Reston, VA

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is aiming to formally update its Workforce Dwelling Unit (WDU) policy to provide affordable rents for those in need as rents continue to increase across the region.

However, these policy changes would not apply to Reston, which is currently undergoing its own separate study to update its WDU policy. The proposal heads to the board for a public hearing and a vote today.

The main update is lowering the household income levels served under the county’s rental WDU program from a maximum of 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI) in the Washington D.C. Metro Area to 80% of AMI. It also now includes those at 70% and 60% of AMI in the program. The changes are based on a comprehensive staff report released last month.

The area median income (AMI) is the household income for the median household in a region. Currently, in the D.C. region, the AMI is $126,000 for a household of four.

“We conducted a housing strategic plan process over the last two or three years, which identified, sort of these lower incomes as being in the greatest need,” says Tom Fleetwood, Director of Fairfax County Housing and Development. “While at the same time, the higher income tiers that were served under the original version of the WDU program really were closer to the prevailing market rents here in Fairfax County.”

The updates would also lower the minimum percentage of rental units offered as WDUs from 12% to 8%. According to the plan, 4% of those units would need to be offered to those at 80% AMI, 2% to those at 70% AMI, and 2% to those at 60% AMI.

However, these numbers are different and are specifically revised for the Tysons Urban Center.

Fleetwood says the policy is “similar in intent” but the specific numbers are more in context with the realities of Tysons’ rental market.

In Tysons, developers would have the ability to choose between two different options for their affordable rental units. Either they can offer 2% of the units at 60% AMI, 3% at 70% AMI, and 8% at 80% AMI, which brings their WDU commitment to 13% in total, or they can simply offer 10% of their units at 60% of AMI.

The county’s planning commission voted unanimously to make these changes.

Reston is working on their own separate WDU study as part of the Reston Comprehensive Plan Study. That study is being initiated by a task force led by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

Alcorn’s communication director Lisa Connors, tells Reston Now that Reston has a “separate formula for WDUs.” Similar to the policy updates that the county is voting on, WDUs will be discussed at the study’s task force meeting on March 8.

Affordable housing continues to be a challenge for Reston.

The Board of Supervisors is also voting to update, revise, and rewrite editorial elements of the policy that was first established in 2015. The revisions would update data, rework outdated terminology, and remove references to programs that no longer exist.

Photo by Mike Reyes/Flickr

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Tuesday Morning Notes

FCPS to Host Annual Special Education Conference — The school system’s sixteenth annual special education conference will be held virtually on Saturday, April 17th. [FCPS]

Local Town Halls Set for This Week — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting a town hall tonight and Thursday. The first meeting is with the Reston district police station commanders and the second is with Alcorn. [Fairfax County Government]

Northern Virginia Returns to In-person Schooling — ”The case numbers of the new variants in Virginia are increasing as some school systems in Northern Virginia prepare to resume in-person instruction this week. The counties are returning to in-classroom learning before all teachers have received their COVID-19 vaccine.” [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Alcorn Plans Virtual Town Halls for Next Week — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn will host two town halls on Feb. 16 and 18. The first discussion is with Reston District Police Station commanders and the second is with Alcorn. [Fairfax County Government]

Body Worn Camera Program Expands in Fairfax County — Phase two of the program is complete as officers from the police department’s Franconia and McLean District Stations received training and are now fully equipped with the devices. [Fairfax County Police Department]

CVS in Annandale to Distribute Vaccine — CVS will offer the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible 1a and 1b populations through a federal program. So far, the only participating location in Virginia is located at Little River Turnpike in Annandale. Supply is limited, but more locations will begin to offer the vaccine soon. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Wheelock Street Capital plans to build up to 90 townhouses next to Fannie Mae’s current offices at 11600 American Dream Way.

The move comes after Wheelock’s plans to redevelop the nearby Hidden Creek Club were opposed by neighboring community groups and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

The company, which bought the sprawling 29-acre property in 2018, plans to build the townhouses in four blocks on open space.

Although the county’s zoning allows the Connecticut-based company to build two more office buildings on the site, Wheelock chose the residential route to complement existing office space on the site.

“The introduction of an option for residential use will help to complement and balance the existing office use on the property, and will create positive traffic impacts relative to the full office build-out option,” according to the application.

Its plans for the golf course, which it purchased in 2017, are more uncertain. Wheelock has proposed general plans for a community park and between 500 and 2,000 residential units. No formal proposal has been filed with the county yet.

But Alcorn publicly stated he would block any efforts to redevelop the golf course, which requires rezoning and is a flashpoint in several community groups’ efforts to maintain Reston as a community with two golf courses.

The Fannie Mae proposal is in its early phases. The project heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Sept. 22 and a staff report isn’t expected until Sept. 7.

Meanwhile, Fannie Mae is expected to move into Boston Properties’ next phase of development in Reston Town Center next year.

Image via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Now, Reston residents can access detailed local transportation data with a click.

An interactive Reston Transportation Data Hub came online earlier this week, offering compiled data sets detailing how and when Restonians move about town.

The tool features vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit data. Much of the data is from November 2019.

“This system provides a new way for residents to understand both the big picture and the details of our current and planned transportation system,” Walter Alcorn, Hunter Mill District Supervisor and Transportation Committee Chair, wrote in the press release. “Whether you drive, ride rail/buses, walk or bicycle, information on how the system fits together and coming improvements is critical. This data hub is an important step forward.”

Beyond that, the tool also maps upcoming transportation and infrastructure projects including timelines and costs. It also provides a comprehensive map of pedestrian and biking trails in Reston.

A high level analysis shows that traffic volume tends to be higher in Reston during the evening peak rush hour than the morning equivalent.

The report speculates that, along with commuting, this is due to the combination of errands and non-work trips that more often happen in the evening.

There are also other data hubs being planned, including ones showing zoning activity and parks that will show how land is being used in Reston.

Full press release below:

Reston residents, businesses and stakeholders can now access the latest information about transportation in the Reston area. The online, interactive Reston Transportation Data Hub features vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit data, in addition to information about planned infrastructure improvements and transportation projects for Reston.

The Transportation Data Hub is one component of the Reston Data Visualization project. Led by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development Urban Center’s Section and GIS Department, the project focuses on data transparency associated with Reston development and infrastructure improvements, including information about mobility, parks, and zoning activity.

“This system provides a new way for residents to understand both the big picture and the details of our current and planned transportation system,” said Walter Alcorn, Hunter Mill District Supervisor and Transportation Committee Chair. “Whether you drive, ride rail/buses, walk or bicycle, information on how the system fits together and coming improvements is critical. This data hub is an important step forward.”

Additional Data Hubs are planned for the Reston Data Visualization project – including a Zoning Activity Data Hub and a Parks Hub – for sharing land use information with the Reston Community.

The main Reston Data Visualization page, which includes the Reston Transportation Data Hub, can be found at https://reston-data-visualization-fairfaxcountygis.hub.arcgis.com/. For questions about the new Transportation Data Hub or the Reston Data Visualization project, contact the Department of Planning and Development’s Urban Centers Section.

The Transportation Data Hub is a collaboration between Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Development and Department of Transportation.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of the world including Metro planning, but officials say the construction phase of Phase II of the Metro Silver Line has managed to stay on track.

Marcia McAllister, the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Communications Manager, noted that Phase II is 99 percent complete. McAllister shared the update during the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Metro Monday Jan. 25 virtual meeting about COVID-19’s financial impact on Metro and the Silver Line.

“COVID has had very little effect on our construction,” McAllister said. “As you know, construction workers were allowed to continue to work and they did work, and our contractors have put in extra hours to make up any time they may have (needed) when they may have had cases of COVID.”

She added that the project is undergoing system testing and that coordination is happening daily with Metro moving forward. While the project’s eventual opening will be up to WMATA, the goal is to turn it over to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority in late spring.

When Metro takes control of the project, it will conduct its own testing before opening the second phase. During a Metro Monday meeting on Dec. 10, head of capital delivery for Metro Laura Mason estimated that Phase II’s tentative start of service would begin in the fall of 2021. The completion of the project has been delayed by more than a year.

McAllister also addressed rumors about the construction budget funding for the project.

“Our funding is completely intact. There’s been no change in the allocation of funds,” she said. “In fact, we have already spent all of the Phase I money that came from the federal government to fund this project. That part is set in golden stone.”

Loudoun County Supervisor and Metro Board of Supervisors member Matt Letourneau reiterated McAllister’s budget comments and clarified that the construction budget for the project is not related to Metro’s capital budget. Letourneau went into further detail on Metro’s financial standing during the ongoing pandemic and the federal COVID-19 relief package signed on Dec. 27 to support transit.

The overall region is expected to receive about $830 million, with about $720 million going to Metro. Metro will keep about $600 million of the funds and allocate about $108 million to local providers.

“That will allow us to essentially balance the FY (fiscal year) 21 budget with about $95 million of that,” Letourneau said. “We had planned some fairly significant, but not necessarily painful, cuts coming in February that we’re going to be avoiding.”

The remaining $515 million allocated to Metro will be used to help balance the fiscal year 2022 budget. Metro will pass a budget in the mid-March to early April timeframe. However, Letourneau cautioned that the federal funds would not cover the entire fiscal year 2022 budget.

Unless additional federal funding is received, Letourneau said, service cuts and employee layoffs are potential threats in January 2022. He estimated that the layoffs could encompass an estimated 2,500 people.

“The Metro board has not done anything to delay the opening of Phase II as a matter of Metro policy or budget policy,” Letourneau said. “Thus far the position of the Metro board has been whenever the project is been turned over and deemed acceptable and safe, and gone through testing, we should open it.”

Since the inception of the pandemic, Letourneau estimated that Metro rail ridership is between 10 and 15 percent of what it was prior to COVID-19, while bus ridership is around 50 to 60 percent. He added that if additional federal funding is not provided, the fiscal year 2022 budget process will involve considering $171.4 million service reductions for the last six months of the fiscal year.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn urged officials to open phase two as soon as it is ready and practical.

“As we think about the Metro budget and going forward, we have to keep in mind that the long term viability of Metro depends on using rail,” Fairfax County Supervisor Walter Alcorn said.

Letourneau echoed Alcorn’s statement by that saying Phase II should continue as previously planned despite challenges and low ridership.

“If we are trying to recover, if we want to be part of that recovery, we know that the highest growth part of the system is the silver line; it is the Dulles corridor,” Letourneau said.

The WMATA Board voted to authorize a public process to participate in discussions on the fiscal year 2022 budget in February. Hearings are anticipated to begin in early March and the board is then expected to approve a budget in April.

Photo by Chuck Samuelson/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Following a flood of demand yesterday, Fairfax County plans to launch a new online vaccine registration system as early as tomorrow that will allow residents to schedule an appointment according to the county’s Information Technology Department.

On Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the Fairfax Health District is one of several districts in the state to jumpstart the next phase of vaccinations — phase 1b. The first priority group in this phase is adults age 75 and older, followed by priority groups like police and grocery store workers.

The new system, which is currently under development, follows a pre-registration tool that was launched by the county on Monday after overwhelming demand for scheduling jammed county phone lines and flooded the overall system. The pre-registration form, which is currently open, includes pre-screening questions and was launched earlier than originally anticipated in order to shift demand from the county’s phone line to the online system. Pre-registered residents will likely be contacted via email by the county to complete the registration process.

At an IT committee meeting today, some members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors were dismayed by the initial rollout of the registration system and phone line. Overall, the county received nearly 1.2 million calls on its vaccine hotline yesterday. Within the first hour that the phone line went up, the system was jammed.

Jeff McKay, the board’s chairman, said that he was concerned the board did not receive information about the issues facing the county until around 6 p.m. yesterday.

“I know it is disappointing that we weren’t better prepared for this,” McKay said. “I will say that we need to be a lot quicker.”

He also noted that residents should be aware that phase 1b is not a first-come, first-serve system. Frontline essential workers will be vaccinated in a pre-determined order, with police, fire and hazmat workers on the top of the list.

The county is testing out the new system today in cooperation with the Fairfax County Health Department, according to Gregory Scott, director of the county’s Department of Information Technology.

His office also plans to implement a virtual system with automated chatbots and work with external vendors to help manage call volume. The county also routed some calls to a voice message that said to call back later due to busy phone lines.

“Everybody was in this predicament yesterday morning,” Scott said.

Staff noted that additional manpower may be needed to manage call volume and respond to registration forms to sort out missing or conflicting information.

For example, more than 286,000 voicemails were left on the county’s vaccination line yesterday alone. So far, the county hopes to automate as much of the registration process — including administration of the vaccine’s second dose — as much as possible.

Residents will likely receive an email about registering for the second dose, according to the county’s health department.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who chairs the IT committee, also encouraged the county to ensure the registration form is friendly for seniors. The first version of the preregistration form sent yesterday made providing a cell phone a required field, for example.

The new registration form is expected to be available as early as tomorrow, pending final testing and revisions.

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Officers with the Fairfax County Police Department have been deployed to Washington, D.C., as part of a region-wide emergency response to far-right extremists who have stormed the U.S. Capitol, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay’s office confirmed to Tysons Reporter.

Fairfax County has also opened its emergency operations center to Virginia State Police.

Earlier this week, McKay advised county residents to avoid visiting downtown D.C. as several right-wing groups planned to hold demonstrations to protest Congress’ scheduled certification of the November 2019 general election results.

Fairfax County police previously said they did not anticipate needing to assist D.C. authorities in managing the demonstrations. Like other law enforcement agencies in the D.C. region, the county has a mutual aid agreement in place for situations where additional help may be needed.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn also encouraged residents to stay home. His full statement is below.

Today has truly been one of the most remarkable days in our country’s history, and the sounds and images on our screens are frightening and saddening. Over the years we have seen many challenges to authority, to our system, and even to each other, but we have always emerged stronger and doubled down on our commitment to a more perfect union. Let’s not forget that our institutions are strong, our commitment to rule of law is unchanged, and that government by the people and for the people remains our foundational principle. We have the oldest democracy on earth and we will pull together so that does not change.

McKay’s full statement is below:

What is happening in Washington D.C. right now is nothing short of a coup. This is a dark day in American democracy and I am personally sad and angry. I’m hopeful residents of the county heeded our advice to stay home today.

We have deployed members of our police department and opened our emergency oerpations center ot Virginia State Police. Let us pray for their safety as well as the safety of the innocent people impacted. Our democracy will not be destroyed by violent, lawless mobs.

I’m in constant communication with County officials to ensure we provide as much help as possible and also protect our communities in Fairfax.

Photo via Sherry Xu on Unsplash

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For Reston to move forward, it first has to look back.

Fairfax County recently published a draft of a Historic Resources Survey of Reston for the community to review.

The study is a step toward documenting the historic value of sites in the area for architectural or historic significance. It does not predetermine the future use of any of properties. The survey can be used to identify sites that, if significant, can be nominated to Fairfax County’s Inventory of Historic Sites, the Virginia Landmarks Register or the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

Hunter Mills District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting a virtual community meeting on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. for residents to ask questions and discuss the draft. Questions and discussion will follow a presentation by a consultant hired by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

State-hired firm Hanbury Preservation Consulting conducted the survey after Fairfax County was chosen to participate in Virginia’s Survey and Planning Cost Share Program in 2019.

The project provides data on “several residential clusters, a subdivision, two golf courses, two churches, two schools, and a handful of commercial buildings” to be reviewed before consideration for future National Register nomination.

The survey includes a look at 51 individual properties and eight potential historic districts that were built between 1961 and 1978. The eight districts include:

  • Hickory Cluster townhouses
  • Waterview Cluster townhouses
  • Coleson Cluster townhouses
  • Mediterranean Villa Cluster townhouses
  • Fairway Apartments
  • Golf Course Island townhouses
  • Ring Road subdivision single-family dwellings
  • Cameron Crescent apartments

The eight districts were surveyed to identify boundaries, research historical significance, provide a preliminary count of properties in each district and record each district’s physical characteristics.

The draft shows recommendations for nine resources or sites to be “potentially eligible” for NRHP eligibility. The draft also includes three resources with an “undecided” designation that require further study. It also recommends that any property listed as “potentially eligible or meriting further study should undergo intensive survey in the event of planned demolition or modifications.”

It also includes other recommendations for providing greater reconnaissance-level documentation of buildings that are scheduled for demolition. It also offers recommendations for the county to pursue guidance for the preservation of sites that utilize modern materials such as concrete.

“The Reston community is very proud of our history and our landmarks and we appreciate this opportunity to document our historic resources within an established standard,” Alcorn said in a press release.

“This inventory is an important step toward identifying buildings and places in Reston that should be noted in the Fairfax County comprehensive plan as worthy for their historic value.”

To participate in the Jan. 5 virtual meeting, you can sign in from the county’s website or listen in on the phone by calling 1-844-621-3956 and using the access code: 179 469 1739. The meeting will also be livestreamed on Alcorn’s YouTube channel.

Photo courtesy Reston Historic Trust and Museum

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The Reston Comprehensive Task Force heard from a panel of community leaders from various organizations about on how to plan for open space and public art during a meeting earlier this week

The 32-member task force is chaired by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn to review and make recommendations for Reston’s Comprehensive Plan. The group, which met on Monday, includes representatives from community organizations and various backgrounds.

Alcorn asked the task force as a whole to consider its recommendations for guidance on how to treat open spaces, including what percentage of public or private-public space should be aimed for. Alcorn requested that the group consider reviewing general accessibility for open space, maintenance responsibilities, and gathering a broader sense of placemaking for open spaces.

“The issues that we’re talking about here tonight are typically not ones that are addressed, if at all, very much in a comprehensive plan,” Alcorn said Monday night. “Most of the open space issues where they’re addressed are addressed in terms of recreation use, in terms of trees saved, in terms of more what I would call them traditional open space issues.”

The topic of open space was addressed by a panel that included Larry Butler from Reston Association (RA), Robert Goudie from Reston Town Center Association (RTCA), Diana Smith from Herndon Reston Indivisible, and Abby Dunner and Tom Barnett from Fairfax County’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness (OPEH).

Butler opened the discussion with a question for the task force and panelists to consider about the different operations between private open space and “truly open space.” He listed potential concerns in the difference of private corporations and true public entities, namely in the different protections and risks each has to consider.

Goudie followed up by listing the benefits of private ownership of open spaces and how it has impacted the RTCA, which has both a commercial and a residential partnership. His listed benefits included:

  • Public treasury can struggle to fund required maintenance and upgrades that private funds can more easily handle.
  • Private ownership can protect or preserve some space in the community free of political activity.
  • Privatization can provide flexibility and limited bureaucracy in closing streets and creating events.

He used a few examples to clarify his position with the costs associated with the Mercury Fountain Plaza, Town Square Park, and West Market Stormwater Pond. Butler itemized the costs associated with the maintenance and renovation of each to demonstrate the private association’s ability to directly prioritize renovations and repairs that he assessed would quickly run up costs on the public coffers.

Smith also touched on the issue of public space available for political activities. She raised issues during her presentation about the hindrance created by the lack of public open spaces for those activities. She also advocated for the consideration to use the new Reston Regional Library redevelopment as a kick-start to reclaim the rights for publicly open space.

“If the Reston open space plan is successful, in my opinion, there will be no more ceding of Fairfax open space land to developers,” Smith said. “The community will be the owners and managers of our public open space, and we will have democratically selected places we can go.”

Barnett presented the final part of the open space panel as he urged the task force to also recognize the challenges created for the homeless or unsheltered population by the type of public properties in the area.

During the second panel, Leila Gordon from Public Art Reston (PAR), Lisa Mariam from ArtsFairfax, and Jaynelle Hazard from GRACE curated the discussion on public art.

The trio gave various examples to support the continued introduction of public art in the area.

“It will be vital, I think, for whatever revisions you come up with to the Reston Master Plan, that you continue to support and endorse a robust presence for public art,” Gordon said to the task force.

Mariam and Hazard also encouraged the task force to consider strengthening the language supporting public art by describing art as beneficial to the community’s identity and overall wellbeing.

Gordon added that it is critical to recognize the cost associated with commissioning and creating public art projects as well as maintaining the collection.

“You can’t expect that significant public art can be realized without multiple funding resources,” Gordon said. “You need to support the notion of funding from the public coffers, funding from the private sector, funding through the development process through specific proffers for public art amenities, and funding from individuals and community resources.”

The task force’s next meeting is on Jan. 11.

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn has experienced some unexpected challenges during his first year on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. But he says he has striven to meet each challenge by abiding by the chief principles he ran his election campaign on: community engagement and transparency.

In a recent interview with Reston Now, Alcorn said he knows it’s “going to be a tough early 2021” as the area deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but he remains hopeful of a productive future.

Among his agenda items is the progression of the community task force analyzing potential changes to the Reston Comprehensive Plan, which guides planning and land use decisions for the area. Alcorn’s agenda includes looking forward to the task force advancing and “wrapping up in 2021.”

“I know saying ‘wrapping up’ is kind of funny right now because we’re really just getting into some of the meatier issues,” Alcorn said Monday. “But I think we will get there and see that happen some point next year. Moving forward with that is definitely a priority.”

Alcorn said the task force represents an opportunity to continue an open dialogue with the public moving forward. Alcorn believes that the task force and county have structured the public meetings as close to having “real face-to-face meetings” to allow opportunities for questions or comments.

His plan for 2021 also includes revisiting efforts of revitalization at Lake Anne and looking at what needs to happen to maintain progress in the area. He is also planning to continue community engagement for the Wiehle Avenue crossing and the construction of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the avenue that is planned to begin in the summer of 2022.

He is also looking to move forward with public facilities in Reston Town Center North, including the rebuild of the Reston Regional Library, the Embry Rucker Shelter, plans for a civic space for all of Reston, and additional public facilities in Reston.

Through 2020, the pandemic has created various issues including face-to-face public engagement opportunities and budget issues. A portion of those issues has been the county’s inability to proceed with some of the affordable housing financings that were initially expected this year.

“That’s been a disappointment to me. We’ve had to put off some of the financing, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t putting off moving forward with plans where we can,” Alcorn said.

Alcorn was able to host a couple of town halls early in the year before the COVID-19 outbreak, and he has been able to host more on virtual platforms. Those virtual town halls have included a meeting with Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler, as well as a recent meeting to discuss proposed updates to zMOD, the county’s zoning modernization process.

Alcorn listed the size of the change included in zMOD as one of the primary challenges that is being faced. However, through the Hunter Mill district town hall, Alcorn heard a number of comments and suggestions that he says he’s following up on with the county staff.

Proposed changes Alcorn says he’s reviewing include potential changes to the zoning ordinances for accessory living units and concerns that a potential increase could destabilize neighborhoods by exacerbating “localized issues” like parking and other concerns.

“That’s something I’m going to be focusing on more through January, and basically working with different stakeholders, some of the folks who showed up and testified at the town hall, and others,” Alcorn said of the zMOD proposals. “We’ll have another opportunity, one more for sure, over the next few months to try and parse that out a little bit more.”

With an eye on the future, Alcorn can look back on successful enterprises during 2020.

He has seen an encouraging re-engagement with the comprehensive plan in Reston and participation with it. He also touts an increase in transparency and accessibility with the public.

“I think it’s important to bring people together to think about some of these issues a little more broadly and consider them from different perspectives. I think in doing that, it opens up new doors and possibilities for action to move forward.”

Another success for Alcorn is getting design approval for the replacement of the Hunter Mill Bridge, including designs for anticipated future pedestrian improvements in the area.

Alcorn also points to a strengthened relationship with the town of Vienna as a success. As part of the relationship, Alcorn received approval from the county Board of Supervisors for a waiver of all county building and inspection fees applicable to the Vienna Police Facility Construction Project, which saved the town more than $400,000.

Another notable moment for Alcorn came in October, as he did not offer support for the comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of Hidden Creek Country Club based on feedback.

Through a reflection of 2020, Alcorn gives credit for aiding progress in the county and the district to the involvement of the community and its feedback. He particularly expressed his pride in the community stepping up to help others in the area as issues have mounted during the pandemic.

“Some of our needs continue to be very high. We have food insecurity. We have a lot of people that are facing eviction,” Alcorn said. “We’ve really seen a lot of folks step up and be very generous with their time, with their money and their energy to help address some of these real community problems.”

Photo via Walter Alcorn/Facebook

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Concerns Voiced About Zoning Modernization Project — Reston Association’s Board of Directors have written a letter to the Hunter Mill District Supervisor voicing concerns about the county’s ongoing zoning ordinance modernization project.  Concerns highlighted include the need for more public review and issues related to accessory living units and home-based businesses. [RA]

FCPD Mourns Loss of K9 — “We are heartbroken to share the news of the recent passing of one of our retired patrol canines, K9 Blitz. K9 Blitz served the Fairfax County community from 2008 to 2012, when his handler left the Canine Section due to a career promotion. K9 Blitz was a Belgian Malinois who was also specially trained to assist our SWAT team on operations.” [Fairfax County Police Department]

Reminder: Taxes Due Dec. 7 — If real estate taxes aren’t already built in your mortgage, the second installment of this year’s real estate tax is due by Dec. 7. Payments can be made online. [Fairfax County Government]

FCPS Establishes Student Equity Ambassador Leaders Program — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has established a new leadership program–Student Equity Ambassador Leaders (SEALS)–to amplify student voices and provide an increased understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion through leadership development, projects, and relevant experiences of high school students.” [FCPS]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Wheelock Communities, the owner of Hidden Creek Country Club, says it will continue to move forward with community engagement on the future of the golf course, even though Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn says he has does not support the redevelopment of the site.

In a statement Dan Green, principal of Wheelock Street Capital, said his company was “extremely disappointed” in Alcorn’s statement, which referenced little to no community support for the project.

Green says his company has received support from some adjacent clusters and many of the club’s neighbors,  as well as other residents in Reston.

“This is an unprecedented show of support when an application has not yet even been filed,”  he wrote.

Over the last two years, the company has hosted focus group meetings to pitch its preliminary plan for a 100-acre park and 1,000 residential units on the golf course, as well as to court public feedback on the future of the golf course.

Although a development plan has not been filed, doing so would require an amendment to the Reston Comprehensive Plan.

Wheelock did not immediately respond to a request for comment on next steps and when a development plan would be filed.

Photo by Richard Knapp

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn has made a clear statement on the future of Hidden Creek Country Club — whic owner Wheelock Communities hopes to redevelop into a 100-acre park with 1,000 residential units: the golf course will remain a golf course.

Based on a review of communication from residents to his office, Alcorn says there little to no support for redeveloping the site.

“There are more than five residents against for every supporter of possibly changing the plan,” Alcorn wrote in a statement released Friday. “Therefore, I do not support changing the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan’s current designation of this property as a golf course and consider this matter closed.”

He noted that much anxiety and uncertainty exists surrounding the possible redevelopment of the site.

A representative of Wheelock Communities told Reston Now that discussions about the future of the golf course are “all work currently in progress.”

As of July 2018, the company held three work sessions to discuss how “the property could benefit the Reston community and Fairfax County by creating significant public open space versus current private use,” according to a statement distributed to the community.

“We want to be clear that none of this is currently in the form of a development proposal,”  the spokesperson told Reston Now.

Wheelock purchased the golf course in Oct. 2017. Previous presentations by Wheelock to the community, including a Sept. 2018 discussion before Reston Association, drew intense criticism from the community.

In July 2020, representatives for Wheelock detailed preliminary plans for the site, including creational facilities, a “broad spectrum” of affordable housing, and new public trails.

Alcorn encouraged residents to continue using the golf course in order to preserve its status as a golf course for the foreseeable future.

Although I do not play golf (just once in the past 33 years) I do recognize that the long-term use of this property as a golf course depends on people willing to pay to play golf. I encourage members of the community who wish to see this property remain a golf course to pick up the game and go play!”

Reston’s two golf courses — Hidden Creek and Reston National — have been bought by developers seeking to redevelop a portion or most of the properties into housing. But a grassroots efforts led by Rescue Reston, a grassroots advocacy group, staved off the development proposal at Reston National several years ago.

Wheelock did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the next steps for the site following Alcorn’s statement.

Photo by Richard Knapp

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Monday Morning Notes

New Roles for County Bus Drivers — Fairfax County Public Schools’ bus drivers are taking on new roles during a hiatus in in-person learning. Some were matched with temporary jobs based on their skill set. [NBC 4]

Volunteers Sought for Laptop and Book Distribution — Volunteers are “greatly needed” to help schools in Reston and Herndon, according to Fairfax County Public Schools. Volunteers can sign up to help with curbside library book distribution, weekend food distribution packing, helping with laptop distribution, and other tasks. [Fairfax County Government]

Virtual Appraisal Roadshow Set for Tomorrow — Reston Association is hosting a virtual appraisal roadshow from 11 a.m. to noon tomorrow (Tuesday). Experts will be on-site to educate the audience about facts and the worth of items selected by residents. [RA]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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