by Fatimah Waseem February 22, 2018 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

Meet Reston Association Candidates Next week – There are 13 candidates running for seats on RA’s Board of Directors. Check out three opportunities to meet them. [Reston Today]

Jumping Off Ship – John Jumper is retiring from the board of directors of Leidos. The company plans to move its headquarters to a future trophy tower in Reston Town Center. [Washington Business Journal]

Vote on Renaissance Centro Project Expected Tonight – The county’s Planning Commission will vote on the Renaissance Centro project tonight. The proposal calls for replacing offices on Old Reston Avenue with 20-story condos. [Reston Now]

Enjoy “Expressions of the Soul” Today — eMotion, a local dance group with dancers ranging from ages eight to 65, will performance today at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. [Reston Community Center]

by Fatimah Waseem February 16, 2018 at 10:15 am 22 Comments

Relief could be on the way soon for drivers who frequent Hunter Mill Road near the Dulles Toll Road.

Last night, the Fairfax County Planning Commission approved long awaited plans to tackle traffic backups by realigning Sunset Hills Road to Crowell Road.

The plan also includes adding a roundabout as an intersection control. Hunter Mill Road would become a four-lane road between the intersection of Crowell Road and Sunset Hills Road to the Dulles Toll Road’s westbound ramps.

John Carter, the Hunter Mill District’s planning commissioner, compared the new plan to George Washington Parkway. Conceding the comparison was imperfect, he said the changes feature sweeping curves, major setbacks of 400 feet from houses to the road and a commitment to preserve a pond and a forested resource protection area.

The plan passed by the commission includes several amendments to address concerns raised by the Hunter Mill Defense League and the Hunting Crest Homeowners Association. Changes include:

  • Beginning realignment to the east of the Edlin School and extending no farther than Crowell Road
  • Maximizing the distance between the realigned road and the Hunting Crest community
  • The inclusion of a roundabout as a preferred alternative
  • Modifying transportation maps to include a cul-de-sac on Hunter Mill Road

The county’s Board of Supervisors will hear public comment on the plan on March 6 at around 4 p.m.

Since 2014, the county held several community meetings to lay out traffic management alternatives. The latest plan is a mix of several options, but departs from previously discussed plans, which the county indicated no longer work.

Carter said the county’s studies clearly indicate the current plan is the “better method to calm traffic in this area.”

Photo via handout

by Fatimah Waseem January 26, 2018 at 10:15 am 0

For the second time, the Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred a decision Thursday night on a proposal to bring 20-story condominiums to 1801 Old Reston Avenue.

Developer Renaissance Centro is seeking to rezone roughly 1.5 acres of land currently home to a three-story office. The proposal calls for 126 market rate units and 24 workforce units, along with a parking garage.

Over the last several months, the county’s planning and zoning staff and the developer have clashed over how the condominiums incorporate workforce housing.

The disagreement prompted the commission to defer a decision from early December to Jan. 26. Citing similar concerns, the commission deferred a decision to Feb. 22.

Photo via handout

by Fatimah Waseem January 24, 2018 at 10:00 am 20 Comments

After years of discussion, Fairfax County officials are finalizing long awaited plans to tackle traffic backups on Hunter Mill Road near the Dulles Toll Road.

The Fairfax County Dept. of Transportation plans to realign Sunset Hills Road to Crowell Road, with a roundabout as the intersection control, according to a proposal filed last month. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the plans today at 7:30 p.m.

Hunter Mill Road would be widened to four lanes between the intersection of Crowell Road and Sunset Hills Road to the Dulles Toll Road’s westbound ramps. The four-lane section would use existing right-of-way and pavement along Hunter Mill Road.

The plan departs from six alternatives discussed during six community charrettes since 2014. County officials found that no alternative would adequately reduce congestion during peak hours, according to the proposal.

Originally, the county hoped to shift the Sunset Hills Road intersection by moving it opposite the westbound off-ramp for the Dulles Toll Road and relocate the on-ramp to begin at Sunset Hills Road west of Hunter Mill Road. But a Metrorail track power substation is now being built at that site.

A second option would have relocated Sunset Hills Road by bringing the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Hunter Mill Road as close as possible to Reston Presbyterian Church. That option would not provide enough space between the intersections. A third option with roundabout in the area  would have required the church to relocate.

The proposed solution would address traffic congestion and the roundabout feature meets the community’s desire to “calm” traffic to the north of Crowell Road, according to the plan.

The road realignment was prompted in response to increased traffic congestion driven by new development.

Currently, morning and afternoon traffic along Sunset Hills Road near the westbound Dulles Toll Road causes daily traffic congestion at the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Hunter Mill Road.

A hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is set for March 6 at 4 p.m.

Photo via Fairfax County Department of Transportation

by Fatimah Waseem January 22, 2018 at 1:30 pm 7 Comments

A section giving guidance on how to control the impact of traffic-related noise in Reston’s Transit Station Areas was accidentally deleted from Reston’s Comprehensive Plan. At a meeting tomorrow, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider a plan to reinstate the language.

The county’s Planning Commission unanimously approved adding the language back in November. The update is merely editorial, as the language previously passed through the public hearing process and was adopted by the board.

“We couldn’t just say ‘oops’ and put it back… into the plan without going through the whole process again,” said Planning Commissioner Frank de la Fe.

Generally, the plan discourages new residential development in areas with projected highway noise exposure above 75 decibels.

But in Reston Station Areas near highways and Metrorail, new residential development could be appropriate if noise impacts go beyond 75 decibels, so long as specific noise mitigation methods are in effect.

The language requires a noise study during the development review process, as well as after the development is completed in order to evaluate the effectiveness of noise mitigation procedures. If noise impacts are above 75 DBA, disclosure statements detailing potential noise impacts are necessary.

Graphic via handout

by Fatimah Waseem January 22, 2018 at 9:00 am 3 Comments

Planning Commission Set to Vote on Renaissance Centro Plan — On Thursday, the body will consider the proposal to build 20-story condominiums at 1801 Old Reston Ave. A vote was deferred from last month as county staff and the developer continued to disagree over how to incorporate workforce housing in the project. [Fairfax County Government]

Contemplate Creativity at a Meditation Workshop Today at 7 p.m.— This workshop at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market Street) will help attendees use the tool of contemplation to explore “truth, perspective and different realities,” according to its organizers. Its topic is inspired by Paulina Peavy’s work, which is currently on display at the center. Email [email protected] to register.

Parking Fees on Saturdays at Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station Up for Debate — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider a measure to continue free parking on Saturdays at the Metro station. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority plans to charge $2 for parking on Saturdays at all Metro Stations beginning Feb. 5.  The board meets tomorrow. [Fairfax County Government]

Flickr pool photo by Vantagehill

by Fatimah Waseem January 11, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

A plan to expand Langston Hughes Middle School (11401 Ridge Heights Road) heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission today at 7 p.m.

The commission will vote on a proposal by the Fairfax County School Board to add three new buildings to the current site. The school is operating at 115 percent of its capacity, according to current capacity utilization rates,

Plans, reviewed by the county’s Dept. of Planning and Zoning in late December, call for a 3,500-square-foot art studio with a canopy at the front of the school.

A two-story building would be attached to the back of the building, with classrooms and administrative offices on the main level and library and science labs on the second level. A courtyard will rest between the school and the two-story building. Another one-story building will include about 1,350 square feet with an expanded cafeteria.

The number of parking spots will increase from 115 to 153, including new parking that will replace existing multi-purpose courts and 38 spots along Seahawks Drive.

The project is expected to cost roughly $41.7 million in construction-related expenses.

At the meeting, the commission will also hear public testimony on a plan to reduce the age requirement for McNair Senior Apartments (13430 Coppermine Road), which houses 139 independent living units on roughly three acres.

The applicant wants to reduce the minimum age of residents from 62 to 55 and change the project’s official classification from “housing for the elderly” to “independent living facilities.”

The meeting (agenda here) will begin at 7:30 p.m in the board auditorium of Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Pkwy). A livestream will be available online.

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 21 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 32 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.


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