Reston National Owners Ask Again for Zoning Appeal

Reston National Golf CourseThe quest to possibly redevelop Reston National Golf Course may be taking shape again.

The attorney representing RN Golf Management, which owns the public golf course, has asked the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals to put the issue back on a meeting agenda.

The BZA hearing would likely take place in January or February as it is required under state rules to do so within 90 days of attorney Frank McDermott’s request.

The county last heard from the golf course owners in July of 2013, when they asked that the same appeal be deferred indefinitely. That ended — or at least subsided — about a year of discussion on the matter.

RN Golf, a subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Insurance, asked the county in the spring of 2012 for clarification on the course’s status. Even though it was commercial/open space, could it be considered residential? RN Golf said at the time that the course was zoned residential, and therefore it could be built as such.

Fairfax County responded that the course is open recreational space, and if the owners wanted something different, they needed to seek a rezoning.

While the appeal was scheduled for hearing several times in 2012 and 2013, it was deferred indefinitely in July 2013.

However, the issue of potentially losing 166 acres of green space sparked a grassroots organization, Rescue Reston, as well as a stance on the issue by Reston Association, which is opposed to the golf course being redeveloped.

RA said Friday it remains opposed to the golf course land being redeveloped for residential use.

“It is RA’s stance that these golf courses are integral to the active lifestyle of its members and furthers the Reston lifestyle ‘live, work, play and get involved,’ ” said RA president Ken Knueven. 

RA says is also willing to consider a purchase of the golf course in order to keep Reston a golf course community. 

Rescue Reston president Connie Hartke says the group is ready to resume the fight for open space.

“We are prepared to respond,” she said. “We have money in the bank. We will fight to make sure it remains zoned as open space.”

Since the last time the golf course issue was active, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved Phase I of the Reston Master Plan Special Study, which guides development around the transit centers.

The county is now deep into the Phase II process of the comprehensive plan amendment. The working draft of the Phase II guidelines, which will update plans for neighborhoods and village centers, has several areas in which it speaks of Reston’s commitment to open space and recreational areas.

The Phase II strawman text states that both Reston National and Hidden Creek Golf Courses “are planned for private recreation use, more specifically to remain as golf courses.”

Meanwhile, the county earlier this year called for public land use proposals for Phase II. Fairfax Hunt Club, for example, inquired about changing zoning from recreational to residential. RN Golf did not file a land use proposal at that time.

Reston National has been golf course space since it was built in 1970. RN Golf purchased the course in 2005 for $5 million, county records show.

McDermott, the attorney for RN Golf, did not return calls from Reston Now.

Photo: Golfers at Reston National/file photo

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