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Planning Commission Moves Forward Pet Hedgehog Proposal

Chinchillas, hedgehogs and hermit crabs are one step closer to legalized pet status in Fairfax County.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission last night (Dec. 6) approved changing the definition of commonly accepted pets to include all three.

“All those hedgehogs in Fairfax County are extremely happy tonight,” Chairman Peter Murphy, who represents the Springfield District, said after the vote.

Hunter Mill District Commissioner John Carter voted against the proposal, along with Vice Chairman James Hart and Mason District Commissioner Julie Strandlie.

Strandlie said that while she supports chinchillas and hermit crabs as pets, more input from professionals is necessary regarding hedgehogs.

The increasing popularity of chinchillas, hedgehogs and hermit crabs as pets in recent years spurred the proposed amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance, according to the proposal.

Arlington and Loudoun counties allow hedgehogs and chinchillas as pets, with Loudoun County also permitting hermit crabs. Fairfax City and Falls Church either do not allow or remain unclear about the legality of the three animals as pets.

The commission tackled health and safety concerns mainly around hedgehogs as pets at a public hearing last Thursday (Nov. 29), deferring a decision to last night at the request of Mary Cortina, an at-large member of the commission.

Some of the concerns that came up involved hedgehogs’ ability to spread salmonella and how well owners can care for hedgehogs, given their high levels of maintenance.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that require space, exercise and room temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure they do not start hibernating, according to the Hedgehog Welfare Society.

Hart said he concludes that hedgehogs still fall under the “exotic pet” definition based on the temperature requirements raised during the testimonies last week.

Dranesville District Commissioner John Ulfelder said he took four areas into consideration when deciding how to vote — public safety, public health, environmental impact and animal welfare.

Addressing the salmonella concerns, Ulfelder said that other animals, such turtles, can spread the bacteria.

For him, the prickliest issue concerned animal welfare. “It is true these animals are a little bit difficult to take care of,” he said. “I think for people who are up for that, they can be very nice pets.”

Strandlie praised a student from Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church, who argued at the public hearing in favor of legalizing pet hedgehogs.

The student, who said he has cared for his turtle for eight years and his monitor lizard for two years, said he believes hedgehogs are easier to care for than reptiles, based on his research. If the county approves the amendment, he said he would get a hedgehog.

Even though Strandlie voted “no,” she said the student probably persuaded some of the commissioners to support the proposal.

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors authorized a public hearing at 4 p.m. on Jan. 22 to consider the controversial proposal.

“I think we should be allowing people if we can — if they have the ability — to have hedgehogs as pets,” Ulfelder said.

Photo via Planning Commission

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Board of Supervisors Gives Thumbs Up to Roland Clarke Place Project

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved Woodfield Acquisitions’ redevelopment of Roland Clarke Place at its Tuesday (Dec. 4) meeting.

The redevelopment is set to replace a vacant, two-story office building at 1941 Roland Clarke Place with a 308-unit residential complex just south of the Dulles Toll Road.

The seven-story apartment building will be about a mile between the Wiehle-Reston East and Reston Town Center Metro stations. Plans for the building include two interior courtyards, an outdoor pool, seating on a third-floor patio and a 409-space, eight-level parking garage behind the building. About one-third of the new development is slated to remain as open space.

The existing office buildings on the site were constructed in the early 1980s.

The board delayed making a decision after the project’s public hearing on Nov. 20. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved a series of proffers for the redevelopment on Nov. 15.

The board also greenlighted three other developments in Reston, including the Midline and the Tall Oaks Village Center, at the Tuesday meeting.

Images via Fairfax County and Fairfax County Planning Commission

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Planning Commission Defers Controversial Sign Changes

Fairfax County Government is currently mulling over changes to its sign ordinance that has everyone from schools and parks to local realtors concerned.

At a Planning Commission meeting last night (Wednesday), the commission deferred a decision on the new sign regulations until Jan. 16 to allow for more discussion on the impact of the ordinance.

Currently, county staff are reviewing changes to the zoning ordinance to make the language content-neutral. The change is in response to the United States Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, which ruled that localities that define sign categories based on the message expressed, or content-based, is unconstitutional unless it furthers a compelling governmental interest.

Rather than allow free reign for Fairfax residents of businesses to erect signs regardless of content, a proposed amendment would clamp down on sign regulations across the board.

Changes to the sign ordinance are widespread but often minor corrections. One of the biggest changes is that one freestanding building identification sign is permitted for each detached building and such signs must be limited to identifying the name of the building or the individual enterprises located therein, the address, trademark or identifying symbol of the building occupant.

According to county staff, minor signs (formerly referred to as temporary signs) were the largest challenge in the zoning ordinance rewrite.

“While staff acknowledges that the proposed language could negatively affect some developments that are currently exempt from regulation, we continue to recommend the language found in the draft text as it provides the closest level of regulation as the current provision.”

A representative from real estate investment company Macerich said at the meeting said the company had a laundry list of concerns but has been working with county staff to whittle those issues down. Another local realtor at the meeting said the new ordinance could push the open house signs and corner signs off of local lawns and into the already crowded right-of-way spaces.

The sign ordinance changes sparked concern with the inclusion of language that would remove government exemptions from sign ordinances.

“Staff has received comments from both Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), neither of which is in favor of eliminating the current exemption status. Of particular concern to the Park Authority is the limitation on the size, number and location of minor signs permitted for non-residential uses in a residential district. These signs are used to announce summer concert series, camps and other activities at the parks. The schools have raised concerns with the proposed height of permitted freestanding signs for non-residential uses in residential districts which is proposed to be limited to 8 feet in height.”

As a result, staff said at the Planning Commission meeting that there would be modifications to the ordinance allowing some exceptions for schools and parks.

Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner said at the meeting he was generally in favor of holding Fairfax County government accountable to many of the same sign regulations as the public.

“There’s something to be said with us being able to model our behavior consistent with what we expect from the private sector,” said Niedzielski-Eichner. “There is a different benefit to be realized to the public with the park authority and public school [having] latitude with signs, but frankly I’m comfortable with them doing it within a regulatory context… not unfettered.”

Photo via Flickr/Alan Levine

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Board of Supervisors Clash Over Community Input for Proposed Zoning Changes

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors disagreed about community input on contentious proposed zoning changes, before authorizing public hearings early next year on the changes at their meeting today.

The proposal, which would increase the population density in Reston, has sparked a backlash from community groups, including the Reston Association, Coalition for a Planned Reston and Reston 2020.

County planning officials have argued that the change is needed to put into action Reston’s Master Plan, which allows for future growth over the next 40 years.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust vented frustration at the Dec. 4 meeting that Reston residents have not heard back from the county regarding the public hearings for the zoning proposal.

In response to Foust’s concerns, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said that locals have had plenty of opportunities to get the desired information.

County officials began small workgroup sessions hosted by the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots organization, and the Reston Association in July to discuss the controversial plan.

“Yes, there are some questions that people have,” Hudgins said. “Those questions have been answered before or are not relevant to this.”

Hudgins stressed that consideration of the proposed zoning changes is moving forward because of the work, including 13 follow up meetings since May and regular meetings with the Reston Association, already done.

Hudgins praised the “noble” staff for answering community questions.

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook said that verbal responses from staff to locals are not enough, adding that the community would benefit from written questions and answers available online.

“I don’t think it’s enough to have oral questions,” Cook said. “Not everyone can get to public meetings.”

Cook added that community input must have limits. “It’s fair to have a cut off date for questions,” he said.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has 100 days from the referral — the staff report published Dec. 4 — to take action on the zoning proposal. The Board of Supervisors authorized public hearings on the zoning changes for 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 and at 4:30 p.m. on March 5.

“The clock starts today,” Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay said.

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Planning Commission Tackles Prickly Issue of Pet Hedgehogs

Chinchillas, hedgehogs and hermit crabs face scrutiny over health and safety concerns as the county debates legalizing them as pets.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission held a public hearing last night (Nov. 29) on possibly changing the definition of commonly accepted pets to include all three.

The proposed amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance was spurred by the increasing popularity of chinchillas, hedgehogs and hermit crabs as pets in recent years, according to the proposal.

Casey Judge, a senior assistant to the county’s zoning administrator, said that care for chinchillas is similar to rabbits and care for hedgehogs is similar to ferrets in her presentation to the commission.

Judge said that research for the proposal included consultation with nearby breeders and veterinarians for exotic animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was not contacted, she said.

Arlington and Loudoun counties allow hedgehogs and chinchillas as pets, with Loudoun County also permitting hermit crabs.

Arlington County has reported two hedgehog abandonments since 2013 and no reports of any strays, the presentation said.

Fairfax City and Falls Church either do not allow or are unclear about the legality of the three animals as pets.

During public comment, local James Hart brought up concerns about hedgehogs’ ability to spread salmonella. Hedgehogs, along with cats, dogs, frogs, hamsters and many other animals, can spread the bacteria, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In response to the salmonella concerns, Judge said that a common pet — turtles — poses the same risk for spreading the bacteria, according to the CDC.

Another concern that came up involved how well owners can care for hedgehogs, given their high levels of maintenance. Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that require space, exercise and room temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure they do not start hibernating, according to the Hedgehog Welfare Society.

Judge said that it would be difficult to enforce requirements on temperature and enclosures for the animals.

Phillip Church from the county’s Animal Services Advisory Commission, which opposes the amendment, said that three vets he interviewed said hedgehogs are expensive and challenging to care for.

“I don’t think many people who are going to take home a hedgehog will give them proper care,” he said, adding that he doesn’t want to give people the opportunity to abandon or unintentionally mistreat the animals.

Judge said that breeders self-regulate for responsible pet owners and provide a plethora of resources, guides and training to ensure the animals will be safe at their new homes.

Local Mark Spisak likened hedgehogs to porcupines in his public testimony and said that demand for them as pets fuels an exotic pet trade that poses risks to animals. “I can see no advantage to wild animals being kept as pets,” Spisak said. ‘They should live their lives outside as nature intended.”

The commissioners lauded testimony from a student from Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church, who argued for legalizing pet hedgehogs.

The student, who said he has cared for his turtle for eight years and his monitor lizard for two years, said that he believes hedgehogs are easier to care for than reptiles, based on his research. He also gave an overview of hedgehog breeding — since the importation of wild-caught African pygmy hedgehogs to the U.S. was banned in the 1990s, people have to go to local breeders for one.

If the county approves the amendment, he said he would get a hedgehog.

Mike Bober, president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council in Alexandria, also voiced support for hedgehogs as pets.

Mary Cortina, an at-large member of the commission, asked to delay a decision on the proposal until the meeting next Thursday (Dec. 6). The county’s Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the matter in January.

Hedgehog photo courtesy Kelly W.

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Planning Commission OKs Parking Changes for Tall Oaks Village Center Redevelopment

The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved Thursday night (Nov. 29) parking and access adjustments for the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment.

Stanley Martin’s redevelopment would transform the Tall Oaks Village Center (12022 North Shore Drive) into a mostly residential neighborhood.

The redevelopment will create 156 residential units, which include 42 two-over-two multi-family units, 44 single units and 70 multi-family units in two residential buildings. It also plans to add nearly 8,500 square feet of retail and 5,800 square feet of office space.

The commission approved:

  • a 200-square foot privacy yard requirement for single-family units
  • tandem parking for the two-over-two dwelling units to count towards the off-street parking requirement for multi-family dwelling units
  • a modification for the required number of loading spaces
  • a modification for the transitional screening and barrier requirements

Ellen Hurley, who represents the Braddock District, abstained from the vote.

The shopping center, which was anchored by a Giant grocery store until it closed in 2007, has struggled without a stable grocer. Roughly 86 percent of the shopping center was vacant in 2016, according to the application.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved in July 2016 the owner’s plan to redevelop the retail center into a mixed-use project.

The development has been held up several times this year. Reston’s Design Review Board delayed voting on several aspects of the plan for several months. The garage size requirements stalled the redevelopment.

Another issue was the bus pad and bus service for the site. At the time of the approval, the county was planning to continue Fairfax Connector bus service through the development. The Fairfax Connector has since decided to no longer provide bus service through the development.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider the project on Tuesday (Dec. 4).

Rendering via Fairfax County Planning Commission

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Residential Development Near Dulles Receives Nod from Planning Commission

With little to no discussion and debate other than fixing a typo, the Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved a series of proffers for Woodfield Acquisitions’ redevelopment of Roland Clarke Place last night.

The Thursday vote sets into motion a series of waivers and modifications to allow a new residential complex to be built just south of the Dulles Toll Road. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider the project on Tuesday (Nov. 20).

The development will replace the office buildings at 1941 Roland Clarke Place and 1950 Roland Clarke Place. A 308-unit residential building will replace 1941 Roland Clarke Place, including roughly 37 workforce units. The application says 1950 Roland Clarke Place will be redeveloped as a small park until another development on the site can be planned.

Though no open space was required for the site, a little over two acres of the new development will remain dedicated as open space. In addition to two private courtyards within the residential complex, two smaller parks and a dog park surround the proposed residential building.

Among the waivers and modifications received for the site an allowance of a residential building 59 feet from the Dulles International Airport from the zoning ordinance’s minimum distance of 200 feet.

The existing office buildings on the site were constructed in the early 1980s. In 2008, the redevelopment of the buildings was planned into three new office buildings, but the plan was never implemented.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Planning Commission

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Thursday Morning Notes

Schools closed, Fairfax Connector continues normal service — Although Fairfax County Public Schools are closed today due to a wintry mix slowly descending onto the region, the Fairfax County connector will continue normal service today. [Fairfax Connector]

Vote on Reston Association budget expected tonight — The Board of Directors will vote on the final budget for the next year, as well as a planned $11 assessment increase. The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Other items on the budget include an update on the state of the environment in Reston and an executive session to discuss personnel and contractual matters. [Reston Association]

Another vote of note tonight — The Fairfax County Planning Commission is expected to vote on a plan by Woodfield Investments to replace a vacant office building at 1941 Roland Clarke Place with an apartment building. [Fairfax County Government]

A chance for gift giving — The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is seeking donations for its annual Toys for Tots campaign beginning Nov. 19. All county fire stations will accept donations through Dec. 12. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Fairfax County Planning Commission Approves Midline Project

The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved the Midline, a mixed-use project near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station Thursday night.

The approval sets the project, which would bring 1.8 million square feet of development across 17..5 acres east of Wiehle Avenue and south of Sunset Hills Road, in motion for a Board of Supervisors’ vote on Dec. 4.

John Carter, the Planning Commissioner for the Hunter Mill District, lauded the development team, JBG Smith, EYA and Chevy Chase Land Co., for bringing a diverse mix of low-rise housing to the area, a feature that he said is lacking in other projects recently approved in Reston.

Four blocks with several buildings are proposed on land that is currently used for low-rise office buildings and surface parking. The plan includes 127 independent units, a 33-bed assisted living facility, a 225-unit multi-family building and a mix of townhouses. A 14-story office building and retail is also planned on the site nearer to the Metro Station.

Carter said the mix of affordable and workforce housing units, which is integrated throughout the site, is not intended to serve as a precedent for other projects. Due to the variety of housing options proposed, the developer has integrated several affordable units in the townhouse area and the multi-family building, creating a dispersed mix of affordable housing throughout the project, Carter said. Parking will be offered at a cost reduced by 70 percent of the price for market-rate units. The affordability tiers are also 70, 80, and 100 percent of the area median income — a distribution lower than the typical county requirement of 80, 100 and 120 percent of the AMI. Independent living and affordable units will have shared access for several amenities.

Following concern about limited public amenities, the development team also added additional dog parks, playing areas for children, and agreed to work with area developers to install street lights, updated curbs, and signage along Reston Station Boulevard. That road will extend into the Midline project and pedestrian and bicyclist access to the Washington and Old Dominion Trail will also be provided.

The commission deferred a decision on Woodfield Acquisition’s plan to replace office buildings on Roland Clarke Place with residential units to Nov. 15 in order to allow the developer to devise a better way to create a grid of streets in the area.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Thursday Morning Notes

Thanksgiving food drive kicks off today — Reston Community Center, Cornerstones, and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce are seeking non-perishable food and other items for the food drive. Requested donations and drop-off options are available online. Donations will be collected through Nov. 19. [Reston Community Center]

Decisions on decisions for Fairfax County Planning Commission tonight — The commission kicks off November with decisions on the Midline project on the north side of the Dulles Toll Road, east of Wiehle Avenue, as well as Woodfield’s plan to replace offices with multi-family units on the opposite side of the toll road. [Fairfax County Government]

Meet the artist event canceled tonight — A performance by Luke Frazier scheduled for this afternoon at CenterStage has been canceled due to an artist injury, according to organizers. Plans are underway to reschedule the performance in the spring. [Reston Community Center]

If you thought it was just the young folks — In Fairfax County, one in seven Medicare beneficiaries leave hospital care with an opioid prescription. Of that number, 42 percent remain on opioids three months later, according to county data. [Fairfax County Government]

Meet the author event at Scrawl Books — Young adult author Jessica Spotswood returns for a conversation about her Cahill Witch Chronicles series and short story collection. Special guest Nura Behgoman from Herndon High School’s book club will also join Spotswood. [Scrawl Books]

Nearby: Information sought on Farea sisters’ disappearance — Local police are looking for information about two sisters from Fairfax County who were found dead in New York several days ago. [Fairfax County Police Department]

(Photo of Lola, a local cat caught “wondering why our azaleas are blooming in late October,” snapped and submitted by Gretchen Bock)

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Decision on ‘Midline’ Delayed to November Again

The Fairfax County Planning Commission delayed a decision on the Midline, a 1.8-million-square-foot mixed-use project, for the second time.

The project by JBG Smith, EYA and Chevy Chase Land Co. aims to create a 17.5-acre development east of Wiehle-Avenue and south of Sunset Hills Road with four blocks of development.

Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter said the county is still working with the development team to ensure the development has a sufficient number of workforce and affordable dwelling units, as well as a suitable mix of assisted living and multi-family units.

“The applicant is making progress on this,” Carter said at an Oct. 11 Planning Commission meeting. The development team is meeting the county “halfway” on its requirements for a balanced mix of affordable housing and appropriate services for residents of assisted-living units and multi-family units.

Block A would include one building with 127 independent units and a 33-bed assisted living facility. The second building would include a 325-unit multi-family building and around 103,870 square feet of other uses. Block B would include a 225-unit multi-family building and around 260,000 square feet of office space. The 14-story office building is the tallest in the development.  The plan for blocks C and D is more flexible, with a mix of multi-family units and townhouses proposed. Overall, the residential portion of the development would serve up to 1,500 residents.

A decision was deferred to Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. The case, which was previously deferred in late September to Oct. 11, has not yet been docketed for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Thursday Morning Notes

No fare hikes — Metro doesn’t plan to raise fares next year, which it typically does every other year. But that also means there no immediate plans to increase service. [WTOP]

‘Midline’ reaches end of the line — Three big-name developers are partnering to build the mixed-use project near Wiehle-Reston East. The Fairfax County Planning Commission votes on the project tonight. [Fairfax County Government]

Creative response set for tonight –– Malgorzata J. Rymsza-Pawlowska, an assistant professor at American University, will lead the audience through a creative response on work currently on display at the Greater Reston Arts Center from 7-8 p.m. [Greater Reston Arts Center]

Photo by Elizabeth Bley

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Fairfax County Planning Commission Defers Decision on Reston Corner

The Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred a decision on an application to rezone 4.3-acres of land to build a 145-unit multifamily building on the southwest corner of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.

Reston Corner, the name of the project, would bring a seven-story, $30 million residential building and a 438 free-standing, above-grade parking garage to the area, which is currently the site of surface parking and stormwater management pond. The garage would serve three office buildings next to the property.

Members of the commission flagged several concerns about the project, including the possibility that lighting in the garage would disturb residents in the adjacent apartment building.

Eight business condominiums who own a building directly south of the development said they were concerned the residential building would produce additional traffic for the Cascades South Condominium Association. David Gill, the association’s president, said the development could add up to 200 cars per day on a road next to the association.

The project is also next to the Reston Crescent, a 36-acre project. Residents would cross through that development to walk to Metro.

The developer took issue with providing $10,00 for a traffic preemption device during site plan approval. Instead, Mark Looney, the development team’s representative said it was more appropriate for the developer to offer the money once development was imminent at the time of the issuance of a building permit.

MaryAnn Tsai of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, said the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department often request receiving funds for the devices when site plans are developed.

But Looney said it was unclear why the fire department needs the funds early in the development process but said the development team would be willing to comply with any requests. “If that’s the only point we’re arguing about, then the rest of the project is pretty darn good,” Looney said.

Other planning commissioners said they wanted to see other features of the plan, including the parking arrangement for workforce housing units, whether or not a tot lot would be shared by office tenants and residential units. Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Ellen Hurley also said she wanted to see a space for dog walking — an amenity the project did not yet have.

The commission will vote on the project on Oct. 18.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Reston Corner Redevelopment Plan Heads to Planning Commission

A proposal to build 145 multi-family units and offices is headed to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for approval on Thursday (Oct. 4).

An affiliate of Angelo, Gordon & Co. hopes to rezone office property to build the residential development on 4.3 acres of land on the southwest corner of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive. A second application is under consideration by the same developer to increase the density of 9.9 acres of adjacent land as part of the same proposal.

The site of the project, called Reston Corner, is currently an office park. The developer hopes to create “a new urban neighborhood” with a seven-story residential building and an 85-foot office building.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has requested $10,000 from the developer to install one traffic signal preemption device in order to “meet response time goals to emergency incidents,” according to a staff report.

The county estimates the development will generate 16 new students. The developer will contribute $12,262 for each student.

Other features of the plan include the following:

  • A four-level garage with a maximum height of 40 feet.
  • The garage will be screened from view from Reston Parkway by existing office buildings and the residential project.
  • 12 percent of the residential building will be set aside as workforce housing.
  • The developer seeks special exception to increase density across the existing office uses.
  • Outside seating on the western edge of the residential building for “gathering and relaxation.”

A date before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has not yet been set.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Proposed McMillen Farm Subdivision in Herndon Moves Forward

Despite concerns about transparency, the Fairfax County Planning Commission has recommended approval of a new subdivision at McMillen Farm last week.

Tradition Homes, LLC, requested 5.76 acres of land east of Dranesville Road be rezoned from one residential dwelling unit per acre to three residential dwelling units per acre to allow for the construction of 13 homes.

Lots range in size from 11,650 square feet to 25,840 square feet along a new cul-de-sac connected to Dranesville Road. The site was home to McMillen Farm, listed as a heritage resource on the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites since February 1996.

Still unclear is the ultimate fate of Coomber Hall, a dairy barn county documents say date back to 1850. It was remodeled in 1968 to serve as a school of music and dance. However, since April 2017 the Hall has been classified as an unsafe structure due to significant damage to the roof and walls.

In response to public discussion on Sept. 20 concerning the historic buildings at an earlier meeting, attorney Shane Murphy said historic preservation measures on the site would include the hay barn.

“In my view, the overall revisions are appropriate and important revision steps [that address] the concerns raised by the Planning Commission,” said John Ulfelder, a planning commissioner representing Dranesville District.

But Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner, a planning commissioner representing Providence District, said state legislation limiting discussion of rezoning conditions left him unable to fully question the development proposal’s plans for historic resources on the site.

“The norms and practices of this commission are to freely, openly and transparently ask questions of staff, applicant and speakers,” said Niedzielski-Eichner. “I was not confident… I could craft questions without running afoul of new proffer laws. I was disturbed staff and colleagues both referenced proffer law as constricting our ability to engage applicant on land use matters.”

Niedzielski-Eichner abstained, but the remaining eleven planning commissioners voted to approve the rezoning. The rezoning application now goes to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors but has not been docketed for a meeting.

Photo via Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

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