Village News, 5/7/20

Dear West Springfield Neighbor / Friend,

My intent is that this be a community newsletter. It often includes a recipe for carrot cake, random acts of kindness, family announcements, for sale items or wanted, and an occasional observation about state, county or district current events as they may apply to our village residents. I welcome your participation in these newsletters even if you see things differently and also welcome your constructive ideas to improve the value of these reports. 

Fairfax County FY 2021 Budget – County’s Board of Supervisors (BOS) have completed the budget markup. Even though the real estate property tax rate (levy) will remain at $1.15 per $100.00 of assessed value of home + land, the BOS voted (9-1) to include the increased RE property assessment values. That means our property taxes will increase $145.00 - $175.00 on average; mine will go up $438.00. This is on top of the 25% increase in RE taxes over the last 5 years. Thanks to those in the village who wrote to the board either in support or not supporting the increased RE taxes. If you still want to voice your opinion, write to the Chairman Jeff McKay, chairman@fairfaxcounty.gov. Our Springfield District Supervisor cast that one vote in opposition to the budget markup due to increased taxation. The BOS will vote to adopt the budget next Tuesday, 12 May.

Purple Bins Are Back – thanks to Richard & Jule Ann Cheslock (SVD) for this heads up. Collection of glass dropped off at purple, glass-only containers resumes Monday, 11 May. Containers are now being reset at locations throughout Fairfax County to include the one closest to us in the parking lot of the Springfield Government Center directly behind the post office. You can also take your glass to containers at the I-66 transfer station and I-95 landfill complex. Last resort is to put glass in with our household trash. Glass should not be put in with your recyclable waste. Also note that free mulch service resumed last Saturday, 2 May.

Yard Waste Collection – two weeks in a row we were missed by Republic. I registered another complaint with Republic, but they told me yesterday that they would pick up yard waste today. Some of you called today and were told they would collect it tomorrow (can you see the pattern?) Now if you call tomorrow – then my experience is that they will tell you next Wednesday. For whatever it may do, I also filed yet another complaint with county’s solid waste division. They are the government oversight of trash haulers. You may want to invest in your own complaint that can be sent to trashmail@fairfaxcounty.gov. That email address was established just for this purpose. Courtney Willis-Banks has responded to me and others who wrote complaints in the past, but not lately - maybe due to minimal staffing. CAWSV Vice President Bernie Koehle is investigating other trash haulers who may actually want our business. American Trash rates are higher at $40 per month plus they are also having reliability issues.

Public Library Project Looking to Document COVID-19 StoriesThanks Kathy D-Amato (Barnack) - Fairfax County’s public library system wants to capture people’s COVID-19 experiences for its historical records collection. The library system is looking for diary entries, photographs, artworks, videos - anything that documents what people’s lives are like during the pandemic. People can submit material on their pandemic experiences anonymously or with their name attached as a “digital donation” via a Google Form. Submissions will be accepted through 10 June. Look here https://www.tysonsreporter.com/?s=library for more information.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) proposed ADU regulations would eliminate the current restrictions on the number of ADUs in neighborhoods. For us, an ADU is a dwelling unit limited to two bedrooms and two occupants, complete with a full kitchen that may be constructed inside any of our single-family detached homes. ADUs were introduced as a housing option for older and/or disabled residents, in particular, family members of the property owner who are either disabled or at least 55 years of age in general need of monitoring and support. Some of us now have an ADU in our homes known as mother or father-in-law suites.

Today and under existing codes, the approval of ADUs requires a special permit, a process that assures some measure of compatibility of the ADU with the community. Neighbors receive written notice and sign boards are posted on the property with the same message. A public hearing is held before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to provide neighbors an opportunity to state and resolve their concerns. The BZA is then required to make a determination if the ADU would be compatible with the character of the neighborhood. You may recall we had one such in the past when I represented our majority opinion to the BZA.

This proposed amendment will change the intent and purpose of ADUs from housing for the elderly and disabled to a mechanism ostensibly for providing affordable housing. In fact, the proposal does nothing to ensure affordability, and it deletes the requirement that one or both occupants of the ADU must be either disabled or at least 55 years of age.

Current regulations stipulate that occupants of a single-family detached home may include no more than 4 people unrelated by blood or marriage.  The proposed regulations would allow conversion of single-family homes with 4 unrelated people and one kitchen into duplexes with 6 unrelated people and 2 kitchens. Proposed changes also include eliminating the required special permit and the entire public hearing process for a routine administrative permit instead.

ADUs have been helpful for parent(s)-in-law suites or for an elderly resident wanting to hire a live-in care provider. We (CAWSV) opposed these ADUs for commercial purposes (rental income) about 8 – 10 years ago, but this go-around will be your individual input, not a majority opinion from our association.

Will this change encourage a proliferation of boarding houses? Will developers see opportunities to buy and then tear down our single-family homes and build duplexes in their place? What leverage would we have as neighbors if the special permit requirement is eliminated as proposed in this change? What would the impact be on parking, traffic, schools, parks, hospitals, government services and utilities? Reckon that will be up to you and your input to county’s decision. Mine has already been submitted.

NOTE – a lot of the above came from a Mason District Council letter. I have a copy if you want to review it.

Home Based Businesses - County is also looking at ways to consolidate the different types of home-based businesses. Under current regulations, processes vary by business type. You can learn more about both of proposals here. This is more difficult to summarize for this message, but each of us needs to click on that link to review and to take the survey to input your opinion. This is every bit as large an issue as the ADUs, but harder to capsulize for this report.

Learn more about these two proposed changes by watching two short videos and submit feedback by taking the surveys. There is a survey for each proposal (2 total, but will only take a few minutes each).

COVID-19 Update: The Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors reports a spike in cases involving the virus. He offered the following reasons for the spike:

  1. Fairfax is in the exponential growth phase of our epidemic curve and we can therefore expect to see COVID-19 cases continue to increase for several more weeks. Because of the way this disease transmits, when one person is sick they can easily transmit it to others, especially in settings like long term care facilities.
  2. An increase in testing leads to more positive cases.

He encourages county residents to continue to follow community mitigation efforts: stay home, social distance even when outside, wash your hands, and wear a mask. Virginia now has enough testing capacity to test all people who think they are sick with COVID-19. If you think you have COVID-19, please work with you doctor to get tested.

Restrictions are still in place through at least 14 May. Virginia’s three phased reopening tactic includes:

  • Phase I:
  • It is still safer-at-home.
  • Continue to social distance, telework, and wear face coverings in public.
  • Gatherings of more than 10 people will still be banned.
  • Businesses will be required to ensure physical distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols, and enhanced workplace safety.
  • Easing of limits on businesses and faith communities
  • Phase II:
  • Vulnerable populations will be encouraged to continue to stay home.
  • Social gatherings of more than 50 will be prohibited.
  • Continued social distancing, teleworking, recommendation of face coverings.
  • Further easing of business limitations.
  • Phase III:
  • This phase will only begin if there is no evidence of a rebound in COVID-19 cases for a sustained period.
  • It will still be safer for vulnerable populations to stay home.
  • Ban on social gatherings will be removed.
  • Limits on businesses will be lifted.
  • Continue to use heightened cleaning protocols.

Rather than cutting & pasting more from his report, you can read in detail about the virus and additional updates on Chairman McKay’s website. You can sign up for his newsletter here.

ECHO Food Drive - The Pohlsander family (6918 Vancouver Road) is participating in a food drive for ECHO. If you would like to donate, please email: jen4realty@gmail.com or text 417/955-1448. Her family will drop off a bag along with instructions and a list of needed food items. The Pohlsanders are happy to collect all food items, minding social distancing, on Tuesday, 12 May between 4:00 - 6:00 PM. You can also drop donations off on Rick & Jen’s covered porch at 6918 Vancouver Road. They would like to collect all donations before 6:00 PM on Tuesday, 12 May since ECHO is open Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM for Jen to drop all food off at that time. If you need to drop off donations before the 12th, Jen or Rick will drop them off at ECHO sooner so the food can be distributed to the community faster I just need to keep track of the number of bags donated to report back to organizers.  No donation is too small. I took a donation last week and they were so grateful. 

If anyone wants to take their donations directly to ECHO. They are open to accept donations.  Monday- Friday 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM and Tuesday and Thursday 7:00 - 9:00 PM. 

ECHO has updated the list of most needed items: These are the most needed:  Canned meat, Pancake syrup, Sugar (2 lb preferred), Flour (2 lb preferred), Cooking Oil (24 - 32 oz), Soup, Box potatoes, Box rice, Jelly, Margarine. Also needed: Can pasta, Macaroni and cheese, Can fruit, Can Tomatoes, Eggs, Condiments, Dessert. And Personal Hygiene Needs: Deodorant, Shaving Cream, Shampoo, Detergent, Bar Soap, Toothpaste. And:  Brown paper grocery bags and Plastic bags (what Washington Post is delivered in).

Please think about buying a few of these items to help our neighbors in Springfield and Burke.  Thank you for helping fill food bags for families in need!

Yard of the Month – We actually do not recognize any yard of the month, except when one has significant impact on the aesthetics of the village Mark & Jessica Gregris (Edmonton Court) just had landscaping work done to their home that fits that description. Come take a look, but do drive carefully looking out for our children. Since we are a pipe stem – the kids have grown accustomed to playing outside to include in the street.

Donations Needed - Food, hygiene products and household cleaners drive to collect such for families and individuals facing hardship. Collection boxes are being placed at all 8 Fairfax County District Police stations. The items will be picked up and distributed to local food pantries near the stations. We know that food pantries were in desperate need before the virus, but are now even more in need.

Membership Meeting – 7:30 PM, next Thursday, 14 May conducted via Zoom Video Conferencing. iPhones, iPads and similar Androids or home computers can be used. Many are familiar with the system, but get ready by downloading Zoom and also read over the “how to” instructions below. 

How to connect to the Village Zoom meeting. If you are connecting using a phone or tablet:

  1. On your phone, go to the appropriate App Store (Apple or Android).
  2. Search for Zoom.
  3. Download the Zoom App.
  4. On the day of the meeting, open the email on your phone.
  5. Click the link in the email, and the Zoom app will open.
  6. Allow the App to use your video and Internet Audio.
  7. Smile – remember that other folks in the meeting can see and hear you.

If you don’t preinstall the Zoom App, you will get tangled up in having to dial in, download the app, and log in to the meeting.

If you are using a computer:

  1. Open the email.
  2. Click the link.
  3. You will be prompted to click a link if nothing happens.
  4. If prompted and nothing happens, click the link.
    1. If the App is already installed and running, you will be prompted to Join the Meeting.
  5. Allow the Zoom App to be installed.
    1. In Edge, click Run and follow the prompts.
    2. In Firefox, click the down arrow in the top right corner and click the .EXE file to run it.
      1. Follow the prompts.
    3. In Chrome, click the EXE file in the bottom left corner of the window, and Follow the prompts.
    4. I Safari, you are on your own.
  6. Once the App is installed, click Join Meeting
  7. Allow the App to use your camera and audio.
  8. Smile – remember that other folks in the meeting can see and hear you.

Most laptops manufactured after about 2001 have a built in video camera and microphone, but if you have a desktop without a 3rd party camera and microphone, you can still log in to the meeting and see and hear what is going on.  There will be several phone numbers in next week’s email.  The 301 area code is local.  You can use your land line to connect to the meetings audio so you can voice you objections or provide input.

Need Help? We still have a lot of good neighbors willing to help you with grocery shopping, pharmacy pick up or whatever you may need.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

John Cooley, CAWSV

 

 

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