Reston, VA

A plan to redevelop the Residence Inn on 315 Elden Street took a step closer to final approval this week.

At a meeting Monday night, the Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission unanimously approved a plan to repurpose the property into a 168-unit residential development. Roughly 55 percent of the units would be dedicated as workforce housing.

The plan, which was pitched by the new owner of the hotel, will move forward to the Herndon Town Council for a vote. Specifically, it calls for an amendment to the town’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The property’s zoning classification would change from business corridor to adaptive-area residential.

Commission members lauded the plan for repurposing an aging and underused area to meet a critical need for affordable housing in the area.

“I see it as a favorable way to repurpose this aging cluster of properties,” said Marcia Bouchard at the meeting. She added that the location for residential units is ideal due to the “exceptional” walkability of the area.

More details about the plan are expected as it moves through the rezoning and zoning map amendment process.

So far, 84 studio and 42 one-bedroom and 42 two-bedroom units are planned, with a total of 168 units spread across 21 buildings.

Staff noted that the development will likely result in a limited number of new students. Low-rise multifamily units typically produce roughly 0.3 students per dwelling unit.

Image via Google Maps

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Camp David Dog Resort & Day Care is seeking the county’s approval for an outdoor play area on its property in Herndon.

The business, which is located at 13806 Redskin Drive, is seeking the county’s approval for the outdoor kennel after receiving a violation notice for operating the outdoor area in June.

The outdoor area is roughly 7,100 square feet and is bordered by the walls of the main building.

Since 2018, the kennel was offered dog boarding services, daycare, and training services, with an average of roughly 25 customers per day. The business scaled back its staff from three to two employees due to COVID-19, according to the application.

The application is in its early stages and was submitted on August 10. It was head to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a vote at a date that is to be determined, followed by the consideration of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Photo via Camp David/Facebook

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After several deferrals, a proposal for a new cell tower at Herndon High School cleared the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

At a meeting Wednesday night, the commission unanimously voted in favor of the project. Milestone Tower Limited Partnership plans to build a 114-foot monopole and other equipment for the facility, which could be blocked off by an eight-foot-tall fence. The facility is expected to improve cell phone coverage for Sprint customers.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Ulfelder said that Milestone’s latest proposal addresses some concerns raised by residents at public hearings earlier this year.

Ulfelder said he believes the changes, which were reviewed by staff last month, are adequate. He added that he was unsure critics would be happy with project unless it was completely withdrawn.

Milestone submitted several revisions earlier this year, which the county’s staff recommended for approval in an addendum to their initial report.

The project heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote later this month.

Photo via Sprint

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The Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred a decision on a proposed telecommunications facility on the grounds of Herndon High School last night (Wednesday).

Milestone Tower Limited Partnership hopes to build a 114-foot monopoly and other equipment for the facility, which would be blocked off by an eight-foot-tall, chain-link fence.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Ulfelder said the applicant submitted several revisions earlier this year, which the county’s staff recommended for approval in an addendum to their initial report.

“I would like to give a little more time for people to review the staff addendum and provide comments,” he said.

Ulfelder also noted the Fairfax County Public Schools met with residents who were concerned about the plan earlier this month.

Milestone reduced the height of the tallest monopole by 10 feet. The company also plans to install a sand filter for water quality treatment purposes.

Initially, Milestrone proposed purchasing off-site nutrient credits to make up for water quality control requirements. The facility would be located on the north side of the existing football field between two existing stadium light poles with heights of 70 and 85 feet.

The proposal has been deferred, but a date on the planning commission’s docket has not yet been announced.

Once approved by the commission, the proposal will head to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a final vote.

Photo via Sprint

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County planners have OK’s a plan to build 26 single-family houses on roughly 13 acres near West Ox Road in Herndon.

The final development plan for the project, called The Reserve at Spring Lake, will now head to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a meeting on June 17 at 7:30 p.m.

The property, which under development by Christopher Land, LLC, is currently developed with two single-family houses that were built in the 1950s.

The Spring Lake Estates community is also located near the site of the development. Spring Lake is a manmade lake created in the late 1950s for recreational purposes, according to the county.

The county’s health department noted that the developer must properly dispose of an onsite sewage disposal system and private well water supply prior to demolishing the current homes.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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A task force chaired by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn kicked off a review of Reston’s guiding planning and development document Monday night.

The 24-member group, which includes representatives from community organizations, developers, and real estate professionals, reviewed the primary objectives of the task force, which Alcorn assembled earlier this year. Over the next several months, members will develop recommendations on Reston’s Comprehensive Plan, which has been criticized by residents and others for not being up to date with the current and future pace of development.

Since the plan was last updated in 2014, 39 major zoning applications have been approved and 12 major zoning applications are in process, according to Chris Caperton, deputy director of the county’s planning and development department. More than 14 million square feet of commercial development and 13.4 million square feet of residential development have been approved, according to 2019 data.

Alcorn outlined a review of the following focus areas:

  • Projected population thresholds
  • Land use in Reston’s village centers
  • An evaluation of the plan’s language regarding more affordable housing and the preservation and improvement of existing affordable housing
  • Planned pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure to access Metro stations
  • If the plan provides adequate guidance on urban scale mobility and development design in Reston’s Transit Station Areas while protecting neighborhood stability of nearby areas
  • Transportation improvements and their alignment with planned development
  • How the plan can better enhance Reston’s natural environment and encourage energy efficiency
  • How the plan address concerns about the “monopolization” of ownership in Reston, especially pertaining to Boston Properties’ ownership of Reston Town Center
  • If the historic practice of promoting privately-owned open space addresses public needs for the next 50 years

Alcorn said the task force’s timetable was “aggressive” to complete its work. The next meeting, which will be held online, is slated for May 26.

He also clarified that discussions around the future ownership of Reston Town Center would center around whether or not there is a longterm vision of the ownership of Reston’s commercial center.

The review will not be restricted to Reston’s Planned Residential Community District. A county proposal to increase that district’s population density — among other proposed changes — drew community rancor and was ultimately deferred last year.

Others encouraged the task force to take a close look at whether or not the plan provides sufficient guidance on managing the pace of infrastructure and development in the area.

Reston Association board member John Mooney said he was concerned that county studies have primarily examined the effect of development in Reston’s Transit Station Area (TSA) on traffic specific in that area.

After a series of meetings, the task force will pitch recommendations to the Fairfax County Planning Commission. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will then vote on any proposed amendments to the plan.

More information about the task force and upcoming meetings is available online.

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A decision on the previously deferred plan to bring a new telecommunication tower to Herndon High School’s football field has been delayed, along with other votes and hearings on Reston and Herndon developments.

The project was set to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission last week on March 18.

The approval of signage for Commerce Park, a 260-unit multifamily building north of Sunrise Valley Drive and west of Commerce Park Drive, has also been delayed. A public hearing was planned for Wednesday, March 25. Another comprehensive sign plan by Reston Hospital Center was also slated for discussion on April 22.

Tweaks to change lot lines for Montessori Children Center (2745 Centreville Road) were set to go before the commission on April 2.

A plan to rezone roughly one acre of land from one residential unit to three residential units on the north side of Old Courthouse Road, just 300 feet east of Ervin Street, has also been delayed. The proposal by two residents was set for an April 29 public hearing.

County government officials have not yet indicated when the regular schedule for public meetings will resume. The county passed an emergency declaration last week.

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The Fairfax County Planning Commission is expected to vote on a proposal for a telecommunications facility on the grounds of Herndon High School today (Wednesday).

Milestone Tower Limited Partnership plans to build a 124-foot monopole and other equipment for the facility, which would be blocked off by an eight-food-tall chain link fence.

If approved, the facility would be located on the north side of the football field in between two existing stadium light poles. It’s expected to help Sprint improve coverage in the area.

In a staff report, the county noted that although the best option would be to move the facility to an existing structure or building that is tall enough to accommodate the facility, there is no option to do so in the area since it is largely home to single-family units.

“These sites provide few opportunities to minimize the impact on the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The large size of the Herndon High School parcel provides a large buffer from neighboring properties than other sites,” according to the report.

Staff also expect that the pole will blend into other lights that are already on the football field.

If approved tonight, the plan heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote on March 10. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

Photo via Sprint

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Brookfield Properties is seeking approval for the third phase of Halley Rise, a 4.1 million square foot project on the north side of Sunrise Valley Drive between Edmund Halley Drive and Reston Parkway.

The proposal, which was previously known as the Reston Crescent, received approval from the county in July 2018.

Brookfield plans to remake the 36-acre site into eight urban blocks, including 1.5 million square feet of new office space, 1,721 residential units, a 200-room hotel and 380,000 square feet of retail.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will consider Brookfield’s plan for the third phase of development at a meeting on Nov. 20.

The developer is seeking to build a 19-story building with 550,00 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail uses.

An eight-level parking garage is located behind the building and a neighborhood park with a fire pit and seating areas is planned in front of the building.

The first building, which will include an urban-format Wegmans, is currently under construction. It will occupy the ground floor of a seven-story building with 380 units and 1,000 parking spaces.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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The new owners of Normandy Farm in Great Falls want to expand the current equestrian center on the property — with permission from Fairfax County.

The Youngkin family bought parts of the Normandy Farms property (681 Rossmore Court) in 2015 and 2019 before applying for the roughly 31 acres of land to be reclassified as an agricultural and forest district.

The family claims the land has no historical significance for the area but they hope to preserve the nine acres of forest on the property and enhance equestrian infrastructure on the property.

The land includes barns, indoor and outdoor riding arenas, boarding and training facilities, horse pastures, meadows and a pond, which is home to Canadian geese, a blue heron and turtles, according to county documents. The documents also noted that the family plans to maintain the natural importance of the land.

“The proposed application is in conformance with plan goals of preserving the rural character of this environmentally sensitive area,” the application said.

The Youngkin family requested a public hearing with the Fairfax County Agricultural and Forestal District Advisory Board and the Fairfax County Planning Commission to review their application, according to the documents, which likely won’t happen before spring 2020.

The Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to consider the application in February.

Image via Google Maps

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The developer of a proposed 13-story apartment building near Reston Town Center has filed an appeal against the county’s decision to deny the project earlier this year.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission denied the project in June due its size and scale. NS Reston is proposing to build a 58-unit residential building on the north side of New Dominion Parkway.

The site, which is currently vacant, is next to the Paramount Condominium building and the Winwood Children’s Center, which is approved for a mixed-use building with 125 dwelling units. The county’s planning documents place a 746 unit cap on the two sites, including NS Reston’s project area.

Planning Commissioners said NS Reston’s proposal would exceed the planned density in that area, which is known in planning jargon as Reston Town Center Park 5. The site was also previously marked as a park for more than 20 years.

“There’s some density left, but not 58 units worth,” said Planning Commissioner John Carter at a June 19 meeting, adding that the proposal does not promote circulation and access in a congested area with a major intersection.

The appeal request heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Oct 15.

Renderings via NS Reston/Fairfax County Government

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New residential infill development could be coming to the end of Floris Lane in Herndon.

A Virginia-based property owner is seeking to develop roughly 13 acres of land with 25 single-family homes. The proposed development, which was accepted by the county for review last week, would include 40 percent open space.

Developer Christopher Land LLC notes that the development, which is called the Reserve at Spring Lake, would complete an “existing and established residential development pattern” in the area, according to a Sept. 27 application.

The project site is surrounded by other single-family homes, including the Borneham Woods and Spring Lakes Estate West communities. Asphalt trails are also proposed to connect sidewalks within the community and the community’s lake.

A public hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission is tentatively set for May 2020.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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A former landfill used by the CIA and the Russian embassy near Great Falls is looking to push past its complicated history and become protected agricultural land.

The current owners of Lockmoor farm (802 Utterback Store Road) went before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday (Oct. 2) to request that the county label the farm as an agricultural district — ultimately giving the owners a tax break as long as they do not develop the land. They plan to add goats, sheep, bees and possibly a vineyard to the property.

The landfill was in use from 1970 until 1989 and served as a place to dump old tree stumps, earning it the nickname “Stump Dump,” as well as a dumping ground for waste from the CIA and certain foreign embassies, according to a Fairfax County report.

Both the CIA and the Russian embassy used to dump garbage there.

“The Russians arrived every few months, paying the dump fee in cash or bottles of vodka,” according to the Washington Post. “A landfill employee would then call the FBI, whose agents would soon arrive to paw through the discards, usually restaurant receipts and parking tickets but once a stripped-down, brand-new Russian car.”

The almost 69 acres of land was also once a zoo with giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, gazelles, buffalos and other non-carnivorous creatures, according to Fairfax planners. The previous owner also wanted to bring lions and bears to the property, but Fairfax County wouldn’t allow it, Peter Murphy, the chairman of the Planning Commission, said. 

Evidence of the zoo can still be seen from underground enclosures at the base of the hill on the property.

Despite previous uses, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality determined that the land is fit for agricultural use because the soil and water meet safety and health requirements. VDEQ stopped monitoring the area in 2016 and now requests that the current owners maintain the landfill cap, which sits on the top of the hill. 

Partners John Nguyen and Hanna Chakarji bought the land two years ago in pursuit of their lifelong dream of farm ownership, Chakarji told the Planning Commission. 

“When the opportunity presented itself to purchase this property, we jumped, we grabbed it and have no intention of developing it,” Chakarji said. “We want to keep it in its present state, which is beautiful.”

The land is now divided into five parcels. Onlookers can spot the growing Tysons skyline in the background of the property, as the farm sits on one of the highest points in Fairfax County.

Currently, the men own several cows and ducks, 20 chickens and 49 goats. They sell the goats to local restaurants in D.C. and produce more than 1,000 pounds of tomatoes, which they donate to local churches, according to county documents.

Chakarji said their top priority is to integrate the sheep and bees, saying they understand that a vineyard and winery would take time.

“The winery is an afterthought, I’m sure it will take a lot of zoning,” he said, adding that his top priority is to preserve the farmland for his family. 

After an extensive discussion about goats, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the agricultural district proposal, which now heads to the Board of Supervisors next week.

“This was probably the most interesting agriculture and foresting districting we’ve had in a long time,” Murphy said.  

Images via Fairfax County

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The Fairfax County Planning Commission will take on Campus Commons, a proposal to redevelop property near the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station, later this month after nearly 50 residents voiced concerns about the controversial project at a meeting last month.

TF Cornerstone plans to bring 630 residential units spread across a mid-rise and high-rise building, an office building, and urban parks to the southeastern corner of Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road. 

The project is the last major mixed-use development in the pipeline immediately around he Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station.

In a Sept. 25 proposal for amendments, TFC Cornerstones reduced the height of a 14-story office building to 12 stories and the height of a 29-story residential tower to 25 stories. The developer also added an amphitheater to the development and added language to explore the possibility of a grade-separated pedestrian bridge.

But concerns about the project remain. The project heads to the commission for a vote on Oct. 10.

At a commission meeting in late September, planning commissioners stressed the need for the developer to ensure the project provided strong pedestrian and bicyclist connections to allow people to get to the Metro Station.

Others were unconvinced the project — and prior approvals — have done a good job maintaining synergy with other adjacent projects.

Planning Commissioner Mary Cortina said she was surprised the county’s overall process did not have a strong vision to get people to the station.

An on-grade crosswalk proposed at the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road has piqued major concerns in the community.

Cortina said she was unconvinced the proposed sidewalk was designed in a safe manner.

“This transition is not at a point where anyone will feel safe going across that many lanes of traffic with all the moving cars coming off [the] ramp,” Cortina said. “They’re going to take the shortest route.”

Residents say the proposed crosswalk, which takes pedestrians to a concrete island in the middle of the toll road’s western exit ramp, poses a major safety risk in an already busy intersection with frequent back-ups.

The project has prompted residents to launch a community grassroots campaign called “Rescue Sunrise Valley.”

Residents also raised concerns about a 25-story office tower on the corner of the site, among other issues. The building would be located immediately next to residential neighborhoods with single-family homes and low-rise townhouses — a mix of uses that residents say is incompatible with the area.

Planning commissioners also urged TF Cornerstones to preserve trees and ensure its renderings — which include significant tree canopy and greenery — will reflect reality. Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter noted that greenery and trees depicted in renderings of recently approved projects disappeared when the projects were built. Instead of trees, developers left utility polls and a row of mud.

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The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved a plan to redevelop Isaac Newton Square Thursday night, green-lighting another major mixed-use development near the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station.

APA Properties is seeking to rezone nearly 32 acres of land from industrial use in order to accommodate up to 2,100 units, including around 300 hotel rooms. Ten blocks of development are proposed, with 260,000 square feet of office and around 69,000 square feet of retail space.

Unlike other developments, an athletic field proposed along the southern edge of the property. Parking garages are planned throughout the development, but single-family units will have surface parking.

The project is located north of Sunset Hills Road and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail between Wiehle Avenue to the east and Hidden Creek Country Club to the west. Planning commissioners approved the project after ensuring it complied with current stormwater management guidelines — not old regulations the developer sought to retroactively apply to the current project.

Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter also noted the athletic field will be composed of synthetic turf. Crumb rubber was dropped in favor of other materials.

APA Properties plans to construct a southbound, right-turn lane from Wiehle Avenue onto Isaac Newtown Square North. An eastbound right-turn lane is proposed exiting the property onto Wiehle Avenue. Isaac Newton South, a two-way roadway that runs across the southern portion of the property, is the only public. Road proposed on the property.

In a recent report, the county’s planning and zoning staff recommended approval of the project. The proposal heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote on Oct. 15.

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