Morning Notes

Riders Could Be Banned for Crimes on Metro Property — “Metro is seeking authority to temporarily ban bus and rail riders from the system if they are arrested for…either sex-related crimes or crimes related to guns or other dangerous weapons. Anyone arrested for such crimes would be banned from the bus and rail system for 14 days after a first arrest, 30 days after a second arrest, and one year after a third arrest.” [WJLA-ABC7]

Tall Oaks Parking Expansion Approved — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Reston assisted living facility’s proposal to add 29 spaces to its 44-space parking lot. Tall Oaks has also agreed to provide three secure bicycle racks near the front of the building and pre-wire 2% of the proposed spaces for electric vehicle charging stations. [Patch]

Fairfax County Teen to Get Congressional Medal — 17-year-old Centreville resident Ayonnah Tinsley is one of about 500 students who will get the Congressional Award Gold Medal in a virtual ceremony on July 30. The highest honor given by Congress to young people, the award recognizes youth for personal development, community service, and fitness. [WTOP]

Roer’s Zoofari Opens Butterfly Exhibit — “Imagine strolling through a tropical rain forrest surrounded by the flutter of colorful butterfly wings. That imagined experience can become a reality thanks to the new Wings of Wonder exhibit at Roer’s Zoofari in Reston.” [Patch]

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Newbridge pool (courtesy Reston Association)

Reston Association will collect community feedback this summer about the potential “repurposing” of several community pools.

The process to go about doing this was discussed last week at a Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) meeting.

In May, RA staff recommended that four pools — Golf Course Island, Newbridge, Tall Oaks, and Shadowood — be “seriously considered for repurposing” due to low usage.

An online petition advocating against any pool closures has garnered more than 800 signatures, though there’s no guarantee that everyone who signed is an RA member or Reston resident.

RA maintains that there are currently no definite plans to close any pools, but the possibility is open depending on community response.

“RA is currently not planning the closure of any of our 15 community pools,” said at-large RA board member Tom Mulkerin, who is on PRAC, addressing what he called “rumors ” about pool closings. “Before any pool in the RA system is considered for closing or repurposing, the RA Board of Directors will go through a comprehensive community engagement process to determine what the community wants and needs.”

The PRAC committee was only recently reinstated after a year-long suspension at the recommendation of the Recreation Facilities Working Group.

At the beginning of the meeting, two RA members expressed their concern over the possible closing or repurposing of pools.

“All the pools…are beautiful gems,” said one. “The best use of the Tall Oaks pool is as a pool.”

Members of PRAC spoke at length about the best methods for gathering community feedback about what to do with the pools. Suggestions included attending in-person cluster meetings and using social media as well as more informal feedback and data gathering.

Currently, both Shadowood and Tall Oaks are closed due to planned capital improvements and are in need of extensive repairs. It could cost upwards of $250,000 to do those renovations, making the need for community feedback on those facilities particularly urgent.

PRAC members questioned if it was appropriate to spend that money now, especially in midst of RA’s budget crunch, if it remains unclear what members really want.

RA CEO Hank Lynch also expressed the need to gather feedback quickly since these renovations are scheduled to be done soon. He also noted that it is important to figure out why these particular pools have low usage.

In response, PRAC will immediately start reaching out to close-by clusters to gather data and feedback.

Committee members also expressed concerns about the believed need to make all RA pools an “attraction” or “destination pool” with water slides and other highly-valued amenities. This could drive up renovation costs and lead to members wanting them to be repurposed.

However, a potential compromise could be to simply make Tall Oaks or Shadowwood a wading pool or another facility with more basic features, as opposed to investing more money. The pools would then be available for lap swimming, swim teams, and even rentals to nearby daycares.

Lynch said that whatever decision is made about the pools, it has to be one that the community will continue to be okay with decades into the future.

“When you restore a pool, it’s designed to last [minimum] 30 years,” said Lynch. “The question is what do we do now, the community will have to support and embrace for the next 30 years.”

RA staff said there is already a working draft of a survey that asks residents about their recreation habits and pool usage. It will be released to the public in the coming weeks.

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(Updated at 2:30 p.m. on 5/19/2021) Reston Association staff is recommending that four pools be “seriously considered for repurposing” due to low usage.

Pool usage will be discussed at a joint work session with the RA board and Recreation Facilities Working Group on Thursday (May 20), along with budgetary recommendations based on findings that the working group presented in late February.

Two decades of data that RA CEO Hank Lynch will present at the work session show that Golf Course Island, Newbridge, Tall Oaks, and Shadowood pools all have lower usage compared to RA’s 11 other pools.

As a result, staff recommends that RA consider “repurposing” the facilities. Tall Oaks and Shadowood are both currently closed for ongoing capital improvement projects.

With pools now open for the 2021 season, the staff recommendations come on the heels of a year-long evaluation by the recreation facilities work group that found a number of decades-old facilities are in need of work and repairs.

The group noted in its report that funding for these capital projects may not be sustainable without a significant increase in members’ annual assessment.

Over the next decade, RA is scheduled to spend about $40 million to operate, maintain, and address capital improvement needs on its 15 pools and more than 50 tennis courts, according to Thursday’s work session presentation.

When asked to comment about what could happen to these specific pools, RA spokesperson Mike Leone told Reston Now in an email that their fate has yet to be determined:

The Facility Working Group’s work session is simply the start of the process. During the work session participants will review the Recreation & Facilities Working Group findings and recommendations on RA’s recreation facilities and the long term operational, maintenance and capital costs for such facilities. ‘Repurposing’ of some facilities may be a consideration and any decision to do so down the road, will require significant community input and discussion, involve RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee and would be the decision of the Board of Directors.

When asked if “repurposing” could mean the potential closing of those pools, Leone demurred.

“‘Repurposing’ could mean reimaging the space for a different type of amenity or use of interest to members,'” he wrote.

In general, pool usage has dropped by about 37% over the last decade, according to the work group’s data. Every pool except for Dogwood and Glade has seen a decrease in usage since 2010.

The four pools that have seen the least frequent usage as of 2019, Golf Course Island, Newbridge, Tall Oaks, and Shadowood were all built between 1969 and 1976, making them three to four decades old. It has cost about $9.6 million in total to maintain and operate them over the last 10 years.

In total, RA has spent about $33 million on pool maintenance and operations since 2010.

Budgetary concerns and lower usage aside, a number of community members told Reston Now that they want those four pools to remain open, saying they value their neighborhood pools and believe that recent usage statistics alone do not tell the full story.

Golf Course Square Cluster Association President Elmer Reinhardt says that 400 units would be affected by the repurposing or closing of the Newbridge pool.

“Newbridge pool is the only pool in Reston that you don’t have to cross a through-street to get to it,” he said. “The children can walk to that pool without ever crossing a highway, and we think that’s important.”

A resident of the community for more than 40 years, Reinhardt says he believes the recent lower usage has more to do with the population being cyclical.

“We’re seeing a huge influx of young families into our neighborhoods now and those are the ones that use the pools,” he said.

He argues that it would be shortsighted to make a decision to repurpose or close certain pools based just on recent data.

“[The demographics] change every 10 to 15 years. One year, you’ll only see wheelchairs being pushed on the sidewalks and, the next, only strollers,” he said.

RA has recently renovated several of their pools, including an ongoing and much-discussed $3.5 million facelift for Lake Thoreau. This spring, Glade pool’s slide was resurfaced, and new lighting was added.

The presentation suggests that a “seasonal indoor racket sports facility should be considered,” along with amenities sought by new RA members.

Currently, a conversation about pools is currently not on the agenda for the RA Board of Directors meeting on May 27, Leone confirms.

However, there remains a possibility that it could be added to the agenda prior to the meeting, and members can discuss it during the meeting’s comment period if they wish.

Photo courtesy Reston Association

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The potential expansion of Tall Oaks Assisted Living Facility’s parking lot has taken another step.

After earning conceptual approval from the Reston Association Design Review Board on April 20, the facility’s proposed parking lot expansion on North Shore Drive has now gotten a recommendation from Fairfax County’s planning department.

Released on May 5, the staff report includes some conditions but supports the overall expansion plan.

“The applicant has satisfactorily demonstrated to staff that the proposed parking will sufficiently meet the parking needs of the facility and has minimized impact to the surrounding area,” the staff report said.

The staff conditions include providing three secure bicycle racks within 200 yards of the building’s front entrance and pre-wiring 2% of the proposed parking spaces for electric vehicle charging stations.

Tall Oaks Assisted Living currently has 44 parking spaces, which matched the requirements of a facility of its size when it was constructed in 1988. However, with 152 beds and 48 employees, it does not meet the county’s current zoning requirement of one parking space for every three beds and one space per employee.

The county’s current regulations require 99 parking spaces for a facility of this size, so Tall Oaks has applied for a waiver to reduce that number to 73 spaces.

The plan for the expanded lot includes five tandem spaces, 12 spaces at the front of the building, 54 spaces along the southern and western edges of the site, and seven spaces at the rear of the building.

“In staff’s opinion, the 99 required parking spaces could create unwanted environmental impacts and would encroach on existing conservation easements,” the staff report said.

The proposal’s environmental impact was a primary concern of RA’s Design Review Board. Tall Oaks estimates it would need to remove 66 trees and 95 shrubs, while only proposing to plant 17 new trees.

The staff report, however, states that the proposed parking layout “will not impact the existing trees.” It further details that a mix of canopy and understory trees, as well as shrubs, are proposed to screen and buffer the site.

“The design now includes one row of parking and a 12-foot wide buffer area between the building and parking area to mitigate noise and light impacts on adjacent units,” the staff report said. “Additionally, the applicant is proposing a mix of deciduous understory and canopy trees that, in combination with the natural topography of the site, will reduce the light impact to the adjacent townhouse community.”

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is slated to host a public hearing and vote on the expansion of Tall Oaks’ parking lot expansion on May 19.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Reston Association Design Review Board has given a tentative thumbs up to Tall Oaks Assisted Living’s plans to expand its parking lot on North Shore Drive.

The board voted 4-1 with one abstention on Tuesday (April 20) to give conceptual approval to the assisted living facility’s proposal to add 29 new parking spaces to the 44-space lot, even as members lamented the anticipated loss of landscaping and the trees that give Tall Oaks its name.

Board architect Michael Wood voted against Tall Oaks’ request for conceptual approval, saying that he understands the facility’s need for additional parking but wishes it could be achieved without such a significant environmental impact.

“That’s some really nice trees and landscaping that go along the edge of the facility right now, so it’s a little bit of a shame,” Wood said. “…If it wasn’t so close to neighbors, it maybe wouldn’t be an issue, [or] if it wasn’t impacting the trail…But it is doing all that stuff.”

Built in 1988, Tall Oaks Assisted Living currently hosts 152 beds with 48 staff members on site at a given time, but it still only has 44 parking spaces.

In recent years, the facility utilized surplus parking at the adjacent Tall Oaks Village Center, but that is no longer an option, thanks to ongoing construction on a long-gestating redevelopment of the shopping center.

Land use attorney Sara Mariska says that Tall Oaks Assisted Living reached an agreement for a parking license with developer Stanley Martin, which agreed to provide 12 spaces on the redeveloped village center lot. However, Tall Oaks would not have 24-hour access, and that would ultimately not be enough spots to accommodate the facility’s needs.

Those 12 spaces have also not yet been constructed, noted John Albert, the development and project management director for Coordinated Services Management, which operates Tall Oaks Assisted Living.

In comparison, the assisted living facility’s proposal would bring its parking lot up to 68 total spaces, with 10 of the 29 new spots envisioned as tandem spaces.

“We’re struggling as a business right now post-pandemic. Our occupancy level is the lowest it’s ever been, and we’re worried about the viability of an ongoing business,” Albert said. “This is something we really didn’t want to do, but we did a parking study, and we really do need every space that’s on this plan right now.”

Tall Oaks Assisted Living representatives said that they are “very sensitive” to the concerns raised by the community and have worked with the adjacent residential neighborhoods to mitigate the impact of their proposal as much as possible.

In addition to reconfiguring the parking lot design to preserve some trees in a section of the property line most in need of buffering, the assisted living center’s request for additional parking is more modest than the 99 spaces that Fairfax County’s zoning ordinance requires for a facility of its size.

“We are requesting a pretty sizable reduction because we do not want to pave over this parking lot,” Mariska said. “We want to constrain our impact as much as we can, and we are requesting only the spaces that we would need for the facility to remain viable.”

Even with those adjustments, however, Tall Oaks still anticipates removing 66 trees and 95 shrubs, and it is only proposing to plant 17 new trees.

Michael Byrne, secretary of the Villa de Espana Cluster Association, expressed sympathy for the assisted living center’s situation, but said it will be difficult for his neighborhood to lose another stand of trees go after they already had a canopy removed by the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment.

“Our concerns are obviously losing our tall oaks, what is essentially the beauty of our natural environment, and also what it brings to the drainage problem,” he said. “The trees absorbing water, we don’t have a lot of drainage problems in that section of our quadrant.”

The design review board’s vote this week gave approval to the conceptual plan presented by Tall Oaks Assisted Living, but the applicant will need to return to get approval of its final design, including details about bicycle racks, a proposed retaining wall, and other elements that are still being refined.

The request for additional parking is slated to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing and vote at 7:30 p.m. on May 19.

Images via Google Maps, Reston Association

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Updated at 7 p.m. with comment from Harmony

Several local assisted living and senior centers are advertising vaccinations if seniors make reservations for residencies, a marketing tactic that is raising concern among county and elected officials.

Reston Now has found at least three businesses have advertised either through social media or on their website that if an individual pays to become a resident of the assisted living or senior center by a certain date, they’d receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

This comes as regional localities continue to have immense challenges with distributing COVID-19 vaccines to all who are eligible. In Fairfax County, everyone 65 or older is currently eligible to sign up for the vaccine. The vaccine is also free to all.

But supply remains severely limited, leading to canceled appointments and seniors waiting in long lines in Arlington.

Notably, up until late last week, Tall Oaks Assisted Living in Reston ran a Facebook aid promoting a “vaccination staycation,” as reported by the Washington Post.

The local assisted living facility was advertising a $5,000 all-inclusive month-long stay in a studio apartment where residents would also receive two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. It was accompanied by a 30-second video and a photo of a senior receiving a shot in the arm.

That post was taken down on Friday, according to the Post.

However, Tall Oaks Assisted Living isn’t the only local business that has advertised this type of message.

On Jan.13, Harmony in Chantilly promoted on their Facebook page “priority vaccine access” to those who become residents prior to Feb. 9.

Screenshot via Facebook

Sunrise Senior Living at Reston Town Center also posted on their website’s landing page that “vaccine clinics are now available” and new “eligible” residents can learn more by calling the facility. Towards the bottom of the page, however, it explains that “no respite or short-term stays” are eligible to get the vaccine.

Screenshot via website

Fairfax County officials are worried about what these messages are promoting.

“The main concern is the promotion could be interpreted as needing to pay money to get the vaccine, which is not the case,” Jeremy Lasich, Fairfax County Health Department spokesperson, writes to Reston Now in an email.

Lasich notes that long-term care facilities, like those mentioned, are receiving their vaccine allotment directly from the federal government and not the county. He says Fairfax County has allocated roughly half of the weekly doses to people 65 and over, per Virginia guidelines.

While Lasich does understand the frustration since it could be weeks or even months to get a vaccine appointment, he emphasizes that those 75 and over were able to sign up a week earlier than those over 65. Meaning, those residents’ appointments should come sooner.

The advertisements do “raise some concerns as both a promotional strategy and from a safety perspective,” Lasich writes.

Ken Plum is the Virginia House Delegate for the 36th District. Both Tall Oaks and Sunrise at Reston Town Center lie in his district. He also shares considerable concern about these promotions.

“It sends the message that you can get in front of the line for the vaccine by paying for an expensive [residency] package,” Plum tells Reston Now.

There’s already a high level of anxiety and frustration with how the vaccine is being distributed, he says, and this type of advertisements are playing off of those fears, particularly aimed at seniors and their loved ones.

“It’s misleading and inappropriate,” says Plum.

Reston Now has reached out to the three assisted living and senior centers noted asking about the decision-making process behind the promotions and advertisements.

Tall Oaks Assisted Living responded to a request for comment from Reston Now.

Executive Director George Winters admitted that promoting in such a way could be seen as “insensitive.”

“At Tall Oaks, we believe in the many positive benefits of short-term respite care for both seniors and their families. Moreover, we are delighted to be able to do our part to help seniors within our communities get vaccinated and to protect their health as well as that of their families via our vaccination clinic,” Winters writes to Reston Now. “At the same time, we recognize that demand for the vaccine is considerable and that marketing our respite-care program as we did may have been seen as insensitive to the individuals awaiting their vaccines. We are grateful to our residents, our staff, and our neighbors for their understanding.”

It remains unclear how effective the promotions and advertising were in bringing in new residents.

Winters told the Washington Post that only one person responded to the ad prior to it being taken down on Feb. 5. That person had previously taken her mother out of the Reston facility last year due to fears about the pandemic.

Reston Now has followed up with Winters if it remains the case that only one person has responded to the ad, but has not received a response.

Harmony in Chantilly, in an email response to Reston Now, said that their residents were first vaccinated in late Jan. and were among the first to receive vaccinations in Virginia.

This statement is disputed since more than 10,000 Fairfax County residents received the vaccine weeks earlier. The assisted living center says they have follow-up vaccine clinics set-up for residents later this month and in March.

They declined to comment specifically on county officials’ concern over the appropriateness or potential misleading nature of the Facebook post

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Tall Oaks Assisted Living at 2052 North Shore Drive in Reston is looking to add more parking, but the request won’t go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission until late March.

The proposal is to add 29 new parking spots at the 33-year-old assisted living center.

The ask was to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission next week with a scheduled public hearing. However, the applicant has requested a deferral, planning commission staff confirms. This is to give the assisted living center time to address community concerns and give the planning commission to review any changes.

The commission will acknowledge the deferral and the new date for the proposal to go before the planning commission will be March 24, county staff told Reston Now. Parking has long been an issue at assisted living facility, so says the application first filed in July.

The facility near the intersection of North Shore Dr. and Wiehle Ave. was originally developed with 44 spots. At the time, that was sufficient, but increasing “care needs of residents” in turn increased staffing levels, according to the application.

Throughout the years, when the parking lot was full, visitors and staff would routinely park at the adjacent Tall Oaks Village Center. As tenants fled the shopping center, parking spaces became more plentiful.

Then, in June 2016, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the redevelopment of the defunct shopping center into a mostly residential development. That is currently under construction after being delayed several times for a variety of reasons.

Due to construction, there’s currently no parking available there for Tall Oaks Assisted Living visitors and staff. The proposal is to increase from 44 parking spots to 73, 10 of which will be tandem parking spots.

The facility has 152 beds and 48 staff. Under strict application of the zoning ordinance, the facility is required to provide 99 parking spots. However, concurrently, the facility is filing a parking reduction request allowing them to be allowed to have 73 spots.

The parking spaces will be developed to not impact the site’s conservation easement and to avoid steep slopes as well as mature vegetation.

Photo via Google Maps

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A new business that offers family haircuts is coming to the Tall Oaks Professional Building.

The business, which is listed as Family Hair Cutt on an Oct. 29 permit, will be located at 12054 North Shore Drive.

H&R Block, a tax preparation company that has locations around the world, also plans to move into the building.

Photo via Google Maps

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A new business is coming to the Tall Oaks Professional building (12054 North Shore Drive.

H&R Block, a tax preparation company that has locations around the world, is expected to open soon at the location, according to recently processed county permits.

The building is one of two in the Tall Oaks Village Center that is expected to remain throughout the redevelopment.

The redevelopment of the village center into a mixed-use development will include 156 homes, 8,500 square feet of retail and about 6,000 square feet of office space, as well as community space. Construction is currently in progress.

Photo via Google Maps

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Silver Line snags — “Though there are three outstanding concrete issues for the line from Wiehle-Reston East to Ashburn, only one of them has had a plan approved to address it: The more than 1,000 faulty framing panels at stations.” [WTOP]

Mardi Gras party — Head to the Tall Oaks Assisted Living from 3-4:30 p.m. for a Mardi Gras celebration. Partygoers can enjoy a live performance by the Louis Pettinelli Jazz Duo. The event is free. [Facebook]

School lottery — Eyeing the magnet school program at Hunters Woods? Registration for FCPS elementary magnet lottery programs opened today at 8:30 a.m. [FCPS]

Photo via Marjorie Copson

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Reston is built on planned village centers. Sometimes they work. Tall Oaks didn’t.

This week on Reston Then and Now we return to the Lake Anne area where Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer shows us the rise and fall of Tall Oaks Village Center and the plans that indicate how the area hopes to recover.

Like much of Reston, the site was open fields in aerial photography up to 1976. The development opened in 1974 as the smallest of Reston’s five village centers. According to the Washington Business Journal, the location enjoyed a brief golden age with 240,000 square feet of retail by 1990.

But gradually, Tall Oaks faces more modern competition. Between the 1990s and the early 2000s, Reston Town Center, North Point, Spectrum and a range of other retail options expanded throughout North Reston.

The first big blow was losing Giant in 2007, and two replacement stores failed within a year of opening in 2009 and 2011, leaving the location without an anchor tenant since 2011. Curves, Domino’s and 7 Eleven all vacated their locations as well.

But work is underway on a new project to for Tall Oaks. The redevelopment will convert the area into a largely residential neighborhood with 156 homes with more limited retail. The Reston Association recently voted in favor of vacating an easement it held in the Tall Oaks village to facilitate the redevelopment.

For more Reston Then and Now stories, check out our most recent coverage of:

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The Reston Association’s Board of Directors voted in favor of vacating its existing pathway easement at the Tall Oaks Village Center at the request of the site’s developer.

The site is currently getting redeveloped by Stanley Martin Companies into a residential community that will include a public green space next to commercial space and a new pathway.

Since the approved development plans require public access throughout the site, the developer asked RA to give up its existing easement, which RA has had since the original development of the site.

RA’s pathway easement spanned the underpass from the Tall Oaks pool through the commercial area and extended to the northeast area near the Tall Oaks Fellowship House, according to the meeting’s draft agenda.

The discussion and vote on the developer’s ask was one of the fastest agenda items tackled at the meeting yesterday (Feb. 21), taking roughly 30 minutes.

Image via Reston Association/YouTube

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The Reston Association’s Board of Directors is set to consider at its meeting Thursday night a developer’s request that the RA vacates its existing pathway easement at the Tall Oaks Village Center site.

Stanley Martin Companies currently is redeveloping the former village center into a residential community with townhomes and condominiums. Part of the new project will have a public green space next to commercial space and a new pathway.

Since the approved development plans require public access throughout the site, the developers now want RA to give up its existing easement because the planned path is located elsewhere.

“Since the original development of the Village Center, Reston Association has had a pathway easement through the site, starting at the underpass from Tall Oaks Pool, through the commercial area and extending to the northeast near the Tall Oaks Fellowship House,” according to the draft agenda.

Additionally, Stanley Martin has also said that the homeowners’ association for the site will take care of the new walkway, which takes away RA’s maintenance obligations. RA staff estimates that vacating the easement will result in long-term budget savings.

The board is also set to vote on a series of questions that will give the RA’s Governance Committee further guidance for changing the power structure of RA’s key staff.

The resolution before the board will address specifically RA’s legal counsel, chief financial officer, director of finance, controller, chief operating officer and the authority of the board’s chief executive officer. Currently, RA’s bylaws say that the chief executive officer controls personnel and compensation schedules, along with hiring and firing responsibilities.

The RA is also scheduled to discuss the recent contentious PRC zoning ordinance amendment, which the county’s Planning Commission recently recommended that the county’s board deny, along with the monthly report from the treasurer.

The meeting starts at 6:30 at the Central Services Facility (12250 Sunset Hills Road).

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Reston Association’s Design Review Board approved minor changes to the size and number of windows for previously approved architectural designs for the Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment on Tuesday night.

The redevelopment plans to transform the village center (12022 North Shore Drive) into a mostly residential neighborhood by adding 156 residential units, which include 42 two-over-two multi-family units, 44 single units and 70 multi-family units in two residential buildings. Nearly 8,500 square feet of retail and 5,800 square feet of office space are also slated for the site.

On Dec. 19. Stanley Martin Homes officially purchased the residential portion of the property from Jefferson Apartment Group. Currently, Stanley Martin is completing the site plan and brought “small changes” to abide by the county’s zoning to the Design Review Board.

Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, said he was concerned about replacing some of the larger windows with smaller ones. “It’s not going to have the same architectural drama we thought we were getting before,” he said. “We’re always looking for good design and stuff that is a little bit different and a little bit progressive.”

Ultimately, the board approved the changes.

During the nearly three-hour-long meeting on Jan. 15, the Design Review Board also approved stream restoration with a year-long timeline for the Colvin Run Stream.

Tree clearing is set to begin for the stream restoration on Feb. 4, with an estimated completion of the work sometime in the summer. Planting will then follow in the fall.

The board also OK’d playground equipment and signs at the Primrose School of Reston (1309 N. Village Road).

An affected party — who did not show up to the meeting — had previously raised a concern about the size and color of a red plastic fire truck in the school’s playground.

“Reston is pretty much known for the lack of vibrant color in all of its playgrounds. It’s always supposed to be natural looks — greens and browns,” Newlon said. “I personally have never seen a green or brown fire engine.”

W. Neal Roseberry, the board’s vice chair and architect member, was the only member to vote against approving the playground equipment’s appearance.

Images via Reston Association/YouTube

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Scattered pieces of the skeleton of Tall Oaks Village Center (12022 North Shore Drive) remain as the redevelopment of the property officially begins.

Demolition of the property, which will be redeveloped into a mixed-use project with 156 residential units, 8,500 square feet of retail and 6,000 square feet of office space, is nearly complete.

Construction of the new homes is expected to begin in October and be completed by the end of 2021, according to estimates provided to Reston Now by the development team in September. The development team, which includes Stanley Martin, the contract purchaser of the property, did not return requests for comment from Reston Now.

Stanley Martin’s plan transforms the village center from a predominantly retail-heavy site to a small residential neighborhood with a strip of retail. The center has long struggled with a lack of visibility from the main street and the vacancies left by Giant Foods’ departure in 2007.  The plan calls for 44 townhouses, 42 two-over-two townhouses and 70 multi-family units in two buildings. 

Recently, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering plans to reduce garage size requirements necessary to make the development team’s current plan work.

Tall Oaks’ longtime challenges have been a location on a dead end and lack of visibility from the main street. Its longtime anchor tenant, Giant Foods, moved out in 2007 and vacancies have been mounting since.

Photos by Fatimah Waseem

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