The Board Corner: Perspectives from Penny – Fall is upon us, and COVID-19 still is affecting nearly everything we do. Some school activities are returning, but distance learning still educates the majority of our students. Questions about absentee voting and trick-or-treating are picking up as voters and families look to traditional Fall activities. Absentee in-person voting begins at the Mason District Governmental Center on October 14, and there is more information about voting elsewhere in this newsletter. Please read it carefully as you plan to exercise your right and responsibility to vote this Fall.
Constitution Week was celebrated last month, but may have been missed in the cacophony of other issues. The U.S. Constitution was signed 233 years ago and is the oldest constitution still in active use in the world today. It is the basic document of our republic, which protects the individual liberties of all citizens through written law. Interestingly, some frequently quoted words are not found in the Constitution. Privacy is not mentioned specifically, neither is "separation of church and state" or "it's a free country." The only reference to God is in the written date "Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord...." Take a few minutes to re-read the Constitution; it might make good reading while standing in line to vote!
Personal property taxes, AKA car tax, are due on October 5. You can avoid standing in line in early October by paying your car taxes online. Checks and money order payments also may be placed in a drop box at six libraries and the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax. The closest library for Mason District residents is the George Mason Regional Library at 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale. Please note: the drop boxes for tax payments are different than the drop boxes for 2020 election ballots. More information is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/taxes/covid, or call 703-222-8234; TTY 711.
My office has received a few questions about trick-or-treating at Halloween during the pandemic. At this time, the Health Department has not issued guidance about this traditional holiday activity. Halloween observances are personal decisions, but pandemic guidelines apply in any social situation: wear a mask that covers nose and mouth, social distance, wash your hands frequently, and stay home when ill. Like everything else these days, Halloween will be different this year, but a little creativity can make it just as much fun.
Stay safe, and healthy, and don't forget to vote!
Land Use News – Land use items of interest include:
- Eight bus shelter replacements are in progress in the Mason District. The locations include: Wilson Boulevard at Peyton Randolph Drive; Little River Turnpike at Medford Drive; Columbia Pike (eastbound) at Rose Lane; Columbia Pike at Whispering Lane; Glen Carlyn Drive at Leesburg Pike; Columbia Pike at Tyler Street; northbound South George Mason Drive; and Seminary Road at Magnolia Lane. The projects include new concrete pads and shelters with benches. The bus shelter at Columbia Pike and Whispering Lane includes steps from the service road for improved access. The projects will be completed by end of October.
- The Zoning Ordinance Modernization (zMOD) project process continues with the Zoning Ordinance Consolidated Draft scheduled for discussion by the Board of Supervisors' Land Use Policy Committee on Tuesday, October 27, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. Although existing property zonings do not change, the proposed new Zoning Ordinance addresses land use definitions, removes gaps and inconsistencies, and creates a streamlined, user-friendly document that is easier to understand. Information about the zMOD project's progress is available at the Department of Planning and Development's website www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning-development/zmod. Questions? Call the Zoning Administration Division at 703-324-1314, or send an e-mail to the zMOD Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Radley Management, LLC's application for a re-zoning (RZ 2020-MA-012) and special exception (SEA 85-M-086-02) includes a proposal for an addition to the Radley Acura Dealership's showroom building, located at 5823 Columbia Pike in Falls Church, and a three-level parking garage to be used for new vehicle storage. The proposed addition, to the rear of the existing building, entails an enclosed, air-conditioned service drop-off area for customers bringing their vehicles for service. Public hearings are anticipated to be scheduled in early 2021.
- Annandale Park/Civic Space Vision Advances – Fairfax County continues to work toward implementation of the permanent Annandale Park/Civic Space vision at 7200 Columbia Pike. The vision resulted from a creative and iterative community engagement process in 2018. A public facility review is underway and county staff will present the concept as an Information Item at the Mason District Land Use Committee meeting on Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. Meeting information and registration is posted at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/mason/mason-district-land-use-and-development. Learn more about the Annandale Park/Civic Space design, community engagement process, and general updates by visiting the website: https://www.fcrevite.org/annandale-park-civic-space. Need more information about the initiative? Contact Laura Baker at Laura.Baker@fairfaxcounty.gov, or call 703-324-9300.
Pedestrian Bridge over South George Mason Drive Refurbishing in Progress – The Department of Public Works and Environmental Service, Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division, is resuming bridge maintenance work, which began in May, to address age-related infrastructure repairs. Bridge refurbishing work resumed in September, and is anticipated to be completed by the end of October. Notifications to pedestrians of the upcoming work are posted at both entrances of the bridge, and the bridge will be closed intermittently during construction. Pedestrians will be directed to a detour/crossing at the signalized intersection of South George Mason Drive at Leesburg Pike. There will be a single-lane closure on South George Mason Drive, between Leesburg Pike and Seminary Road, during construction, and through traffic will be maintained in both directions. For more information, send an e-mail to Magdy.Ibrahim@FairfaxCounty.gov, or call 703-324-4551.
Celebrate a Virtual National Fire Prevention Week – The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD) will feature interactive activities, and virtual events throughout National Fire Prevention Week, October 4-10, 2020. This year's theme is "Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen." A virtual open house throughout the day on Saturday, October 10, 2020 on FCFRD social and digital platforms rounds out the week. For more information, call 703-246-3801, or log-on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fire-ems/firepreventionweekpage.
It's Not Too Late: Register Your Neighborhood for National Night Out – Don't be left out! This year, National Night Out (NNO) is set for Tuesday, October 6, 2020. Enjoy a socially distanced planned neighborhood event. The Fairfax County Police Department strongly supports NNO as an opportunity to improve police-citizen communications. Schedule your event online at: https://bit.ly/nno2020. Only one person from each community needs to complete the form. NNO organizers should register with Fairfax County directly and not the National Registry. The National Registry is not linked to Fairfax County, so the police will not know about your event. Need socially distant ideas for your NNO event? Here are a few suggestions from the FCPD to consider:
Take a Stand Together, from 6 ft. Apart - Any activity in your community that shows crime it is not welcome!
- Lights On campaign - turn your porch lights on as a community to light up the night. Balcony lights, porch lights, garage lights, any-and-all exterior lights on to flood the community with light.
- The 9 o'clock routine - a community 9 o'clock event to check that your property is locked up for the night and your lights are on.
- Community clean up - socially distant clean up around the community to show pride in your community.
- Sit outside - hang out in the front, side, or back of your house. Be visible, be neighborly, be present in your community.
- Take a walk - socially distant walk through the community, be aware of your surroundings, and keep an eye on your neighbors.
For more information, contact your district police station's Crime Prevention Unit: Mason Station, FCPDMasonCPO@fairfaxcounty.gov, 703-256-8035; Franconia District Station, FCPDFranconiaCPO@fairfaxcounty.gov, 703-922-0889; and West Springfield District Station, Anthony.Capizzi@fairfaxcounty.gov, 703-644-7377.
Webinar Focuses on Climate Change and Your Health – It's no secret that climate change is warming the air, raising sea levels, and causing more severe storms and wildfires. Did you know it's also affecting human health? To learn more register, register for this free webinar scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, beginning at Noon to 1 p.m. Registration available at https://cclfairfax-climate-and-health.eventbrite.com/. The Facebook event can be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/events/800332397434113/. Sponsored by the Citizens' Climate Lobby, Fairfax County Chapter.
Did You Register for the General Election on November 3, 2020? – It's not too late to register to vote, update current Virginia voter registration, and apply to vote absentee by mail. Visit the Virginia Department of Elections website at https://Vote.Elections.Virginia.Gov. The website also includes information about polling places, election districts, how to check on absentee ballot status, and access voting histories.
Key Dates to Remember:
- In Progress: Early/absentee in-person voting continues at the Fairfax County Government Center, Conference Rooms 2 and 3, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax, Virginia. For hours visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/absentee-locations/fairfax-county-government-center;
- October 13: Voter Registration Deadline (In-Person/By Mail) 5 p.m.; online: 11:59 p.m.;
- October 23: Deadline to apply to receive an Absentee Ballot by mail, fax, and online: 5 p.m.;
- October 31: Final day to vote absentee early/in-person, 5 p.m.; and
- November 6: Deadline to return your absentee ballot by mail to the Office of Elections: 12 noon.
Ballots must be postmarked by November 3, 2020. Questions? Send an e-mail to the Office of Elections at email@example.com, or call 703-222-0776, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. On Election Day, polls are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Voter Applications Available in Several Languages – Voter registration applications and absentee ballot applications are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/voter-forms. To apply online for a Virginia absentee ballot, visit the Virginia State Board of Elections website at https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation. Additional information about absentee voting is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/absentee and www.elections.virginia.gov/casting-a-ballot/absentee-voting/.
Absentee In-Person Voting is Available at 14 Satellite Locations – Satellite in-person absentee/early voting begins at 14 locations on October 14 – 31, 2020, Monday-Friday, 1-7 p.m.; and on Saturdays, October 17, 24, and 31, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. All locations closed on Sundays. In Mason District, the Mason District Governmental Center, located at 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, and the Thomas Jefferson Library, 7415 Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church, will be open for voting, and there will be drop boxes to accept completed ballots. For a complete list of satellite locations, visit the Office of Elections website www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/absentee.
Return A Completed Ballot:
- By first-class mail at Office of Elections, Box 10161, Fairfax, VA 22038;
- If you choose not to mail your completed absentee ballot, you may hand-deliver it to locations when they are open for early voting. A ballot drop-off box is located outside the voting rooms at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Conference Rooms 2/3 in Fairfax, open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; and on Saturdays, October 17, 24, and 31, hours are 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. No voting on Sundays; or
- NOTE: Only when satellite locations are open for in-person absentee voting, return ballot to a ballot drop-off box at one of the 14 satellite locations (https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/early-voting), Monday - Friday, October 14 - 31, from 1-7 p.m.; and Saturdays, October 17, 24, and 31, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. No voting on Sundays.
- On Election Day, November 3, from 6 a.m. - 7 p.m., voters can return their ballot to any precinct.
NOTE: On Election Day, vote at your regular polling place, as indicated on your voter information card, which lists the name and address of your voting location (polling place). For more information, visit the Fairfax County Office of Elections website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections, or call 703-222-0776; TTY 711. Not sure where you vote? Visit either the GIS My Neighborhood App or the Virginia Department of Elections website at www.elections.virginia.gov/casting-a-ballot/.
Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinics Are Back! – Bring your pets to a low-cost rabies clinic on Sunday, October 18, 2020, from 1-3 p.m. at the Department of Animal Sheltering, 4500 West Ox Road, in Fairfax. Pre-registration is required for these curbside clinics. Pet owners must wear masks, and cats and ferrets must be in a secure carrier. For more information and to register, visit the website www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/communityassistance/rabiesclinics. Questions? Call 703-830-1100, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Select Senior Centers Host Flu Vaccination Clinics – Fairfax County residents age 50 and older, and those with underlying health conditions, may take control of their health by getting a flu vaccine this season. In Mason District, the vaccination clinic will be held at the Lincolnia Senior Center, 4710 North Chambliss Street in Alexandria, on Monday, October 19, 2020, by appointment only, from 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. (times also available on October 21 - 22). To make an appointment, call 703-246-6010; TTY 711. Pneumonia vaccine also available, and must be requested when making the appointment. For more information, or to request information in another format, call the Fairfax County Health Department at 703-246-2411; TTY 711.
It's Time for a Medicine Cabinet Cleanout! – The DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is set for Saturday, October 24, 2020, from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., and unused or expired prescription medicines may be dropped off at all Fairfax County Police Stations. For patrol station locations near you, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/fairfax-county-police-department. Can't make it on October 24th? The green prescription drop-off boxes in the lobbies of police stations now are open for safe disposal of unused medications.
VDOT Launches Tri-Lingual Virtual Presentations and Survey for the Route 50 STARS Study – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is featuring online video presentations (English, Spanish, and Vietnamese), and an online survey about potential safety and operational improvements along three miles of Route 50/Arlington Boulevard, between Jaguar Trail and Wilson Boulevard (Seven Corners junction) in Fairfax County. The presentations will be available on October 1 on the project www.virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/route50fallschurchstudy.asp. The Route 50 STARS (Strategically Targeted and Affordable Roadway Solutions) Study includes concepts for improved traffic signal timing/operations, turn lane improvements, turn restrictions, access management, and pedestrian enhancements. Residents and drivers are urged to participate in an online survey, which will be available for 30 days. Residents also may send their comments by e-mail to email@example.com, or first-class mail to Mr. Bobby Mangalath, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.
Farmer's Market Continues Until November at Mason District Park – The Farmer's Market, hosted by the Fairfax County Park Authority countywide, continues this fall in Annandale every Thursday morning until November 5, 2020, from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. at Mason District Park, 6621 Columbia Pike. Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets/annandale for a vendor list, steps to pre-order, and pickup instructions. For a complete county-wide schedule, shopping guidelines, and other information about the Farmer's Markets visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets, or call 703-642-0128; TTY 711. Please note there are no markets on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Hand Sanitizer: Do you Know How to Use it Correctly? – When soap and water is not available to help you safeguard against COVID-19, hand sanitizer is a handy and portable option. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using alcohol-based hand sanitizer. However, knowing how to use it also is important. Here are four important things to know about using hand sanitizer correctly:
- Use hand sanitizer that contains 60 percent or more alcohol (ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol).
- It takes at least 30 seconds for hand sanitizer to kill the virus. So, make sure that you are rubbing hands together for at least 30 seconds (longer is fine) so that the gel gets all over your hands, in between fingers, on fingertips, under nails, etc.
- Let hands dry on their own. Do not wipe away hand sanitizer.
- Hand sanitizers always may not be effective. They do not get rid of all types of germs or chemicals and they should be avoided when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
Additional information about the use of hand sanitizers is available at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/safely-using-hand-sanitizer. Please note that some hand sanitizers potentially have toxic types of alcohol. Check the FDA's do-not-use list at www.fda.gov/handsanitizerlist for more information.
Mason E-Newsletter and Updates – To receive the monthly E-Newsletter and periodic updates about Fairfax County services and events in Mason District, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe. If you wish to unsubscribe, send an e-mail, and include unsubscribe in the subject line to remove your e-mail address from the subscription list.
Mason Matters! The Television Show – Fairfax County has a vast network of partners that includes ecumenical, non-profit, and non-governmental organizations, who work to meet the essential needs of some of our most vulnerable populations. The demand for services during the on-going health crisis caused by COVID-19 has strained this support system significantly. Calls to the county's Coordinated Services Planning (CSP) hotline, used by residents facing emergency needs, have increased daily since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to last year at this time, calls to the hotline have more than doubled, and the needs of our community are urgent. This trend prompted the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services to establish the Community Provider Coordination Team, which coordinates and provides direct and efficient access to healthcare, food, financial assistance, transportation, and Out-of-School Time/Youth Programming. The October edition of Mason Matters!, the television show that brings you news and information about our Mason District community, hosted by Supervisor Penny Gross, features Sarah Allen, deputy director of Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services. Mason Matters! airs on Cable Channel 16 every Thursday at 7 p.m., and every Friday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m., and daily on-line at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/mason.
The Quick 411 – I would like to get my child's safety seat inspected this month, can Fairfax County help? Yes. Specially trained and certified Sheriff's deputies check more than 1,000 child safety seats every year and find that 80-90 percent have not been installed correctly. Either the safety seat was not properly secured in the vehicle or the child was not properly harnessed in the seat. To ensure that children are riding safely, the Sheriff 's Office conducts FREE monthly child safety seat events at the Fairfax County Public Safety Center to instruct and assist parents and caregivers. On Saturday, October 24, 2020, from 8:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., the department will conduct child safety seat inspections at the ADC and Courthouse Public Parking Garage, 3rd floor, 10550 Page Avenue, in Fairfax. For more information, contact 2nd Lt. Donna Honse at 571-238-6153.