Reston, VA

New Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn has plans to tackle a range of issues now that he’s joined the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Alcorn recently met with journalists and spokespeople to share his priorities for his first four-year term. 

Among his major talking points at the Friday (Jan. 17) morning meeting, Alcorn said he wants to rethink the Reston Comprehensive Plan, increase affordable housing, evaluate the use of private open space, improve pedestrian safety and boost efforts to become carbon-neutral.

Of that list, he said affordable housing is at the top of his agenda. “My predecessor, Cathy Hudgins, was a leader on the board for affordable housing,” Alcorn said, adding that he plans to continue her legacy. 

During his term, Alcorn said he will work together with other supervisors such as Dalia Palchik to increase the number of adorable hoising units. He said he hopes to raise the number of units from 10-12% to around 25-30.%

“I’m thinking thousands of units,” he said. 

For placement of new housing units, Alcorn suggested the transformation of old office parks and old commercial strip centers, which are no longer in use — a concept previously echoed by Palchik.

After the recent death of a person on Richmond Hwy, Alcorn said he will look into ways to assist with walkability and pedestrian safety in the region.

“The vast majority of our county was built around automobile mobility,” Alcorn said, adding that he thinks there are measures that can cut down on fatal traffic incidents — like evaluating historically problematic areas and installing safety measures such as suitable crosswalks.

He said a challenge will be working with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and other officials.

“Road designs are pretty much the call of VDOT,” Alcorn said. “I think there is a lot more we can do when it comes to engaging and coordinating with the public on pedestrian safety.”

Alcorn also brought forth the topic of privately owned public spaces, such as Reston Town Center.

“That’s a double-edged sword,” he said, adding that he generally supports privately owned land for public enjoyment since maintenance isn’t a burden on the governmental budget. However, he said he is worried about the strings attached to the use.

He brought up concerns about use for voter registration and licensing to take photos for occasions like weddings and various events, that might be at the discretion of the private entity which owned the land. 

He said there is a lack of publically-owned space around Reston and the Hunter Mill District.

When it comes to the idea of carbon neutrality within the community, Alcorn said he wants to encourage homeowners’ use of solar panels and remove barriers for homeowners and private entities alike. Currently, he said there are some zoning ordinances that set homeowners back.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to see more ways that the county can help facilitate financing of residential renewable energy,” Alcorn said.

Around Reston, Alcorn said he already met with representatives from the Reston Association and hopes to form an alliance with the group.

“I would like to see Reston have an updated Comprehensive Plan to tie up some loose ends that have become apparent in the last few years,” Alcorn said.

Going forward, Alcorn said he wants to be an approachable representative for the Hunter Mill District and to help people get the most up-to-date information about their community.

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(Updated 12/19/19) Earlier this week, the members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors were sworn in.

The 10-member board will see four new faces in the New Year, including Dalia Palchik, the new representative for Tysons.

Here is information on who will be in the seats at the board’s first meeting next year.

Chairman: Jeffrey McKay

McKay was first elected to the board in 2007, serving as the Lee District Supervisor until the end of this year, according to his county bio. Prior to joining the board, he was the chief of staff to former Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman from 1996 through 2007.

McKay beat three challengers to clinch the Democratic nomination for the county board’s chair in the June primary before defeating Republican Joseph Galdo in the November election.

Hunter Mill District: Walter Alcorn

Alcorn will fill the seat of Cathy Hudgins, who served on the board for five terms and announced her retirement at the start of this year. He beat five Democrat challengers in the primary.

Alcorn is a former Fairfax County Planning Commissioner and served on the Fairfax County Park Authority Board. He has also worked as a policy aide in the Providence District supervisor’s office and was the president of the Herndon High School PTSA. His top priorities include managing growth and infrastructure and updating Reston’s comprehensive plan.

Lee District: Rodney Lusk

McKay’s run for the chair left the Lee District seat open. Lusk beat three Democratic challengers in the June primary.

Lusk has been a Fairfax County employee for the past 29 years — including working for then-Supervisor Gerry Connelly as a land use zoning aide and most recently as the national marketing director for the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, according to his campaign website.

Providence District: Dalia Palchik

Palchik grew up in the area after immigrating with her family to the United States at an early age from Argentina. She was elected to the Fairfax County School Board in 2015 and served as the Providence District Representative.

Just days after current Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth announced in December that she wouldn’t seek election, Palchik jumped into the race and defeated four Democratic challengers in the June primary. In November, she beat Republican Eric Anthony Jones.

Sully District: Kathy Smith

First elected to the board in 2016, Smith was re-elected as Sully District Supervisor in November, beating Republican Srilekha Palle.

Previously, Smith served as the Sully District Representative to the Fairfax County School Board for 14 years, including as the chairman three times, according to her county bio. She was also a teacher for seven years and taught in her home state of New Jersey.

Mount Vernon District: Daniel Storck

Storck was first elected as Mount Vernon District Supervisor in 2015 and reelected this fall.

He has developed and owned healthcare, benefits and insurance consulting firms and was previously a school board member from 2004-2015, according to his county bio. Notable resume item: he also was an Abraham Lincoln impersonator.

Braddock District: James Walkinshaw

Walkinshaw, a former chief of staff to Rep. Gerry Connolly, announced his run for the seat to replace Republican John Cook, who retired. He beat Republican Jason Remer and independent candidate Carey Chet Campbell in November.

Walkinshaw previously volunteered as a mentor to at-risk boys through Fairfax County’s Befriend-A-Child program and joined Fairfax County’s Council to End Domestic Violence, according to his campaign website.

He serves on the Board of the Ravensworth Farm Civic Association and is a volunteer with the Friends of Lake Accotink Park, the bio says.

Dranesville District: John Foust

First elected to the board in 2007, Foust was reelected to represent McLean, Great Falls and Herndon residents on the county board. He defeated Republican Ed Martin in the November election.

Originally from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Foust has been living in Northern Virginia since 1981 and in McLean since 1987, according to his county bio. Foust worked in steel mills and practiced construction law in Northern Virginia.

Mason District: Penelope Gross

In the November election, Gross was able to keep her seat, defeating Republican Gary Aiken. She was first elected to the board in 1995, according to her county bio.

Previously, she worked as a staffer in various congressional offices, served on the Board of the Lincolnia Park Civic Association and was on the Executive Board of the Mason District Council of Civic Associations, her bio says.

Springfield District: Pat Herrity

Herrity hung onto his seat, beating Democrat Linda Sperling. He was first elected to the board in 2007, according to his campaign website. Herrity’s father was a former chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

With Cook retiring, Herrity will be the only Republican on the board in 2020.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to have their first meeting in 2020 on Jan. 14.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

New Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Sworn In — Newly elected members of the board, including Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, were sworn in yesterday. Their terms officially begin on Jan. 1. [Fairfax County Government]

Herndon Police Officer Recognized — The Washington Regional Alcohol Program recognized Senior Sergeant Bobby Galpin, who is with the Town of Herndon’s police department, for his “outstanding efforts to combat drunk driving in the Town of Herndon” this year. [Herndon Police Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Property owners who rent their sites through short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO must follow new regulations effective Feb. 1.

Property owners in the Town of Herndon must register with Fairfax County and pay $200 to receive a two-year permit to operate the rental. The Town of Herndon’s regulations, which were approved by council members earlier this month, are similar to legislation adopted by Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors this year. Discussions have been underway since June 2018 in the town.

In order to receive the permit, sites will be inspected. A $500 fee is charged for failing to register. Owners must live at the location for at least seven months, provide proof of residency, and provide notice to homeowners associations.

Homes can be rented out for a maximum of 90 nights — 30 more nights that the cap set by Fairfax County. A maximum of six adults under one contract can use the sites. A single rental period must be less than 30 days.

The town council also set operational requirements, including the prohibition of events, the presence of a fire extinguisher, and dedicated parking spaces.

The Town of Herndon’s short-term rental application is available online.

Photo via Airbnb

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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 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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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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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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