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by Fatimah Waseem December 11, 2017 at 10:15 am 13 Comments

Despite opposition from a neighboring townhouse community, the Fairfax County Planning Commission approved a plan to replace a daycare center with a 70-unit assisted living facility on 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive Thursday night.

Members of the body, which provides recommendations to the county’s Board of Supervisors, said the developer Kensington Senior Development worked closely with the county to reduce the size and scale of the building, which is nearly eight times larger than the current structure, to ensure the proposal was in line with county policies and regulations.

At a Nov. 30 public hearing, residents unanimously opposed the proposal, which they said was too large for the site and incompatible with the community south of Sunrise Valley Drive. The proposal calls for a two-to-three story building with roughly 65,000 square feet and a parking garage.

However, Frank de la Fe, the commissioner for the Hunter Mill District, said the location of the facility near small, residential neighborhoods was not unusual or concerning, especially since a local healthcare advisory committee emphasized the need for the center and because the developer scaled back its development proposal.

He also noted the plan had adequate buffering to screen surrounding neighborhoods from the facility.

“I’m not quite sure what [the neighbors] would be satisfied with next door in a redevelopment situation,” de la Fe said.

Although the case was “close” and “difficult,” James Hart, an at-large member, said the developer’s plan met a critical need in Fairfax County for assisted living facilities for seniors in an area where he said developable land is “running out.”

“I think it would’ve been an easier case if it was a smaller building but it meets all of the requirements in the plan and in the ordinance,” Hart said, adding that the rhythm of the building was very similar to townhouse development.

However, at-large member Mary Cortina said the size of the facility was stretched out to reduce its height, leaving people who use the facility with little to no amenities and diminished quality of life.

The developer has committed to working with neighborhoods to provide additional landscaping to create a larger buffer and was willing to contribute funding for pedestrian and bicycle improvements in the area, according to the commission.

The managing partner of a convenience center next to the proposed facility also supported the plan. Good Beginning School, the daycare has been open on the site for nearly 40 years.

The county’s Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal next year.

by Fatimah Waseem December 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm 16 Comments

The Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred a decision on a proposal to bring a 20-story condominiums to 1801 Old Reston Ave. Wednesday night amid questions about the building, which includes up to 150 units and a parking garage.

Although the developer Renaissance Centro, and the county’s planning and zoning staff resolved major issues raised in a technical staff report, the parties continued to disagree over how the condominiums incorporate workforce housing.

Renaissance Centro has pledged to build 24 for-sale condominiums, a commitment that allows the developer 24 additional market-rate units in bonus density. However, the developer is seeking to not comply with a policy that says additional market-rate units should be no more than 10 percent larger than workforce units for the development.

Zoning staff said workforce units should be similar in size to market rate units, especially since the developer is already exceeding the floor area ratio outlined in the plan while pursuing an exception that could potentially allow the developer nearly 40,000 square feet in bonus density.

The commission also raised concerns about the amount of parking in the development. Residents of the condominium would pay for in-house parking, a structure that members said was problematic because residents of workforce housing may not be able to afford paid parking and may instead have to park on the curb on North Shore Drive.

The development would also remove overflow parking used by some residents of the neighboring Harrison Apartments.  Currently, some residents use the surface parking lot on the site, according to zoning staff.

The commission deferred its decision to January 25.

Andrew Painter of Walsh Colucci Lubeley & Walsh, the developer’s representative, however, said the county should recognize the unique financial challenges in building a high-rise development. He said the developer was committed to providing 24 workforce units that would have the same number of bedroom units as market rate units but smaller overall units.

Painter also said the developer, which also developed the Carlton House condominiums in Reston Town Center, is keen on pursuing the development as a “legacy project” that would be the “crown jewel” of the area. He noted the proposed project would, if approved, be the first for-sale condominiums to be constructed in Reston in more than 10 years with the hallmark feature of providing home ownership opportunities for workhouse housing.

“This is kind of the last piece of the puzzle,” Painter said.

by Fatimah Waseem December 6, 2017 at 10:15 am 6 Comments

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins appointed a new member to the Fairfax County Planning Commission to represent the district.

John Carter will replace Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner Frank de la Fe, whose term expired this year.

The Board of Supervisors appointed de la Fe in December 2001 and reappointed him two years later. He was named vice chairman in January 2013.

According to the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s website:

Commissioner de la Fe worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the 1960s. From 1969 to 1971, he helped create the Illinois State Bureau of the Budget. He then returned to Federal service to establish the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention. In 1974, he moved to the Justice Department’s Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. He completed his federal career in 1994 when he retired from the Office of Personnel Management.A long-time community activist, since moving to Reston in 1971, Commissioner de la Fe has served in a variety of leadership positions, including serving on the boards of the Reston Association and Reston Interfaith.

Hudgins said Carter was a good fit for the program. He holds a Master of Planning degree from the University of
Virginia; a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor of Architecture with Distinction from Arizona State University. Carter was also the former Chief of Community-Based Planning in Montgomery County.

“Mr. Carter has lived in the Hunter Mill District for over 44 years and has extensive community involvement. I believe Mr. Carter is an excellent choice for this position,” Hudgins said.

by RestonNow.com December 6, 2017 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

Fairfax County Planning Commission to Decide On Proposal for Assisted Living Facility — The body will review a proposal by Kensington Senior Development LLC to bring a 70-unit assisted living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive. The proposal drew opposition from nearby residents at a public hearing last week. The commission will vote on the project at its 8:15 p.m. meeting today in the Fairfax County Government Center board auditorium. An online stream is on the county’s website. [Fairfax County Planning Commission]

FCPD: Keep Your Faith-based Organization Safe — The Fairfax County Police Department is hosting two worship watch seminars in the coming weeks. During seminars, officers share crime prevention tips and training specific to protecting congregants’ place of worship. The first seminar is on Dec. 16 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Springfield. The second is on Jan. 3 at the county’s new Public Safety Headquarters in Fairfax from 6 to 9 p.m. Registration is required. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Hook Road Working Groups Meet This Week — The group will meet tomorrow from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. to discuss the Hook Road Recreation Area project at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). [Reston Association]

by Fatimah Waseem November 30, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Public Hearing on Assisted Living Facility on Sunrise Valley Drive Today —  The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hear public testimony on the Kensington Senior Development project on 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive. The plan calls for a 91-unit assisted living facility in a space currently occupied by a child care center. To sign up to testify at the hearing, visit the commission’s website.   [Fairfax County Government]

‘Monster Drawing Rally’ and Fundraiser Begins Saturday — More than 50 artists will transform the Greater Reston Arts Center into a working art station at the center’s “Monster Drawing Rally” on Saturday from 1 – 5:30 p.m. udience members can purchase artwork for $75 per piece as it is created. If there are multiple bids for the same piece, a drawing will be used to select the winner of the piece. [Greater Reston Arts Center]

Reston-based Contractor Faces More Board Departures — According to the Washington Business Journal, four members of STG Group Inc.’s board of directors have resigned. The departures come as creditors took over the subsidiary of the contractor because the company defaulted on a previous credit agreement. [Washington Business Journal]

Herndon Family Medicine Celebrates Larger Facility —  The practice held a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this week to celebrate the opening of a new, larger facility on 381 Elden Street in Herndon. Mayor Lisa Merkel and the Town Council were also present at the ceremony. [Herndon Family Medicine]

Photo courtesy of Herndon Family Medicine

by Fatimah Waseem November 27, 2017 at 4:00 pm 13 Comments

Progress to bring a 91-unit assisted-living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive continues as Kensington Senior Development goes before Fairfax County’s Planning Commission this week.

A public hearing on the project, which has been reworked over the last several months, is scheduled for Thursday at 8:15 p.m. in the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway).

The assisted living facility would replace a 7,600-square foot building currently used as a child care center by Good Beginnings School. The building was built in 1978.

The latest plans include significant alterations from previous versions, including a reduction from five stories to either two or three stories. The facility will include up to 105 beds and up to 75 rooms. The plan also includes 67 parking garage spaces and recreations and amenity space for residents on the ground floor patio.

In a staff report, the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the plan, which was submitted last year.

To sign up to testify at the hearing, visit the commission’s website.  For more information, call the commission’s office 703-324-2865 or by email.

Photo via handout

by Fatimah Waseem November 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm 31 Comments

Fairfax County’s Planning Commission passed a measure that opens up more than 18 million square feet of vacant office space in the county to potential redevelopment this week.

But a move by at-large commissioner Tim Sargeant to carve a special exemption for Reston failed. Sargeant sought to exempt Reston from the measure, which creates a process to convert empty office buildings for other uses like residences and schools, because of Reston’s unique position as a planned community.

He said Reston underwent an extensive community planning process two years ago for Reston’s Transit Station Areas that attempts to strike a delicate balance between residential and office uses in the dense community. Reston Association also supported the exemption.

Others said approving the change could open up Reston to more residential units, a move that is not in concert with the master plan, which already envisions significant residential uses, according Marianne Gardner, director of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning’s planning division. Additionally, parts of Reston’s TSAs contain large swaths of land planned and developed for office use, she said.

Frank de le Fe, representative of the Hunter Mill district and the commission’s vice chairman, also voted to exempt Reston from the change.

However, Braddock-commissioner Ellen Hurley said carving a special exemption for one part of the county was not tenable. She also noted that adequate protections were already in place to pull back the change if needed. The area’s supervisor can request to pull back the change at any time, she said.

Commissioner John Ulfelder, the representative of the Dranesville District, also said creating a special exemption for one area of the county created “a slippery slope” and raised potential legal questions about zoning exemptions.

“If we do it here, why don’t we do it somewhere else,” Ulfelder said.

The overall land use policy change bypasses a county requirement for site-specific comprehensive plan amendment if an applicant seeks to change the use of a property. All other steps part of the land use approval process, including public hearings, will still apply. The county’s Board of Supervisors will review the proposal on Dec. 5.

In Reston, the Reston-Herndon Suburban Center has a vacancy rate of more than 70 percent, according to county data.

by Dave Emke October 16, 2017 at 1:30 pm 6 Comments

At its meeting tonight (agenda), Reston’s Planning & Zoning Committee will hear presentations on three major upcoming projects.

Two projects are scheduled to be voted upon at the meeting:

  • Renaissance Centro 1801 LLC — Currently the 1.51-acre home of a three-story office building, 1801 Old Reston Ave. has been proposed by property owner Renaissance Centro as the site of a 20-story high rise with up to 150 living units. Of those units, 126 would be market-rate and 24 would be workforce dwelling. This project has a Dec. 6 hearing scheduled with the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
  • Kensington Senior Development LLC — Currently the home of Good Beginnings School, 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive is proposed as the new home of a senior-living facility. The 65,000-square-foot building would include 96 beds within 70 units. This project has a Nov. 30 hearing scheduled with the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

The committee is also scheduled to hear an informational presentation on the CRS Sunset Hills LC project. Comstock Partners plans to convert the Sunset Hills Professional Center, a one-story office condo complex at Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue, into a mixed-use development featuring approximately 460 residential units and 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The project would also include two parcels to the east, known as the “Kfoury Parcels,” which would be developed to add approximately 300,000 square feet of office uses. Comstock also plans for an approximately 400,000-square-foot full-service hotel and 80 high-end residential units on another adjacent property. In total, the planned project includes about 1.24 million square feet of proposed redevelopment, exclusive of affordable-housing provision bonuses.

That project does not yet have a county hearing scheduled.

Tonight’s Reston P&Z Committee meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

File image of 1801 Old Reston Ave.

by Dave Emke September 28, 2017 at 2:45 pm 2 Comments

Check out these “Throwback Thursday” photos of the early days of Station 25, Reston, posted on Twitter today by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

Soon, the station as it has been known by longtime Reston residents will change forever.

The station, at 1820 Wiehle Ave., was built in 1972 and last renovated in 1986. It was one of five fire stations approved for replacement and/or renovation under the county’s 2015 Public Safety Bond Referendum. The new fire station on Wiehle Avenue, according to the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, will cost about $13 million. It is needed due to “outdated infrastructure and critical operational space deficiencies.”

The work on the new station is estimated to take place from spring 2019 through late 2020.

While the permanent station is being replaced, a temporary fire station will stand at 1800 Cameron Glen Drive. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously gave its OK to the plan for the temporary fire station earlier this month, and the County Board of Supervisors did the same at their meeting this week.

You can see more historical photos of the Wiehle Avenue station at the FairfaxFirefighters.org website.

by Dave Emke September 11, 2017 at 2:45 pm 37 Comments

A public hearing on redevelopment at 1831 Michael Faraday Drive will take place at this week’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting.

In July, the county’s Planning Commission voted to recommend to the Board that the 3.85-acre property be rezoned to residential, with an option for 10,000 square feet of non-residential uses. Rooney Properties has plans for the property include 13 single-family attached and 283 multi-family dwelling units. The property owners say the multi-family structure would have seven stories, approximately 85 feet in height. In addition to residential units and parking, the first floor of the multifamily building would include retail space, a bicycle storage room, and a loading area with two loading spaces. The attached parking structure would be designed with seven parking levels.

Rooney hopes to begin construction on the project in the first half of 2018.

The adjacent 11111 Sunset Hills Road property, which is also up for rezoning, would have mirrored townhouses and courtyards. In addition, it would include an extension of the open space at the southeast corner of the Michael Faraday site to create a “more extensive and coordinated park” on the southern portion of the properties. That site has a Planning Commission hearing scheduled for Nov. 16.

At the hearing on 1831 Michael Faraday Drive, scheduled for about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Board will discuss the recommendation from the Planning Commission that they approve the rezoning and the conceptual development plan. In addition, the Planning Commission has suggested the Board go along with waivers on the setback from the Dulles Toll Road, the requirement for 200-square foot privacy yards for single-family attached dwelling units, the barrier requirement and more.

The project is just one of many sets of redevelopment plans on the table for the Wiehle Avenue/Michael Faraday Drive area. Numerous developers are working together to turn the property east of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station into what they call the “gateway to Reston.”

by Dave Emke September 6, 2017 at 11:30 am 2 Comments

Plans for a temporary home for Reston Fire and Rescue Station 25 will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission next week for a public hearing.

The permanent fire station, located at 1820 Wiehle Ave., will be replaced in the next few years. During the work, there will be no room on that site for fire operations to be based.

The temporary home for the fire company at 1800 Cameron Glen Drive will be a 7,680-square foot, one-story pre-manufactured modular building containing living quarters and office space, along with three apparatus bays. Construction is expected to begin next summer.

The site was used by Reston Hospital Center as a temporary helipad in 2013. Two years later, it was used as a temporary surface parking lot for the Reston District Police Station during construction of its new station.

Project manager Lisa Goddard, of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, previously told Reston Now that a full restoration of the temporary site, with removal of all improvements back to its original state of a grass lot, will take place once the fire company moves into its new permanent home on Wiehle Avenue. She said no trees will be removed in the implementation of the temporary fire station.

Reston Fire and Rescue was one of five fire stations approved for replacement and/or renovation under the county’s 2015 Public Safety Bond Referendum. The new fire station on Wiehle Avenue, according to the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, will cost about $13 million. It is needed due to “outdated infrastructure and critical operational space deficiencies.” The work on the new station is estimated to take place from spring 2019 through late 2020.

The Planning Commission hearing is scheduled to take place during the Thursday, Sept. 14 meeting, which begins at 8:15 p.m. at 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax. The project is then slated to go before the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing at its Tuesday, Sept. 26 meeting at 3:30 p.m.

Map courtesy Fairfax County Planning Commission

by Dave Emke August 24, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

As Fairfax County considers developing regulations to govern the use of short-term rentals (e.g., Airbnb), three community meetings — including one in Reston — have been scheduled to gather community input.

The community meeting in Reston will be held Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). Additional meetings are slated for Alexandria on Sept. 13 and McLean on Sept. 25.

Community members are also invited to submit their input in an online survey, which is available through the end of August.

Currently in Fairfax County, short-term rentals — properties rented for less than 30 days at a time — are only allowed with approval of a special exception by the Board of Supervisors to classify a home as a bed and breakfast. In Reston, where residents must follow county laws related to the practice, short-term rentals have been the source of debate. Most recently, at the May meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors, short-term rentals at a home on Trails Edge Lane were the topic of controversy.

At that meeting, the Board decided to consider amending its governing documents to clarify the RA’s position on homesharing, to strengthen its standing in the effort to stop violations of county rules.

This county’s proposed zoning rules for short-term rentals may address issues including where the rentals will be allowed in the county, how often they can be rented out, what types of properties can be rented out, and how many people will be allowed to stay in a property at any one time.

According to information provided by the county:

The county is considering the regulations as a result of new state law passed this year that allows localities to require registration of short-term rentals. The Board of Supervisors directed county staff to initiate an analysis of STRs and propose draft zoning regulations.

Ultimately, the board will decide whether to adopt the new rules, and both the Planning Commission and board will hold public hearings on the zoning rules before any action is taken. No public hearing dates have been scheduled at this time. Any additional meetings and the future public hearing dates will be posted on the short-term rental webpage.

To get more information or to offer feedback, contact the county’s Zoning Ordinance Administration Division by email or call 703-324-1314.

by Dave Emke July 12, 2017 at 5:00 pm 21 Comments

After being deferred five times, the redevelopment of property at 1831 Michael Faraday Drive will have a public hearing Thursday in front of the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

The plans for the 3.85-acre property include 13 single-family attached and 283 multi-family dwelling units, along with 7,500 to 10,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial uses. According to the project’s specifications:

The multi-family structure would be designed with seven stories and be approximately 85 feet in height. In addition to residential units and parking, the first floor of the multifamily building would include retail space, a bicycle storage room, and a loading area with two loading spaces. The attached parking structure would be designed with seven parking levels.

The proposal also calls for 22 percent open space. This would include a linear open space, or mews, which would be located between the single-family attached units and the multi-family units. The mews would feature a patio, seating, game tables, lawn and sidewalks.

The adjacent 11111 Sunset Hills Road property, which is also up for rezoning, would have mirrored townhouses and courtyards. In addition, it would include an extension of the open space at the southeast corner of the Michael Faraday site to create a “more extensive and coordinated park” on the southern portion of the properties. That site has a Planning Commission hearing scheduled for Nov. 16.

The site is owned by Rooney Properties, who hopes to begin construction on the mixed-use project in the first half of 2018. The hearing with the county Planning Commission was first set for October 2016 and has been rescheduled four more times before Thursday.

The 1831 Michael Faraday Drive plot is just one of many sets of redevelopment plans on the table for the Wiehle Avenue/Michael Faraday Drive area. Numerous developers are working together to turn the property east of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station into what they call the “gateway to Reston.”

Renderings via 1831 Michael Faraday LLC

by Dave Emke April 14, 2017 at 4:00 pm 16 Comments

Developer Bozzuto is scheduled for two more informational meetings next week on its proposal to redevelop St. Johns Wood.

Meetings are on the agenda with Reston’s Planning & Zoning Committee on Monday night, and with the Design Review Board on Tuesday. The most recent informational meeting on the project, last month at the Planning & Zoning Committee, once again drew large community response opposing the plan.

That response from the community has been consistent since the project was first proposed in 2014. Bozzuto has made numerous alterations to the plan since, with the proposal made at March’s P&Z Committee meeting being the seventh iteration.

In addition, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will host a community meeting on the proposal later this month, featuring representatives from Bozzuto. That meeting will be held Tuesday, April 25, from 7-9 p.m. in the lecture hall at Langston Hughes Middle School (11401 Ridge Heights Road).

A Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the project is slated for May 25.

by Dave Emke March 27, 2017 at 10:15 am 9 Comments

Kensington Senior Development LLC hopes to put an assisted-living facility on Sunrise Valley Drive, and the public is invited to give its input.

Fairfax County’s Health Care Advisory Board will hold a public meeting on the proposal Monday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the county Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax). At the meeting, a special-exemption application from Kensington to put the facility at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive will be reviewed.

The sale of the property to Kensington by its current owners, the Good Beginnings School, is contingent upon the approval of the plan by the county.

The application is scheduled for a Sept. 27 hearing before the county Planning Commission. The Health Care Advisory Board, meanwhile, is tasked with reviewing the application from a health care perspective rather than land use, using criteria such as community and medical need, access to care, cost, quality, and continuity of care.

HCAB will make recommendations regarding the proposal to the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission.

The current plan for Kensington’s proposed 91,000-square-foot Reston facility includes 91 units and 125 to 135 beds. The 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-story facility would feature underground parking. A representative from Cooley LLP presented the plan to Reston’s Design Review Board on Feb. 21.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the April 3 meeting of HCAB and provide comments. Anyone who wishes to speak should call 703-246-8664 by Friday. Written comments can also be considered, if they are received prior to the meeting. They can be sent by email to [email protected] or by mail to HCAB Staff Coordinator, Health Department, 10777 Main St., Suite 203, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Image via Cooley LLP/RA YouTube

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