The Board Corner: Perspectives from Penny – Happy Spring! The blossoms that welcome the season – forsythia and cherry, snowdrops and daffodils – are abundant in Mason District, reassuring us that winter is done and warmer weather is on the way. Coupled this year with substantially increased vaccinations against the pandemic, this spring may provide a cautious opportunity to return to personal interactions between and among family members, friends, and colleagues. Masks and social distancing will be with us for a while longer, as will virtual meetings, which are one of the surprisingly positive results of the pandemic. Many of us have experienced some sort of "Zoom fatigue" during the pandemic, but the efficiency of virtual meetings, and the ability to participate in multiple business and social interactions without having to travel, cannot be dismissed.
This April edition of Mason Matters! has information about a multitude of activities, most still virtual, that can help with income tax filings, transportation, small business, child safety seats, yard waste, and avoid scams. One of the most popular programs – document shredding – is planned for Saturday, May 1 at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. If you haven't yet shredded all those personal files you cleaned out during the pandemic, take a look at page 7.
As reported in the March newsletter, the county's proposed FY 2022 budget process is underway, and budget public hearings will be conducted, virtually, on April 13, 14, and 15. To sign up to provide telephone or video testimony about the budget, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bosclerk/speakers-form. The Board of Supervisors will vote on budget adoption on Tuesday, May 4.
Automobile break-ins have been reported throughout the county, including Mason District. Most of the reported break-ins occur in darkness, even with porch lights on! Please be sure to lock your car, even in your own driveway, and remove anything of value, including wallets, change, and technology devices.
A popular form of exercise during the pandemic was walking the dog! Lots of Mason District residents met new neighbors just by taking man's best friend out a couple times a day. Christina Anderson, the Mason District representative on the Animal Advisory Commission, advises that the Fairfax County Animal Shelter has many pets available for adoption through its "pet and go" program. Terriers, retrievers, cats and kittens, lots of rabbits, and guinea pigs are just some of the pets available at www.petango.com/FairfaxCountyAnimalShelter . Check out the website for photos, names, and biographies of potential adoptees, and how you and your family can provide a loving home for a pet.
Stay safe, continue to wear your mask, observe social distancing, and enjoy a very welcome Spring!
Land Use News – Land use items of interest include:
- On Tuesday, March 23, the Board of Supervisors approved the new modernized Zoning Ordinance as part of the Zoning Ordinance Modernization (zMOD) project, which will take effect on Thursday, July 1, 2021. The Board removed the age or disability requirements for Accessory Living Units, making it consistent with ordinances in neighboring jurisdictions, and approved a change in process for interior units from the current special permit requirement to now require an administrative permit with a reduced fee. The Board also modernized provisions for Home-Based Businesses, including revised special permit provisions for on-site customers. The special permit cost also was reduced for home-based businesses to operate. Flag size and flagpole heights also were considered, and the Board voted to retain the current limit of three flags per parcel, with flag pole heights of 25 ft. on single-family and manufactured home lots and 60 ft. on all other properties. There are no restrictions on flag size. Information about zMOD is available at 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 .
- The Mason District South County Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) Task Force reconvened on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, to begin Phase 2 of the SSPA process. SSPA Phase 2 entails Work Program Implementation, which includes detailed analysis by county agencies regarding land use, environment, housing, and parks and recreation. The task force will consider these factors as they review the amendments for the Annandale Public Storage , First Christian Church , the Gibson Property , and Dar Al-Hijrah proposals. Information about the 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 VDOT Traffic Signal Rebuild Projects on Columbia Pike are anticipated to break ground in April. The projects at the intersections of Columbia Pike at Lacy Boulevard/Maple Court, and Columbia Pike at John Marr Drive/Chatelain Road will have the span wire configuration replaced with two twin signal poles with mast arms, high visibility backplates for all signal heads, and new Flashing Yellow Arrow signals on Columbia Pike for protected-permissive left turns. There also will be ADA-compliant curb ramps and high visibility crosswalks, and audible pedestrian signals for all four approaches at the intersections. Construction will be in progress Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and travel lanes will be open through the intersections during construction, unless the project necessitates a temporary lane closure, and it is authorized by VDOT. The contractor will NOT work on Saturdays and Sundays, unless authorized in writing by VDOT. Barring any unforeseen delays, project completion at both intersections is anticipated in the fall.
BOS Approves First Application for a Development Project Under the New Economic Incentive Program (EIP) – On Tuesday, March 23, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved use of the new EIP at the Skyline Center, located at 5201, 5203, and 5205 Leesburg Pike in the Bailey's Crossroads area of Mason District. Adopted on September 15, 2020, the EIP is available to development proposals located in the county's six Economic Incentive Areas and that also meet the program's other eligibility requirements. EIP incentives include real estate tax abatements, site plan fee reductions and an expedited zoning process, among other regulatory incentives. To learn more about the program, eligibility requirements, and how to apply, visit www.fcrevite.org/economic-incentive-program .
Water Mains to be Replaced along a Portion of Graham Road, between Camp Alger Avenue and Hewitt Street – Fairfax Water has a water main replacement project beginning this spring for a portion of southbound Graham Road, between Camp Alger Avenue and Hewitt Street, and then along Hewitt Street until the intersection with Strathmore Street. Property owners in the affected area will be notified 48-hours in advance of any water service interruptions (lasting for short periods of time) during construction. Traffic flow will be maintained during construction, and all work will be conducted during the day. Questions or concerns may be directed to Mr. Jerry Scott, P.E., construction department manager, at 703-289-6351 or by e-mail at email@example.com . Fairfax Water's after-hours emergency number is 703-698-5613.
Road Paving Begins this Spring in Fairfax County – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the state agency that controls and maintains roads in Fairfax County, is beginning its preparations for the 2021 Paving Season. Information about pavement treatment types, frequently asked questions, and an interactive map that shows which roads will be paved is available at www.virginiadot.org/projects/northern_virginia/northern_virginia_paving_program.asp .
Read Away Your Fines – So, the library book is overdue? Don't despair! During the American Library Association's National Library Week, April 4-10, 2021, the Fairfax County Public Library will offer its customers of all ages a chance to " Read Away Your Fines ." Every 15 minutes of reading during this week, which customers will track using Beanstack, removes $1 in fines. Each customer may read away a maximum of $15. For more information, visit the FCPL website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library , send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , or call 703-324-3100; TTY 711.
FCPD Hosts Virtual Community Meeting on April 6 – Fairfax County Police Officers at the Mason District Station and the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) welcome all residents to a virtual Community Meeting on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 7 p.m. This month's meeting agenda includes a presentation about the Emergency Vehicle Operations Center (EVOC). To participate, join via Zoom at https://fairfaxcounty.zoom.us/j/86951305095.
Walk, Bike, Skate: It's All Active Transportation! – The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) needs your insight about how you actively travel without a car, and invites you to share that knowledge at a virtual community conversation on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 7 p.m. FCDOT is updating and combining the Bicycle Master Plan and the Countywide Trails Plan into the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan. Active transportation means self-propelled, mostly human-powered travel, including walking, biking, rolling (scooter, wheelchair, stroller), hiking, running, and riding for transportation and recreational purposes. The plan will establish a vision and a roadmap for implementation of safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets, walkways, and trails in Fairfax County. Community insight is crucial to the success of this planning effort. FCDOT also launched a community survey (available in eight languages) and two interactive maps , where the communities can share what is working (or not) when getting around Fairfax County on foot or on wheels, point out barriers, and suggest improvements. To register for the community conversation, access the interactive maps, and complete the survey, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/transportation/bike-walk/activefairfax . The public engagement period closes on Saturday, May 1, 2021. Or, share your ideas with the Active Transportation Team by e-mail at email@example.com , or call 703-877-5600; TTY 711.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Available on April 8, 2021 – The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) , a $15 billion grant assistance program to assist live venue operators, promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, museums, zoos, aquariums, and theaters that were adversely affected by closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The (SVOG) program, which will be administered by the SBA's Office of Disaster Assistance, was established through the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act to provide more than $16 billion in economic relief to target industries. Approximately $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees. For more information, visit the SBA website at www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/shuttered-venue-operators-grant . Sign up for e-mail alerts about this program is available at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USSBA/subscriber/new?topic_id=USSBA_347, and interested participants must register with sam.gov (https://sam.gov/SAM/).
Fairfax County Enters New Phase in its Strategic Plan – Help shape the future of our community by sharing your insight through a survey , available through Thursday, April 15, 2021, about the proposed Countywide Strategic Plan ( www.fairfaxcounty.gov/strategicplan/ ). Originally proposed to the Board of Supervisors in February 2020, COVID-19 paused public progress until now. The updated proposed plan recognizes the immediate and longer-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed plan features nine priority areas: Cultural and Recreational Opportunities; Economic Opportunity; Effective and Efficient Government; Empowerment and Support for Residents Facing Vulnerability; Health and Environment; Housing and Neighborhood Livability; Lifelong Education and Learning; Mobility and Transportation; and Safety and Security. The proposed strategic plan was developed through extensive community engagement, which continues today, and outlines a community-based vision for the next 10 to 20 years. The survey will help inform priorities in the strategic plan before it is finalized this spring.
Child Safety Seat Inspections Continue in 2021 – The Fairfax County Police Department is hosting a Child Car Seat Inspection on Saturday, April 17, 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.
Seven Corners Children's Center Celebrates 50 Years of Service – Northern Virginia families, predominantly in the Seven Corners area, have benefitted from the Seven Corners Children's Center's (SCCC) community-based pre-school and childcare services for 50 years. SCCC's full-day, year-round program is licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and provides needed quality childcare to low- and middle-income families, allowing parents to find employment. Because many of these families only can afford a portion of the tuition, the SCCC receives tuition subsidy funding from Fairfax County, the Commonwealth of Virginia and federal programs. The SCCC successfully has operated in accordance with state COVID-19 guidelines throughout the pandemic. SCCC was accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and has partnerships with the Kaiser Family Foundation, First Christian Church of Falls Church, St. James Catholic Church of Falls Church, and the United Way/Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area. SCCC is a 501©(3) tax-exempt charitable foundation and donations can be mailed to 6129 Willston Drive, Falls Church, 22044, or through the CFC agency designation #53354.
Have You Heard about the Virtual Center for Active Adults? – The VCAA was established by the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services to enrich the lives of older adults and adults with disabilities in Fairfax County, while combatting isolation. Thanks to the support of more than 20 partner organizations, the VCAA is a one-stop resource with more than 40 virtual events, programs, and classes available each week using Zoom for older adults. Explore a full schedule of social, creative, and cognitive programs, as well as health and fitness classes ranging from low to high intensity and spanning a variety of interests and goals. Pre-recorded videos offer fitness classes, such as SAIL or chair exercise, cooking demonstrations, craft projects, and other "how-to" subjects. Discover services and resources that are available from Fairfax County and organizations that support the well-being of adults who live in Fairfax County. Interested? Visit VCAA at http://bit.ly/NCSvcaa to get started!
Plastic Bags for Yard Waste Prohibited: Enforcement Begins April 19, 2021 – The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the Solid Waste Management ordinance, CHAPTER 109.1. - Solid Waste Management | Code of Ordinances | Fairfax County, VA | Municode Library , which prohibits the use of plastic bags for yard waste, and it became effective on Monday, March 1, 2021. The Solid Waste Management Program is exercising enforcement discretion for a six-week period to allow time for customer notification and education about the new rule. Enforcement begins on Monday, April 19, 2021. Information is available online about the Elimination of Plastic Bags for Yard Waste Collection FAQs | Public Works and Environmental Services (fairfaxcounty.gov) . Set-Out Instructions, Cart Information, what can be recycled curbside, and how to handle Household Hazardous Waste and Yard Waste, is available in eight languages at Trash and Recycling Guidelines | Public Works and Environmental Services (fairfaxcounty.gov) . Yard waste collected curbside, and for residents who self-haul directly to one of the county's disposal sites, must be placed in paper yard waste bags or reusable containers marked "Yard Waste." Fairfax County's yard waste collection season is in effect from March through December. Information about yard waste options is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/publicworks/recycling-trash/county-collection-customers/yard-waste . Questions? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , or call 703-324-5230.
The Department of Tax Administration (DTA) To Host Virtual Tax Relief Workshops – The Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration (DTA) will be hosting Virtual Tax Relief Workshops on Thursday, April 15, 2021, and Thursday, April 22, 2021, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. DTA staff will present information about the real estate and personal property tax relief programs for seniors and people with disabilities. DTA staff also will answer general questions about completing the 2021 tax relief application, but will not be providing individual consultation during the workshops. Participants do not need to register, but Microsoft TEAMS is required to view the presentation. An audio only call-in option also will be available. To join a workshop, please go to the DTA website www.fairfaxcounty.gov/taxes/workshops and select the virtual link to participate using Microsoft Teams, or call in using the phone number and conference ID number provided. Questions? Send an e-mail to email@example.com , or call 703-222-8234; TTY 711.
Did You Hear about the Latest Virtual Scam? – Find out about new, and old, scams when the Fairfax Silver Shield Task Force and AARP co-host a Virtual Scam Jam on Friday, April 23, 2021, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Learn from the experts how to detect a scam, protect yourself from fraud and financial losses, and learn about the latest COVID-19 scams. For more information and to RSVP, visit www.aarp.org/fairfaxscamjam . Questions? Contact Melissa Smarr at Melissa.Smarr@fairfaxcounty.gov , or call 703-324-1929; TTY 711.
Participate in the DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day! – Spring is here, and so is the DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 24, 2021, from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Empty your medicine cabinets of unused, unwanted, or expired prescription medicines, and drop them off at all Fairfax County Police Stations. To find a police station near you, visit the FCPD website www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/fairfax-county-police-department . Information about year-round disposal of over-the-counter and prescription medicines is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/drug-disposal .
Federal and Virginia State Income Tax Filing Deadlines Extended to May 17, 2021 – The Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury extended the federal tax filing due date to Monday, May 17, 2021. The federal tax filing deadline only applies to individual federal income returns and tax payments, including tax on self-employment income (without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed), but not state tax payments or deposits, or payments of any other type of federal tax. The IRS urges taxpayers, who are due a refund, to file as soon as possible. Most tax refunds associated with e-filed returns are issued within 21 days. The Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Taxation also extended the individual income tax filing due date to Monday, May 17, 2021. However, the extension does not apply to estimated payments. Get Virginia tax filing reminders and tax news for individuals and businesses by e-mail at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/VATAX/subscriber/new.
AARP Tax Preparation Services Continue Until May 17, 2021 – AARP Volunteers will continue to assist residents with free tax preparation, until Monday, May 17, 2021, at a new temporary location. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, AARP's procedures have changed for everyone's safety. Tax preparation is by appointment only. No walk-ins. To register for the first of two appointments, you must first obtain and complete a Tax Preparation Intake Packet. Packets are available by one of two ways:
At the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, inside the entry door to the right (by the bulletin board). (DO NOT proceed into the building because it is CLOSED to the public.); or
Visit the Mason District Tax-Aide website at https://tinyurl.com/masontaxaide2020 to download and print the packet.
After reading the packet's instructions:
- Fill out the packet completely (Important!)
- Assemble your tax documents on paper. No information will be accepted from cell phones.
- Call the number provided in the packet for an appointment and directions to the new temporary location.
Note: At the first appointment:
- Your documents will be checked for completeness.
- The documents will be scanned (Paper image is digitized and stored securely in the cloud.).
- You will leave the appointment with your documents.
Your tax return will then be prepared by IRS-certified counselors without your presence. Issues and questions will be addressed and discussed with you by phone.
Note: The second appointment will be scheduled to review, sign, and receive a copy of your completed tax return. Bring all tax material to this appointment. For information about AARP Tax-Aide, visit www.aarp.org/taxaide , send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , or call 1-888-687-2277.
FCPD Safety Series Continues with "Share the Road" – Same Roads. Same Rights. Same Rules. Roads accommodate more than cars for travel. Sharing the road begins with understanding that pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and drivers of motor vehicles all have rights and responsibilities when using the road. Learn best practices about how drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians can share the road on Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 6 p.m., and learn about unique laws and safety issues affecting shared road use, such as lane usage, passing, and visibility. Register for the event at https://masoncpoevents.eventbrite.com . The Zoom link for the meeting will be e-mailed to registered attendees one hour prior to the event.
Reminder: 2021 Applications for Senior Citizens and People with Disabilities are Due by May 3, 2021 (for Returning Applicants) – Eligible residents still have time to complete and submit their application to the Department of Tax Administration (DTA). Note: If the applicant is filing for relief for the first time, or if hardship conditions exist which prohibit the applicant to apply by May 3, 2021, then the deadline may be extended until Friday, December 31, 2021 to submit their completed application. All residents are liable for any taxes due until officially notified by Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration. DTA staff mailed applications to returning applicants in January. If you have yet to receive your annual certification application for 2021, then please contact DTA to request an additional copy to be mailed. 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 should have received a letter with their application that included 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 relief and rent relief. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/taxes/relief/tax-relief-seniors-people-with-disabilities , or call 703-222-8234; TTY 703-222-7594.
Save the Date: Document Shredding Returns to Mason District! – The Fairfax County Solid Waste Management Program invites Fairfax County residents to a document shredding event on Saturday, May 1, 2021, from 7 to 11 a.m., at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. Cars must be in line no later than 11 a.m. to participate. Up to four medium-sized packing boxes per vehicle will be accepted. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/publicworks/recycling-trash/document-shredding , or call 703-324-5230; TTY 711.
FCPL Offers Technology Access: Chromebooks and "Ask Your Library" Texting – Fairfax County Public Library customers, adults 18 and older, may participate in a pilot program offering Chromebooks for at-home use. The George Mason Regional Library, 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale, is one of four regional branches with laptops available for use for up to two weeks at a time. Each device provides access to the Google suite of software tools, and each device will be sanitized and have all settings, passwords, and documents deleted between customers. FCPL now also offers customers a new way to access research support through " Ask Your Library ," a real-time chat service, available by text at 571-556-5025, and via FCPL's website ( www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/ask-your-library ), from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. Customers also can submit their questions any time by e-mail at email@example.com .
EQAC Seeks Student Representative – The Fairfax County Environmental Quality Advisory Council (EQAC) is seeking a student representative for the July 2021 to June 2022 school term. Any current sophomore or junior in good standing, who is interested in environmental science or environmental policy, is encouraged to apply at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/environment-energy-coordination/news/apply-be-next-eqac-student-member-may-14 . EQAC makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors regarding county environmental protection and enhancement. Monthly meetings address a variety of issues, including water quality, air quality, land use, transportation, solid waste, climate change, energy, hazardous materials, and noise, light and visual pollution. Information about EQAC is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/environment-energy-coordination/environmental-quality-advisory-council . Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, May 14, 2021 via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org . Questions? Contact Ali Althen by e-mail at Ali.Althen@fairfaxcounty.gov , or call 571-373-1722.
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 email@example.com 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 – Whether we like it or not, scammers will target anyone they perceive to be vulnerable, and they have gotten craftier in their approaches. Whether it is by phone, mail, or a knock at the front door, unscrupulous individuals try to exploit unsuspecting individuals. It happens year-round, and peaks during seasonal holidays. Some studies indicate that younger people fall for scams more often than older adults. However, older adults may have more money to lose because they have assets that have accumulated for many years. Sadly, victims of scams often are embarrassed to report their financial losses, which means a high number of crimes related to scams are under-reported. The April edition of Mason Matters!, the television show that brings you news and information about our Mason District community, hosted by Supervisor Penny Gross, features Melissa Smarr, branch chief of the Post Occupancy Enforcement and Public Outreach at the Department of Land Development Services, and lead member of the Fairfax Silver Shield Task Force. 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 – I know that Fairfax County recently began a food composting pilot program at its two main recycling facilities in Fairfax and Lorton. Is there information about what material I can drop off? Yes. All food items are accepted, including meat, dairy, and leftovers. Food-soiled paper like tea bags, coffee filters, napkins, and paper plates also are acceptable. More than 1,000 food scrap items can be composted at the two new Composting Drop-Off centers, at the I-95 Landfill CComplex and the I-66 Transfer Station , which are open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can drop food waste into one of the green bins. Visit Fairfax County's food composting webpage for more details: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/publicworks/recycling-trash/food-scraps-composting-drop .