Reston, VA

Andria McClellan, a Democratic candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor, released a plan on Thursday (April 29) outlining her policy platform to support small businesses coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In conjunction with the plan’s launch, McClellan visited the Town of Herndon to talk to Mayor Sheila Olem and community members about the state of local small businesses. The Herndon visit was a part of an ongoing tour of Northern Virginia and the state as early voting in the Democratic primary gets underway.

While visiting various town businesses, including Green Lizard Cycling and Great Harvest Bread Co., McClellan acknowledged the challenges many small businesses have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, while praising the sense of community fostered by both town officials and residents.

“It’s great to see a community like Herndon where the community members came together and supported the local businesses and did the GoFundMe pages and things like that,” McClellan said. “Hearing from Mayor Olem about how their economic department was helped by folks from parks and rec calling all the small businesses and doing that reach out, it just makes me feel really good about the community.”

Currently a member of the Norfolk City Council, McClellan says her small business plan was shaped by her 30-plus years of experience volunteering, fundraising, and pursuing various business endeavors, including work with nonprofits and public sector work as well as two start-up ventures.

“What happens with small businesses that are independently owned, when they make money, they put it right back into the community where they’re working and where their people are working,” McClellan said. “So, supporting those businesses and those jobs also supports the greater community.”

Her plan focuses on reducing red tape to clarify and simplify certification processes while providing government support to communities requiring the help. She also wants to foster “local and regional small business ecosystems” by connecting small business owners to one another and resources.

McClellan’s plan also calls for more opportunities for new businesses that work with renewable energy sources and water quality and more state funding to expand access to capital for small businesses through microloans, mid-range capital, and seed funding.

She believes the state’s economy and tax revenues are in better shape than anticipated given the impact of the pandemic, but she emphasized that she remains concerned about what will happen to people “who have suffered greatly” when the federal eviction moratorium comes to a close.

“It’s great to see this thriving community here, but I think underlying in all of our communities, there are a lot of people who are still hurting,” McClellan said. “We’re going to see that in much greater detail the second half of this year and we’ve got to be prepared for it.”

McClellan faces Del. Hala Ayala, Del. Mark Levine, Sean Perryman, Del. Sam Rasoul, and Xavier Warren for the Democratic nomination to replace Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is running for governor. Voting for the Democratic primary concludes June 8.

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Herndon residents will start paying a little bit more for water and sewer services this summer.

On Tuesday (April 27), Herndon Town Council approved a 1.5% rate increase on water and sewage services for the 2022 fiscal year, which starts on July 1. According to the town, this was necessitated by increasing commodity costs that Fairfax County is charging the town for water and sewer services.

For sewer services, rates are going up from $6.19 to $6.28, or nine cents per one thousand gallons. For water usage, rates are going up from $3.16 to $3.21, five cents per a thousand gallons. For water usage during peak periods (often during the summer), rates will rise eight cents per one thousand gallons, going from $5.38 to $5.46.

Town staff said at the public hearing that these increases would raise the water and sewer bills for a “typical” Herndon household — defined as a family that uses 5000 gallons per month — by $2.27 per quarter.

However, Herndon residents’ quarterly water bill will still remain among the lowest in the region, with Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Fairfax City, Vienna, and Leesburg residents all paying more.

The increase will generate about $97,000 in revenue for the town that will go toward paying commodity costs, along with other operating expenses, funding for capital improvements, and system expansions.

According to data compiled by town staff, since 2006, the town has had more water and sewer expenses than generated revenue, meaning that Herndon has been losing money — as much as $2 million in some years — providing water and sewer services to residents.

The gap was closed in 2020, but town staff are projecting that will no longer be the case in fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

Even with the rate increase, the town is projected to operate at a $217,600 loss for water and sewer services in fiscal year 2022.

Fairfax County has increased both sewer and water rates steadily for a number of years and is projected to continue doing so.

Along with the newly approved rate increase, the town will also conduct a study early in FY 2022 about adjusting rates going forward.

“Water is one of the most precious resources out there, and will eventually be more valuable than petroleum,” Herndon Mayor Sheila Olem said.

Photo via Rudy and Peter Skitterians/Pixabay

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The Town of Herndon is edging closer to allowing Peppertree Montessori School to open at 400 Herndon Parkway.

The town council held a public hearing during its work session on Monday (April 19) to hear out an special exception application that would pave the way for the private school and daycare to move into the Sugarland West Business Center.

David Stromberg, a zoning administrator for the town, provided council members details on the application that was approved 7-0 by the Herndon Planning Commission in March.

The school’s proposal would utilize 4,951 square feet of the 19,547 square-foot building. There would be 10 designated parking spaces for pick-ups and drop-offs directly in the building.

Stromberg assured the town council that 10 parking spaces would be sufficient based on talks with the applicant, who said there would be “short turnover times” for drop-offs and pick-ups.

“The number of classes and start times, and various days that they offer, they said that 10 spaces accommodates all of their needs, and that they have staff that comes out, especially now, to escort the children in with the parents,” Stromberg said. “Anything more than the 10 spaces may start to use up some of the available parking on site.”

The proposed application also dictates the school will cap its enrollment at 50 children at one time and would be open for infants and children up to eight years old. The school’s open concept design would house eight classes and eight teachers on site.

The school’s proposal also includes a 1,554 square-foot outdoor, fenced play area behind the building.

An additional public hearing is set for April 27 during the Town Council’s 7 p.m. public session.

“Daycares are always welcome,” Mayor Sheila Olem said. “I know that’s one of the most stressful times when families start their family and you need good quality daycare. Look forward to seeing them succeed in the town.”

Images via Town of Herndon

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NextStop Theatre Company is coming back to the stage with its first full-scale production since the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to halt public performances last spring.

The Herndon-based professional, nonprofit theater company announced this morning (Tuesday) that it will debut a filmed, online production of the musical romantic comedy “First Date” on April 30.

It will be the theater’s first show since the final weekend of “Ordinary Days” was canceled on March 12, 2020, according to a press release.

“I don’t know that I have ever been so excited to open a show,” NextStop Producing Artistic Director Evan Hoffmann said. “Putting this show together has been a true labor of love! We have been so eager to get back to creating high quality performances for our community and the cast and crew of “First Date” have brought together a mixture of talent, creativity, and passion, like I have rarely seen before.”

While the NextStop Theatre stage has been empty for more than a year now, the company has kept busy with some alternative offerings, including a small, in-person summer education program for theater students and an outdoor concert series.

Staged across September and October, “The Parking Lot Concerts” performances were entirely sold out, according to NextStop.

The company has also made the theater at 269 Sunset Park Drive available to the public to rent for private movie screenings. The NextStop Cinema program is still ongoing, as is the theater’s NextStop Now fundraising initiative.

“First Date” marks the company’s return to theater, but it will not be entirely traditional.

First staged on Broadway with Zachary Levi and Krysta Rodriguez in the lead roles, “First Date” follows two young, single people whose friends and family set them up on a blind date despite their wildly different personalities. Hijinks and romantic sparks ensue.

With Hoffman directing and actors Alex De Bard and Taylor Witt stepping into the lead roles, NextStop has turned “First Date” into a blend of theater and cinema, filming scenes both on stage and on location around downtown Herndon.

“This is truly a film-theatre hybrid,” Hoffman said. “Our team worked diligently to find innovative ways to make this a uniquely theatrical experience. We were able to utilize some of the best tricks that film has to offer, while making sure our audiences feel like they are practically back in theater with the performers.”

The show will stream at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings and at 7 p.m. on Sundays through May 16. Tickets cost $25 and provide one stream per household.

More information about the production, including a full list of the cast and creative team and a link to purchase tickets, can be found on the NextStop Theatre website.

Photo courtesy NextStop Theatre Company

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Fairfax County is set to provide the Town of Herndon with $1.2 million over the next two years for the completion of the long-running Sugarland Run (South) Stream Restoration Project.

At its work session tonight (Tuesday), the council is looking to approve an amended funding agreement with the county that will provide the town with additional money for the project.

The original funding agreement dates back to September 2018.

Under the new agreement, the county will provide $201,800 in fiscal year 2021 to complete the design phase of the stream restoration. Then, upon the completion of design, another $1 million would be given to the town in fiscal year 2022 for construction.

The town previously received $200,000 from the county for design work in 2019.

In total, the project is expected to end up costing about $1.4 million — about $200,000 more than initially estimated, according to the Town of Herndon staff report.

The project was first approved almost three years ago, back in August 2018.

Conditions along Sugarland Run Stream’s southern banks and the valley located just north of Wiehle Avenue have been deteriorating for a number of years.

The restoration will stabilize erosion along stream banks which will help prevent flooding. It will also improve stormwater systems and ensure the stream does not exceed its Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load of nutrients, which is part of a regional mandate.

Work to be completed includes re-planting vegetation, placing in-stream structures, and installing brush mattresses.

The project is also set to restore a portion of the stream that flows near the Washington & Old Dominion Trail crossing.

With the town council’s approval tonight, the project could finally move from the design phase to construction after nearly three years.

Herndon Deputy Director of Public Works John Irish told Reston Now in January that the design phase was “approximately 95% completed.”

Once the design is finished and the town receives the additional funds for construction, the town will then advertise for construction bids as soon as this summer.

Construction could be completed within six months of the awarded contractor being given the go-ahead, according to town official comments in January, meaning that, nearly four years after first approvals, the Sugarland Run (South) Stream Restoration Project could be finished in early 2022.

Reston Now has reached out to the Town of Herndon for an updated timeline, but has yet to hear back as of publication.

The restoration project is part of Fairfax County’s full Sugarland Run Watershed Management Plan, which was first adopted in 2010.

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It’s time for Fairfax Water’s annual flush, meaning the fire hydrants are flowing and the water might smell a little funny.

Every year, water companies flush their systems in order to clean out and remove sediment from water mains and pipes that have accumulated. This sediment occurs from internal corrosion as well as natural build-ups of iron and manganese.

It also ensures that chlorine contraction levels, which disinfect the water, remain steady since chlorine degrades in water over time.

The flush involves opening up fire hydrants and allowing water to flow freely. It may look like wasting water, but it ensures that sentiment, chlorine, and other materials are flushed out.

During this short period of time, Fairfax Water switches from using combined chlorine to free chlorine as their primary disinfectant.

Most of the year, combined chlorine — or chloramines — are used to treat drinking water. Produced by a chemical reaction between chlorine and ammonia, it’s not as effective as free chlorine in disinfecting water, but it can stay in the water longer.

Free chlorine acts faster than combined chloring to break up sediment, but degrades in a shorter period of time.

The use of free chlorine can also lead to the water tasting and smelling funny.

So, if you are taking a big gulp out of the tap and it tastes like pool water, that’s why.

If you or someone in your household is particularly sensitive to this taste and smell, storing an open container of drinking water in the refrigerator will allow the chlorine to dissipate.

Drinking water does have a shelf life, though, so it should be switched out regularly.

At the levels used in drinking water, both combined and free chlorine are considered safe by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency .

All of this flushing began at the end of March and is expected to run until June 14 for most of Fairfax County.

Nearly 2 million people in Northern Virginia get their water from Fairfax Water, including nearly all of the county and the towns of Vienna and Herndon. It is Virginia’s largest water utility company and one of the 25 largest in the country.

Both Herndon and Vienna get their water “wholesale” from the company, meaning a third party or utility has the right to distribute water but not have the capability to treat their own water.

Herndon’s Department of Public Works does participate in the annual flush as well, opening up hydrants in both residential and commercial areas.

Fairfax Water also highly encourages commercial and residential property owners to flush their system if they’ve had to shut it down for an extended period of time during the COVID-19 pandemic. A thorough flushing is needed to clean out water that may have been sitting dormant in plumbing.

Water that remains stagnant for as little as two days can have mold, leeching, and other hazards in it that can lead to illness.

Photo via Rudy and Peter Skitterians/Pixabay

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The Herndon Town Council is currently considering an ordinance that would largely ban firearms on town property.

Specifically, the proposed measure would “prohibit the possession, carrying, or transportation of any firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof on Town property,” including public parks, community centers, and public streets during permitted events.

The ordinance includes some exceptions for law enforcement, security, and active-duty military personnel who are engaged in official duties. Unloaded firearms could also be allowed for educational activities or displays.

If adopted, the ordinance would bring Herndon in line with most other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Fairfax and Arlington counties and the cities of Falls Church and Alexandria.

However, Herndon Mayor Sheila Olem announced on Tuesday (April 13) that a decision on the ordinance has been deferred until the town can hold a public hearing on the issue and staff can provide more information on the potential fiscal impacts of a ban.

Herndon Town Attorney Lesa Yeatts wrote in a staff report that possible budgetary considerations could include the costs of posting and removing signage required by Virginia law and enhancements to security measures like guards and metal detectors.

Town Manager Bill Ashton is not scheduled to report back to the town council until May 6, but in the meantime, what do you think of the proposal? Should people be allowed to have guns on town property?

Photo via Jeremy Alford/Unsplash

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Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) has endorsed Irene Shin to represent the 86th District in Virginia’s House of Delegates, Shin’s campaign announced yesterday (Monday).

Executive director of the nonprofit Virginia Civic Engagement Table, Shin announced on Feb. 9 that she would campaign for the 86th District seat currently occupied by Del. Ibraheem Samirah, who is seeking his first full term after winning a special election in February 2019.

The 86th District include the Town of Herndon as well as portions of Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

“When I look for leadership in elected office, I look for approachable, community-focused leaders who listen to people first and work to deliver solutions in state government,” Howell said in a statement. “Irene Shin is the epitome of this kind of leadership. Irene will bring effective, pragmatic leadership back to the 86th District, and will represent the Democratic values that we all support.”

According to her campaign website, Shin is the daughter of Korean immigrants and a resident of downtown Herndon. Her political experience primarily comes from work as a community organizer for campaigns, nonprofits, and startups.

In addition to working for VCET, which supports and trains progressive nonprofits and activists, Shin currently serves on the board of the Competitive Commonwealth Fund, which helps recruit and raise funds for Democratic candidates in Virginia.

When she announced her candidacy in February, Shin said that she was inspired to run for office after watching Vice President Kamala Harris get sworn in on Jan. 20 as the first female vice president in U.S. history. According to her LinkedIn profile, she worked on Harris’s Senate campaign in 2015 as a finance director.

“My top priorities as a candidate for the House of Delegates are ending the pandemic and rebuilding Virginia back to be a better, fairer society, finally bringing access to Universal Pre-K for all families, and refocusing the office of delegate on community-based collaborative leadership,” Shin said in a statement to Reston Now.

Shin says she is proud to get Howell’s support, along with endorsements from current Herndon Mayor Sheila Olem and former mayors Lisa Merkel and Mike O’Reilly.

Samirah’s endorsements so far include Herndon Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila and Councilmembers Naila Alam, Pradip Dhakal, and Jasbinder Singh. He is also backed by Hunter Mill District School Board Representative Melanie Meren.

On his campaign website, Samirah says that he sees “improving public health as the central issue that touches all others,” but he also highlights housing affordability, gun safety, and criminal justice, among other topics.

Shin and Samirah will face off in the Democratic primary on June 8. The ballot will also feature a battle for the 36th House District between incumbent Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston) and challenger Mary Barthelson, along with statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.

Early voting for the primary will begin on April 23 at the Fairfax County Government Center. The first mail ballots will also be sent out that day.

Fairfax County will not have a Republican primary this June. The state party opted instead to select its nominees through a convention with remote voting.

Photo courtesy Irene Shin

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A new neighborhood is coming to Herndon this summer.

Reston-based homebuilder Stanley Martin will open the Liberty Park neighborhood in Herndon in July. It will feature 155 two-over-two condo and townhome options.

The townhomes will start in the $700,000 range, while condos start in the mid-$500,000 range. The housing will include options for two to four bedrooms, two to four baths, and up to 2,700 square feet of space.

Both townhomes and condos will have private garages, balconies, and rooftop terraces.

Neighborhood features include garden parks, playgrounds, electric vehicle charging stations, and dog stations. The site also has active recreation areas that include a playing field and basketball court.

MRP Realty originally acquired the property at 13605 Dulles Technology Drive in 2016 as a part of a reported $97 million purchase from Liberty Property Trust, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The purchased Liberty Park portfolio encompassed the entire 32-acre business park with eight buildings and 532,041 square feet, according to MRP Realty’s website.

MPR Realty says that it plans to bring “Class A amenities” to the buildings at Liberty Park, including a “community tenant lounge and conference facility, a fitness center, and outdoor experiences to set them apart from other properties in the market.”

The new residential neighborhood is part of a larger effort by MPR Realty to transform the Liberty Park office complex into a mixed-use development to take advantage of the area’s proximity to the upcoming Innovation Center Metro station.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the developer’s application to rezone the site for mixed-use development on Nov. 8, 2018. According to a final development plan published in March 2019, MPR Realty ultimately hopes to bring up to 530 residential units and up to 6,000 square feet of retail space to Liberty Park.

Image via Fairfax County

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Herndon residents looking to clean out old documents, magazines, and other assorted papers will soon have a convenient opportunity to do so, courtesy of Herndon Senior Center.

The senior center at 873 Grace Street will host a free community paper-shredding event on May 8 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event is being organized in partnership with the nonprofit Herndon Village Network and the independent living facility Herndon Harbor House.

Herndon Village Network, which provides free transportation to senior citizens in the Herndon area, shared instructions for the upcoming event in a press release issued yesterday (Tuesday):

  • Don your face mask and place items to be shredded into disposable, cardboard boxes. You don’t need to remove staples.
  • Put the boxes into the trunk of your car.
  • Drive to Park Avenue, and, from Park Avenue, turn onto Jorss Place.
  • Turn left into the Herndon Harbor House parking lot, where cars will line up for the shred event.
  • Stay in your car and follow directions from volunteers. Traffic flow will eventually take you into the Herndon Senior Center parking lot, where the shred truck will be parked.
  • When it’s your turn, put your car in park, stay in your car, and pop your trunk. Someone will remove your items for the shredder.
  • Exit the Herndon Senior Center parking lot as directed by volunteers.

Residents can also get rid of large, non-paper-based items later this month at the Town of Herndon’s annual spring clean-up, which will take place on April 21-23 this year.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Town of Herndon’s popular free Friday Night Live! summer concert series may have to stop rocking, the event’s chairman fears.

After moving to a streaming format last year, the hoped-for 2021 plan is to return to live shows in July with limited capacity.

However, budgetary challenges may prevent that from happening.

In a letter to supporters, the series’ chairman Laura Poindexter wrote that specific line items would need to be approved in the upcoming Town of Herndon’s fiscal year 2022 budget in order for the concert series to continue.

While the event is produced by the Herndon and Dulles Regional chambers of commerce, organizers work very closely with the town, since it takes place on town property and requires public government services, such as a police presence and public works support for trash pick-up, fencing, and set-up.

With the town preparing to unveil a budget proposal on Thursday (April 1), the concern that these items will not be included stems from town budgetary concerns as well as other Herndon events already being canceled, including the Herndon Festival.

In her letter, Poindexter asks supporters to provide input and not to “delay letting your voice be heard” about how much Friday Night Live! means to the community.

The concert series first began in 1995 and is thought to be the longest-running free outdoor concert series in the D.C.-area. It traditionally starts the first week of May and runs through August, though the current plan for 2021 is to start on Friday, July 2.

Most often, the concert series hosts rock cover bands because they draw the largest crowds, Poindexter notes. 

Poindexter tells Reston Now that up to 2,500 people attend the concerts held each Friday night in normal years. Two thirds of them typically come from outside of Herndon.

“It’s an economic development tool, to bring people to downtown Herndon,” she says. “That’s why it was created. I believe downtown businesses benefit greatly and rely on us. This year, after COVID, not to have it would be a shame.”

In a statement on the town’s website, Mayor Sheila Olem alludes to needed cuts due to budget constraints related to the pandemic:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant, devastating impact on local economies, and Herndon has not been immune. While our sound fiscal practices have buffered the impact somewhat, we are — like jurisdictions across the region — experiencing decreases in most revenue categories. Accordingly, our budget planning is focused on continued provision of the core services our citizens expect and value – public works, public safety and those services that are integral to our infrastructure and day-to-day lives.

While Poindexter and other Friday Night Live! organizers did also send a letter to the town council highlighting their concerns, she says she has not heard one way or another if those needed line items will be included in the proposed budget. She did reiterate that the event has had a long-running, great relationship with the Town of Herndon.

“We just felt it was important for our fans to make their voices heard in relation to the budget,” she said.

Overall, Poindexter says it costs about $10,000 to put on each individual Friday Night Live! event. With about 16 or 17 dates a summer, that’s about $160,000 to $170,000 a season.

“Friday Night Live! is a fantastic community event, but it’s an expensive event to put on,” she said. “There’s a lot of costs involved. Besides town services and security, there’s port-a-potties, there’s music licenses, there’s bands.”

While the event is free to attendees, alcohol and other concessions are sold to bring in revenue.

Poindexter says organizers are planning for 50% capacity. Currently, Virginia allows for 30% capacity at outdoor entertainment venues, but she anticipates that changing to match the governor’s capacity restrictions from last summer.

If capacity is limited to under 50%, it would be hard to the concert series financially worthwhile, Poindexter acknowledges.

All in all, she’s confident that the town will realize how important Friday Night Live! — and other outdoor events like it — is for Herndon businesses and residents this year.

“We think [the series] is so important for not only the downtown businesses, especially the restaurants that really need to have a fantastic summer, but the emotional health and well-being for our fans,” Poindexter said. “We haven’t been able to get out and do things like outdoor events. So, I think that it’s needed on multiple levels.”

Photo courtesy Laura Poindexter

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Despite forecasts indicating rainy, chilly weather to come later this week, spring has officially arrived, and for many people, that means it’s time to do some spring cleaning.

The Town of Herndon will hold its annual spring clean-up on April 21-23, allowing residents to leave out large and bulky items on the curb for pick-up. Eligible items include:

  • Appliances with their doors removed
  • Furniture
  • Vehicle parts and plumbing fixtures up to 50 pounds
  • Tires (maximum 2 per household)
  • Limited amount of building materials (approximately one cubic yard, lengths not to exceed four feet)

Trash collectors will not pick up loose yard waste, auto parts in excess of 50 pounds, large quantities of building materials, bricks and blocks, electronics (including televisions, stereos, computers & peripheral), or household hazardous waste.

Pick-ups will take place on residents’ regularly scheduled trash collection days.

“Items should be placed curbside by 6am on your trash day only, but no earlier than 24 hours prior to pickup,” the Town of Herndon said in a news release. “Please place items away from containers used for regular trash collection.”

Questions can be directed to the Department of Public Works by phone at (703) 435-6856 or by email at [email protected] More information can also be found on the town’s website.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Sheetz in Herndon rendering (Photo via screenshot/Fairfax County Planning Commission)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved the plan to bring a Sheetz to Herndon, the first of its kind in the county.

First reported in February 2020, the 6,007 square-foot Sheetz will be built at 13850 McLearen Road.

But the approval at Tuesday’s (March 23) County Board meeting comes even though there were stated misgivings about the company’s refusal to go through the LEED-certification process.

Despite the county requesting that Sheetz commit to LEED-certification or an equivalent program, the company declined.

The reason, as a company spokesperson stated during the meeting, was that verification was a “very time consuming and burdensome process.” The company did promise to adhere to other green building commitments.

This reasoning didn’t sit well with a number of supervisors, noting that it set a bad precedent for others looking to get approval to build in the county.

The county, as well as neighboring jurisdictions, have prioritized LEED-certification as a means of meeting long-term goals of cutting carbon emissions.

Supervisor James Walkinshaw also noted that building another gas station in Fairfax County “perpetuates our addiction to fossil fuels” and will be a decision we regret with “what all the world knows about the climate crisis.”

However, a majority of the County Board still approved the building of a Sheetz food store, gas station, and restaurant with a drive-through.

In total, 8 supervisors voted yea, one nay (Supervisor Walkinshaw), and one abstained (Supervisor Storck).

The company representative at the meeting noted this will be the first Sheetz location in Fairfax County.

With the approval, Reston Now has reached out to Sheetz about a timeline for construction and an estimated opening date. We have yet to hear back as of publication.

The Sheetz will occupy a roughly 2.7-acre parcel of land that will soon be vacant after the demolition of a two-story office building and surface parking lot. That building was constructed in 1977.

The Sheetz will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There will be 49 car parking spots, five of which will be reserved as electric vehicle charging stations.

The building is set to be constructed with materials including brick veneer facade with cast stone masonry.

County staff asked for high quality landscaping” so the development is “attractive” in its “highly visible site” along McLearen Road.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Planning Commission

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Monday, March 15

  • Fly Bessie Fly (2 p.m.) — In 1921, Bessie Coleman became the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license in the United States. This virtual one-woman show presented by the Fairfax County Public Library and American Historical Theatre tells her story by bringing the famed pilot to life. All scouts who attend earn a FREE women make history patch.

Tuesday March 16

Wednesday, March 17 

  • St. Paddy’s Day at Home (9 a.m.-3 p.m.) — On St. Patrick’s Day, Reston Association is offering a fun-filled, low-contact egg hunt to members. Their good friend Lucky the Leprechaun will personally deliver and hide two dozen eggs in your yard for all to find. For those who are not members, there is an option for Lucky to simply drop off eggs to be hidden by those at home.
  • Two By Sea Outdoors (6 p.m.) — Join local folk and country rock band Two by the Sea for an outdoor St. Patrick’s Day concert at the State Theater in Falls Church. This is an all-age show entirely outdoors to lower the risk of COVID-19 spread. It will have very limited capacity. Admission is free, but the venue is asking for a donation or a food purchase.

Thursday, March 18

  • Viola, Harp, and Flute (2:15 p.m.-3:30 p.m.) — Meet the artists of Beau Soir, a trio of musicians who play viola, harp, and flute. Known for their “unique audience interaction,” the ensemble will perform live, both to a limited audience at the Hunter Woods Community Center and virtually on Facebook.

Friday, March 19

  • Women’s Storytelling Festival (4:00 p.m.) — Friday is the first evening of the 2021 Women’s Storytelling Festival, which will feature more than 30 performers. Presented by Better Said Than Done, a community of storytellers based in Fairfax, this year’s edition is all virtual. “Is it kid-friendly?,” the website asks. “Probably not,” it answers.

Saturday, March 20

  • Spring Equinox Celebration (11 a.m.) — After a pandemic winter, spring is finally here. Join Fairfax County Parks for a spring equinox celebration at Turner Farm Park in Great Falls. Look through a sun telescope and take a (socially distant) walk to learn more about what an equinox is.
  • A Drive-In (6:45 p.m.-9:45 p.m.) — The Reston Association is holding their first-ever drive-in movie. The film will screen at the Isaac Newton Square parking lot starting at 7:30 p.m., though the lot entrance will open at 6:45 p.m. Admission also includes one free bag of popcorn per person. The featured film is still to be determined, but it will be family-friendly.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Cygnus921

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Sheetz in Herndon rendering (Photo via screenshot/Fairfax County Planning Commission)

(Update 2:45 p.m.) A Sheetz is soon coming to Herndon.

On March 3, the Fairfax County Planning Commission is holding a public hearing and a vote to approve a Sheetz gas station, a quick-service food store, and drive-thru restaurant at 13850 McLearen Road. The staff has recommended approval.

After that, the proposal will move to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors where there will be another public hearing if needed and, potentially, a Board of Supervisors vote on March 23.

First reported a year ago, the 6,07-square-foot Sheetz will occupy a roughly 2.7-acre parcel of land. It will take the place of a set-to-be-demolished 1977 two-story office building and surface parking lot, per the staff report, at the intersection of McLearen Road and Towerview Road.

It remains unclear when construction will begin nor when the Sheetz is expected to open.

“Since this project is in the very early stages, it is too soon to provide additional details,” Nick Ruffner, Public Relations Manager for Sheetz, wrote in a statement to Reston Now.

The family-owned popular gas, convenience, and restaurant chain has more than 600 stores across the Mid-Atlantic including a number of locations in Fairfax County.

The Sheetz is planning to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a maximum of nine employees on-site at any one time. It also will have 49-car parking spots (five of which are reserved as electric vehicle charging stations) plus bicycle parking in accordance with county guidelines.

The “architecture character” of the building will include materials such as a brick veneer facade with cast stone masonry. Staff is recommending “high quality landscaping” so the development is “attractive” in its “highly visible site” along McLearen Road.

The new development is also required to incorporate green building practices and the staff prefers that Sheetz makes the building LEED-certified (or an equivalent program).

Fairfax County – as well as other Northern Virginia jurisdictions – have prioritized LEED-certification as a means of meeting long-term goals of cutting carbon emissions.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Planning Commission

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