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by Dave Emke — September 20, 2017 at 3:00 pm 2 Comments

 As Amazon searches for a home for its second headquarters, local government leaders across the nation have pitched their communities.

Fairfax County is no exception.

In June, it was announced that Amazon Web Services would use the One Dulles Tower (13200 Woodland Park Road, Herndon) as a new East Coast corporate campus, bringing up to 1,500 new jobs to the area. But local officials would like to see it make an even bigger investment.

“Fairfax County would love to be home to Amazon’s second headquarters,” said Sharon Bulova, chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, recently to the Fairfax News. “In our community they would find a well-educated, talented and motivated workforce, and an outstanding quality of life.”

Amazon’s new headquarters could require up to 8 million square feet, the Washington Business Journal reported, and jurisdictions all over the DC Metro area have expressed their interest. But of course, they are nowhere close to alone — interest in the project has been expressed almost everywhere.

Do you think Amazon would we wise to make Fairfax County home to its new headquarters? If so, why — and if not, where else? Let us know below.

by Dave Emke — September 6, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Va. Transit Ridership Continues Downward Trend — Usage of the Metro’s Silver Line stations at Reston and Tysons is increasing, but that’s one of the few bright spots for public transportation ridership in the region. [WTOP]

Board to Determine Fate of Wedell’s Seat — Following Ray Wedell’s resignation from the Reston Association Board of Directors last week, remaining board members have a decision to make about whether to fill the seat and, if so, how. The term on the now-vacant seat runs through April. [Reston Association]

Reston Sisters Make Jewelry for Good Cause — A pair of local girls founded their own charity project, Rays of Hope, in 2012. They make jewelry out of shells they find on the beach in North Carolina’s Outer Banks and sell it to benefit CancerFree KIDS, a cause they became passionate about when their cousin was diagnosed with leukemia. [Connection Newspapers]

County Expands On-Scene Mental Health Work — The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board recently added a second fully operational Mobile Crisis Unit, part of the county’s “Diversion First” initiative to offer alternatives to incarceration for people with mental illness and other disabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system for low-level offenses. [Fairfax County]

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 — August 16, 2017 at 9:00 am 8 Comments

Lake Anne Brew House to Attend Festival This Weekend — The local nanobrewery is already gaining attention ahead of the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival this weekend in Charlottesville, with an event manager describing why its award-winning New Year’s Golden Ale is a top pick for him. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Farmers Market Success Celebrated — During a National Farmers Market Week commemoration this past Saturday at the Reston Farmers Market, its many successes were praised. [Connection Newspapers]

Pedestrian Bridges at Herndon Station Going in Next Week — The Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride will be closed overnight twice next week as the work is done. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Residents Can Give Input in County Executive Search — Fairfax County Executive Edward Long will retire next month. The county is asking citizens to give their input to assist in the recruiting process for his replacement. [Survey Monkey]

Did You Get a Jury Questionnaire? — The county is sending out 50,000 jury questionnaires, and it wants to make sure recipients know it is just the beginning of the jury duty screening process. [Fairfax County]

Be Wary of Charlottesville Charity Scams — Attorney General Mark Herring says anyone interested in assisting victims of last weekend’s violence should vet the organization, campaign or page organizer before they donate. He says people who need help figuring out whether a charity is legitimate can contact the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Section. [WTOP]

File image courtesy Jennifer Heffner Photography

by Dave Emke — August 10, 2017 at 9:00 am 2 Comments

Free Concert Tonight at Lake Anne — The “Take A Break” concert series at Lake Anne Plaza will continue tonight with a performance by Latin group Mambo Combo. A dance demonstration and instruction will also be provided. [Lake Anne Plaza]

Home Prices Continue Trending Upward — The average sales price of the nearly 2,000 Fairfax County homes that sold in June was $583,620. That’s up 7.2 percent from the annual 2016 average. [Fairfax County]

County’s ‘Diversion First’ Program Chosen for National Institute — Nine leaders from Fairfax County will attend the Data Driven Justice and Behavioral Health Design Institute in Maryland next month to address issues and complexities surrounding the program, which seeks alternatives to incarceration for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and co-occurring substance use disorders. [Fairfax County]

Metro Sued After Rejecting Ads — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against WMATA on Wednesday, alleging that the transit agency’s advertising guidelines violate free speech. WMATA recently rejected an ACLU ad displaying the First Amendment, as well as an ad for a “10-week-after” abortion pill, a PETA ad suggesting people go vegan, and an ad for Milo Yiannopoulous’ new book. [WTOP]

by Dave Emke — August 9, 2017 at 4:15 pm 70 Comments

Incessant and untimely barking at the dog park at Baron Cameron Park has had residents in that area fuming for years.

The topic was addressed once again at the July meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors, where CEO Cate Fulkerson was authorized (video) to write a letter to the Fairfax County Park Authority “strongly encouraging” allocating funds to support the a countywide dog park study.

“[The Park Authority has] put it off several times, [and] they really do need to fund that,” Fulkerson said. “There are some issues around dog parks … but also there is a need for such facilities and rules around them. It is becoming evermore a problem for the community and it’s important that they pursue it.”

Reston Association formed a Dog Park Working Group in March 2016 to address concerns of residents in the area around the Baron Cameron dog park, which opened in 2001. Moira Callaghan, one of seven residents who sought legal action in the attempt to close the park, addressed the Board (video) at July’s meeting.

“The dog park at Baron Cameron Park is extremely noisy and has serious negative impacts upon those living closely, including me,” she said. “When dog parks were established, residents were promised the county would get it right. I would like the RA Board to hold the county accountable to this.”

Callaghan, of the adjacent Longwood Grove community, said the sound of dogs barking can often be heard over the sound of cars driving by on Wiehle Avenue. She said she had also called the police eight times in recent weeks to report people using the park before its opening time.

“I have been awakened from my sleep as early at 6:17 and 6:34 a.m. on weekend mornings [in recent weeks],” Callaghan said. “I get dressed, I go outside, I go over there and I take a photo, and I send it to the county.”

According to information provided by RA, the countywide dog park study would help these issues to be addressed and corrected.

In March 2016 the Reston Association Board facilitated a community discussion on the Baron Cameron Dog Park, at the request of local residents. Recommendations developed through the community discussion were forwarded to Fairfax County Park Authority, and a dialogue has continued to take place between the two parties.

Fairfax County Park Authority also proposed a Countywide Dog Park Study to determine needs and set parameters for overall use. Due to staffing vacancies the Study has been on hold for a couple of years. Fairfax County Park Authority staff has confirmed the Study was not included in the draft FY18 Planning and Development Work Plan, but will likely be added to the FY19 Planning and Development Work Plan.

The Baron Cameron park is one of nine Fairfax County dog parks. Callaghan suggested RA encourage the county to move the park to Lake Fairfax Park, an idea that has been floated before.

“My neighbors and I have endured this for a very long time. I have carried this torch for four years now,” she said “It is horrible. We would really appreciate your help on this matter.”

by Dave Emke — August 4, 2017 at 9:00 am 4 Comments

Hook Road Project Info Session  Anyone interested in learning about the Hook Road Recreation Area project and the forming of a working group may attend an information session on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). Email [email protected] for more about serving on the working group. [Reston Association]

Third Outreach Session on Bikeshare Announced — The Virginia Department of Transportation has announced a third public outreach event to gather community input on the proposed sites for Capital Bikeshare expansion in Reston. It will be Saturday, Aug. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Reston Farmers Market. [VDOT]

Aquatics Center To Close for Annual Maintenance — The Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center at Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) will be closed from Aug. 19 to Sept. 15. It is scheduled to reopen at noon Sept. 16. [Reston Community Center]

County Short-Term Rental Survey Ongoing — Fairfax County is developing regulations to govern the use of short-term rentals (e.g., Airbnb). It is gathering community input through Aug. 31. [Fairfax County/Survey Monkey]

Column: Virginia Should Not Pay for ‘Skins Stadium — Regular ARLnow columnist Peter Rousselot wrote this week about how the costs of bringing a new Washington Redskins home field to Virginia would far outweigh the benefits for taxpayers. [ARLnow]

by Dave Emke — July 26, 2017 at 9:00 am 3 Comments

Hassanen Murder Suspect Court Date Set — A preliminary hearing has been set for Friday, Oct. 13, for the prosecution of Darwin Martinez Torres. Torres is accused of attacking, abducting and killing Nabra Hassanen in the early morning hours of June 18. [Connection Newspapers]

Libertarian Leaders Speaking in Reston — The Young Americans for Liberty conference, taking place today through Saturday at the Sheraton Reston Hotel, will feature more than 40 speakers sharing Libertarian values. Among them will be Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Judge Andrew Napolitano. [Young Americans for Liberty]

Changes Made to WMATA Board — The Trump Administration is replacing a pair of safety specialists, who were appointed by President Obama’s transportation secretary, with a pair of finance and budget bureaucrats who worked in the Bush Administration. [WAMU]

Work Being Done on Reston Station Staircase — The stairs from Reston Station Boulevard to the Wiehle-Reston East plaza are closed for repairs, which include new tiles on the landings and improvements to the drainage system. [Fairfax Connector]

Nearly $60M in County’s Carryover Budget — The county executive recommends the funds be used in part to fund reserves and infrastructure needs, along with other projects including the demolition of the Massey Building. [Fairfax County]

Supreme Court Ruling Leads to Changes in Sign Zoning — After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “content-based” regulations on signs do not meet the strict scrutiny test required by the First Amendment to protect free speech, the County must re-examine its zoning rules regarding messages on signs. [Fairfax County]

by Dave Emke — July 25, 2017 at 9:00 am 2 Comments

DRB Meets Tonight — A work session about the St. Johns Wood redevelopment will precede the regular meeting of Reston’s Design Review Board tonight. [Design Review Board]

Cooper’s Hawk Job Fairs Today and Wednesday — Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant (12130 Sunset Hills Road) plans to open next month, but it must hire more than 200 people before then. Its last two hiring events will be today and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, at 12100 Sunset Hills Road Suite 130. [Reston Now]

Former SLHS Coach Takes Over at U. of Arizona — Matt Blamey, who was the head lacrosse coach at South Lakes High School for seven years, was named last week as the new head coach of the University of Arizona’s men’s lacrosse program. [CollegeCrosse.com]

Proposed Zoning Changes To Be Discussed — Fairfax County is hosting an open house Wednesday night at the Herrity Building (12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax) to discuss proposed zoning changes including those to short-term rentals, e.g. Airbnb, and rear-yard coverage such as patios. [Fairfax County]

Loudoun County Shoots Down Metro Tax — The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week on a resolution to oppose a one-cent regional sales tax. County staff have put together an “alternative capital funding scenario” to the tax. [Loudoun Times-Mirror]

Photo courtesy Richard Hernandez

by Dave Emke — July 18, 2017 at 9:00 am 8 Comments

Silver Line Delays Have Steep Price Tag — A series of delays that has pushed the opening of the Silver Line’s Phase 2 back to 2020 will cost $95 million. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority disclosed that number in a presentation prepared for its Wednesday board meeting. [WTOP]

Design Review Board Meets Tonight — Among the topics to be discussed at tonight’s meeting of Reston’s Design Review Board (7 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters, 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, as well as live on RA’s YouTube channel) is the redevelopment of Tall Oaks Village Center. [Reston Association]

Zoning Open House Coming Up — Fairfax County will hold an open house Wednesday, July 26 to talk about proposed zoning changes that may affect local communities. Among the topics to be discussed are potential changes to the rules about short-term rentals, such as Airbnb; rear-yard coverage, such as patios; and more. [Fairfax County]

Herndon High Grad to Play at Georgia Tech — After completing his bachelor’s degree in economics in three years while playing basketball at Lehigh University, HHS grad Brandon Alston has transferred to Georgia Tech to play out his final two years of sports eligibility. [Georgia Tech University]

by Dave Emke — July 17, 2017 at 9:00 am 7 Comments

County Remains Among Richest — U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2015 have Fairfax County’s median household income at $112,844, more than twice the national figure. The county trails only Loudoun County ($125,900) and the independent City of Falls Church ($122,092) in the national rankings. [WTOP]

Reston P&Z Committee Meets Tonight — The Reston Planning & Zoning Committee’s monthly meeting will be held tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). Matters to be discussed include JBG/EYA’s project near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. [Reston P&Z Committee]

Wanted: School Bus Drivers — Fairfax County Public Schools has 85 openings for bus drivers. A job fair will be held Friday, Aug. 11, at Stonecroft Transportation Center (4641 Stonecroft Blvd., Chantilly). [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Connolly Plans Telephone Town Hall Tonight — Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) will answer questions by phone tonight beginning at 8 p.m. [Rep. Gerry Connolly/Twitter]

Gas Grill Safety Tips — Fairfax County Fire and Rescue wants citizens to be safe when they fire up the grill to make summer meals. With that in mind, they shared a video from the National Fire Protection Association that includes tips on where to place the grill, how to turn it on safely and more. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

by Dave Emke — July 5, 2017 at 9:00 am 8 Comments

Mental Health Screenings Available — The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board now offers same day, in-person screening for mental health/and or substance use concerns to both adults and youth at its Merrifield Center (8221 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, Fairfax). [Fairfax County]

Escaped Detainee Had Been Deported Five Previous Times — Marlo Danilo “Carlos” Rivas-Mendez, who temporarily escaped from ICE custody Monday while being transported, had previously been removed from the United States in 2007, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016. [United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia]

Wastewater Treatment Plant Gets Top Score — For the 19th consecutive year, the Noman M. Cole Jr. Pollution Control Plant in Lorton has earned the Platinum Peak Performance Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. [Inside Nova]

Former Herndon Man to Run for President — In July 2013, Adam Kokesh’s Herndon home was raided by the U.S. Park Police after he called for a “Final American Revolution” and posted a YouTube video of himself loading a shotgun on DC’s Freedom Plaza. Now living in Arizona, Kokesh says he’s seeking the 2020 Libertarian presidential nomination. [Santa Fe New Mexican]

by Kalina Newman — June 29, 2017 at 4:00 pm 31 Comments

It’s late at night and a resident pulls into their cul-de-sac after a long evening at work. Once they turn into their street, they find their block crowded for the umpteenth time with unfamiliar cars, followed by a new group of people temporarily staying in their neighbor’s home for a couple of days.

How would you react?

The scenario above describes the situation that has been increasingly reported throughout Reston, as more residents have begun to rent out their homes for profit over short periods of time through services such as Airbnb, Homeaway and Roomarama.

Fairfax County is currently in the process of developing stricter regulations for residents who wish to rent out their homes through such services. The County is looking for feedback on what residents think about the proposed regulations.

As of July 1, Virginia state law will give local governments the authority to require registration for these rentals.

According to the survey, the proposal would address:

  • Where these rentals would be allowed in the county
  • How often they could be rented out
  • What types of properties could be rented out
  • How many people would be allowed to stay in a property at any one time

If you’d be interested in participating in the survey, fill it out here.

Reston Association is making efforts to clamp down on those whose rental habits might be a disturbance to their neighbors. Currently, following County legislation, only those who own single-family homes are allowed to rent their space for less than 30 days.

At a community feedback meeting at Reston Association headquarters Wednesday evening, the home-sharing issue was named as a challenge RA will face going forward.

“I view this as one of the greatest threats to the way we live here in Reston,” said Rick Hamilton, of the Polo Fields cluster. “From the description of what goes on in the one [discussed at the May 26 RA meeting], that is frightening.”

by Dave Emke — June 26, 2017 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

Ribbon Cutting for Clothing Store — Scout & Molly’s (11944 Market St.) hosted its official ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday morning. Among attendees were Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, representatives of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and more.

Summer Meals Program Starts Today — The Free Summer Meals for Kids Program provides free, healthy meals to children ages 5 to 18 at designated meal sites in Fairfax County. [Fairfax County]

Officials Talk Metro, Fields, More — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and more addressed the Vienna Town Council recently to give updates on the Silver Line, placement of athletic fields and more. [The Connection]

Kids Can Earn Prizes for Reading — Kids who complete the summer reading adventure at any Fairfax County library by Sept. 2 can win a coupon book with dozens of free and discounted fun treats like ice cream and miniature golf. [Fairfax County]

Image courtesy Powers Brand Communications LLC

by Katherine Berko — June 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm 21 Comments

Jo-Ann Duggan, the Director of Outreach at St. John Neumann Parish, knows there are people struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

“Yesterday, I was speaking to someone who was trying to find housing for a friend of hers who has three children and earns $23,000 a year,” Duggan said Wednesday. “She works in retail. She’s a single mother.”

St. John Neumann Parish (11900 Lawyers Road) will play host Thursday to a meeting with the Housing Matters program, opening the conversation about the need for affordable housing in Fairfax County.

The goals of the meeting, which will take place from 7-8:45 p.m. at the parish’s auditorium, include helping residents understand how housing can affect other facets of a community. Other related topics will include a discussion of how much affordable housing is needed for an economically sustainable Fairfax County.

Duggan is hopeful that the Housing Matters program will receive lots of community input to help alleviate the housing struggles of many residents. Duggan first heard of the program from John Horejsi, who works for Social Action Linking Together, a legislative advocacy group. Horejsi attended a Housing Matters program and thought it would be worthwhile to bring to the church.

“Housing Matters is all about safe and affordable housing so that communities can thrive,” Horejsi said. “When you achieve that — when you have safe and affordable housing — the families do better, there’s more upward economic mobility, the kids do better in school. We all benefit.”

Horejsi explained that when there is affordable housing, more businesses are attracted to the area due to its stable workforce. He said that currently, the average rent in Fairfax County is $1,700-$1,800 a month, while half of the jobs in the area reap less than $50,000 a year. Rents are increasing while salaries are not. Horejsi explained that as rent gets more expensive, workers start to move away.

“If the workers in our community whom we need can’t afford to live here, then they’re just going to clog up all the roads and that’s going to create more air pollution,” said Horejsi. “Doing nothing [for affordable housing] is going to cost a lot more in the long run.”

Thursday’s meeting will feature a presentation from Vin Rogers, the division director for the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development. After Rogers speaks, facilitators will help lead conversations among groups of attendees. Feedback and input will be encouraged during these group discussions.

“It’s going to be a dialogue first of all,” Horejsi said.

Duggan said she anticipates 50-100 people to turn up at the meeting. Anyone interested in the meeting is encouraged to fill out a survey about housing in the area.

For more details about the event, contact Duggan or Horejsi by email.

Chart via Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development

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