Reston, VA

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved today (Tuesday) giving taxpayers more time to file and pay their taxes.

Now, individuals and businesses in the county will have until June 1 to file their personal property tax returns. Additionally, the first half of payments for real estate taxes won’t be due until Aug. 8.

“Both these resolutions are intended to alleviate the negative impact threatened by the potential spread of COVID-19,” according to county documents.

“I’ve been asked a lot about this since a lot of folks in the county have found themselves without paychecks,” Chairman Jeff McKay said.

McKay said that people won’t accrue late fees for following the new deadlines.

By pushing the deadlines, the county will likely be delayed in receiving tax revenue, according to the county. However, county staff said that the benefits to the community by pushing the deadlines outweighs potential impacts on revenue.

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Sitting several feet apart, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted today (Tuesday) to declare a local state of emergency due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The declaration activates the county’s emergency plan and allows the county to expeditiously mobilize its resources. A number of local jurisdictions have adopted similar declarations, including Arlington County.

At the emergency meeting, board members sat roughly six feet apart in order to practice safe social distancing, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Board chairman Jeff McKay noted that the spread of coronavirus poses a “public health threat,” but that the county is well-positioned to manage concerns.

“This is not something this is going to be resolved tomorrow,” McKay said, giving a nod to county staff that is working their “tails off” in this “unprecedented” public health crisis.

The declaration allows the county to pursue “coordinated local government to prevent or alleviate damage, loss hardship, or suffering” caused by the respiratory disease, according to the declaration.  Like similar declarations for snow emergency response, the motion also allows the county to apply for federal and state disaster planning funds and increased flexibility in operations.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency last Thursday. So far, the Fairfax Health District has 10 presumptive cases of coronavirus.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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Developer Norton Scott is still evaluating its options after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors rejected its plan to build a $50 million condominium at Library Square.

“At this time, we’re continuing to explore our options,” said Michael Scott, managing member of the company. The company did not share any further details about the future of the property with Reston Now.

Norton Scott was seeking to build a 13-story building with 58 for-sale units on the 0.8-acre site. The proposal came after the county rejected a plan by the company and MRP Realty to redevelop the site and surrounding properties due its high cost.

The plan was rejected primarily due to the lack of a connection with the future extension of Library Street. Norton Scott’s appeal, which brought forward a by-right plan for the property, was denied by the board in late October.

So far, there has been no movement on the plan or further appeals.

Handout via Fairfax County Government

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Reston Association Offers First Aid Certification Classes — The organization is offering certification courses for First Aid, CPR and AED. Registration is $105 for RA members and $120 for all others. [Reston Association]

Schools Superintendent Offers Coronavirus Update — In a letter to the community yesterday (Monday), Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand says the school system is implementing a travel history questionnaire and presented two scenarios in case schools are closed. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Meets Today — The board will receive an update on the coronavirus. In the Hunter Mill District, the board will consider a 20 percent drop in parking at Reston Gateway. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Mike Reyes

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Boston Properties is looking to reduce the amount of parking at Reston Gateway, a mixed-use project currently under construction between the Reston Town Center Metro Station and RTC.

The company wants to provide 1,663 fewer parking spaces than previously approved plans outlined. The move — which would parking by 20 percent — is being considered because of the project’s proximity to the future RTC Metro Station. Parking for residential units would drop by an average of 38 percent. The company also wants to drop any requirement for parking in the lodging component of the hotel on the site.

The county’s planning staff approved the request, noting that the mixed-use center is near a Metro Station where mass transit should be encouraged via parking reductions:

The character of high-density, mixed-use development, both at the subject site and surrounding neighborhoods, and the proximity to rail and other forms of transit, provides opportunities to reduce parking demand. Analysis of multi-family development adjacent to Metro stations has shown that residents of this type of housing are less likely to own one or more personal vehicles. The availability of Metrorail and other transportation options at the site will encourage people from other neighborhoods and communities to travel to the redevelopment area for work and leisure activities using alternative modes other than their personal vehicle. Collectively, these support the applicant’s proposal for this parking reduction based on the proximity of mass transit.

The proposal heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote on March 10.

The project includes nine blocks with nine buildings spread over 33 acres. It’s located on the north side of Sunset Hills Road between Town Center Parkway and Reston Parkway. Four office buildings, three residential buildings with 2,010 units, two hotels and more than 162,000-square-foot in retail and restaurants, are planned on the site.

Crews are working on the first phase of construction, which includes four new buildings at the intersection fo Sunset Hills and Town Center Parkway. Fannie Mae plans to lease about 850,000 square feet of office space at the site.

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For the first time ever, Fairfax County has a strategic plan and it aims to address existing issues and plan ahead for the future.

The idea for the plan originated in January 2019 and took roughly a year to complete, according to county documents, which added that the final version of the plan was introduced to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 27.

In the proposal, nine main priorities are outlined as a point of focus for the next 10 to 20 years, according to the Fairfax County website.

Priorities include:

Each of the plan aspects includes a roughly five-page summary in the plan, encompassing how the county plans to measure growth using metrics, questions that lead to the decision to include the topic, strategies for improvement and a summary of the issue.

For example, under the economic opportunity section, ways to measure success include the number of jobs created by Fairfax County as a result of county contracts and the number of businesses that relocate to the area– bring jobs with them, the plan said.

When it came to the creation of the plan, consideration included community input from roughly 17,355 survey responses and 1,674 in-person meetings, according to the plan.

Anyone around Reston interested in commenting on this final draft of the plan can attend a meeting on April 1 at the Reston Community Center, Lake Anne (1609 Washington Plaza).

Photo via Fairfax County

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It’s no secret that Northern Virginia is well-known for being a technology corridor.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D) is looking for ways to bring the benefits of emerging technologies to all residents.

In a board matter proposed this week, Alcorn says he wants to find ways to promote innovative and equitable technologic Fairfax County.

Here’s more from the board matter:

Beyond our internal investments in GIS, other examples of our leadership in advancing technology include these initiatives championed through our Economic Advisory Commission (EAC):

  • Our pilot with Dominion Energy is the first state-funded connected autonomous vehicle (CAV) public transportation demonstration in Virginia.
  • Testing of driverless cars, by public and private entities, on our more than 70 miles of “connected corridors” in the county.
  • The county’s state-funded efforts to attract and retain workers for high-demand IT positions, including cybersecurity.   
  • Our partnership with Smart City Works and Refraction utilizing their $750,000 federal grant to increase regional capacity to bring technologies to market and grow innovative companies.

To complement these EAC activities we can also do more to promote innovative and equitable technology in Fairfax County. The Board’s IT Committee, which I now chair, provides an excellent opportunity for board members to explore how we can use technology more efficiently and ensure that our residents also benefit from new technology.

In concert with the efforts by the county’s EAC and the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to encourage emerging technology companies, it is also important that we look to bring the benefits of safe and consumer-friendly emerging technologies to our residents as consumers.  And we should do so with an equity lens in mind so that residents who are in most need of the efficiencies and cost reductions often associated with these innovations actually receive the benefits.

The board is expected to discuss ways to promote emerging technologies at a future IT meeting committee.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio will study the Fairfax County Police Department’s use-of-force culture.

A study released three years ago found that roughly 40 percent of all use-of-force incidents involved a Black individual. The Fairfax County Board of Directors subsequently directed Police Auditor Richard Schott to find an academic team to review FCPD’s data.

The study, which will identify patterns and trends by FCPD with emphasis on race, ethnicity, and gender, will be completed by Jan. 31, 2021. Researchers will review incidents that happened between 2016 and 2018, in addition to the following questions:

1.    What factors or combination of factors contribute to the use of force by FCPD officers? Specifically, what role does civilian race, ethnicity, gender, or similar personal characteristics play in the decision to use force?

2.    Does the rate of force experienced by persons of different races and/or ethnicities align with those groups’ representation among persons at risk for having force used against them by the police? Do disparities exist in rates of force experienced by different racial and/or ethnic groups relative to risk?

3.    Is civilian race, ethnicity, or gender related to the level of force used by the police while accounting for resistance and other relevant individual, situational, and environmental factors?

4.    How can the FCPD improve its use of force data collection processes to help facilitate future analyses?

5.    What steps can the FCPD take to help reduce bias in use of force incidents?

The USTA team expects to present a reporting of its findings — including conclusions and next steps — to the Board of Supervisors.

File photo

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved changes to improve road safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

At the board’s Tuesday meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk jointly unveiled a proposal to initiate a review of the county’s Department of Transportation’s ActiveFairfax planning process.

ActiveFairfax is a transportation plan that includes a Bicycle Master Plan and Countywide Trails Plan Update for the county.

“Sixteen pedestrian fatalities in our county in 2019 is too many,” Alcorn said. “Most of our built environment is still designed for moving vehicles, which creates obvious conflicts and we need to evolve toward safer walking and cycling.”

More from the board matter:

The commitment of Fairfax County to address this is clear, including more than $300 million in funding approved for stand-alone bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects over the past decade.

Most of these projects have been implemented, while some are still in progress. It should be noted that the $300 million in funding doesn’t include bike and pedestrian projects that are being implemented as part of larger roadway projects, or in VDOT’s repaving schedule…

Due to the General Assembly reallocating funding for Metro’s State of Good Repair Initiative, the Board deferred a number of bike and pedestrian projects last year. And we all have examples of more bike and pedestrian projects to be done, if more funding were available.

Fortunately, the General Assembly is looking at options for increasing transportation funding, but currently they don’t go far enough.

Alcorn and Lusk want the county’s departments and the Virginia Department of Transportation to coordinate their efforts and also want FCDOT to review the following:

  • working timeline for the ActiveFairfax Plan
  • external communications strategy for the planning process
  • evaluation of the current approach for funding pedestrian improvements
  • examination of how tech can improve pedestrian and bicycle safety ahead of ActiveFairfax
  • whether the county can achieve measurable safety goals like Vision Zero

Lusk called recent pedestrian-involved fatalities and injuries along county roads a “public safety crisis.”

The Board of Supervisors will continue the discussion about the ActiveFairfax Plan at the transportation and public safety committee meetings, according to a press release.

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Thursday Morning Notes

Floris Conservatory Delayed in Herndon — When preparing to build a $40 Million, 48,000-square-foot arts and music conservatory in a sustainable design utilizing energy and green building techniques, with a minimum of 231 parking spaces to serve three shifts of 365 students a day and introduce traffic calming measures while retaining a historic place of worship and converting three historic homes to non-residential use in ultimate condition, an applicant may need a little more time than the initial approved special exemption allowed to establish the use.” [Fairfax County Times]

M&T Bank Marks Grand Opening — “M&T Bank marked the grand opening of its newest branch in Reston with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting. More than 50 individuals attended the Jan. 22 event, including members of the bank’s regional senior leadership and Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D-Hunter Mill) and other guests.” [Fairfax County Times]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Changes to Reston Station Promenade — a project with nearly 1.3 million square feet of development north of the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station — were officially approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (Jan. 28).

Comstock plans to convert a planned 250-unit residential building into an office building, slashing the total number of to 340. The hotel along Reston Station Boulevard will also be shifted so that most of the building faces Wiehle Avenue.

The company also scrapped a woonerf — a Dutch-style living street without sidewalks and curbs that are shared by pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars. The street, which was one of the more unique design features of the site, was removed to improve walkability for pedestrians and discourage car traffic.

By rotating the hotel’s orientation 90 degrees, the new design brings more daylight into the Promenade — and it makes the entire development more visible to Metro riders coming north from Reston Station, Comstock’s development next to the Wiehle station,” according to the county.

Comstock will also convert an urban plaza into a corner park. The company also plans to pitch in $2.3 million for the construction of an athletic field.

Comstock will also purchase board-owned property for $3 million in order to shift density within the development and create space for a more cohesive design. Selling off the 1.3-acre area owned by the county is expected to bring in roughly $9.6 million annually for the county.

Photos via Fairfax County Government

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is seeking $8.6 million for several transportation improvements in south Reston.

At a board meeting today (Tuesday), county officials voted in favor of seeking funds from the National Virginia Transportation Commission three projects in Reston.

The county is seeking to offer a new Fairfax Connector transit service from the Reston South Park-and-Ride Lot to Crystal City, Pentagon City and the Pentagon in Arlington.

If approved by the commission, residents could also see bicycle and pedestrian improvements at the park-and-ride and surrounding neighborhoods. ADA-friendly infrastructure is also planned.

A fenced-off recycling drop-off area at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Lawyers Road would be transformed into a pedestrian entrance with a Capital Bikeshare station. The existing walkway between the back of the lot and Lawyers Road would also be realignment to meet ADA standards.

Additionally, new intersection improvements — including a traffic signal and pedestrian crossings — are planned for at the intersection of Fox Mill Road and Pinecrest Road.

The county is also seeking a second entrance to the McLean Metro Station — a project that county officials ranked as a higher priority funding request than the projects in Reston.

File photo

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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 affordable housing 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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