Jan. 21 could be a red letter date for Reston’s future.
That’s the message Rescue Reston — the citizen group aimed at protecting Reston’s open space — is trying to impart as the owners of Reston National Golf Course finally get their Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals hearing.
The hearing is at 9 a.m. at Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Pkwy. Rescue Reston is encouraging all residents to attend the hearing to show their support at protecting Reston’s open space. The group will also hold a rally Saturday at 2 p.m. at Langston Hughes Middle School.
The issue: RN Golf, the subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Insurance that owns the 166-acre public course, says the course is planned residential. A 2012 ruling by the county said it is zoned open, recreational space, and to change the status would involve a comprehensive plan amendment.
RN Golf disagrees and is appealing. The hearing was originally scheduled to take place tw years ago, but was deferred several times before it was put on hold indefinitely in the summer of 2013. In November, the case reappeared on the docket.
Rescue Reston founder John Pinkman said RN Golf tried to slip its case back in over the holidays, when no one would be lo0king.
“The timing of the appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals is suspicious,” he said at a press briefing on Wednesday. “From day one, this secret project has hoped to slide through the appeal process without involving Reston residents. Now they come again, trying to push this appeal through during the holiday season, hoping that few would notice. Well, that didn’t work.”
Pinkman says he believes Lerner Enterprises, owners of, among other properties, Dulles Town Center, North Point Village Center and the Washington Nationals baseball team, is the developer that seeks the golf course property. Lerner has had no comment.
“Respectable developers have in the past come to directly affected residents in clear transparency,” he said. “Northwestern Mutual’s strategy is quite the opposite.”
Reston National, which begins at Sunrise Valley Drive at Colts Neck Road, is surrounded by golf-themed townhouse, single-family and condo clusters with street names such as Golf Course View, Putting Green Court and Sarazen Place.
It is also prime real estate as it is situated between the new Wiehle-Reston East and the future Reston Parkway Metro Stations.
Major mixed-use development is already slated to take place along Sunrise Valley Drive at JBG Companies’ Reston Heights project. That project, located across the street from Reston National, calls for four new buildings: a six-story residential building, a 15-story residential building, a five-story building that incorporates a parking garage with residences and retail space; and a 10-story building that mixes office space, parking and retail space.
The JBG plan includes 145,000 square feet of above-grade retail, 100,00 square feet of below-grade retail, 428,225 square feet of office and 498 residential units.
Rescue Reston’s Connie Hartke says the golf course is actually in a much stronger position to remain a golf course than it was when the issue began nearly three years ago.
Last year, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved Phase I of changes to the Reston Master Plan, which “specifically said the county is relying on existing recreational space in Reston,” said Hartke.
The county is currently working on Phase 2 of the Master Plan, which addresses the future of neighborhoods and village centers. Draft language says “golf courses are planned for private, recreational use, more specifically, to remain as golf courses.” Reston’s other golf course, the private Hidden Creek Country Club, is located near Lake Anne.
“The wording would not be in here if our [Hunter Mill] Supervisor did not want it,” said Hartke “This is strong wording for land speculators.”
Reston Association says it is also against the golf course as anything other than open, recreational space.
“Unplanned redevelopment of Reston National would have an adverse impact on Reston’s purpose, finances and facilities,” said RA President Ken Knueven. “We oppose such development. Since 1962, the Reston Master Plan has shown Reston as a golf course community. Reston National is an integral part of Reston and must remain open space. If it doesn’t follow the master plan, then we are no longer a planned community. If we are no longer a planned community, we are no longer Reston.”
Knueven said RA would be interested in purchasing the course and making it an RA amenity in order to preserve it.