The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan for single-family homes near a historic area of Lake Fairfax Park at a Tuesday meeting.
The plan by developer SEM Fairfax Land Associates calls for eight single-family homes at the site of J.R.’s Custom Catering’s former Fairfax Hunt Club along Lake Fairfax Drive in Reston. The property features a historic log house that will be preserved as part of the redevelopment and an unmaintained and unnamed cemetery.
John McGrahan, the applicant’s attorney, said the applicant changed several features of its plan in response to pushback from neighbors, including Hunt Club Cluster residents concerned about preserving the cemetery.
At the request of residents, McGranahan said the location of the development’s sixth lot — which previously wrapped around the cemetery — was changed in order to avoid disturbing the cemetery and create a buffer between surrounding areas.
“The location of lot six and protection of the cemetery were the two big issues that we had at the community meeting,” McGranahan said.
The applicant also plans to plant more trees along Lake Farifax Drive in response to a request from Planning Commissioner John Carter.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he was pleased with the outcome of what he called a small but “tricky” case.
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A redevelopment proposal for nearly 9-acre parcel of land near Lake Fairfax Park is headed for a vote before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this month.
The plan by SEM Fairfax Land Associates calls for eight single-family homes on a cul-de-sac off of Lake Fairfax Drive, along with the preservation of a log house that was built in the 1790s.
At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 26, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn introduced a board matter to set a board date for the application.
“In addition to the aforementioned preservation of the Log House, these Applications will ensure that the currently unmaintained unnamed cemetery #44FX1397 is well maintained in perpetuity and most importantly, that the cemetery remains undisturbed,” Alcorn wrote in the board matter.
The application went before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on July 26 and Sept. 27, when the commission recommended it be approved.
Hunt Club Cluster residents in Reston pushed back against the redevelopment of the property, which includes a possible slave cemetery.
At the commission’s hearing, attorney John McGranahan said that the applicant made several changes to the proposal. The applicant relocated lot six — one of the most significant changes in response to residents’ concerns about the encroachment of the lot on the cemetery.
“It was a lot harder than changing the lines on the drawing,” McGranahan.
Other changes include adding landscaping along Lake Fairfax Drive, added a sign to identify the cemetery as the Johnson Farm Cemetery and increased open space.
The demolition of several dilapidated residential structures and outbuildings at Lake Fairfax Park is set to begin in mid-September.
The structures are part of property the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) purchased in 2014 along Hunter Mill Road. Ben Boxer, a spokesperson for FCPA, told FFXnow that the structures will be removed as a result of numerous complaints from the community.
The work will wrap up later this fall. During the demolition period, residents should expect construction traffic when entering and exiting the park via Hunter Mill Road. Construction hours will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
For many years, the structures have remained vacant. Reports of trespassing and vandalism have also surfaced.
“As part of the master planning process, the buildings and accessory structures were analyzed and deemed not to have any historical or cultural significance and were cleared for removal,” Boxer wrote in a statement.
Currently, there are no immediate plans for the site. The Lake Fairfax Master Plan describes the site as a multi-purpose area, Boxer said.
“Currently there is no funding identified to proceed with additional development activities at this time,” he said.
Hunt Club Cluster residents in Reston are pushing back against a potential redevelopment of a 9-acre property just north of Lake Fairfax Park that encompasses a possible slave cemetery and a 1790s-era log cabin.
SEM Fairfax Land Associates has been working to secure approval from Fairfax County to build Fairfax Hunt Estates, a community of eight single-family homes, at 1321 Lake Fairfax Drive and preserve the log cabin known as Fairfax Hunt Club, according to the application submitted on Nov. 22, 2022.
Tonight (Wednesday), the Fairfax County Planning Commission will decide whether to green-light the developer’s ambitious construction plans at a public hearing.
Hunt Club resident and former Associated Press reporter Heather Greenfield has been following the story since she and her next-door neighbor discovered several gravestones in the greenscape behind their townhome complex in 2013.
Greenfield says she and her next-door neighbor worked with the Fairfax Cemetery Preservation Association from 2013-2015 in hopes of preserving the site as the Johnson cemetery, named after its 1860 owner Mildred Johnson. While researching the land’s historic 19th-century roots, she learned that Johnson was a Union abolitionist and mother to 11 who played a large role in “protecting African Americans” by housing at least one freedman named Courtney Honesty.
“Reston was founded on this principle of diversity…so I found it fascinating that [the Johnson family was] sort of living the principles of Reston before Reston was even created,” Greenfield said.
Though the county still refers to the area as unnamed cemetery #FX242, Greenfield feels strongly that the area is a burial site for individuals enslaved by the Johnson family and their descendants. The site includes an engraved marker for Mildred’s husband, Thornton Johnson, and gravestones that Greenfield believes belong to several African American individuals.
“We think the rest of the two acre cemetery were African American graves because even though the [Johnson] family all had headstones, African Americans likely did not,” Greenfield said. “And [what we found] were mostly headstones and footstones that were more crude stones arranged in kind of wheel patterns around some of the cedar trees.”
The developer began scouting out the site in May of last year, sending contractors to landscape the area “in order to facilitate locating the graves during their archaeological survey,” according to a statement from Fairfax County Park Authority Public Information Officer Benjamin Boxer.
Even over a year later, Greenfield vividly recalls the day developers came in “bulldozers blazing and chainsaws going.”
“I woke up at 6:30 in the morning to chainsaws, and they continued for 12 hours that day and then they came back and did the same thing the next day,” Greenfield said.
Though Greenfield suspected that contractors were not authorized to cut down trees in the area, the county says permits from Land Development Services for vegetation removal are only required when the land disturbance exceeds 2,500 square feet.
“It appears vegetation was removed in May 2022 in order to complete the archeological delineation of the cemetery,” a county urban forester wrote. “Urban Forestry’s Forest Conservation Branch was not aware of the vegetation removal at this time and would not have reviewed it.” Read More
Inline skating may soon become an option at Reston’s Lake Fairfax Park.
The Fairfax County Park Authority is expected to begin building an inline, outdoor skate rink next to the existing skate park this month.
“Site work will include clearing and grading, paved rink surface, a new gravel parking area, LED rink lighting, and supporting infrastructure to include stormwater management facilities,” the FCPA said, noting that construction isn’t expected to affect the park’s operations.
The Washington Capitals donated the inline skating rink, while FCPA will prepare the site and supporting infrastructure. The project is expected to cost the county around $1.9 million, which will be funded through 2020 park bond funds.
The project will wrap up in the spring of 2024.
The park’s current outdoor skate park includes a 15,000-square-foot area with a shark fin, annual pad and gap with ledges and rails. The bowl has three section and an eight-foot radius throughout the facility. It’s currently open from 8 a.m. to 9:20 p.m.
Close to 600 racers gathered at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston over the weekend to raise money for the park’s trails.
The annual event, called 2022 Capital Cross Classic, took place on Sunday (Dec. 4) at the park, which is located at 1400 Lake Fairfax Drive.
The Bike Lane, a Reston-based business, took over the race more than 10 years ago, according to Todd Mader, co-owner of the business.
Money raised from the fund is specifically used to restore multi-use trails that surround the parking, Mader said.
“We won’t know the final figure until we see how much grass was ruined and how much we need to reseed, but this was a good year so at least $4,000,” Mader wrote in a statement to FFXnow.
The Bike Lane is a family-owned bicycle shop that has locations in Reston and Springfield.
A nearly 9-acre property near Lake Fairfax Park in Reston could be the sight of future infill residential development.
SEM Fairfax Land Associates is seeking Fairfax County’s blessing to build eight single-family homes on the property and preserve a 1790s building on the land, according to the Nov. 22 application.
The building known as the Fairfax Hunt Club — a 3,064-square-foot private avenue venue for up to 300 guests — will remain on the site alongside the original log house, which was built in the 1790s after it was relocated on the property from a farm in Vienna. The venue, which incorporated the log house, was affiliated with JR Custom Catering.
The property also includes a small cemetery that is roughly 14,106 square feet in size.
To move forward with the change, the county would need to approve the zoning from the Residential-Estate District to a more intense use — Planned Development Housing District, according to he application.
The community would be called Fairfax Hunt Estates. The applicants hopes to preserve the log house “in perpetuity” by imposing covenants on the lot that houses it.
“The Applicant will require preservation of the Log House by imposing covenants on Lot 3, which will ensure that it is maintained and preserved in perpetuity, without burdening the Fairfax County Park Authority with additional facilities to incorporate into their fiscal and administrative portfolio of various parks, historical sites, and recreational areas,” the application said.
A 5-foot-wide sidewalk along Lake Fairfax Drive is planned to complement the existing path along the east side of the road. The applicant also plans to extend the sidewalk from its southern property line along the Fairfax County Park Authority’s western frontage to the existing striped crosswalk at the entrance of Lake Fairfax Park.
The application has not yet been accepted for review by the county.
Photo via JR Catering/Facebook
The popular Water Mine at Lake Fairfax in Reston is officially closed for the season after its pool filtration system failed.
The closure at the Water Mine Family Swimming’ Hole was announced yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon by the Fairfax County Park Authority, which cited “mechanical failures beyond our control.”
The closure includes this coming Labor Day weekend (Sept. 3-4) and an event for dogs scheduled for Sept. 10 is also cancelled.
“We apologize for any inconvenience and hope to see you next season,” FCPA wrote in a statement.
An FCPA spokesperson told FFXnow that the park authority was aware before the summer season began that The Water Mine’s 25-year-old filtration system was in need of replacement. The agency has started to plan that project with the goal of implementing it before the facility reopens in 2023.
“However, based on the information we had prior to opening this season, we made the decision to open this very popular facility for the public until this recent mechanical failure made it impossible to continue to stay open,” the park authority said.
The emergency closure comes just two weeks after staff shortages forced the water park to operate with reduced hours. It was closed from Aug. 15 through 20 due to a lifeguard and staff shortage.
Its last day is typically the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Per the park authority, The Water Mine admitted 3,358 people over Labor Day weekend in 2021, equaling $50,000 in revenue. It had sold 347 advance tickets for the weekend this year.
The park authority confirmed that those pre-sale tickets will be refunded.
Despite the mechanical and staffing challenges, the FCPA says the facility “had a great season, serving thousands of families throughout the summer.” Starting with Memorial Day weekend on May 28, the 2022 summer season drew a total of 87,000 visitors.
Angela Woolsey contributed to this report. Screenshot via Fairfax County Park Authority/YouTube
A one-day beautification project is slated to take place next month at Lake Fairfax in Reston.
The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking volunteers for a community stewardship celebration at Lake Fairfax Park on Sept. 24.
After a community celebration — which will feature a light breakfast and remarks by local officials — volunteers will begin beautifying the park.
Naturalists will be on site to help volunteers plant trees near the park’s core areas, remove invasive plants, and help with other beautification efforts.
“This is a great way to give of yourself and be part of something much larger,” the park authority said.
The event is in honor of National Public Lands Day, which falls annually on the fourth Saturday of September and encourages volunteers to help out on public lands.
The park is located at 1400 Lake Fairfax Drive and the event is part of FCPA Executive Director Jai Cole’s last stop on her parks tour this year.
Photo via Virginia Tourism Corp.
Park visitors may notice Lake Fairfax‘s waters dipping below their usual levels next month.
The Fairfax County Park Authority plans to complete maintenance work on the main spillway at the Lake Fairfax Dam in early April.
FCPA spokesperson Judy Pederson says the work is part of a routine effort to maintain the functionality of the dam.
“The work is part of periodic maintenance to reseal concrete joints in the principal spillway structure to prevent seepage and to reinstall several energy dissipators,” Pederson told FFXnow.
The lake’s water levels will be reduced about roughly 1.5 feet to facilitate the maintenance.
Noticeable activity on the spillway is planned as part of the maintenance work.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn says safety measures will be in place, and pedestrians should still be able to access the trails and pedestrian bridge above the dam.
The 476-acre park in Reston includes a 20-acre lake within fishing, a swimming hole for families, boat rentals, playgrounds, shelters, and a carousel.
Carousal and boot rentals will resume on Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.