The plan for the 4.9-acre site, which is on the north side of West Ox Road and east of Fairfax County Parkway, heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote in the coming weeks.
Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter said several “magical” improvements helped address critical stormwater management and drainage issues on the site.
Carter said the county worked with the applicant to reduce setbacks on the western property line, preserve more trees, and install an underground stormwater management system.
The community has struggled with poor drainage systems in the past, with most water pooling to the center of the community.
The commission also worked with the applicant to tweak elements like the relocation of a driveway by 18 feet and the deletion of a retaining wall.
“What we’ve done in the last six weeks is to work on the layout,” Carter said.
The applicant also plans to install a new street — Prince Towne Court — that will intersect with West Ox Road.
A final vote by the Board of Supervisors has not been scheduled yet.
During the Wednesday meeting, the commission once again deferred a decision on a plan to remove 215,000 square feet of office space from Reston Heights (11830 Sunrise Valley Drive). A dispute about easement access with neighboring property owners, among other issues, stalled the vote.
Carter said the commission needed more time to resolve several issues. A vote is scheduled for May 22.
Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government
Missing Reston Man Found — Steven Stoller, 59, went missing on Monday when he left Bethesda, Maryland. He was located safe and unharmed on Tuesday, according to police. [Montgomery County Police Department]
Comscore Expands into West and Southern Africa — The Reston-based company is expanding its box office measurement services to nine African countries, including Nigeria and South Africa. Company executives say the move can capture the effectiveness of the African film market — one of the “most remarkable cultural developments in recent decades.” [Comscore]
Planning Commission Vote on Prince Towne and Reston Heights Development Proposal Tonight — The panel is expected to vote on scaling back already approved plans for Reston Heights, a mixed-use development already in progress on Sunrise Valley Drive. A vote is also expected on plans for single-family homes on the north side of West Ox Road. [Fairfax County Planning Commission]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
Prince Towne, LLC is seeking the county’s approval to replace four single-family homes on the north side of West Ox Road with nine single-family homes.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission will vote on the proposal tomorrow.
The new homes will front a new public cul-de-sac street with sidewalks on both sides. The new street, called Prince Towne Court, will intersect with West Ox Road, according to the development plan.
The applicant has proffered that 0.5 percent of the projected sales price of each unit will go toward the county’s Housing Trust Fund. The developer also plans to contribute $61,310 to Fairfax County Public Schools because the development will generate five additional students.
Planning and zoning staff recommended approval of the project, which they said “is similar to the adjacent residential development as well as surrounding residential areas.”
Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government
The county is considering a proposal to bring a new telecommunications facility with a 124-foot monopole and a fenced 91-by-35 foot compound to Herndon High School.
Milestone Communications Inc. is working with Fairfax County Public Schools to build the telecommunications facility on school property and lease space to wireless providers in the county, according to an application accepted by the county on April 4.
If approved, the monopole and compound would sit on the north side of the football field, just west of the visitors’ bleachers and between two existing stadium light poles. Spring antennas will be located on a platform on top of the monopole and a six-foot tall rod will extend from the tower.
It’s not the first time Milestone has worked with FCPS to build a cell tower. The company has similar projects at South Lakes High School and Herndon Middle School. Len Forkas, the company’s president said the company is committed to informing the community about the project in a transparent manner.
“We’re super excited about being able to improve services and we look forward to the whole process to obtain necessary approvals,” Forkas told Reston Now.
The compound area will be closed off by a 10-foot tall chain link fence in an attempt to create “a solid visual barrier,” according to the application. To go forward, the county must rezone land designated for general public use to the proposed public use of telecommunication facilities.
“The proposed use is benign and will not generate noise, light, dust, glare, vibration, fumes or odors. The traffic generated will be very minimal. The proposed use does not present a threat to the public health, safety or welfare and will not impact radio, television or telephone reception. It will have no negative impact upon the air and water quality, nor will it impact any existing environmental features on the subject property,” according to the submission.
Forkas also said football fields are ideal locations for cell towers because they already have tall lights.
The company says the new facility is necessary to boost coverage along Dranesville Road, Wiehle Avenue, the Fairfax County Parkway and residential communities around the high school site. Currently, Sprint’s coverage in the area is “weak,” according to the application. The tower will also accommodate up to five telecommunications carriers.
The administrative office of FCPS has approved the location on the site, according to the application.
A hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission is set for Oct. 2.
Photo of equipment on Lake Braddock High School property via Len Forkas
(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) The Reston Planning and Zoning Committee will start considering a new high-rise residential development along New Dominion Parkway at its meeting tonight (March 18).
NS Reston LLC wants to add a multi-family condominium building on a 36,553-square-foot parcel on the north side of New Dominion Parkway and directly south of the Reston Regional Library.
This will be NS Reston LLC’s first meeting with the committee, according to tonight’s agenda.
The Fairfax County Planning Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposal on May 16.
The committee is also set to vote on the Reston Crescent project — more commonly known as Halley Rise. The Fairfax County Planning Committee will then take up the proposal with a public hearing in May.
The Reston P&Z Committee will also hear an update on the redevelopment plan for Isaac Newton Square that would convert the office buildings into a mixed-use project.
A hearing for the county’s Planning Commission has not been scheduled yet, according to the Reston P&Z Committee agenda.
Tonight’s Reston P&Z Committee meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive).
Image via Google Maps
The Fairfax County Planning Commission supported a plan to add an assisted living facility in Great Falls at its meeting last night (March 14).
The 62-unit assisted living facility would be run by IntegraCare at 1131 Walker Road — right above Leesburg Pike and close to Colvin Run Mill. Verity Commercial is partnering with IntegraCare for the development.
The 33,429-square-foot-facility aims to fill a growing need in the community — about 35 percent of the Great Falls population is age 55 or older, according to Verity Commercial.
The new facility would also serve the local community in another way. “One of the problems in Great Falls is we have a limited amount of meeting space,” Dranesville District Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder said.
He requested that small groups have access to the facility’s meeting space when it is not being used for the facility’s programming.
The building’s design is meant to have an intimate feel, with short corridors and scattered communal areas.
The facility also plans to include a theater with a system for the hearing impaired, a demo kitchen and auto door opening where residents wear a bracelet that only lets them open their own doors.
Outside, a 10-foot trail along the front of the facility would connect to Colvin Run Road so that the residents may enjoy nearby eateries.
“It’s an outstanding proposal, an outstanding facility,” Ulfelder said.
Updated at 3:15 p.m. on March 8 — Corrects how many kids residents in the county may care for and the permission needed.
A home childcare center off of Frying Pan Road in Herndon wants to expand.
The childcare at 2472 Silk Court is open during regular business hours on weekdays and provides care for Reston and Herndon kids, according to county documents.
Residents in Fairfax County may care for up to four kids with a county permit, and residents who want to care for five or more kids need a state license, according to the Fairfax County Department of Family Services.
Madhuri Peddi is seeking a special exception that will allow care for up to 12 kids.
The county is expected to consider the special exemption request with a hearing on June 19.
Image via Google Maps
Former Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn is the latest Democrat to join a crowded race to replace Cathy Hudgins as the Hunter Mill District Supervisor.
Hudgins revealed late in January that she won’t seek re-election to theFairfax County Board of Supervisors, joining a growing list of board members retiring, including current Chairman Sharon Bulova.
Alcorn, a self-described environmental professional, announced his campaign last Monday (Feb. 11). He is running on a broad platform that ranges from supporting revisions to Reston’s comprehensive plan in 2020 to reviewing school funding.
His top issues on his campaign website are the following:
- public safety
- affordable housing
Alcorn has a mix of experience in the private sector and county government.
He is currently the vice president for environmental affairs and industry sustainability at the Consumer Electronics Association, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, he worked at Alcorn Consulting and at SAIC for about 10 years.
In 2015 Alcorn was appointed by Bulova to the county’s Park Authority Board. His term expired at the end of 2017. Prior to that, he had served on the county’s Planning Commission and worked as a policy aide in the Providence District supervisor’s office, Reston Now previously reported.
On the community level, he was a former president of the Herndon High School PTSA.
Alcorn has received endorsements from Bulova; Democratic State Sen. Jennifer Boysko, who used to represent Herndon in the Virginia House of Delegates; and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who was the county board chairman before Bulova.
Alcorn plans to hold a campaign kickoff event on Saturday (Feb. 23) at 2 p.m. in the new community room at the YMCA Fairfax County Reston (12196 Sunset Hills Road).
Alcorn will face the three other Democrats — Parker Messick, Laurie Dodd and Shyamali Hauth — vying for the seat at the June 11 Democratic primary.
Photo via Walter Alcorn/Facebook
The Reston Association’s Board of Directors is set to consider at its meeting Thursday night a developer’s request that the RA vacates its existing pathway easement at the Tall Oaks Village Center site.
Stanley Martin Companies currently is redeveloping the former village center into a residential community with townhomes and condominiums. Part of the new project will have a public green space next to commercial space and a new pathway.
Since the approved development plans require public access throughout the site, the developers now want RA to give up its existing easement because the planned path is located elsewhere.
“Since the original development of the Village Center, Reston Association has had a pathway easement through the site, starting at the underpass from Tall Oaks Pool, through the commercial area and extending to the northeast near the Tall Oaks Fellowship House,” according to the draft agenda.
Additionally, Stanley Martin has also said that the homeowners’ association for the site will take care of the new walkway, which takes away RA’s maintenance obligations. RA staff estimates that vacating the easement will result in long-term budget savings.
The board is also set to vote on a series of questions that will give the RA’s Governance Committee further guidance for changing the power structure of RA’s key staff.
The resolution before the board will address specifically RA’s legal counsel, chief financial officer, director of finance, controller, chief operating officer and the authority of the board’s chief executive officer. Currently, RA’s bylaws say that the chief executive officer controls personnel and compensation schedules, along with hiring and firing responsibilities.
The RA is also scheduled to discuss the recent contentious PRC zoning ordinance amendment, which the county’s Planning Commission recently recommended that the county’s board deny, along with the monthly report from the treasurer.
The meeting starts at 6:30 at the Central Services Facility (12250 Sunset Hills Road).
Photo via Reston Association/YouTube
Fairfax County’s Planning Commission finally weighed in on a controversial zoning ordinance proposal for Reston by recommending that the county’s Board of Supervisors deny the specific proposal, yet take steps to resolve PRC issues with the use of a taskforce.
The zoning ordinance would increase 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.
Vice Chairman and At-Large Commissioner James Hart, the main person leading the proposal, gave a lengthy speech before the commission voted and approved his motions on the proposal. “We are close to the PRC cap, but the level of pushback we have received has confirmed to me it’s the wrong way to do this amendment,” Hart said. “We owe it to the citizens to try.”
Hart added that inflexibility around the PRC cap “is highly problematic.” His vision for resolving the PRC issue involves recoupling the planned number of village centers and the density cap.
The Planning Commission approved all of Hart’s recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, which include directing the board to:
- deny the zoning ordinance proposal at this time
- withdraw authorization
- direct staff to do a Comprehensive Plan amendment
- establish taskforce with representatives from the community and industry to work on recommending a plan amendment to the board and Planning Commission
If the Board of Supervisors follows the Planning Commission’s recommendations, Hart said he sees two options for future development once the cap is hit on PRC: if applications want to be zoned as PRC, the staff can ask for incremental increases to the PRC cap on a case-by-case review with analysis of each application or applications will zone out of PRC and will need to come in as similar categories — such as Planned Residential Mixed-Use (PRM).
“Either way, those applications can continue,” Hart said.
Hart also tried to tackle the controversy surrounding the proposal, saying that “an unusual amount of misinformation and confusion” from freelance experts helped fuel the concerns. “All of that antidevelopment frustration was focused on this particular amendment,” he said.
He took the time to debunk some of that misinformation he had heard, which included saying that the proposal would not increase the density for Reston overall. He also pushed back on criticisms that said there are no plans for infrastructure to support the proposed PRC changes, reminding locals that because Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, the process of securing infrastructure requires an ongoing basis. “It’s rude to claim that nothing is being done,” he said.
Hart said that he wants to see locals stay engaged in the land use process, which he argued keeps the process grounded in reality. He also thanked the citizen groups and individuals who testified at public hearings and have sent in comments on the proposal.
The PRC decisi0n was the last one the commission tackled before the meeting ended shortly before 9 p.m. with a round of applause from the audience.
Photo via Planning Commission
Great Falls residents will be able to get their questions about a proposed assisted living facility answered at a community meeting tomorrow (Feb. 12).
The 62-unit assisted living facility would open in 2020 at 1131 Walker Road and be run by IntegraCare, according to the Great Falls Citizen Association (GFCA). The site is above the Leesburg Pike and close to Colvin Run Mill.
IntegraCare is seeking a special exception to the county’s zoning laws. For the exception to be granted, the plan must satisfy several zoning requirements, such as showing that the application aligns with the Comprehensive Plan. Public hearings are also required before the county’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust is holding the meeting in coordination with citizens association to give locals in the area the opportunity to ask questions and express their opinions on the proposal. County staff from the Fairfax County Department of Zoning Evaluation will be on hand to answer questions.
“Before deciding whether to approve deny the application, the Board of Supervisors will consider whether the proposed use is compatible with existing or proposed developments in the area,” according to Foust’s newsletter to his constituents, adding that the board “may impose conditions and restrictions to address any negative impacts.”
The community meeting, which will include a presentation by the applicant on revisions to their proposal, will start at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at the Great Falls Elementary School (701 Walker Road).
County staff reviewed the application and suggested approval of the special exception in the staff report released last week. The Planning Commission will consider the proposal at its Feb. 20 meeting.
The public meeting on Fairfax County’s Strategic Plan was recently rescheduled to March. It was originally scheduled for Thursday (Feb. 13) — the same date as the county’s Planning Commission meeting, which will include a vote on a proposed zoning ordinance that would increase the population density in parts of Reston.
Now, the meeting in Reston — one of four community engagement events on the county’s strategic planning process — will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, March 4.
The free meeting will be organized into moderated conversation groups of residents from nearby communities, and locals will have opportunities to share their thoughts and experiences “that will be used to help shape a countywide strategic plan,” the event description says. The meeting is set to take place at the Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road).
The strategic planning process has six phases outlined on the county’s website.
The first phase started in November to develop a project approach and community engagement plan started and was completed in January. The second phase — community engagement — is set to run through March to seek input and come up with a draft of priorities around seven to 10 areas.
Then, the strategic planning process will shift to defining those priorities in March and April before returning for community input from April to July. The Strategic Plan will then get developed from the summer until the end of the year before seeking adoption from the county’s Board of Supervisors at the start of 2020.
Meanwhile, the Planning Commission is set to finally weigh in on the contentious population density proposal this Thursday, after delaying a vote following a five-hour-long public hearing on Jan. 23.
The proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance would increase 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.
Dozens of Reston residents and locals showed up to testify in opposition to a contentious proposal that would increase the population density in Reston at the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s five-hour-long public meeting yesterday (Jan. 23).
The proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance would increase 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.
It would also allow residential development at a density of up to 70 dwelling units per acre — the current maximum is 50 dwelling units per acre — for properties designated for high density on an approved development plan and located in a transit station area planned for mixed-use within the Reston PRC District.
Shortly before the meeting ended at 11:55 p.m., Vice Chairman and At-Large Commissioner James Hart deferred a decision on the item until Feb. 13.
Hart, the main person leading the proposal, started the meeting by telling his fellow commissioners and the audience that opposition to raising the density cap was a common theme of the many letters he received: “That message came through loud and clear.”
Yet, the commissioners still face a “nuanced” dilemma, from complicated numbers to whether it is better to raise the cap so that applications can come in as PRC or deal with applications zoned as PRM or PDC after the current PRC zoning is used up, he said.
Regardless of the future decision, he said he hopes that the controversy over the amendment “can spark interest and participation in the land use process.”
Most of the 29 who testified on what that decision should be urged the commission to reject the amendment.
Opponents — many of whom wore yellow clothing to symbolize their unity against increasing the density — said raising the density cap will jeopardize green spaces, worsen traffic congestion, crowd schools and encourage development before infrastructure is in place.
Many residents also voiced criticism that the proposal to raise the density cap was made without adequate community input and is based on faulty numbers.
Dennis Hayes, the president of the Reston Citizens Association, testified that county staff worked on the PRC amendment over a short summer and only held information meetings with the community.
“Meetings we were told would happen never occurred,” he said. He noted that the difference between a PRC capped at 13.7 versus 14.2 has not been demonstrated.
Roughly half of a dozen people spoke in support of the amendment.
Mark Ingrao, the president of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, argued that the amendment encourages balanced growth under the Reston Master Plan.
“The Reston Master Plan process was well thought out,” Ingrao said, adding that it requires infrastructure to be phased-in with development — not happen beforehand. “The idea that streets and schools get built before people can use them is incongruent with the rest of the county.”
Ingrao also said that concerns about an exploding population are overhyped. “It took over 50 years to reach [Reston’s] current population, and it will take decades to achieve full buildout under the plan,” he said.
Mike Jennings, a Reston resident of 33 years, pushed back on the notion that the comprehensive plan did not include community involvement and that the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee is easily swayed to developers’ desires.
Jennings warned the commissioners to “be careful before assuming the very visible and vocal opponents of this amendment are representative of Reston.”
The record will remain open for public comments until Feb. 13.
Hart ended the meeting by saying that he’s learned from the mistake of separating zoning and planning and that in the future, the two must get planned together. “We’ve left ourselves a real mess,” he said about the current state of things.
Photos via Planning Commission
This letter was submitted by Terry Maynard, who resides in Reston. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.
As a Restonian who has worked hard on Reston planning and zoning for more than a decade, I was stunned by the letter mentioned in a recent Reston Now article. It was signed by 17 people — many of whom are associated with the leadership of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce (GRCOC) — to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.
One of the most stunning claims in the letter was that “Reston’s Comprehensive Plan was the product of a five-year planning process involving the full community.” The fact of the matter is that the Reston community was marginalized throughout this timeframe, and its contributions were opposed by developers and ignored by the county.
No community representative, then or now, has opposed reasonable residential and commercial development in the transit station areas. They have objected and continue to object to the excessive development proposed by private and county land use interests.
Only six of the two dozen primary members of the RTF studying Phase 1 for the transit station areas were Reston residents who represented the interests of Reston residents. They included representatives from three community organizations — Reston Association, Reston Citizens Association and Alliance of Reston Clusters and Homeowners — and three independent “at large” residents.
The Task Force recommended 27,932 dwelling units — homes for about 59,000 people — in the station areas based on a study of multiple density and mix scenarios — a development level community representatives could live with. That was set at 27,900 when the Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved the Phase 1 plan in early 2014 — a number Reston community representatives could live with.
Then that Phase 1 planned station area dwelling unit number was raised by more than half to 44,000 dwelling units — 92,000 people — in mid-2015 by the BOS in the process of approving the Phase 2 plan without any community involvement or even foreknowledge. Yet the county insists it only revises plans every five years.
Community involvement in Reston planning was even more limited during Phase 2 for Reston’s suburban areas. It included only four county-led and controlled community meetings and an open house. It was agreed that residential areas should remain “stable,” but the redevelopment of Reston’s village centers drew controversy. Draft county language to require a comprehensive plan amendment to redevelop village centers was dropped from the Board-approved mid-2015 Reston Master Plan because it would make the redevelopment approval process more cumbersome. This effectively shut off public comment on critical changes and eases development.
No meaningful commitment was made in the Reston Master Plan to provide needed infrastructure on a timely basis, despite the GRCOC letter saying, “The Plan requires that infrastructure be ‘phased’ with development.” In fact, that is illegal in Virginia and the RMP planning principles say it “should occur with development.” Language about specific infrastructures–transportation, schools, parks, etc., is vague and the proposals are inadequate.
Moreover, no meaningful funding has been committed to building any of the so-called “planned” infrastructure elements, which are all generally inadequate against even county policy standards, excluding the library where a $10 million bond funding may disappear in 2022.
Now the county is proposing to amend the Reston Planned Residential Community (PRC) zoning ordinance to increase allowable community-wide population density from 13 to 15 people per acre in suburban Reston and increase the allowable density on a single PRC property designated “high density” from 50 to 70 dwelling units per acre, including the village centers and several so-called “hot spots.” In its staff report on the proposed zoning density change, the county calculates roughly a quadrupling of planned housing in the village center areas from less than 1,500 to 5,800.
It also identifies three suburban residential “hot spots”– Saint Johns Wood, Charter Oaks and Fairway — for high-density redevelopment that would more than double the number of dwelling units to 1,863 residences.
The bottom line is that Restonians have had — and continue to have — limited access to the planning and zoning process throughout and their contributions and concerns have almost universally been ignored.
The cumulative effect of the new zoning in the station areas and the prospect of increasing the Reston PRC zoning density would be to allow Reston’s population to triple from its current 63,000 people to more than 180,000. At the same time, there is little or no assurance of the arrival any time soon of needed infrastructure that would maintain Restonians’ quality of life as a model planned community.
Now it is imperative that Restonians rise up and stop the county’s ill-considered PRC density increase proposal driven by Supervisor Hudgins. Attend the Planning Commission hearing on the PRC amendment at 7 p.m. on Jan. 23 in the Fairfax County Government Center wearing a yellow shirt. The presence of hundreds of Restonians will be as great a message to the Planning Commission as the testimony of Reston’s representatives and residents.
— Terry Maynard
RA urges members to attend PRC meeting — In the latest Reston Today video, Reston Association’s Board President Andy Sigle urges RA members who are concerned about population density to attend a Jan. 23 meeting related to the county’s proposed amendment to the Planned Residential Community zoning ordinance. [YouTube]
Dense fog alert — This morning the National Weather Service issued a dense fog advisory until noon today for portions of the region, including Fairfax County. Drivers are encouraged to slow down, use their headlights and leave plenty of distance ahead of you. [National Weather Service]
“Superior Donuts” opens tonight — Reston Community Players’ production opens tonight at RCC Hunters Woods at 8 p.m. Tickets are $28. [Reston Community Center]
Ed-tech merger — Herndon-based Real Time Cases merged with Delray Beach, Fla.-based Elearis. The Herndon startup’s ideo-based business case studies paired up with the technology platform from Elearis for a new Herndon-based firm. [Washington Business Journal]
Photo via Marjorie Copson