.
“They’re moving us in a different direction, trying to make us look like Arlington,” Canner said.
Victoria White, Hunters Woods/Dogwood District director, said Board president Sherri Hebert and vice president David Bobzien have been having weekly meetings with Hudgins to try to facilitate more communication. Eric Carr, At-Large director who moderated the meeting, said it’s the start of a conversation to try to improve Reston’s standing with the County.
“One of the underutilized resources we have is our ‘soft power,'” Carr said. “We don’t have any legislative power, we’re not a municipality, but boy, can we be annoying — in a good way.”
Carr said it is important for Reston Association members and the Board to stay vigilant in letting the County know the problems Reston citizens have with new developments and other legislation. Some members also expressed displeasure with what seem to be futile attempts to get their opinions heard during county meetings, citing particularly the recent public meetings on the Planned Residential Community zoning ordinance amendment.
John Mooney, At-Large director, harkened the St. John’s Wood public meetings — which resulted in the project being deferred indefinitely — as he reminded residents that their well-formed and -organized thoughts on specific plans do matter.
“You have to have the community involved on policy level issues and zoning ordinance issues, but you also have to have communities get really informed, bust their butts understanding what’s going on in particular projects,” he said. “You have to have those two levels of citizen interactions … for political change to happen. It can’t happen with just one line of attack or one line of engagement.”
Mooney said that in addition to the meetings taking place between RA Board leadership and Hudgins, there are staff-to-staff meetings and other interaction going on with the County. Members in attendance said they’d like to know more about how those conversations are progressing.
Members continued on to say it is difficult to learn any information about what is happening within Reston Association, because of a lack of communication and what they view as a confusing website. Most agreed they get more information from local media and from Nextdoor than they do from RA itself. Carr agreed that work needs to be done to better reach members.
“We have an extensive site, but we’re not reaching you the same way other avenues of information are reaching you,” Carr said.
Mike Leone, RA’s communications director, said he is working to increase Reston Association’s presence on Nextdoor to push more news out to the community more efficiently. Attendees were also encouraged to sign up for RA’s email bulletins and other local newsletters.
Following President Donald Trump’s recent announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Fairfax County is joining the Mayors Climate Action Agenda.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors endorsed joining more than 200 other municipalities nationwide in an effort to combat climate change. The three main takeaway points from the Mayors Climate Action Agenda are the development of a community greenhouse gas emissions inventory, the setting of near- and long-term emissions reduction targets, and the development of a climate action plan.
Ten years ago, Fairfax County was part of a similar agreement called Cool Counties. Cool Counties committed Fairfax County to cut the D.C. region’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) June 7, 2017
Through Cool Counties, the county has since reached its initial goal of cutting its per capita emissions by 10 percent. Helene Shore of local environmental activism group 350 Fairfax argues that this hasn’t been enough, but she’d glad the county has recommitted itself.
“We’d like to see 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. We wish that other mayors would hop aboard — it’s important that we address this at a local level and that local governments keep working towards renewable energy, since our central government won’t be doing much work it seems. We don’t have much time left and it’s important that we keep working forward.”
Fairfax County is encouraging residents to get involved, especially in reducing their electricity emissions. Residents can sign up for discounted solar panels, get expert advice on energy savings, checkout a thermal camera from the library and apply for a matching grant to fund any possible projects that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave its seal of approval to plans to widen Leesburg Pike (Route 7) from Reston to Tysons.
The Virginia Department of Transportation project will involve nearly seven miles of Route 7, between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive, which is just before the Dulles Toll Road interchange. Supervisors approved the plan, with two minor amendments, as it was presented at a public hearing in November. (View information shared and discussed at that meeting here.)
“[This has been] a long-awaited case,” Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said at the meeting prior to the vote.
This is the latest stage of VDOT’s work to add two lanes to the heavily traveled highway, bringing it to six overall. They also plan to add facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, and make “substantial intersection and other improvements” along the corridor. Those improvements, according to VDOT, will include constructing a partial interchange at Baron Cameron Avenue to reduce congestion.
A rendering provided by VDOT shows the Baron Cameron interchange will have the eastbound lanes of Route 7 traveling under the road, connected via ramps. Westbound lanes will continue to face a stoplight at the intersection.
According to 2011 traffic counts provided by VDOT, the stretch of Route 7 carries between 46,000 and 54,000 vehicles per day. That number is expected to increase to 73,000 to 86,000 by 2040, VDOT says.
Anticipated cost of the project is $234 million. VDOT is expected to put out its request for proposals on the project later this year. Work is planned to start in late 2020 and last until 2025.
Rendering and map courtesy Virginia Department of Transportation
Backpacks Checked Out at Festival — Herndon Police say abandoned backpacks Friday and Saturday at the Herndon Festival brought out the department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit. No threat was found in either case. [Herndon Police Department]
SLHS Student-Athletes Honored — Spring sports players at South Lakes High School were honored Monday night for their performances on and off the field. [South Lakes Athletics]
Official Name Change for RTC Street — The private street at Reston Town Center that is home to The Avant, CVS, Barcelona and Bartaco is officially known as Town Square. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, as an administrative item, approved a name change to Town Square Street. [Fairfax County Board of Supervisors]
Area Player to Go High in MLB Draft — Ashburn’s J.B. Bukauskas, a Stone Bridge High School grad and a star pitcher at the University of North Carolina, is projected to be picked in the Top 7 of next week’s Major League Baseball Draft. [EIN Presswire]
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) officially adopted its budget for FY2018 on Tuesday, with a 2.79-percent increase in funding for schools and nearly $2 million in additional funding for assistance to those suffering from mental illnesses.
County supervisors also voted to keep real estate taxes at the same rate of $1.13 per $100 assessed value of a property.
In a statement released around 11 a.m. Tuesday, following the BOS meeting, Chairman Sharon Bulova said “few changes” were made to the proposed budget that was previously advertised.
Though it falls roughly $47 million short of what education advocates told the County they needed, the superviors approved a 2.79-percent increase in funding for schools, bringing Fairfax County Public Schools’ annual budget to $2.17 billion for the upcoming 2017-18 school year. The increase is equivalent to an additional $53.4 million over FY2017. (more…)
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday morning marked up the proposed FY2018 budget, and the current real estate tax rate remains.
Upon approval of the budget, the real estate tax rate will remain at the FY 2017 level of $1.13 per $100 of the assessed value of the home, as proposed by the county executive. (The average Reston real estate assessment has gone down by 0.33 percent in 2017.) Board chairman Sharon Bulova said the stable rate “ensure[s] Fairfax County continues to be an affordable place to live for seniors and families.”
At the board’s Feb. 28 meeting, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) supported an amendment that would have raised the advertised real estate tax rate to $1.15 per $100. The amendment, introduced by Supervisor Kathy Smith (Sully District), failed by a vote of 7-3, with Supervisor Daniel Storck (Mount Vernon District) casting the third vote in favor.
Changes in the marked-up $4.1 billion budget include:
- an additional $1.7 million in funding for Fairfax County Public Schools above the amount in the county executive’s proposed budget, for a total transfer of $2.17 billion (52.8 percent of the budget)
- just under $2 million and 18 new positions to support the second year of the county’s Diversion First initiative, which helps divert individuals with mental illness from jail into mental health treatment
- more than $13 million in reductions and nine position eliminations, resulting from agency reductions and continued savings in fuel and retiree health expenses
The marked-up budget was approved by an 8-2 vote of the Board, with Smith and Storck dissenting.
The board is expected to officially approve the budget May 2, and it will go into effect July 1.
Our County Board of Supervisors, led by Chairman Sharon Bulova, is in the process of overbuilding and underserving residents in Reston and across the county. The result will be the eroding livability of Reston and other county areas facing urbanization.
And this is being accomplished by a simple arithmetical trick: Overstating the amount of space new housing and office space require to accommodate residents and workers. Very simply, county planners continue to overstate the space needed for office workers as 300 gross square feet (GSF) per worker when studies globally over nearly a decade show it is now under 200 GSF/worker and could be headed to 150 GSF/worker.
At the same time, as it started to plan for Tysons’ redevelopment nearly a decade ago, the County raised its planning assumption for the size of station area dwelling units (DUs) from 1,000 GSF/DU to 1,200 GSF/DU. Nonetheless, a County planning study for Tysons showed then (2007) that the average size of Tysons residents was 1,100 GSF, mostly in garden apartments before the recent advent of massive high-rise residential development there. Now, the average high-rise DU size is shrinking well below 1,000 GSF/DU, more than offsetting the few mid-rise and single-family attached DUs in station areas, as some recent Reston development proposals show:
- JBG/Wiehle and partners plan for 1,300-1,500 residential units in 1.2 million GSF of development in two 5-story buildings, or 800-925 GSF/DU;
- Golf Course Plaza proposes 413 DUs in a 392,600 GSF multi-family building or 950 GSF/DU, also in 5-story structures;
- Faraday’s proposes redeveloping the area just south of Wiehle Station with up to 500 apartments in two buildings with about 487,000 GSF of residential space that will reach about 975 GSF/DU according to its plan submission.
- Lerner Enterprises is planning a 457-“luxury apartment” complex called Excelsior Park with average unit size at about 1,050 GSF in 423,587 rentable square feet (RBA), which equates to 481,350 GSF.
That’s nearly 3,000 DUs, including luxury apartments, whose average GSF is about 925 GSF/DU — nowhere near the County’s assumed size of 1,200 GSF/DU — and suggesting the number of future residents and DUs in Reston’s station areas will be nearly one-third greater than planned under existing allowable densities. This is consistent with national data: A study of apartment sizes over the last decade shows that their average size has shrunk — not expanded — from 1,015 square feet to 934 square feet.
The impact is straightforward: The resulting planned densities (total GSF of development divided by the square footage of the lot on which it sits) will allow half-again as many office workers and 28 percent more residential units than the County plan officially intends. Yet developers and the County are only planning to provide services — improved roads, schools and parks, and more — based on the lower count envisioned in the plan. The result will be reduced services and higher taxes.
So what does that mean for “real people?” Based on GSF information provided by FCDOT to the Supervisors serving as the Board Transportation Committee, the current Reston station area plan offers the potential for 76,280 added residents (at 2.0 residents/DU) and 29,059 added office worker jobs (at 300GSF/worker) in the next four decades.
If instead of using the County’s faulty planning assumptions, we use real world experience, we can anticipate that the allowable development could result in an addition of 101,492 total residents in 50,746 DUs and 78,559 office workers, including retrofitted office buildings, market conditions permitting. More specifically, it suggests an order of magnitude explosion in residents (11,720 in 2010 vs. 113,212 then) and more than twice as many office employees (69,941 in 2010 vs. 148,500 then) in Reston’s station areas. Overall, Reston can expect twice as many people living and working in the station areas as is anticipated by the Reston plan.