Another bundle of houses is on the path to development in McNair near Herndon.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a plan on Wednesday (Feb. 7) to build 48 stacked townhouses at the northwest intersection of Coppermine and Centreville Road — potentially revitalizing a swath of land near Dulles International Airport that has sat mostly vacant for around 20 years.
Dranesville District Commissioner John Ulfelder said the proposal creates a positive use for the site, whose only occupant right now is a PNC Bank. The drive-thru bank won’t be affected by the redevelopment, according to the application.
“I think we’ve come to a point with the proposed housing and residential use that [it] is a good use for this site,” Ulfelder said, noting that multiple proposals for the site have fallen through. At one point, Wawa was contemplating the site for a location as well.
The development plan includes an 8-foot-wide asphalt trail connection from a bus shelter on Centreville Road to the existing Merrybrook Valley Stream trail, a dedication of 21 feet of right-of-way along Centreville Road for streetscaping efforts, and designation of 40% of the site as open space.
“We have spent a lot of time trying to think about how to develop and what should and could go on this site, which does some have constraints with respect to the power line, some existing [Resource Protection Area] and the fact that it is at the intersection of two large streets,” said Sara Mariska, a land use attorney for Oden Feldman Pittleman who represented the developer Dulles Center LLC.
The applicant also plans to dedicate 12% of the units as Workforce Dwelling Units for households earning between 70 and 100% of the area median income — a range that Mariska noted was lower than what the county requires.
Dulles Center LLC had previously planned a mixed-use development on the site. The proposal was approved by the county back in 2003 but ultimately didn’t move forward due to market conditions.
The latest plan for townhouses was put on pause last fall after Beacon Hill Missionary Baptist Church — which neighbors the site — raised concerns about storage and the availability of two trailers on the developer’s property. The site’s previous owner gifted the trailers to the church, which currently uses them for a food bank and administrative purposes.
Connell Lee, a representative for the church, told the planning commission that the church is comfortable with the project moving forward after the developer agreed to several proffers committing it to finding a long-term solution for the trailers.
The developer suggested several options, including replacement of the trailers, monetary compensation, or finding another location. An arrangement would likely be finalized before a site plan is processed.
The development plan now goes to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to hold a public hearing on March 19.
The Office of the Virginia Attorney General is opposing a private toll road owner’s request for a rate increase.
In July, Toll Road Investors Partnership II, the owner and operator of the 14-mile Dulles Greenway that runs between Leesburg and Washington Dulles International Airport, filed a request with the State Corporation Commission to increase tolls by at least 21%.
[On Sept. 29], Attorney General Jason Miyares said he objected to the request. [link added]
“Traffic in Northern Virginia is a daily challenge, and rising inflation only adds to the costs of commuting to work,” said Miyares in a statement. “My office stands alongside Virginia commuters who feel this struggle daily, advocating for fairness and resisting toll increases. Virginians deserve every hard-earned penny, and we’re here to protect Virginians from unreasonable financial burdens.”
TRIP II bases its pricing on the number of axles a driver’s vehicle has, with tolls for two-axle vehicles traveling from one end of the road to the other costing $5.25 during regular hours and $5.80 during rush hour. The proposed new rates for two-axle vehicles would be $6.40 during regular hours and $8.10 during rush hour.
The operator’s last rate increase request was denied in 2021. [FFXnow note: The Dulles Greenway operator’s latest request comes on the heels of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority increasing fees on the Dulles Toll Road for the first time in five years, starting this past Jan. 1.]
TRIP II said in its application that the increase will help it meet its financial obligations: “Only with the approval of the proposed tolls along with additional future increases will TRIP II be able to reach a place where it would have an opportunity to provide a reasonable return to its investors.”
Victoria LaCivita, a spokeswoman for Miyares, did not directly respond to whether the attorney general has any interest in lawmakers directing the state to enter into discussions with the toll operator to change how the roadway is managed.
However, she added, “Consumer protection is an important function of the Attorney General’s office. Northern Virginia residents and commuters have voiced strong opinions against the toll increase, and the Attorney General plans to represent that view in front of the State Corporation Commission.”
The proposed increases
TRIP II made the toll rate increase request after the failure this winter of legislation backed by the operator and Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration that would have let the state Commissioner of Highways, Secretary of Transportation and a steering committee negotiate new rates for the toll road. The proposal also included plans to reduce toll costs and implement distance-based tolling, which would charge drivers based on how far they travel.
Currently TRIP II is regulated by the State Corporation Commission under the Virginia Highway Corporation Act. That law allows the company to ask the SCC for a toll increase once per year but doesn’t permit it to negotiate those increases.
“TRIP II looks forward to continuing to work with the commonwealth to find a solution to how the Greenway is regulated to implement distance-based tolling,” said Renee Hamilton, chief executive officer for TRIP II, in a statement. “Drivers on other private toll roads in Northern Virginia pay based on the length of their trip. Drivers on the Greenway should be treated the same way. Filing a rate case application with the SCC was not our first choice.” Read More
(Updated 2:45 p.m.) Fairfax County residents will finally get the chance to satisfy their sweet-tooth cravings this fall.
For the second year in a row, the DMV Chocolate and Coffee Festival is returning to Dulles Expo Center (4320 Chantilly Shopping Center) on Oct. 7 and 8.
Tickets for the event are currently on sale for 50% off until 11:59 p.m. on June 30. With the discounted rates, general admission tickets start at $8.00, and VIP tickets are priced at $13.50.
With ambitious plans to expand from its first run, this year’s festival will be transitioning from the Dulles Expo Center’s North Hall to the South Hall, giving vendors an additional 70,000 square feet — roughly three times as much space as last year, says John Hill, half of the husband-wife duo behind the festival.
John, and his wife Lindsay, hope the increased space will accommodate the influx of visitors to Dulles Expo Center after last year’s festival hit max capacity at over 8,000 people, according to a press release.
To ensure the thousands of visitors projected to attend have plenty to see, the festival will feature over 100 different vendors from around D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Vendor applications are still being accepted in a search for what John described as the “most unique” businesses.
Many small businesses based locally in the Fairfax County area will appear in hopes of finding lifelong customers. Among the list are Weird Brothers Coffee, Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates, Le Papiyon Chocolatier, Dano’s Granola and River-Sea Chocolates.
“What we’ve heard from our vendors is that by coming out to this event, they’re able to reach people that have never heard of them before,” John said. “Like River-Sea is right there next to the center, but they’ve had new customers come in their doors because they found them at the Chocolate Coffee Festival, and now they’ve learned that there’s a storefront location.”
Other interactive additions slated for the festival include educational classes, chocolate and coffee mascots for photo opportunities, and a kids’ craft table. Carrying over from last year, attendees will also get access to “tons and tons and tons of free samples,” John says.
The festival has again partnered with the Christian radio station WGTS 91.9, with a portion of every ticket sale being donated back to the organization.
Festival guests are encouraged to bring canned food donations to the WGTS 9.19 tent to support Food for Others, a nonprofit food bank. Donors will have their names entered into a prize drawing and get a chance to win an assortment of artisan goods donated by participating vendors.
Giving back through supporting local communities and small businesses is ultimately what fuels the Hills’ passion for hosting events like the DMV Chocolate and Coffee Festival.
“We really care a lot about small business, which is why we got involved in this — it’s to help other businesses grow,” John said. “That’s an exciting, fun thing for us, just to help people with great ideas share their ideas with the world.”
The couple became inspired to lead the festival after helping a friend tour the country to promote their small business and seeing a similar event on the West Coast.
“[The tour] opened open our eyes to the world of events and how beneficial events can be helping small businesses get attention for their products and their brand and tell their story,” John said. “It’s a lot easier to tell your story face-to-face with an attendee than through the internet or email.”
The Hills transported the chocolate and coffee festival from across the country to Chantilly “so that county residents can get the closest, best experience of having [a DMV-region event] right in their backyard,” John said.
This fall marks the Hills’ second year of running the DMV Chocolate and Coffee Festival, and they have no plans to make it their last.
“When we see those vendors selling out of product as most of our vendors did last year, it just like makes us feel like, ‘Okay, we’re doing the right thing, we’re helping these people,'” Lindsay said. “And that’s why we want to keep doing the event.”