New CDC guidance puts pressure on FCPS to reopen full-time - High levels of cancer-causing chemicals found in Annandale tap water - George Mason fires men’s basketball coach

Canterbury Woods trash petition remains on hold, six months later - zMOD decision expected tomorrow - Vaccines available to more essential workers as supplies increase

Welcome to Braddock Buzz, your Monday roundup of news affecting the Braddock District of Fairfax County. Contact us with tips and feedback, or if you’re interested in advertising, at braddockbuzz@gmail.com.

Thank you to our sponsor, Realtor Jennifer Mack, whose column this week looks at the pandemic-fueled boom for second homes. Reach out to Jennifer with column suggestions or real estate questions at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com.

Schools

New CDC guidance puts pressure on FCPS to reopen full-time: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending three feet between students in most circumstances. This is down from six feet, which FCPS leaders had cited as the main roadblock to reopening to full-time in-person instruction. In a message to parents, Superintendent Scott Brabrand called the new guidance “very encouraging,” promising to huddle this week with principals and health officials, as The Washington Post reported.

“We will be proposing next steps once we have completed a thorough review,” Brabrand said.

With most teachers vaccinated and enrollment now down more than 5% from last year, there will be tremendous pressure on Brabrand to return to full-time instruction five days a week. The advocacy group Open Fairfax County Schools, which claims to represent over 2,300 FCPS parents, said in a statement Friday: “There are no more excuses.”

“Putting students in school five days a week now will provide important data and information to prepare for a quick and successful re-opening next fall,” the group said. “It will give families still on the fence about whether to return to FCPS confidence that FCPS is capable of the task and that it can be trusted to follow through. And, most importantly, it will provide immediate relief and key academic and emotional supports to many FCPS students who are struggling, and whose families cannot adjust their lives around a partial in-person hybrid option.”

School Briefs

  • Before the CDC had announced the new guidance, Brabrand told the School Board the vast majority of students would receive full-time, in-person instruction in the fall, The Washington Post reports.

  • The School Board has rejected a task force recommendation to add four new Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu religious holidays to the 2021-2022 school calendar. Instead, the board has recognized 15 religious and cultural observance days when schools will be barred from scheduling tests, field trips, graduation, homecoming, or athletic events.

  • Gov. Ralph Northam has released guidance for in-person graduation events for K-12 schools and universities, saying outdoor ceremonies should be capped at 5,000 people or 30% of venue capacity, whichever is less. Indoor ceremonies should be capped at 500 people or 30% of capacity—all with masks and social distancing.

County News

Canterbury Woods trash petition remains on hold, six months later: Back in September, we reported that the county had postponed by at least six months a public hearing on the successful petition drive in the Canterbury Woods neighborhood to move from private to county trash pickup. Now that six months have passed, we checked with the county on the status of the hearing. The answer: It remains delayed, with no sign of the process getting back on track anytime soon.

“The Sanitary District petition process is still on hold,” said Charlie Forbes, an official with the county’s Solid Waste Management Program. “There’s been no word on when the hold will be lifted.”

The county has previously offered several reasons for the delay, including the pandemic and a national shortage of commercial truck drivers that would make it difficult to add new routes.

Last June, the 517 homes of Canterbury Woods reached the 55% threshold of “yes” votes to move to county trash, recycling, and yard waste. But for the petition to take effect, it would need approval by the Board of Supervisors, following the public hearing process that has been put on hold. In Truro, some residents have also voiced dissatisfaction with the two private collectors, American Disposal Services and Republic Services. Truro residents are considering launching their own petition drive—but they’re waiting to see whether the Canterbury Woods effort gets the green light.

zMOD decision expected tomorrow: The Board of Supervisors is expected tomorrow to decide whether to approve a major overhaul of the county’s four-decade-old zoning rules. The Planning Commission has endorsed the Zoning Ordinance Modernization Project, or zMOD, but with tweaks to the most controversial elements, including rejecting a proposal to streamline the approval process for Accessory Living Units. The commission also nixed a proposal to regulate the height and number of flagpoles that can be displayed in a front yard or outside a business.

Pandemic

Vaccines available to more essential workers as supply increases: The Fairfax Health District has expanded vaccine eligibility to three more frontline essential worker groups:

  • food & agriculture (not including restaurant workers)

  • manufacturing

  • grocery store employees

The groups next in line will be public transit workers, mail carriers, select government employees, faith leaders, and janitors.

The expansion comes as our vaccine allocation increases—with 21% of the county’s 1.1 million people having received at least one dose and 11% now fully vaccinated with two.

Public Health

High levels of cancer-causing chemicals found in Annandale tap water: We reported last week that an environmental group had found high levels of cancer-causing “forever chemicals” in the tap water at 19 locations across Northern Virginia. The Annandale Blog has since drilled down further—and found that the zip code with the highest levels in Fairfax County was 22003, which covers Annandale and includes parts of the Braddock District.

The Environmental Working Group says the testing site in the 22003 zip code had high levels of what are known as “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances,” or PFAS, which are man-made chemicals found in household products such as stain and water-repellent fabrics, paints, cleaning products, and more. These chemicals don’t break down in the environment or in the human body, and certain types are believed to cause cancer, increased cholesterol levels, and other adverse health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The 22003 testing site had levels of these chemicals of 57.56 parts per trillion, which is high relative to other areas tested but below the EPA’s recommended threshold of 70 parts per trillion. Environmental advocacy groups, though, say the threshold should be far lower. In a statement to the Annandale Blog, Fairfax Water spokesperson Susan Miller said “there is no immediate health concern due to the presence of these chemicals.”

“Research is ongoing at the state and federal level as to how and if these chemicals should be regulated in drinking water,” Miller added. “We will take necessary actions to meet future state and federal regulations when they are established.”

Top Tweet

For the backstory on the grassroots effort to get the new bridge installed, see our Feb. 22 edition.

Athletics

George Mason fires men’s basketball coach: George Mason University has fired men’s basketball coach Dave Paulsen after six seasons that saw no NCAA tournament appearances. His ouster comes a week after the resignation of women’s basketball coach Nyla Milleson, as The Washington Post reported.

George Mason released this statement from Athletics Director Brad Edwards:

After an extensive review and evaluation of our men's basketball program, I have decided to make a change in our leadership. I am grateful for Dave's commitment, tireless work and leadership in directing our program over the past six years.  

He did an admirable job in stabilizing our program. Every decision he has made centers around the well-being of our student-athletes and what is best for them both academically and athletically. Dave has represented our university and athletic department in a first-class manner and is very well-regarded among his peers in the basketball community. I wish Dave and Kathy the very best and thank them for their contributions to our university.

Events

  • Tuesday, March 30, 7 p.m.: There will be a Braddock District Budget Town Hall featuring District Supervisor James Walkinshaw, School Board Member Megan McLaughlin, and the county’s chief financial officer, Joe Mondoro. Details here.

  • Thursday, April 8, 7 p.m.: Walkinshaw and the Park Authority will host a virtual meeting on plans to repurpose two platform tennis courts at Wakefield Park for pickleball. Details on how to attend are here.

Real Estate

Sponsored Content

Jennifer Mack column: The pandemic is fueling a boom in the second home market

The pandemic has affected the real estate market in many ways—including sparking more interest in second homes.

Almost every day, I receive a call from a client asking about the second home market, usually near the beach or mountains. Shenandoah cabins used to sit on the market for upwards of a year—now they’re being snatched up with multiple offers. Areas like the Wintergreen Resort have done a complete 180—and now you can hardly locate a property without launching a bidding war.

As for me, I took the plunge last spring and have been successfully renting out a short-term rental property to friends in Delaplane, Va., using the popular website Airbnb

Last week, Fannie Mae announced it is limiting new loans for second homes or investment properties to 7% of the overall loans they purchase (roughly HALF their historic levels), effective on April 1. This could have a big impact on second home purchases—so take note if you’re looking to jump on that mountain cabin or beach condo you’ve been eyeing throughout the pandemic.

The change to this threshold will almost certainly raise the cost of securing a loan for a second home. Why would lenders raise their prices due to this 7% cap? Because they can no longer be certain that Fannie/Freddie will purchase these loans from them.

If you plan to purchase your second home with cash, then it may actually be prudent to wait until after April 1, as prices in some markets may fall due to the demand leveling off after this announcement sinks in. If you’re already under contract for a purchase, then this change shouldn't affect you—but you may want to check with your lender just to be sure. And if you own a second home and want to sell it in the future, you should educate yourself on how this change could affect the market for your property.

Jennifer Mack has more than 15 years of experience in the real estate industry, with her team servicing Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Contact her at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com or by calling 703-672-0038.

New listings

4741 Gainsborough Dr, Fairfax | 3 beds, 3 baths, 1,448 sf | $560,000

4961 Americana Dr #207, Annandale | 2 beds, 1 bath, 909 sf | $219,900

5509 Ridgeton Hill Ct, Fairfax | 3 beds, 3.5 baths, 1,676 sf | $475,000

10609 Battalion Landing Ct, Burke | 4 beds, 3 baths, 2,723 sf | $800,000

5328 Danbury Forest Dr, Springfield | 3 beds, 2 baths, 1,857 sf | $449,527

5804 Oakland Park Dr, Burke | 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 2,697 sf | $749,900

5268 Lonsdale Dr, Springfield | 2 beds, 2 baths, 1,422 sf | $435,000

5528 Ridgeton Hill Ct, Fairfax | 3 beds, 3.5 baths, 1,806 sf | $465,000

4512 Burke Station Rd, Fairfax | 6 beds, 6.5 baths, 6,804 sf | $1,475,000

4729 Playfield St, Annandale | 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 2,577 sf | $725,000

10147 Wavell Rd, Fairfax | 5 beds, 3.5 baths, 4,095 sf | $825,000

5404 Sideburn Rd, Fairfax | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,992 sf | $839,900

8932 Falling Creek Ct, Annandale | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,636 sf | $725,000

5406 Gainsborough Dr, Fairfax | 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 1,590 sf | $680,000

5632 Rapid Run Ct, Burke | 3 beds, 3 baths, 1,757 sf | $509,333

9437 Wallingford Dr, Burke | 5 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,516 sf | $765,000

4965 Swinton Dr, Fairfax | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 1,340 sf | $589,900

10265 Colony View Dr, Fairfax | 3 beds, 3 baths, 1,736 sf | $475,000

5509 Miles Ct, Springfield | 4 beds, 3 baths, 2,096 sf | $514,888

10802 Rippon Lodge Dr, Fairfax | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,472 sf | $725,000

5476 Midship Ct, Burke | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 1,474 sf | $500,000

7902 Slidell Ln, Springfield | 6 beds, 3 baths, 1,534 sf | $680,000

4327 Alta Vista Dr, Fairfax | 3 beds, 3 baths, 1,573 sf | $569,000

6118 Dory Landing Ct, Burke | 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 2,740 sf | $762,000

Recently sold

5514 Kendrick Ln, Burke | 3 beds, 2.5 baths, 1,232 sf | 6 days on market | $475,000

8212 Briar Creek Dr, Annandale | 5 beds, 3 baths, 2,449 sf | 4 days on market | $798,000

5407 Kempsville St, Springfield | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,236 sf | 2 days on market | $650,000

5200 Dalby Ln, Burke | 5 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,190 sf | 6 days on market | $776,001

4985 Dequincey Dr, Fairfax | 4 beds, 2 baths, 2,205 sf | 3 days on market | $567,000

5243 Richardson Dr, Fairfax | 4 beds, 3 baths, 1,340 sf | 2 days on market | $635,000

6024 Meyers Landing Ct, Burke | 3 beds, 2.5 baths, 1,538 sf | 6 days on market | $450,000

10413 Todman Landing Ct, Burke | 3 beds, 3.5 baths, 1,188 sf | 6 days on market | $400,000

5825-5825 Cove Landing Rd #304, Burke | 2 beds, 1 bath, 781 sf | 6 days on market | $253,000

5527 Corot Ct, Fairfax | 4 beds, 3 baths, 1,754 sf | 5 days on market | $625,000

6008 Powells Landing Rd, Burke | 3 beds, 3 baths, 2,064 sf | 2 days on market | $542,000

10665 Oak Thrush Ct, Burke | 3 beds, 2.5 baths, 1,464 sf | 4 days on market | $415,000

10726 Shingle Oak Ct, Burke | 5 beds, 3.5 baths, 2,244 sf | 3 days on market | $790,000

5812 Cove Landing Rd #202, Burke | 2 beds, 2 baths, 886 sf | 3 days on market | $290,000

5406 Francy Adams Ct, Fairfax | 5 beds, 3.5 baths, 3,056 sf | 2 days on market | $806,500

7707 Lafayette Forest Dr #23, Annandale | 2 beds, 2 baths, 1,130 sf | 2 days on market | $300,000

9101 Parliament Dr, Burke | 4 beds, 3 baths, 2,853 sf | 2 days on market | $750,000

9116 Fox Lair Dr, Burke | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 1,732 sf | 6 days on market | $700,000

7706 Royston St, Annandale | 3 beds, 2.5 baths, 1,692 sf | 5 days on market | $632,000

5318 Inverchapel Rd, Springfield | 6 beds, 3 baths, 1,508 sf | 1 day on market | $690,000

10275 Latney Rd, Fairfax | 3 beds, 3 baths, 1,626 sf | 5 days on market | $500,000

10261 Braddock Rd, Fairfax | 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 2,200 sf | 5 days on market | $533,000

9828 Lakepointe Dr, Burke | 3 beds, 3.5 baths, 1,280 sf | 4 days on market | $440,000

4466 Forest Glen Ct, Annandale | 3 beds, 1.5 baths, 1,298 sf | 6 days on market | $351,000

4936 Gainsborough Dr, Fairfax | 4 beds, 3 baths, 2,400 sf | 3 days on market | $640,000