Pulte Expects Year-End Goal for Starting Work on Townhomes at Reston Arboretum

A residential project at the Reston Arboretum could break ground by the end of this year.

Pulte Homes’ plans are currently going through the final process with Fairfax County to obtain platted lots and grading permits, Julie Pulliam, a spokeswoman for Pulte, told Reston Now.

Pulte expects that process to be completed by the end of this year, which will then mark the start of the land development process, Pulliam said.

The project now calls for 40 townhomes instead of the originally planned 44 single-family attached residential units and a parking garage, Pulliam said. Model units are expected to open in late 2020. Pricing for the townhomes has not been finalized yet, Pulliam added.

The four-story office building currently there will remain on the property at 12700 Sunrise Valley Drive, which is less than half of mile away from the future Herndon Metro station.

The project does not have an estimated completion date yet, Pulliam said.

Image via Google Maps

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Locals Asked to Sign Up for Statewide Tornado Drill This Month

Fairfax County wants locals to sign up for the upcoming statewide tornado drill.

The annual drill is meant to help prepare residents for tornadoes, which can strike quickly and cause extensive damage. Virginia has averaged 24 tornadoes per year over the last 10 years, according to the county.

After locals sign up to participate, the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning over NOAA Weather Radios at 9:45 a.m. on March 19.

The test should come through a tone or message alert simulating what people would hear and see during an actual tornado. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will also participate by broadcasting the test message.

Once the drill starts, here’s what to do: move to a safe area, crouch, face down and cover your head with your hands. Some examples of safe areas include sturdy buildings, basements and storm cellars.

If you are in a car or outdoors, cover your head and neck and try to cover your body with a blanket or coat.

Here are things not to do:

  • do not outrun a tornado in a vehicle
  • do not go underneath an overpass or bridge
  • do not stay near windows, doors and outside walls

Image via Fairfax County

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Locals Urged to Stay Off Reston Roads as Wintry Mix Continues

Updated at 4:45 p.m. — Fairfax County Public Schools announced that schools will open two hours late tomorrow (Feb. 21). School offices and central offices will open on time.

Earlier: Major roads appear clearer and mostly without traffic this afternoon, yet public safety officials keep asking locals to stay off of the roadways.

An emergency post from Fairfax County said that a number of traffic accidents took place today (Feb. 20) around the county. With sleet and rain recently replacing the snow, locals can expect slippery roads,  the National Weather Service warns.

Herndon and Reston saw around 4.5 inches of total snow accumulation, according to NWS.

Several locals posted photos noting the change this afternoon from snow to a wintry mix of sleet and rain.

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the county and surrounding area until 10 p.m. for snow, sleet and ice.

More from NWS:

WHAT…Mixed precipitation. Additional snow and sleet
accumulations of less than one inch through mid afternoon, then
ice accumulations of up to one tenth of an inch through 10 pm.
All freezing rain is expected to transition to rain by 10 pm.

* WHERE…Portions of central and northern Virginia.

* WHEN…Until 10 PM EST this evening.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The
hazardous conditions will impact the evening commute.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow, sleet or
freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Expect slippery
roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.

When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on
steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery,
increasing your risk of a fall and injury.

The weather has prompted some event cancellations tonight in Reston and Herndon.

Images via Virginia 511Google Maps and Marjorie Copson

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Snowstorm Sparks Closures, Altered Schedules Around County

Winter weather today means not just kids are enjoying a snow day. Several offices and services are closed or have altered schedules today as a mix of snow, rain and sleet hits Fairfax County.

Transportation 

The Fairfax Connector is running on a Saturday schedule today.

Metro trains will run every 12 minutes, while buses are on a “severe snow service plan” with only limited service on major roadways.

Fairfax County

Fairfax County government offices are closed, along with golf courses and county parks.

The Fairfax County Circuit Court, General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court are closed as well.

The county’s Planning Commission won’t meet tonight.

Reston

The Reston Animal HospitalReston Community Center and Reston Association offices including the Walker Nature Center and Central Services Facility are closed.

The open house for Lake House for today has been canceled.

The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce canceled its events for today.

Herndon

HealthWorks in Herndon will be closed.

If you live in Herndon, don’t expect your recycling to get picked up today. Mayor Lisa Markel posted on Facebook that recycling will be collected on Thursday instead.

Items from the Town of Herndon’s previously planned meetings for the Architectural and Heritage Preservation review boards are now moved to the March 20 public hearing.

The Town of Herndon’s offices and the Herndon Community Center are closed.

Photo via @billwhe67/Twitter

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Plows Out in Force on Snow-Covered Reston Roads

Snow plows are working to clear roadways this morning after a snowstorm began earlier this morning.

A traffic camera facing westbound at the snow-covered intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunset Hills Road shows more trucks with snow plows than cars this morning.

Still, drivers can expect some slow-moving traffic on the Dulles Toll Road and major roads in Reston and Herndon with spots of congestion near intersections.

Fairfax County wants locals to stay off the roads, especially with low visibility near the Reston Parkway.

The National Weather Service’s Winter Storm Warning is in effect until 7 p.m.

The warning says that “travel will be very difficult, especially during the morning commute. The hazardous conditions could also impact the evening commute.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation wants locals to stay off of the roads. “Pockets of heavier snow may limit visibility and stick to the pavement, and a mix of freezing rain may quickly make roads slick,” VDOT said in an update at 6 a.m.

Images via Virginia 511, Google Maps

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Fatal Herndon car crash on Saturday — “Detectives are asking for the public’s help in identifying two victims from this morning’s [Feb. 16] fatal single vehicle crash.  Officers responded to the crash around 4:26 a.m. on southbound Route 28 near the McLearen Road exit.” [Fairfax County Police Department]

Winter storm on its way — Heads up for tomorrow: expect sleet, ice and several inches of snow. The National Weather Service’s Winter Storm Warning will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 20). [National Weather Service]

Bus meeting tonight — The rescheduled meeting for public input on local bus service provided by Fairfax Connector in the Herndon-Reston area will take place from 6-8 p.m. tonight at the Herndon Senior Center (873 Grace Street). [DC Commute Times]

Election for 86th District seat — Voting today will decide the replacement for now-State Sen. Jennifer Boysko’s former seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. The county has information about where, when and how to vote in the special election. [Fairfax County]

Interactive show at Great Falls Senior Center — The Great Falls Senior Center welcomes back Mary Ann Jung’s interactive show today. Jung, who has been recreating historical women for more than 30 years, will portray Margaret Brent, a colonial woman who was America’s first female landowner, lawyer and first to demand the vote in the 1640s. Lunch will be provided. [Great Falls Senior Center]

Rolling in the money — “[Reston-based] Sequoia Holdings Inc., a leading provider of software and cloud engineering services for the U.S. intelligence community, has received an equity investment from Chart National, L.P., a New York-based private equity fund with deep relationships within the intelligence community and the U.S. Department of Defense.” [Business Wire]

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After ‘Difficult’ Decision to Retire, Hudgins Shares Priorities for Year

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins used her newsletter this month to give a glimpse into her “difficult decision” behind her decision to not run for re-election to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Hudgins, who is nearing the end of her fifth term, was first elected to the board in 1999. Her retirement announcement came during the Board of Supervisors meeting last month, adding to the list of supervisors who have also said they are leaving.

Now in her 20th year on the board, Hudgins used the newsletter as an opportunity to share her priorities for a “vigorous” year, including renewable energy and Silver Line Phase 2’s progress.

Here is her full note:

Dear Hunter Mill Friends,

On Jan. 22, during the first Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting in 2019, I was struck by the thought: I am beginning my 20th year as Hunter Mill Supervisor with the mixed emotions of excitement and joy in serving the community and the reality that even good things must end. At that moment, I felt compelled to speak and share my intention not to seek reelection to be the Hunter Mill District representative. Believe me it was a difficult decision and an equally difficult announcement. However, I do intend to have a vigorous 20th year and continue to enjoy the kind of work that we’ve been able to do with this board.

One thing that will greatly contribute to a vigorous year is an improved public transit system, connecting the Metrorail system to Dulles International Airport and points in Loudoun County. I am excited to share that the first trains rolled along the Silver Line Phase 2 tracks around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6. The test train traveled from Wiehle-Reston Station to Innovation Station at a speed of about 15 mph! There is an interesting story behind that spectacular speed. Because the third rail is not yet electrified for this test, the trains were pushed by a small diesel locomotive. Once the rail polishing phase — necessary to remove rust that can accumulate on unused rails — is complete, additional trains, equipped for Safe-Braking and Control-Line Communications trials, will begin the “dynamic testing” process. This is required before the rail line begins commercial operation.

This testing work, is a significant milestone and will continue for several months before public service commences in 2020.

Another area of significant relevance and impact is the environment. In 2017, the BOS adopted an Environmental Vision “to promote and encourage energy efficiency and conservation efforts and renewable energy initiatives by county employees, employers and residents.” In 2018, the board adopted an Energy Strategy for county operations with the goal of
reducing “fossil fuel consumption through the application of innovative concepts & technologies.” In 2019, the BOS is raising awareness of its achievements already made — two Solarize campaigns conducting free on-site solar assessments that led solar panel installations, totaling 398 kW — and the county commitment to a third campaign in the spring of 2019. With the assistance of the SolSmart program, we will do just that. SolSmart is a national designation program for solar friendly communities, their commitments, and their accomplishments.

Moreover, Fairfax County is committed to improve solar market conditions, making it faster, easier and more affordable for residents and businesses to install solar energy systems. Currently, the county is considering the creation of a local Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program. Depending on the ordinance language, a C-PACE loan
could finance energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements on industrial, commercial, agricultural, multi-family and non-profit/religious properties. So as you can surmise, it will be another busy year.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge that representing the Hunter Mill District continues to be challenging and thrilling and I am looking forward to a dynamic 2019 indeed. It is an ongoing honor to serve and I fully intend to continue being engaged with the work of the community.

— Cathy Hudgins

File photo

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Postponed Strategic Plan Meeting Resolves PRC Vote Conflict

The meeting conflict between Fairfax County’s Strategic Plan meeting and the scheduled decision on a contentious zoning ordinance has been resolved.

The public meeting on Fairfax County’s Strategic Plan was recently rescheduled to March. It was originally scheduled for Thursday (Feb. 13) — the same date as the county’s Planning Commission meeting, which will include a vote on a proposed zoning ordinance that would increase the population density in parts of Reston.

Now, the meeting in Reston — one of four community engagement events on the county’s strategic planning process — will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, March 4.

The free meeting will be organized into moderated conversation groups of residents from nearby communities, and locals will have opportunities to share their thoughts and experiences “that will be used to help shape a countywide strategic plan,” the event description says. The meeting is set to take place at the Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road).

The strategic planning process has six phases outlined on the county’s website.

The first phase started in November to develop a project approach and community engagement plan started and was completed in January. The second phase — community engagement — is set to run through March to seek input and come up with a draft of priorities around seven to 10 areas.

Then, the strategic planning process will shift to defining those priorities in March and April before returning for community input from April to July. The Strategic Plan will then get developed from the summer until the end of the year before seeking adoption from the county’s Board of Supervisors at the start of 2020.

Meanwhile, the Planning Commission is set to finally weigh in on the contentious population density proposal this Thursday, after delaying a vote following a five-hour-long public hearing on Jan. 23.

The proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons to any number up to 15, along with allowing residential development at a density of up to 70 dwelling units per acre in certain areas.

Images via Fairfax County/Eventbrite and Reston Association/YouTube

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Domestic Violence Action Center Opens in Herndon

A newly opened domestic violence action center in Herndon will provide free advocacy services every Friday.

Fairfax County recently announced that the Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC) began offering services last Friday (Feb. 1) at the Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center (1086 Elden Street), which is a collaborative effort between the county, Cornerstones and the Connections for Hope Partnership.

“A crucial component for engaging victims in services is access to the necessary resources available to them,” Kevin Ochs, the advocacy services supervisor for the Fairfax County Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, said in a press release.

The services, which will include an onsite victim advocate who speaks English and Spanish, will be available every Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some of the services DVAC offers are:

  • Court Attire Program with a selection of clothing for court hearings and job interviews
  • crisis intervention, emotional support and options counseling
  • education about the criminal and civil justice systems
  • emergency shelter
  • housing information and referrals
  • short-term case management

DVAC also has locations in Alexandria and Fairfax staffed by county agency and community nonprofit partners.

Locals’ heading to the DVAC location at the Historic Courthouse in Fairfax “presented challenges for victims of domestic and sexual violence and stalking, with safety being a prominent issue,” according to the county.

Now, people can walk-in, make appointments and also call the Herndon location.

Image via Google Maps 

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NWS Warns Drivers of Slick Roads Tuesday as Rain Turns to Snow

Rain and snow are slated to hit Fairfax County tomorrow, possibly making roads slick from sudden weather changes.

The National Weather Service recently posted a Winter Weather Advisory at 2:58 p.m. today for Fairfax County and nearby areas beginning tomorrow.

NWS expects rain and snow late in the afternoon and early evening on Tuesday (Jan. 29). NWS anticipates about 1 to 3 inches of snow, with the abrupt transition from rain to snow creating poor driving conditions.

Commuters are encouraged to be aware of potential travel disruptions and allow for extra time getting back in the evening.

The advisory says the following:

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM NOON TO 10 PM EST
TUESDAY…

* WHAT…Any rain will change to snow during the afternoon hours.
Total snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches expected.

* WHERE…Portions of central and northern Maryland and northern
Virginia.

* WHEN…From noon to 10 PM EST Tuesday.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The
hazardous conditions will impact the evening commute.
Temperatures will fall well below freezing during the evening,
causing any moisture or slush to freeze on untreated surfaces.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means periods of snow will
cause primarily travel difficulties. Expect snow covered roads
and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.

The latest road conditions for the state you are calling from can
be obtained by calling 5 1 1

File photo

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Registration Opens Today for Girls on the Run at Lake Anne ES

Spring registration for Girls on the Run, a national organization that promotes self-confidence and healthy habits for elementary school girls, is now open for Lake Anne Elementary School.

Girls on the Run provides a physical activity-based youth development program. In Fairfax County, it is available for girls from third grade to sixth grade.

Starting the week of March 4, the Lake Anne Elementary School team will meet every Monday and Wednesday from 4-5:30 p.m. A 5k on the weekend of May 18 will celebrate the end of the season.

Registration opened today (Jan. 28) on the Girls on the Run NOVA. The standard program fee is $175, which includes 20 lessons and practices, a t-shirt, water bottle, entry into the 5k, a 5k medal and more. Financial assistance is available for anyone who needs it.

Girls on the Run NOVA received the 2018 FCPS Community Partner of the Year award in November.

Photo via Girls on the Run

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Monday Morning Notes

Drone discussions — “Fairfax County is putting together a comprehensive plan for public safety in the county’s use of unmanned aircraft and is looking for public feedback with public meetings.” The Reston one is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Reston Community Center – Hunter Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road). [Tysons Reporter]

Youth Media Awards — Scrawl Books will announce the award winners at 11 a.m. Then at 7 p.m., book enthusiasts can head to 11911 Freedom Drive for a panel discussion and celebration for the winners and honorees. [Youth Media Awards]

Nose to toes yoga — Young kids can try out yoga poses movement while enjoying books and songs with a children’s yoga instructor from 10:30-11:15 a.m. at the Reston Regional Library. The event is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Reston Regional Library. [Reston Regional Library]

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Board of Supervisors Ends Prickly, Decades-Long Debate Over Pet Hedgehogs

Despite strong opposition to hedgehogs as suitable pets, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved adding them to the list of commonly accepted pets, along with chinchillas and hermit crabs.

Yesterday’s decision ends a nearly 20-year-long push to legalize the prickly animals as pets.

Strong concerns about pet owners’ abilities to care for them dominated the public testimony before the supervisors voted.

While hedgehogs seem trendy, that doesn’t mean they are ideal pets, Christine Anderson, a member of the county’s Animal Services Advisory Commission, said. She then listed several reasons, including their risk of spreading salmonella, their high maintenance care and potential animal abandonment.

Others argued that it’s not so much the animals, but rather the humans who are the main problem.

Chris Schindler, the vice president of field services at the Humane Rescue Alliance in D.C., argued that exotic animals often suffer from poor care, highlighting a disturbing news report about 15 hedgehogs found in a trash can in Ocean Beach, Calif.

After the novelty of the impulse purchase wears off, people often don’t like hedgehogs’ noisy, aggressive and destructive behaviors, he said.

“It’s easy to think ‘What’s the harm?'” Schindler said. “When wild species are kept as pets, it’s the animals who suffer the most.”

While several supervisors acknowledged the potential risks for hedgehogs and humans, ultimately they argued that people armed with resources and education can make the right pet ownership decisions.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said she cautiously supports the proposal. “This has come to us quite a few times, and with that in mind, maybe it is time,” she said, adding that she wants to the county to monitor the impact of the change.

Hedgehogs first popped up in a proposal to add them to the list of commonly accepted pets in 2001, Casey Judge, a senior assistant to the county’s zoning administrator, said in a presentation. Ever since then, the county has continued to receive inquiries from residents about them, she said.

Fairfax County now joins Loudoun County with allowing all three pets. Meanwhile, Arlington County only allows chinchillas and hedgehogs.

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

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 care for chinchillas is similar to rabbits, while care for hedgehogs is similar to ferrets.

Two students argued in the animals’ defense, saying that other pets, such as lizards, also require special care and that their pet care costs are comparable to dogs.

The student from Longfellow Middle School said that breeders ensure that future owners have the training and resource materials needed to help them take care of hedgehogs.

In response to Gina Marie Lynch, from the Human Society of Fairfax County, saying that hedgehogs breed like rabbits, the student said that hedgehogs will fight if left in the same space. “If you don’t want babies, don’t keep a male and female together.”

The student from Sandburg Middle School pointed out that the county won’t have to worry about escaped or abandoned hedgehogs becoming an invasive species. Since African pygmy hedgehogs can’t hibernate, they would not survive the cold weather.

While the three animals are unique pets that require special care, Chairman Sharon Bulova said that she does not expect everyone to go out and buy them.

“I frankly don’t think that this action will open up a floodgate of many, many situations where people will adopt a hedgehog or a chinchilla, but some people will,” Bulova said.

Images via Planning Commission and Kelly W.

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Nominations Open for Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards

Calling all Fairfax County volunteers — nominations recently opened for the 2019 Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards.

Established in 1993, the awards honor individuals, groups and organizations that have volunteered through a broad range of activities and programs that primarily benefitted the Fairfax County community.

The nominees are required to have completed their service hours in either Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax, the Town of Herndon, the Town of Vienna or the City of Falls Church, unless nominated for the RSVP Competitive Award.

Individuals and groups can be nominated in one of 14 competitive categories and four non-competitive categories. Some of the categories are broken down by “youth,” “adult” and “senior” awards.

The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, Feb. 8, at 5 p.m.

All nominees will receive a complimentary invitation to Volunteer Fairfax’s annual county-wide volunteer recognition event, which takes place on April 24 at the Waterford in Springfield.

Photo via Volunteer Fairfax 

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FCPS Offers Resources, Hiring Events for Furloughed Government Employees

As the longest government shutdown in U.S. history continues, Fairfax County Public Schools is offering resources to furloughed government workers after most missed their first paycheck of the shutdown last Friday (Jan. 11).

FCPS plans to hold a second hiring event for furloughed federal employees interested in substitute teaching positions.

The hiring event last week hit capacity. The event is set for tomorrow (Jan. 15) from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the FCPS Administration Center at 8115 Gatehouse Road in Falls Church, Va. Participants are encouraged beforehand to register, complete an application for employment and bring original documents required for the I-9 form I-9.

FCPS’s “No Student Will Go Hungry” program is supporting families affected by the federal government shutdown by providing breakfast and lunch to all students regardless of their ability to pay or temporary financial circumstances. FCPS will also allow unpaid balances to accrue during the shutdown.

Furloughed workers can also look at Fairfax County’s resources online, including a Human Services Guide to seek assistance from nonprofits and a list of free or low-cost events at county libraries and parks.

The county also plans to have a “Stuff the Bus” event on Saturday (Jan. 19) where locals can bring food and cash donations to support local nonprofit food pantries. One of the collection spots will be the Fox Mill Giant (2551 John Milton Drive) in Herndon from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Food, utility and rent assistance is available from the county’s Health and Human Services agencies.

File photo

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