RA Sustainability Chair Resigns Over Land Swap Issue

Diane Blust/File photoDiane Blust, chair of the Reston Sustainability Committee and a member of Reston Association’s Environmental Advisory Committee, resigned her positions last night in the wake of the RA board’s decision to move forward with a land swap that would remove mature trees in order to build a parking garage at Lake Anne Plaza.

“There’s really no sense in continuing to try to work within a system that is so clearly out of touch with sustainable development,” she told Reston Now in an email.

Blust has been a committed environmental advisor to Reston, working for years to ensure best practices to keep Reston environmentally conscious.

The RA Board voted 6-2 Thursday night to enter into a non-binding letter of intent in which Republic Land Development would give RA a 1.1 acre parcel of land off Baron Cameron Avenue in exchange for a 0.7 acre wooded parcel adjacent to Lake Anne Plaza where Republic intends to build a 120-space public parking garage. Republic will also offer other concessions, such as money for tree care and replanting and trail improvements.

Blust said at the meeting that RA and the citizens “got here through bad management.”

“It is no secret that the environmental management was not brought into this deal until late,” she said.

While Republic was chosen by the county in August to redevelop Crescent Apartments and surrounding areas, the land swap deal was not made public until weeks later, she said.

“Alternatives were taken off table when someone agreed to put that garage on land owned by all RA member,” she told the board. “I ask  you to reject this land swap. It is in violation of RA policies on open space and natural areas. If approve it you will give up a  natural area for a drainage ditch on Baron Cameron. We’re gonna be responsible for maintenance of trees on that land. Reston will be negatively impacted by garage.”

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