Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Reston Farmers Market to Open May 9 with Health Rules

Reston Farmers Market Opening Approved—May 9th

The Fairfax County Park Authority has approved opening the Reston Farmers Market for 2020.  The opening is planned for Saturday, May 9, at the usual time (8 AM ‘til 12 noon) and usual place- the parking lot at Lake Anne Village Center. 

The Market will be quite different in look and feel during the Covid 19 emergency.  The layout of stands will be more spread out in order to facilitate social distancing.  And, there will certainly be new rules for this period.

Here’s how the rules we expect to post at the Market look in final draft form.  It will be important that all customers adhere to them in order to assure that the Reston Farmers Market be permitted to stay open to serve you and to protect the health and safety of everyone in the market.  


1- Keep at least 6 feet from other people
2- Send no more than 2 family members into the market
3- All should wear a face mask or other face covering
4- No pets allowed
5- One customer at a stall at a time
6- Do not touch products or surfaces.  Let vendors bag purchases.
7- No on-site eating of purchases or sampling.
8- Payment by credit or debit card preferred.
8- Do not linger. Complete shopping as quickly as possible.
9- Leave by exits only.

Thank you for coming and for cooperating!
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An increase in teleworking, the explosion of gig workers in the economy, open office plans and coworking are all influencing how much space companies are using and will use in the future.

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Monday, April 13, 2020

Governor's comments on what government decisions should be considered an "emergency."

Comments from Governor Northam at his press conference last week. 
"We understand that while everyone is focused on this epidemic, the business of government must be able to continue. Attorney General Mark Herring has issued an opinion that says public bodies in Virginia may conduct business of meetings electronically if the purpose of the meeting is to address the emergency. That includes meeting to make decisions that must be made immediately and where failure to do so could result in unrevokable public harm." 

"General Herring's opinion makes clear that public bodies should ask themselves is the action we are taking truly essential? If not, they should defer it until they meet in person again. We're not throwing out public accountability and transparency measures because there is an emergency. Bad policies can happen that way. The regular features of public meetings remain critical including the need for public access, proper public notice, publicly available agendas, roll call votes and recorded minutes."
There is no reason to consider county land use decisions as "emergency" as described by former Planning Commission Vice Chair Jim Hart.

Former Planning Commission Vice Chairman Jim Hart opposes Supervisors' efforts to "streamline" public hearings during the Coronavirus emergency.

The Honorable Jeff McKay
Chairman, Board of Supervisors
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 530
Fairfax, VA   22035
Re:  Uncodified countywide ordinance amendment streamlining public hearings
Dear Mr. Chairman,
I understand the Board will take up tomorrow at 2pm an ordinance amendment streamlining public hearings during the Covid-19 emergency.  I write to oppose the draft wording, which exceeds the scope of Attorney General Herring's opinion, as well as the spirit of Governor Northam's orders on the Covid-19 emergency.   
Certainly the Board must take up some "essential" matters during an emergency.  The budget, public health, and provision of emergency services are required for the ongoing function of government.  But the draft amendment on p. 119 of your packet is so broad and flexible that it invites abuse of that streamlined emergency process, and an expansion into land use matters.
The defiinition of "Continuity in Fairfax County government" on p. 119 is so vague as to be meaningless.   It includes, "without limitation," almost anything, including "applications . . . or other requests" and "measures that help sustain the County's economy" which conceivably could be every land use application that causes economic activity [construction, real estate, commerce, taxes, etc.].   What case arguably doesn't help sustain the economy, in some way?  There should be some "limitation" on the authority of a supervisor, or the Board collectively, to approve anything, ostensibly within this overbroad definition, as an essential continuation of the function of government.  
This vague definition kicks in under D.3. (B)(3).  As long as the Board votes that the matter is necessary to assure "continuity in Fairfax County government," a land use case goes forward.   It is an open secret that the Board members routinely defer to the district supervisor on land use matters.  Several land use cases on Tuesday's agenda appear to be going forward for public hearing under the streamlined procedures, apparently sufficiently "essential" in the supervisor's view, confirming the potential for abuse of the Board's expansive new power, at the expense of citizen participation and transparency of government.
Over the weekend, I wrote several Board members, objecting to one example of a non-essential land use matter on the Board's April 14 agenda, the controversial "townhouses-under-the-flight-path" case in Sully District.  Although the ordinance requires the Board to allow "in person" testimony now, under the new streamlining, citizens must instead submit written or youtube testimony in advance, or call in by phone.  But if the speakers are not permitted to be present for the staff presentation or the applicant's presentation, they cannot rebut anything or correct misstatements, or react intelligently to the comments of other speakers, part of the robust give-and-take of a meaningful public hearing.  Nor can any citizens conduct site visits now, to prepare their testimony.
Land use cases, except perhaps in extraordinary circumstances, are not "essential" within the spirit of the Governor's orders.  But if they are mischaracterized instead as "measures that help sustain the County's economy," almost any development application can be described as "essential" under this overbroad language.  This vague definition invites abuse of the Board's power, to eliminate the inconvenience and embarrassment of, for example, citizen opposition or MWAA opposition on the "townhouses-under-the-flight-path" case, or other controversial matters.
Transparency and accountability of government must be maintained, even during Covid-19.  "Streamlining" the public hearing process with such expansive powers goes too far, and severely restricts the citizen participation on any case a supervisor wants to move forward during the virus situation, in any district.  The virus emergency is no excuse to adopt streamlined procedures that facilitate land use cases going forward without meaningful citizen participation in the public hearings.  Reasonable limitations on the Board's powers should include some more specific clarification of what matters, such as the budget, are truly "essential."   These limitations on emergency powers should specifically exclude the typical land use case, even if in some sense it may relate to the County's economy in some general sense. 
Thank you for your consideration of this issue in this difficult setting.
James R. Hart
6504 Trillium House Lane
Centreville, VA   20120