Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The passage of zMOD will affect virtually every homeowner in the county, and not in a good way.

ZMOD is the new zoning ordinance—the whole thing--that the Board of Supervisors intends pass for a second time within a few weeks!  The Board’s first try was deemed illegal by the Virginia Supreme Court not on substance, but for failing to adhere to the procedures required for legislative approvals, specifically using only video hearings. 

The nominal intent of zMOD was to “streamline” the more than 1,000 pages of the existing zoning ordinance which, on the face of it, is not a bad idea.  However, the true intent of the zMOD effort quickly became apparent:  It is intended to limit residents’ input to changes in the rules and project approvals.  In short, it will expand the types of housing and other activities that may be developed in the county and severely limit your rights to have a say in what development occurs in your neighborhood and community. 

Clyde Miller, a local attorney and President of the Holmes Run Valley Citizens Association, who wrote an extensive analysis of the proposed changes in 2021, put it this way:

The changes jeopardize neighborhoods by substantially expanding uses allowed while choking off means by which residents are able to protect their communities. The principal problems are:

• Proposals to change regulations without thinking through unintended consequences and providing effective protections for neighborhoods,

• Proposals to nullify current regulations that protect neighborhoods and the Board has authority to modify on a case-by-case basis,

• Proposals for administrative permits where special permits are required to allow resident participation in shaping developments in their communities,

• Proposed uses insufficiently limited in scope by ordinance language, and

• Inadequate provisions for county inspections where uses have a potential to damage communities.

This article relies extensively on his 39-page paper available via the link above.

The specific areas in which developer and county rights are expanded at the expense of residents include the following:

• Home-based businesses (HBBs)-- zMOD is proposing three unlimited/unqualified home business uses that should not be allowed, retail sales, small-scale production, and health and exercise.  Moreover, zMOD senselessly has expunged provisions for county inspections from HBB (and ALU) regulations.

• Accessory Living Units (ALUs)—As ALUs would be allowed on any single-family development (SFD) property, one principal concern is the risk that SFD neighborhoods would be redeveloped at twice their current density.   A second concern is that ALUs, with their second kitchens, are attractive candidates for conversion into boarding houses, dwellings with many more occupants than allowed by the ZO. Double-density redevelopment and boarding houses easily would destabilize neighborhoods

• Freestanding accessory structures--The current ZO allows a single-family dwelling one enclosed freestanding accessory structure. The floor area may not exceed 200 sq ft. zMOD proposes to allow, by right, any number of enclosed freestanding accessory structures with a combined floor area up to 50% of the gross floor area of the dwelling.  

• P-district regulations—This specifically includes Reston’s PRC (Planned Residential Community).  zMOD proposes to delete the requirement that P-districts must taper down in density and provide compatible landscaping and screening at their peripheries.  Yet the county’s comprehensive plan for TOD areas states, “TOD area(s) may be generally defined as a ¼ mile radius from the station platform with density and intensity tapering to within a ½ mile radius from the station platform, or a 5-10 minute walk, subject to site-specific considerations. . . To protect existing stable neighborhoods in the vicinity of transit but not planned for transit-oriented development or redevelopment, and to focus density toward the station, Area Plans should include clearly delineated boundaries for transit-oriented development based upon these criteria.”

• Commercial Revitalization District regulations—In Reston, Lake Anne Village Center is a CRD.  A proposal for CRDs would allow a reduction of setbacks from the current 25-40 ft to 20 ft and would allow an increase in building heights in C-6 and C-8 districts from 40 to 50 ft, i.e.—more density, less open space.

• Food trucks--zMOD proposes that food trucks, with administrative permits (i.e.—staff decision not requiring a hearing) should be allowed to operate on private properties of non-residential uses in R-Districts.  The issue here is similar to the promise that, in issuing administrative permits for HBBs, the county, in its wisdom, would allow only those that would not trouble neighbors.

• Cluster subdivision open space--In a cluster subdivision, the current ZO requires that at least 75% of open space or one acre, whichever is less, must be a contiguous area with no dimension less than 50ft. The draft proposes to delete the 50-ft requirement.

As highlighted in Mr. Miller’s paper, three themes emerge from the proposed changes in the county’s zoning ordinance:

• The first is an effort to push residents out of the process making land-use decisions affecting their neighborhoods.  Decision making would be moved to staff where supervisors can get their hands on them.

• The second is a disregard for repercussions for quality of life in residential neighborhoods. How else could zMOD propose changes to accessory dwelling regulations without thinking through the consequences?

• The third is a goal to change regulations for the sake of changing regulations. Why else would zMOD propose to delete provisions for county inspections?

There are MANY MORE CHANGES to the zoning ordinance outlined in Mr. Miller’s analysis of the revised 581-page zoning ordinance.  PLEASE refer to his work at this link to learn HOW this ordinance change WILL affect you IF BOS passes it in early May.  They fully intend to do so with little warning to us, Fairfax County residents.

Thursday, April 6, 2023


Yes, the Board's agenda package for its April 11th meeting includes the slightly revised zMOD zoning ordinance package with a resolution to "advertise" the proposed ordinance--the first step in approving the new zoning ordinance. The revisions are almost exclusively a half-dozen amendments made by the Board in the then-common illegal video hearings since the original was passed in 2021. 

And the Board is not going to give the residents of Fairfax County much time to consider its pros (few) and cons (many). The resolution proposes that the Planning Commission hearing be scheduled for May 3 and by the Board of Supervisors hearing be held on May 9. Usually, draft legislation is then approved without comment at the next Board meeting. If you are interested in the many specific concerns raised about zMOD the first time around (they haven't changed), we highly recommend you read Act4Fairfax Network's paper on the issues in zMOD. There are too many to list here. 

If you find any (or all) of these issues concerning, please do the following: 

 It's not over yet.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

WJLA News 7 Report: Jeff McKay caught driving recklessly in county car after attending a campaign fundraiser

From WJLA news:

Fairfax County residents have written to county supervisors complaining about how a county employee is using a county vehicle outside of business hours.

People didn’t know until 7News' reporting that the county vehicle belongs to one of the most powerful elected government officials in Fairfax County --- county chairman Jeff McKay.

7News is uncovering new information on how McKay is using his county car which is driving up the bill at taxpayer expense.

Months before McKay approved a 40% raise for himself, one person complained to supervisor Rodney Lusk’s office that a county car was parked at a community pool on a Sunday. She wanted to know why and she provided Lusk with a photo of the license plate which stated, “official local government use only” at the bottom of the license plate.

After consulting Chairman McKay’s office about the complaint, Lusk’s office didn’t tell the concerned woman the car belonged to McKay.

7News obtained another complaint to supervisor James Walkinshaw from a person who describes how a man was speeding and driving recklessly in the same county vehicle on Saturday, October 2, 2021.

The person told Walkinshaw’s office, “At approximately 18:25 on 02 October 2021, I was driving southwest on Coffer Woods Road when a vehicle suddenly pulled out in front of me from Wards Grove Circle, causing me to slam on my brakes. I was unable to get a photo in time while stopped behind this unmarked Ford waiting for the light at Burke Centre Parkway. However, I did notice an official vehicle plate. And despite the driver’s best efforts to flout the speed limit, I caught up to him at a red light on Lee Chapel Road at 286.”

The concerned resident provided Walkinshaw with a picture of the license plate on McKay’s county car.

“As a Fairfax County taxpayer, likely footing the bill for both the vehicle and the operator, I would like to know why someone lacking knowledge of vehicular right-of-way laws is allowed to drive an official car,” the concerned resident told Walkinshaw. “I would also be interested to know what official business this man was conducting on a Saturday night. Seems like someone who should be given a bus pass and Fairfax Connector schedules, at least until he can be retrained in the safe operation of a motor vehicle.”

Walkinshaw, like Lusk, also didn’t tell the concerned Fairfax County resident the county car belonged to McKay.

7News investigated what McKay was doing that night. 7News Reporter Nick Minock learned McKay was at a campaign fundraiser for Walkinshaw. Walkinshaw’s fundraiser ended at 6:30 p.m. McKay’s alleged reckless driving and speeding in his county car happened at 6:25 pm, .03 miles away from Walkinshaw’s political fundraiser.

Photo of McKay at Walkinshaw Fundraiser (Credit: Eileen Filler-Corn)

7News obtained Fairfax County’s vehicle policy and it appears McKay violated county policy by driving his county car to a political fundraiser.

The day after Walkinshaw’s fundraiser, on October 3, 2021, McKay held a fundraiser of his own with Congressman Gerry Conolly and Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe was running for governor that year.

7News asked McKay if he drove his county car to that fundraiser too, and 7News asked what other political events McKay drove his county take-home car. However, McKay has not responded to repeated requests for comment regarding the use of his county vehicle.

Through a public records request, 7News also learned McKay’s mileage on his county vehicle increased in the two months leading up to the 2021 election. 7News asked McKay if his mileage increased during that time because he was driving to political events leading up to the 2021 election. McKay has not yet responded to that question.

The Fairfax County vehicle policy states, “unrestricted usage must be authorized by the County Executive or Board of Supervisors in every case” for class one take-home vehicles and that class two “take-home vehicles are not authorized for personal use.”

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay. (7News)

7News asked the Fairfax County Executive, “Does the County Executive approve of how Mr. McKay uses his county car?”

“As County Executive, my responsibility is to manage the administration and operations of Fairfax County,” County Executive Bryan Hill responded in an email. “I have no comment on the political activities of any board member.”

7News followed up by asking the County Executive, “Respectfully, we did not ask the County Executive about his general thoughts on the political activities of a board member. We asked, 'Does the County Executive approve of how Mr. McKay uses his county car?' Mr. McKay has driven his county-owned car to political fundraisers/events, which seems to be a violation of county vehicle policy. Does the County Executive approve of Mr. McKay’s use of his county vehicle? “

“I have no comment on the political activities of any board member,” Hill responded in an email.

Although the county vehicle policy places the county executive in charge of supervising county vehicle usage, the Fairfax County Executive reports to Chairman McKay and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, unlike Montgomery County where the county executive is an elected position.

In Virginia, misusing public assets for private or personal purposes is a class four felony.

7News asked Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano if he considers McKay’s county car use a violation of Virginia’s misuse of public assets statute.

Descano’s office responded by saying that 7News will need to address that question to the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) since “they would be the ones to handle a criminal investigation.”

7News has reached out to FCPD for comment. 7News will update this story with their response.

McKay has not yet responded to 7News’ question on if he is violating state law by using his county vehicle to drive to political events and fundraisers.

In March, 7News also uncovered taxpayers are footing the bill for McKay’s car insurance, tolls, gasoline, oil changes, car washes, and more. And McKay doesn’t have to pay an annual car tax even though he sets the car tax rate for everyone else in the county.