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Reston Town Center on a sunny day (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

After more than 50 meetings, Fairfax County will present draft amendments to Reston’s comprehensive plan at public meetings this fall, advancing the first major update to the planning document since 2015.

The process kicked off in 2020 to determine how new development will impact the community, public infrastructure and growth-related issues. Reston has seen more than 50 rezoning applications since the last update in 2015, prompting concerns about growth management.

At a media briefing today (Wednesday), Hunter Mill District Alcorn noted that the update covers all of Reston, unlike previous plans that addressed only parts of it.

“This is one Reston. This is all of Reston,” Alcorn said.

The new plan will go to the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Nov. 2, followed by a vote by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 6.

A 31-member community task force approved draft recommendations on Aug. 28 after 58 public meetings. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn convened the task force after he took office in 2020.

Some controversial topics — like granting a developer more density for providing more community benefits — remain unresolved. A county-led subgroup is studying the issue, according to Alcorn. It’s unclear if the provision will make to to the final report.

Rather than broadly limiting, restricting or expanding development, the plan makes site-specific changes to a limited number of areas. 

In Town Center North, where land is jointly owned by the county and Inova, the plan suggests limiting residential development to Inova-owned property and a maximum of 1,000 residential dwelling units. In the same area, nonresidential development would be limited to 150,000 square feet. County-owned land would be reserved for civic uses with some retail.

Near a proposed extension of South Lakes Drive and north of the Dulles Toll Road, the draft calls for redevelopment. In the Roland Clarke Place neighborhood, a provision for public uses was added in an area currently planned for about 75% residential and 25% non-residential development.

Affordable housing — one of Alcorn’s priorities — remains unchanged outside of Reston’s transit station areas. But within the TSAs, the proposed language recommends setting aside at least 12% of residential units as affordable housing.

For proposals with high density — 1.0 floor-area ratio or above — an increased proportion of affordable housing is expected, although no specific numbers are cited. Overall, rental rates for Workforce Dwelling Units within the TSAs target mostly 71 to 90% of the area media income.

“It’s still one element that’s out there,” Alcorn said. 

Additionally, the draft report leaves language on preserving Reston’s two golf courses untouched, though a study group recently argued that change is needed at the Reston National Golf Course. 

Alcorn acknowledged that more open space is needed in Reston. The plan calls for indoor and outdoor cultural activities, community gathering spaces, and enhanced public art.

It also embraces a multimodal transportation system, along with placemaking guidance in transit-oriented areas.

The plan covers 14 areas based on the seven guiding principles championed by Reston founder Robert E. Simon. New topics include a community health chapter with categories like food systems, active living, social cohesion and health care services.

An equity chapter builds on the county’s One Fairfax policy to remove barriers that “perpetuate injustice in our society” and build a more “inclusive economy,” according to St. Clair Williams, a senior planner with the county’s Department of Planning and Development.

Similarly, the planning principle of economic development is consistent with the county’s policies, but the recommendations are simply “aspirational,” Williams noted.

He noted that public meetings will continue through September with stakeholders before the planning commission’s official review.

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Morning Notes

A hot summer day at The Boro in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

What Was Behind Tuesday’s Storms — “Hundreds of trees were toppled and hundreds of thousands of people lost power Tuesday afternoon and evening as three storm complexes roared across the Washington region. The storms were fueled by hot and humid air that surged into the region, and were powered and sustained by strong high-altitude winds along an approaching cold front.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Firefighter Charged in Fairfax County Armed Robbery — “A D.C. firefighter has been arrested and charged with robbery after police say he brandished a gun and took someone’s property in Fairfax County, Virginia. Fairfax County Police said the robbery happened in May” [WTOP]

Police Investigate Dunkin’ Donuts Burglaries — Fairfax County and Alexandria City police are investigating at least three burglaries of Dunkin’ Donuts in Springfield, Belle Haven and Potomac Yard. The incidents all occurred during the morning of July 7, but police haven’t confirmed whether they were committed by the same people. [ALXnow]

Fairfax County Top in State for Population Growth — “In the last 50 years, Fairfax County saw the largest population increase in Virginia. During that same time, Norfolk saw the largest population decline…Mark Mather at the Population Reference Bureau says the next 50 years are not going to have the same trends.” [WVTF]

Same-Day Voter Registration Coming — “Same-day voter registration is taking effect in the state in time for the congressional midterms in November, a significant shift from the way Virginia elections have worked in the past…The new law will allow voters to fill out a registration form and cast a ballot after that deadline, up to and including Election Day.” [Virginia Mercury]

Food Drive Planned in West Springfield — “@MoveInterstate will be hosting a #FillATruck food drive at their #Springfield HQ located at 5801 Rolling Road, from 07/18-07/29. All donations will be donated to Ecumenical Community Helping Others (ECHO) and will help families in the #FairfaxCounty community.” [Supervisor Penny Gross/Twitter]

Langley HS Alum Coaches GMU Volleyball — “Years later, when receiving a second opportunity to join the George Mason University women’s volleyball team, Megan Shiffett Bachmann jumped at the chance and accepted. The 2008 Langley High School graduate recently was named the new head women’s coach of the Division I Mason program.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Park Authority Names Top Volunteers — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will honor 21 individual volunteers named 2022 Outstanding Volunteers and selected by their peers from across the park system…Approximately 4,000 volunteers give of their time and talent annually and take on a multitude of tasks.” [FCPA]

Tysons IT Consultant to Help Startups — “Booz Allen Hamilton has launched a venture capital unit that aims to help young companies speed the development of technologies used by the federal government…Booz Allen Ventures LLC will invest $100 million over five years in firms developing artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity and defense technologies, the company said.” [Washington Business Journal]

It’s Thursday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 86 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Fairfax County recently released its demographics report for 2021 (via Fairfax County)

A newly released report shows Fairfax County’s population decreased, reversing a trend of growth.

According to the report from the Department of Management and Budget, the county’s population decreased during 2020-2021 from 1,171,800 to 1,170,000 people — a decline of 1,800 people, or 0.2%.

That estimate is similar to another from the U.S. Census Bureau, which also suggests the county saw a smaller percentage drop in population than what many of its neighbors had.

Population changes in the D.C. region

County/Area 2020 Census (April 1) 2021 estimate (July 1) % change
Arlington 238,643 232,965 -2.4%
D.C. 689,545 670,050 -2.8%
Fairfax 1,150,309 1,139,720 -.09%
Loudoun 420,959 427,592 1.6%
Montgomery 1,062,061 1,054,827 -0.7%
Prince George’s 967,201 955,306 -1.2%
Prince William 482,204 484,472 0.5%
Source: census.gov

In fact, the Census reported last week that more than 73% of U.S. counties experienced a “natural decrease” in population from 2020 to 2021, a trend that it attributes to fewer births, an aging populace, and higher mortality rates — including from COVID-19.

In Fairfax County, a tight housing supply and increases in remote work that allow people more flexibility in where they live could also be contributing factors.

“Housing construction delays created less new space for population growth and single-family dwelling unit vacancy was up in 2021,” the budget department’s Economic, Demographic and Statistical Research unit, which compiled the report, told FFXnow.

The housing stock in Fairfax County has increased over the years, but the rate significantly slowed last year. The county only added 1,500 housing units in 2021, half of what was added in 2020.

Don’t expect the slowdown in growth to last, however. According to the demographic report’s forecasts, the county will hit 1.2 million people by 2025, exceed 1.3 million by 2040, and reach 1.38 million people in 2050.

As reported by the 2020 Census, Fairfax County is now a minority-majority county, with white individuals making up 49.5% of the population. The remainder of residents breaks down as 20.5% Asian or Pacific Islander, 19.8% other, 9.6% Black, and 0.6% Native American. 17.3% of the county is Hispanic.

The demographic report includes household and family income data, but those numbers haven’t been updated for 2020 or 2021 “due to COVID-19 introduced nonresponse bias.”

The county uses the demographics reports to develop policy, write grants, budget, plan infrastructure projects, and more.

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