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County to seek additional public input on residential studios proposal

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is endorsing a plan by the Planning Commission to increase the amount of public input and outreach around a proposed change to the county zoning ordinance to allow the construction of studio apartments in the county with a special exception, a zoning process that requires a public hearing on the project.

The proposal has raised alarms with some community groups that fear that single family homes could be converted to apartments under the new rules, among other concerns.

Organizations that work with the county’s homeless population have been advocating for residential studios for some time, to allow nonprofits to develop SROs — a type of single room occupancy housing paired with supportive services for the residents that has been used successfully in other parts of the country to help people out of homelessness.

But studio apartments are not just good for that one use, said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova (D).

“It is a housing type that is attractive for people just starting out,” she said.

The Planning Commission held its first public work session on residential studios on Wednesday. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 2.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors gave the Planning Commission more time to review the proposal and make its recommendation. The Nov. 20 Planning Commission hearing will be deferred to allow additional time for public meetings and review by a special committee of the Planning Commission.

“I am concerned that there is a lot of misinformation out there,” said Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock).

Concerns expressed by the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations mirror the initial concerns that the Board of Supervisors had, Cook said, but the draft ordinance has been revised since then.

“They’re not aware of the fact that we fixed a lot of the problems in this draft ordinance and we’re intending to fix more,” he said.

The Planning Commission Residential Studios Committee is expected to convene in late October with additional meetings in November, December and January, followed by a February public hearing.

13 public schools are not fully accredited

Thirteen of the 192 Fairfax County Public Schools did not earn full accreditation from the Virginia Department of Education this year, the highest number the school system has seen in the last five years. In past years, zero to two schools did not receive full accreditation.

Twelve schools were “accredited with warning” and one was “provisionally accredited” due to its graduation rate.

Accreditation is based on student test scores on state standardized tests. Schools are fully accredited if students achieve all of the following adjusted pass rates: English, 75 percent or higher; mathematics, 70 percent or higher; science, 70 percent or higher; and history, 70 percent or higher. In addition, high schools and other schools with a graduating class must have a graduation and completion index of at least 85 for full accreditation.

A school receives an “accredited with warning” rating if its adjusted pass rates for the four core subjects are below the achievement levels required for full accreditation. Schools that receive the accredited with warning rating undergo academic reviews and are required to adopt and implement school improvement plans.

A statement released by FCPS links the accreditation to temporary declines in test scores due to new standardized tests being released. New English and science tests were used in the last school year. FCPS is already seeing improvements in math scores from when that test was overhauled two years ago.

Fairfax Connector routes adjusted

Starting Saturday, Fairfax Connector will modify 12 existing routes: 151, 152, 161, 162, 301, 371, 372, 373, 621, 623, 631 and 632.

• Routes 151 and 152: Adjustments to the weekend schedule to reflect current traffic conditions and improve reliability;

• Routes 161 and 162: Adjustments to the weekday schedule to reflect current traffic conditions and improve reliability;

• Route 301: Addition of earlier trips in the afternoon rush hour;

• Route 371: Trips start later in the evening corresponding with added service on 372 and 373;

• Routes 372 and 373: Addition of later trips in the evening;

• Routes 621 and 623: Extension of “short trips” ending at Fairfax County Government Center to Post Forest and West Ox Roads;

• Routes 631 and 632: Adjustments to afternoon rush hour schedule to reflect current traffic conditions and improve reliability.

For complete revised schedules, visit www.fairfaxconnector.com.