The Board Corner: Perspectives from Penny – It Happy New Year! Following a dreadful pandemic year for our county and our country, many are approaching 2021 cautiously. Vaccines are being approved and distributed, but estimates are that it will be late spring or early summer before the majority of people will be immunized. In the meantime, masks, social distancing, and hand washing protocols must be observed. These healthy practices protect all of us.
At the beginning of last year, it appeared that the decennial census and the presidential election would be the big stories of the new decade. Both paled in the wake of the pandemic but, as I write this, the election continues to make front page news, even though all states have certified their results, and the Electoral College has voted. The census numbers are expected to be released by the federal government in the spring; then redistricting begins. Virginia General Assembly redistricting is expected to be addressed by an independent commission; redistricting at the county level will be led by a citizen committee that makes recommendations, with adoption by the Board of Supervisors. In both 2001 and 2011, the redistricting process made a few adjustments to magisterial district boundaries, and 2021 is expected to have similar results.
To date, little snow has fallen, but there is information elsewhere in this newsletter from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) that may be helpful when the white flakes start falling. Also in this edition is some updated land use news, including the Site Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) nominations in Mason District, and the modernized draft Zoning Ordinance (zMOD) that has been underway since 2017.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, and its ripple effect on nearly every facet of life, the Mason District Supervisor's office operates every day to address constituent inquiries and concerns. Traffic calming, public safety, code compliance, land use, health department, and stormwater are just a few of the inquiries fielded by my office. Please let me know whenever you have questions about any county-related matter of concern to you. My staff and I are here to serve you.
Participate in the Process for a New FCPD Chief – Fairfax County Government is seeking community participation to assist with the recruitment of the next Chief of the Fairfax County Police Department. Residents are urged to respond to a survey, which will help identify key characteristics, skills, traits, and issues to consider. The survey is available through Friday, January 8, 2021, and it is available in English, Spanish, and Korean at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FCPDChief.
Land Use News – Land use items of interest include:
- The South County Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) recommendations by community task forces completed the Planning Commission's public hearing process in November 2020, and are scheduled to come before the Board of Supervisors (BOS)on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. Upon adoption by the BOS, the recommended Plan Amendments would be added to the revised Comprehensive Plan Amendment Work Program. In Mason District, five of six applications recommended for inclusion are:
- First Christian Church: PC19-MA-001;
- 6152 Leesburg Pike: PC19-MA-002;
- Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center: PC19-MA-006;
- 4312 Ravensworth Road Public Storage: PC19-MA-004; and
- Western Annandale CBC: PC19-MA-005.
Information about the South County SSPA process is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning-development/plan-amendments/sspa/south, or by contacting the Planning Division of the Department of Planning and Development at 703-324-1380; TTY 711.
- The new and modernized Zoning Ordinance (zMOD) Public Hearing Draft is scheduled for a public hearing before the Planning Commission on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. The proposed new Zoning Ordinance addresses land use regulations and definitions, removes gaps and inconsistencies, and creates a streamlined, user-friendly document that is easier to understand. Information about the zMOD project 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 email@example.com. Residents may sign-up to testify by calling the Planning Commission Office at 703-324-2865, or register online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planningcommission/speaker, no later than 3 p.m. the day of the meeting, to be placed on the Speakers List; and videos must be submitted no later than 9 a.m. the day prior to the Planning Commission meeting. Written testimony also may be submitted by first-class mail to: Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 552, Fairfax, 22035, or by e-mail at Plancom@fairfaxcounty.gov.
- Radley Management, LLC's application is scheduled for a public hearing before the Planning Commission on Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. The 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, includes an enclosed, air-conditioned service drop-off area for customers bringing their vehicles for service.
January 2021 Winter Leadership Series for Civic and HOA Leaders Features Police Commanders – On Saturday, January 9, 2021, Supervisor Penny Gross begins another series of meetings for Mason District Civic and Homeowners Association leaders by welcoming the commanders from the Mason, Franconia, and West Springfield District Stations. The Winter 2021 Leadership Series, which will be held virtually, continues as follows:
- Saturday, February 13, 2021 – Fairfax County Department of Code Compliance; and
- Saturday, March 13, 2021 – Fairfax County Park Authority.
The virtual meetings will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. If you would like to attend one or all of these meetings, please RSVP by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and to receive a meeting link. For the January meeting, please RSVP no later than Monday, January 4. If you can't make one of the meetings, another member of your board is welcome to RSVP. Please note that topics and presenters may be subject to change because of staff availability.
Child Safety Seat Inspections Resume in 2021 – The Fairfax County Police Department is hosting a Child Car Seat Inspection on Saturday, January 16, 2021 at the Mason District Station, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, and no appointment is necessary. The child car seats are inspected on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning at 9 a.m., and the last child car seat inspection will begin at 11:30 a.m. The number of child car seat inspections will be based on the number of available inspectors that day. For more information, contact the Mason District Station at 703-256-8035, press zero for the front desk.
FCPD Hosts Virtual Town Meetings – The Fairfax County Police Department is hosting virtual town meetings for each patrol station. The Mason District Station's Town Meeting is on Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 5 p.m., and will feature the new interactive GIS-based data dashboard. This dashboard was designed with community input, keeping in mind the principles of transparency, and fair and impartial policing. Learn how the police are implementing additional accountability and using data analytics to continue to strengthen trust and confidence in your police department. To join a meeting, click the link next to the date. All virtual meetings begin at 5 p.m.:
- McLean District – January 6, 2021 https://bit.ly/3m4DhkB
- Mason District – January 21, 2021 https://bit.ly/3ozGYjH
- Reston District – February 4, 2021 https://bit.ly/3qCYSE6
- Franconia District – February 17, 2021 https://bit.ly/36Ujlw5
If you missed a previously scheduled meeting, they are recorded and available online:
- Fair Oaks District – (November 18, 2020) https://bit.ly/37q3Qeq
- Mount Vernon District – (December 16, 2020) https://bit.ly/2Is9UuH
- Sully District – (December 9, 2020) https://bit.ly/2VUrQBf
- West Springfield District (November 24, 2020) – https://bit.ly/3g0cpk8
Questions? Contact FCPDChiefsOffice@fairfaxcounty.gov. Note: Portions of the Mason Magisterial District are within the Mason, Franconia, and West Springfield District Stations' police service areas.
Pickleball: Coming to Fairfax County – The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) wants public insight about the emerging sport of pickleball, and invites residents to participate in an online survey (https://publicinput.com/G4274), which will help to determine how pickleball facilities may be incorporated within parks, RECenters, and community centers. The survey will be open through Sunday, January 24, 2021. In response to increasing interest in this sport, the Park Authority initiated a pickleball feasibility study. The study will determine how to equitably address the desire for pickleball, identify sites for potential improvements to existing courts or new facilities, and develop siting criteria and design guidance to be considered when selecting and constructing pickleball amenities. For more information, visit the Park Authority's Pickleball Study webpage (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/planning-development/pickleball-study). To find a place to play pickleball in a Park Authority park, visit the FCPA Park Locator online map. General comments and questions also may be sent via e-mail to email@example.com.
Dog License Renewals/New Applications Due January 31, 2021 – If you have not done so already, renew all dog licenses no later than Sunday, January 31, 2021, to be compliant. All dogs four months of age or older must be licensed. New dog owners may obtain and complete a dog license application at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/taxes/sites/taxes/files/assets/documents/pdf/dog-license-application.pdf and submit it with the $10 fee. The Fairfax County Animal Shelter, located at 4500 West Ox Road in Fairfax, has an in-person option on-site at the shelter on Saturdays and Sundays only, from 12 to 3 p.m. by advanced appointment. (The shelter will be closed Saturday/Sunday, January 2-3, 2021.) It is required to be socially distanced and wear a mask. Proof of current rabies vaccination certification is required at the time of purchase, and $10 per license, cash or check only. The cost is the same for altered and unaltered dogs. Dog licenses for dogs registered previously with the Department of Tax Administration (DTA) also may be renewed online at the DTA website www.fairfaxcounty.gov/taxes/. Service/program updates are available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/animal-shelter-update. Information also is available by visiting the Fairfax County Animal Services Division website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/, sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 703-830-1100.
Stuff the Bus Program Returns in 2021 – Community food pantries need your help! Non-perishable food is needed to assist individuals and families in need. Fairfax County operates "Stuff the Bus," a food pantry giving program that partners with nonprofit organizations to restock food pantry shelves. Mark your calendars for the next food drives on Saturday, January 30 and Saturday, February 6, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Buses will park at different locations and collect food donations. For more information about the "Stuff the Bus" program and a list of donation sites, collection dates, and times, contact Gwen Jones at 703-324-7137; TTY 711, or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/neighborhood-community-services/stuff-the-bus.
Senior Citizen Tax Relief 2021 – Because of the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and its detrimental effect on vulnerable populations, the Department of Tax Administration (DTA) will not be hosting in-person workshops for tax year 2021. Most applications, mailed to residents in January 2021, will ask residents to sign an affidavit to certify they still are within the program threshold (short form), and return it to DTA. The preferred methods to return completed applications are listed on the application: E-mail at TaxRelief@fairfaxcounty.gov, by fax at 703-802-7595, or first-class mail to: Department of Tax Administration, ATTN: Tax Relief Section, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 225.5, Fairfax, VA 22035-0032. Residents in the program also will receive a letter with their application that will include additional methods available to discuss their application with DTA staff, which include virtual meetings by Zoom video conferencing, and by telephone (703-222-8234; TTY 711). Real estate tax relief is available for older adults and people with disabilities who meet certain qualifications. Qualified residents also may be eligible for car tax and rent relief. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/taxes/, or call 703-222-8234; TTY 703-222-7594.
Fairfax County's Hypothermia Prevention Program is in Progress – The Bailey's Shelter and Supportive Housing's (BSSH) Hypothermia Prevention Program is ready to assist homeless individuals in need. If you or someone you know needs shelter, please call BSSH at 703-820-7621. If you see someone who may need shelter, call the Fairfax County Police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131. An officer will conduct a wellness check and, if the person agrees, will transport the person to the nearest shelter. If you see someone at risk of hypothermia, call 911. The program welcomes donations. To make a donation, or to find out what is needed most, contact Kelley McKeon, volunteer coordinator, at email@example.com. Information about the county's Hypothermia Program is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/homeless/hypothermia-prevention-program, or call 703-324-9492.
VDOT is Ready for Snow – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), is the state agency that controls and maintains the roads in Fairfax County, and offers residents online resources to get information from home, work, and on mobile devices. VDOT's Winter Resources include:
- One-Stop links to news releases, Twitter feed, status updates, customer service, Frequently Asked Questions, and other resources are available at www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow_emergency_pages/nova_emergency.asp;
- Plowing in Northern Virginia neighborhoods when two inches of snow has fallen: http://vdotplows.org/;
- Follow @VaDOTNOVA on Twitter for photos, videos, and updates;
- For real-time traffic road conditions and traffic cameras, call 511, follow @511northernva, use the 511app, or visit www.511virginia.org;
- Report unplowed roads, hazardous conditions to https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/, or call 1-800-FOR-ROAD (367-7623);
- 9-1-1, for police, fire, and rescue (life-threatening emergencies only, please)
Note: If your road is not plowed and you have an emergency, VDOT will coordinate with emergency personnel.
- 2-4 inches of snow: 24 hours
- 4-6 inches of snow: 48 hours
- 6 inches or more of snow: 72+ hours
How You Can Help:
- Monitor forecasts frequently;
- Telework, adjust commutes, and avoid driving when possible;
- Park in driveways or park on the odd-numbered side of the street.
- Do not shovel driveway until plows have come through;
- Have enough fuel, wiper fluid, proper tires, medication, food, water, and an emergency car kit;
- Be patient: crews are practicing social distancing and need time, and room, to work.
Don't Walk in the Dark: Report Streetlight Outages – With daylight hours shorter during the winter, burnt-out streetlight bulbs are more noticeable, especially along neighborhood streets. Streetlights along public roads in Fairfax County typically are maintained by Dominion Energy (www.dominionenergy.com/virginia/report-outage-or-emergency) or the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC www.novec.com/Customer_Services/StreetLightRepair.cfm). To make it easier to identify pole numbers and report streetlight outages from a desktop or mobile device, Fairfax County created a Streetlight Reporting Map (https://fairfaxcountygis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=ec243fa910a24f54864d59277d5338b3), which shows streetlight service areas and individual streetlight locations. You now can use your phone's GPS location to find pole numbers and report outages in your neighborhood and in other areas you frequent. You also may contact any of these providers directly to report outages or other issues. When reporting an outage to Dominion Energy at 1-866-DOM-HELP (366-4357) or NOVEC (1-888-335-0500), you will need to provide the location of the pole and the pole number. Additional information about reporting streetlight outages is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/publicworks/capital-projects/report-streetlight-outage. If a particular streetlight is not on the map, it may be privately maintained by a homeowners association or other group. For additional assistance, call 703-324-5111; TTY 711. Please note that the Virginia Department of Transportation operates the streetlights along interstates and at major interchanges. To report a streetlight outage on a primary road, visit https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/, or call 1-800-FOR-ROAD (367-7623).
Save the Date: Seven Corners Phasing Study Virtual Public Meetings – The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will be hosting virtual public information meetings on Wednesday, February 3 (English) and Thursday, February 4 (Spanish), beginning at 7 p.m. to present preliminary information about a phasing study that is in progress for the Seven Corners Community Business Center (CBC). In 2015, the Board of Supervisors adopted Comprehensive Plan Amendment 2013-I-B2, which included updated transportation improvement recommendations. FCDOT staff will present preliminary information about the study to determine the order in which recommended transportation improvements would be constructed. For information about the project and public information meeting, visit the FCDOT website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/transportation/study/seven-corners, or call Nanditha Paradkar at 703-877-5667.
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 – The COVID-19 pandemic forced many local government agencies to adapt, and adopt new ways to deliver services. In Fairfax County, we successfully continued services, ranging from essential needs to recreation, while maintaining social distancing protocols to promote safety. Agencies, such as police, fire and rescue, and the Health Department easily come to mind as resources for essential services. However, during these challenging times, recreation has become an essential need, too. Public libraries provide respite from boredom and long days apart from family, friends, and social activities. There are many resources to nurture a new interest or skill, even while socially distancing. The library system promoted its online resources, such as e-books and audio books, and offered wireless Internet to residents, who accessed it from library parking lots. With safeguards implemented, we now are able to check out and return books at libraries again. The January edition of Mason Matters!, the television show that brings you news and information about our Mason District community, hosted by Supervisor Penny Gross, features Fran Millhouser, Mason District representative and chairman of the Fairfax County Public Library Board of Trustees. 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 online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/mason.
The Quick 411 – A young member of my family is vaping. Can Fairfax County help? Yes. The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults. Parents and educators can help prevent and reduce the use of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes by young people. Learn how you can help, including conversation starter tips, support, and additional resources, by visiting www.fairfaxcounty.gov/livehealthy/tobacco-free/vape-free-fairfax/support?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social.