County Board OKs Thomas Avenue Cut-Through Traffic Restrictions

The Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors greenlighted cut-through restrictions on Thomas Avenue today (June 4).

The restrictions would end Thomas Avenue serving as a conduit to get to Route 7 and the resulting traffic jams during rush hour along the narrow residential road.

Back in January, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) presented potential solutions and gathered feedback from locals concerning ways to limit cut-through traffic at the congested street that lies north of Herndon.

Now, VDOT can install a “No Right Turn” sign from southbound Algonkian Parkway onto westbound Thomas Avenue between 7-10 a.m.

This change has been in the works for almost three years, starting in 2016 with the county board endorsing a resolution to VDOT requesting that the avenue get considered for measures that reduce its volume of cut-through traffic.

Photo via Google Maps

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Monday Morning Notes

Pride of Herndon Band Leaves for D-Day Celebrations Tomorrow — “The Herndon High School band of Herndon leaves Tuesday to participate in 75th D-Day celebrations in Normandy. Band members will carry pictures and stories of crew members who served on the USS Herndon during the invasion.” [WTOP]

Candidates for Fairfax County Board of Supervisor Discuss Stances on Cycling Issues  The Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling caught up with two candidates running for the seat of Hunter Mill District Supervisor. Candidate Walter Alcorn says he hopes to “accelerate existing plans to enable non-motorized access to transit stations and work centers” while candidate Maggie Parker discusses how biking is “a great equalizer.” Other candidates did not respond immediately to requests for comment. [Fairfax County Alliance for Better Bicycling]

Last Day for “LOVE” Letters in Reston Town Center Tomorrow — The iconic letters sign will leave RTC tomorrow as they tour 11 different sites in Fairfax County to celebrate the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s 50th anniversary of “Virginia is for Lovers!” [Reston Town Center]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Drones Added to Arsenal of Fairfax County’s Public Safety Agencies

Fairfax County’s public safety agencies will begin using drones — technically called Unmanned Aircraft Systems — by early September.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday (May 21) to approve the program, which the county says will “provide an enhanced level of operational capability, safety and situational awareness.”

The county plans to purchase between six to eight devices, which cost $3,500 each. Costs are expected to be absorbed in the county’s existing budget.

The equipment will be used by the Office of Emergency Management, Fire and Rescue, Police and Sheriff in order to deliver “high-quality imagery, data and customized geospatial solutions,” according to the county.

The program will also be used to complete search and rescue, pre- and post-disaster damage assessment, crash reconstruction, and fire management.

County officials say the program will not be used to conduct random surveillance, target individuals solely based on individual characteristics or for personal business and other unauthorized uses.

The next three months will be spent setting up the program, certifying pilots and completing training. Drones will begin flying between late August and early September.

All pilots in the program must obtain a remote pilot certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Commission. A steering committee will be set up to oversee the program.

The county will also notify the public through Fairfax Alerts about missions and training flights.

The program was approved following the creation of a working group in May 2017 and a task force last year.

More information about the program is available online.

Photo by Jared Brashier

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Mystery in Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Race Revealed — “The initially anonymous memo alleging that the front-runner for Fairfax County, Virginia’s top office had ethical issues originated from a challenger’s campaign. [Tim] Chapman said his campaign for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman hired a law firm to compile a timeline that claims Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay improperly got a discount on his house from a friend.” [WTOP]

Rescue Reston Responds to Sale of Reston National — The community organization plans to fight the redevelopment of the golf course if the new owners plan to develop it. Their entire response can be found online. [Rescue Reston]

ArtsHerndon Recognizes Students for Excellent Artwork Using Technology — “Thirty Fairfax County Public Schools students from 14 high schools were recognized by ArtsHerndon for outstanding artworks created using technology in the 15th annual Technology and the Arts competition… the artwork is on display through Saturday, June 1, at ArtSpace Herndon, 750 Center Street in Herndon.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Verizon Seeks New Lease for Fox Mill Fire Station’s Parking Lot

Verizon Wireless hopes to continue using a portion of Fox Mill Fire Station’s parking lot for a telecommunications facility.

The five-year lease, which could be extended for up to 25 years, would bring $30,000 to the county’s coffers in the lease’s first year. Annual payments would increase by 2.5 percent each year.

County officials do not expect that the company’s use of the parking lot will impact the station’s operations. The parking lot already has a monopole that was built by Cox Cable in the early 1980s.

The company built a fenced compound to store equipment needed to serve cable television subscribers and facilitate a relay station in the first responders’ emergency network.

In 1998, Verizon expanded Cox Cable’s compound by adding an additional 264 square feet. That lease ended last September.

Revenues collected from the lease would go to the county’s general fund.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday, May 21.

Map via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Monday Morning Notes

Updated Plans for Reston Crossing — The project has changed slightly since it was introduced, though many of the basics have remained the same. The biggest difference is that the developer is now envisioning seven buildings for the site instead of six, and they’ve now firmed up the planned mix of residential, office and retail space planned for the area. [The Washington Business Journal]

College Planning Event Today — Experts from OneCommonwealth Advisors share tips on how to make colleges more affordable and help families plan ahead at Reston Regional Library from 7-8 p.m. [Reston Regional Library]

Trash Pickup Problems in Fairfax County — “Fairfax County is investigating reports of missed trash pick-ups by a solid waste and recycling collection company in preparation to take legal action. During the county’s Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (May 7), John Cook and Kathy Smith, the district supervisors for Braddock and Sully, respectively, presented a board matter prompting the investigation into whether American Disposal Services has violated any consumer protection laws. [Tysons Reporter]

Photo by Lauren Pao

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Monday Morning Notes

Reston Developer Focuses on Affordable Housing in Campaign for Board Chair — Timothy Chapman, one of four Democrats running to succeed Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova, says expanding affordable housing is a key component of his campaign platform. Chapman grappled with homelessness growing up and is the co-founder of BrunoClay Management, a construction contractor based in Vienna. [Fairfax County Times]

Herndon Police Department Says Goodbye to K9 Leon — Leon was medically retired in February after losing a battle to cancer on Thursday.  [Herndon Police Department]

Review: Another Reason to See ‘Annie’ by Reston Community Players — “There’s an old adage in performance that you should never work with children or animals since they tend to steal the show. Reston Community Players do not shy away from this challenge with their excellent production of the musical ‘Annie,’ now playing at the Reston Community Center through May 18.” [Reston Community Players]

 Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Friday Morning Notes

Herndon Teacher Charged with Unlawful Filming Previously Recorded Woman — “The Herndon High School teacher charged with the unlawful filming of a woman inside his home had previously recorded another woman under the same circumstances. Court records obtained Thursday by ABC7 show that the 19-year-old woman, an au pair, said she went to police after finding out about the hidden camera inside an air conditioning vent at the home when a former au pair who worked there said the suspect did the same thing to her.” [ABC7]

The Value of Moscow Tonight — A new comedy about three adult sisters who are forced to live together after their lives have fallen apart takes the stage at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center Street) tonight. Registration is open online. But beware: the show contains strong language and what the organizers call “comedic violence.” [ArtSpace Herndon]

County Workers Push for Cost of Living Standards — “Some county workers are batting an eyebrow at the county’s proposed Market Rate Adjustment which acts as a cost of living adjustment, and the county’s proposed budget isn’t going to fully fund. With it not being fully funded, this could cost workers to lose out on hundreds of dollars annually. Some workers say it will impact them largely.” [Local DVM]

Beacon Roofing Supply Branches Out — The company, which is headquartered in Herndon, opened five new branches in the first half of its fiscal year. Fun fact: it’s the largest publicly traded distributor of residential and commercial roofing materials in the country. [Citybizlist]

File photo

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Hudgins Praises Frying Pan Farm Park for Land Use Award

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins lauded Frying Pan Farm Park for its clean water efforts, which recently earned the Herndon park a land-use award.

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) selected the park for the 2018 Fairfax County Clean Water Farm Award because of “its implementation of effective agricultural best management practices and diverse educational and outreach programs, as well as its close interactions with NVSWCD,” according to Fairfax County.

“It’s a fabulous park,” Hudgins said at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday (April 9). “It’s really exciting to be able to recognize them for the stewardship they do.”

Located at 2739 West Ox Road, the park preserves and interprets farm life of the first half of the 20th century. For the last two decades, the park has been working to comply with the Fairfax County’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Program by following the Soil and Water Quality Conservation Plan, according to the county.

Chairman Sharon Bulova also added to the praise of the park. “That is pretty impressive,” Bulova said about the farm earning the award. “It is a working farm with lots of animals.”

Hudgins asked that the Frying Pan Farm Park staff get invited to the board for recognition, along with representatives from the county’s Park Authority and NVSWCD.

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Halley Rise Project Aiming to Reshuffle Residential Space on ‘Over-Developed’ Block

The owners behind the major Halley Rise want the county to approve a reshuffling of the square footage on what they say is a crowded block in the project.

Right now, work is underway on the portion of the 4 million-square-foot mixed-use development that will bring Reston its first Wegmans in June 2020. Halley Rise will be adjacent to the Reston Town Center Metro Station, occupying the northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.

One Reston Co. LLC and Two Reston Co. LLC want to redistribute some of the square footage from three denser blocks to two different blocks, “which still have [the] capacity for additional development,” according to the application.

The proposed changes would shift the hotel from block G to block E. Block E also would have a significant chunk of its retail space shifted elsewhere, along with moving all of its residential units to a different block. Meanwhile, block H would shave off about 150,000 square feet of office space.

The largest change would make block D the densest in the development with 100,000 square feet of office space, in addition to 391 residential units and four times more retail square footage.

The proposed changes were spurred by the realization that retrofitting the existing parking structure on block E with more than 400,000 square feet of development “would be more challenging than [the applicant] initially anticipated,” the application says.

“As a result, the applicant’s plan began with redistributing some of the square footage that had been concentrated on block E in order to relieve pressure from its planned over-development.”

The application, which stresses that the proposed changes do not adjust the project’s mix of uses or density, calls the proposal “modest improvements” that will allow for a new pedestrian promenade.

In early March, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ requested the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors speed up the review process for proposed plans that would adjust the grid of streets and accelerate construction of the streets to coincide with the opening of the grocer.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is set to take up the proposal with a public hearing on May 22.

Photos via Fairfax County and Halley Rise/website

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JUST IN: Comstock’s Maggie Parker Running for Hunter Mill Supervisor

Maggie Parker, an executive with Comstock Companies who played a role in helping to bring the Silver Line to Reston, is joining the increasingly crowded Democratic field for Hunter Mill Supervisor.

Parker, who last month was honored with a Cornerstones of Our Community Best of Reston award, has lived in Fairfax County since 1986. She says she’s running on a sense of civic duty and a “passion for responsible, collaborative dialogue.”

As a vice president for Comstock, the Reston-based real estate developer, she handles areas including communications, government relations and community relations.

“She has been helping Comstock integrate its new neighborhoods, Reston Station and Loudoun Sta­tion, into our regional community since 2010,” according to a press release. “She has spent her time listening to and engaging with regional authorities, jurisdictions and citizens to find thoughtful connections and integration.”

She stands out from the current field of contenders for Cathy Hudgins’ Hunter Mill District Supervisor seat by being a real estate developer in a field that has expressed varying degrees of opposition to or concern about continuing development in Reston and Vienna.

“Maggie believes in quality development in appropriate places and diligence in providing timely and multi-modal transportation solutions,” the press release said. “She strives to protect an environment that is sustain­able, and that allows all in our community to live, work and prosper.”

She also “supports sustainable growth in the right places, economic development, continued pursuit of transportation solutions — all things that work in concert to improve equity opportunities for our community.”

Four other Democrats have entered the race for her seat on the county’s Board of Supervisors, including:

The Reston Citizens Association plans to hold a Hunter Mill District Supervisor forum on Tuesday, April 23, at the Jo Ann Rose Gallery (1609-A Washington Plaza N.) from 7-9 p.m.

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County OKs Feasibility Study for Performing Arts Center at Reston Gateway

Fairfax County is looking into who should pay for and manage a community-based performing arts center set for Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway project.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a feasibility study with private and public entities at its meeting last week on Tuesday, March 19.

“The community has demonstrated strong interest and support for such a facility,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins wrote in her motion, which Chairman Sharon Bulova read due to Hudgins’ absence.

The 60,000-square-foot performing arts center is slated for the mixed-use project, which includes nearly 2 million square feet of office space, two hotels with 570 rooms and 162,300 square feet in retail and restaurants. Located on the north side of Sunset Hills Road between the Reston and Town Center parkways, the project will connect the future Reston Town Center Metro station to the border of Reston Town Center. 

Block J has been identified as a possible location for the performing arts center, according to Hudgins’ motion. The feasibility study aims to assess if the county or another entity can finance, construct, maintain and program the performing arts center.

Before the board voted, Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth cautioned the board about the upkeep the performing arts will require.

“Having worked through a lot of this sort of thing with the Cap One project in Tysons, we found that operating and maintaining some sort of arts center is costly,” Smyth told the board. “It requires the right people to do it.”

Photos via Fairfax County and Cooper Carry 

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Board of Supervisors Makes Changes to Accelerate Wegmans Development

At Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ request, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed yesterday (March 5) to speed up the review process for proposed changes to the development bringing Reston its first Wegmans.

The proposed plans would adjust the grid of streets and accelerate construction of the streets to coincide with the opening of the grocer in June 2020, Hudgins said.

The applicant is not proposing any significant changes, Hudgins said, adding that expedited processing of the zoning applications and the road site plans concurrently will help construction start.

Known as Halley Rise, the nearly 4 million-square-foot mixed-use development will be adjacent to the Reston Town Center Metro Station, occupying the northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.

The county staff will now expedite scheduling the public hearings on the zoning applications.

The board also approved directing the Land Development Services to accept and review site plans to speed up the application prior to the board taking them up.

Rendering via Halley Rise website

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BREAKING: County Board Approves Hudgins’ Ask to ‘Indefinitely Defer’ PRC Proposal

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ motion to “indefinitely defer” the consideration of a proposed zoning amendment.

The zoning ordinance has been a hotly debated issue among Restonians.

It would have increased the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons to any number up to 15, along with allowing residential development at a density of up to 70 dwelling units per acre in certain areas.

“There are those in the community who do not support this change to the PRC density because they do not support redevelopment of the village centers and are concerned about future growth in Reston,” Hudgins told the board before the vote. “There is also concern that this PRC amendment will somehow support residential development on one or both of the two golf courses in Reston.”

Hudgins also said that misinformation has plagued the push to update the zoning ordinance and thanked the staff for their work educating the community.

“I had hoped that we could have found a way to provide the necessary zoning tool to implement the adopted Reston Plan,” Hudgins said.

Hudgins said that she will work with staff and community representatives to outline a process and timeframe to reexamine the plan for the village centers before reconsidering the PRC amendment — the Planning Commission’s suggested solution.

The vote came shortly after noon on Tuesday (March 5) during the board’s meeting.

Chairman Sharon Bulova told Hudgins that she understands the PRC amendment has been difficult for her and the Reston community.

“This is not easy, and I know that folks have asked for the opportunity to maybe step back and try to revisit the process that will allow things to move forward in a way that has more community engagement and more community support for a path forward,” she said.

Photo via Fairfax County 

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UPDATED: Board of Supervisors Won’t Hold Reston PRC Hearing

Updated at 4:45 p.m. — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is expected to “indefinitely defer” the decision tomorrow, according to emails obtained by Reston Now. A reason was not given.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. — A public hearing on a Reston PRC zoning ordinance that was slated for tomorrow will not be held, a Fairfax County staffer told Reston Now. 

Earlier: The agenda for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting tomorrow (March 5) just got lighter now that it doesn’t plan to hold a public hearing on a hotly debated issue among Restonians.

The public hearing, which was scheduled to take place after 4:30 p.m. and be the last item on the agenda, will not be happening, a Fairfax County staffer told Reston Now. The staffer was not aware of the reason.

Back in February, Fairfax County’s Planning Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors deny the specific proposal, which would have increased the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — in certain areas.

The board is set to authorize advertisements of a public hearing for an ordinance that would establish Economic Revitalization and Redevelopment Zones (ERRZs) throughout the county.

The zones stem from a bill passed by the General Assembly in 2017 that “provides for regulatory flexibility and financial incentives to encourage the private sector to assemble property for economic development purposes,” according to county documents.

The proposed amendment would offer expedited processing of development applications and other regulatory and economic incentives to private sector developers.

The commercial revitalization area of the Lake Anne Village Center would be one of the zones established, along with others including McLean and Springfield, Baileys Crossroads and more.

Photo via Fairfax County Government/Facebook

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