Updated: Democratic Primary in the Hunter Mill District in Full Swing

(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) Voting is in full swing for the Democratic primary as five candidates vie for Hunter Mill District Supervisor — a seat vacated by local veteran legislator Cathy Hudgins.

As of 1 p.m., turnout in the Hunter Mill District was around 4.7 percent — the highest of all other districts in the county. Overall, turnout in the county is 3.4 percent.

The morning got off to a slow start. Campaign volunteers at Reston Community Centers said they only saw a handful of candidates between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. today (Tuesday). Campaign signs flapped quietly in the wind as the casual voter strolled in.

In previous years, voter turnout for local primaries has been under 10 percent. For example, in the 2010 Republican primary, turnout was just under 5 percent in the Hunter Mill District.

So far, Comstock spokeswoman Maggie Parker leads total fundraising with $258,225 raised, despite a late start to her campaign. Former Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn — who has also picked up a number of local and county endorsements — raised $102,749.

U.S. Air Force Veteran and community advocate Shyamali Hauth raised $28,738 — a little more than lawyer Laurie Dodd, who raised $24,919. Recent Roanoke College graduate Parker Messick raised a little over $7,000.

Candidate profiles published on Reston Now are linked below:

Voters will also select a new chair for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors:

Information about the complete ballot is available online.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. Acceptable forms of identification include a Virginia driver’s license, a U.S. passport, employer-issued photo ID, and student photo ID. Only one form of ID is required.

County officials will post updates on Twitter about voter turnout totals throughout the day. Unofficial election returns are expected to come in starting around 7 p.m. today.

As a reminder, registered voters of any party can participate in the Democratic primary.

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Funds Approved for Makeover of Reston Parkway Intersection

The intersection of Reston Parkway and Baron Cameron Avenue may soon get a makeover.

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved today (June 4) $500,000 for preliminary engineering and feasibility studies on improving the intersection in Reston.

The county staff report said:

This improvement is designed to relieve traffic congestion on westbound Baron Cameron Avenue. The project will include a second left turn lane on westbound Baron Cameron Avenue to southbound Reston Parkway. The current total project estimate is $2,500,000.

Back in March, the Reston Transportation Service District Advisory Board OK’d using $500,000 in service district funds for the preliminary engineering and conceptual design.

The funding the Board of Supervisors approved will come from the Reston service district funds. It was part of $55 million approved today for 10 transportation projects in Tysons, Reston and Alexandria, with a bulk of the funding — $51 million — going toward Tysons-area roads.

The funding adjustments from the Tysons and Reston Transportation Service Districts and the Tysons Grid of Streets Road Fund will be made as part of the carryover review for fiscal year 2019, according to the staff report.

Image via Google Maps

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Fox Mill Road Closure Rescheduled – The closure, which was originally planned for this week, has been pushed to next week from Monday, May 20 to Thursday, May 23. After that weekend, the road will close against from Tuesday, May 28 to Thursday, May 30. Closures are in effect from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday. [Virginia Department of Transportation]

Walking through Selling Your Home in Reston — Shellie Calloway, a Reston Association staff member who works on covenants, walks members through the process dictated by the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act. Requirements include RA’s disclosure packet. [Reston Today]

Big Capital Bikeshare Growth Planned — “A recently completed study of the potential for bikeshare in an area largely along Virginia Route 123 from Tysons through Vienna, the City of Fairfax and the George Mason University area recommends expanding Capital Bikeshare into most of that corridor, with future consideration of dockless options particularly in lower density areas.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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‘LOVE’ is in the Air in Reston Next Month

“LOVE” will tour around Fairfax County this summer. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan, the iconic letters will take a trip across the county to promote the message “Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation,” according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Fairfax County received a $10,000 grant from the corporation for its first permanent “LOVEwork” sign, which kicks off its tour in Tysons next month. It’ll make stops at Roer’s Zoofari (May 21-27), Reston Town Center (May 20 to June 4), and Frying Pan Farm Park (July 26 to August 4).

The tour concludes in August at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton — the permanent home of the letters.

Virginia’s slogan was coined by Richmond-based advertising agency Martin & Woltz in the late 1960s. After playing with different slogans like “Virginia is for History Lovers” and “Virginia is for mountain Lovers,” the firm chose the catch-all phrase “Virginia is for Lovers.” In 2009, the marketing campaign was recognized by Forbes.com as one of the top ten tourism marketing campaigns of all time.

Photo via Virginia Tourism Corporation

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After County Lawsuit, Town of Herndon Moves to Finalize Airbnb Regulations

Renewed discussions are underway on how to regulate Airbnb-style rentals in the Town of Herndon following an unsuccessful legal challenge by residents to Fairfax County’s recently established regulations.

The Herndon Planning Commission took up the issue at a work session on Monday (April 8). If approved, the new zoning ordinance would require residential property owners seeking to rent out their homes to limit guests to six adults for terms of no longer than 90 days. A $200 zoning permit, valid for two years, and an associated inspection will be required before property owners can operate a short-term rental.

Town officials first considered ways to regulate short-term rentals late last year. The commission directed zoning staff to research best practices regarding regulations and monitor the legal challenge to Fairfax County’s zoning ordinance, which is similar to the town’s proposal.

In the latest draft, zoning staff removed a condition requiring residential property owners to maintain a guest log. The new proposal also defines who constitutes a permanent resident, according to David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator. The draft also stipulates the following:

  • Operators must provide proof of permanent residency.
  • Events like weddings, concerts, parties and banquets associated with a short-term rental are prohibited.
  • Operators must provide two off-street parking spaces. The county’s ordinance requires one off-street parking space.
  • Recreational vehicles are not allowed.
  • One rental contract is allowed per night.
  • There is no limit on the number of nights where a portion of the unit can be rented if the primary resident is present.
  • Operators must provide safety equipment like smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors.

Late last year, 36 Fairfax County residents sued the county for overreaching its authority on regulating short-term lodging rentals. The county’s motion to dismiss was granted, although the plaintiffs can come back to the court with an amended petition, according to town officials.

Efforts to regulate the burgeoning industry were set into motion two years ago when the state’s General Assembly approved legislation allowing localities to regulate short-term rentals. Permit fees and the maximum number of nights allowed per unit vary across jurisdictions. Arlington County sets a limit of 180 nights and has a $63 permit for one year whereas Loudoun County allows unlimited nights and requires no permits.

Photo via Airbnb

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Herndon Metro Parking Moving Next Week as Work Continues on Silver Line Expansion

Drivers will have their Herndon-Monroe parking relocated to the new garage starting next week as work continues in preparation for the new Herndon Metro station.

The existing parking garage will close next Monday (April 8) for a few months as it undergoes changes. Parking will get relocated to the first, second and third levels of the new garage, which is almost done with construction, according to Fairfax County.

Ridesharing pickup and drop-off will also get moved to the first level of the new garage.

Access to eastbound Dulles Toll Road from the parking facility is scheduled to resume in late April after toll booth renovation is done.

Until then, drivers will need to take a detour onto Sunrise Valley Drive via the Fairfax County Parkway.

Photos via Fairfax County

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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.

https://twitter.com/fairfaxcounty/status/1098213296472240130

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.

https://twitter.com/VaDOTNOVA/status/1098210597328556032

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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