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Residents Rally to Save Reston National Golf Course

by RestonNow.com January 12, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,364 47 Comments

Former Reston Citizens Association President Colin Mills at Rescue Reston rally/Credit: Rescue Reston

By Ryan Goff

More than 300 Reston residents, many clad in bright yellow Rescue Reston T-shirts, spent Saturday afternoon gathering support of the preservation of open space.

Rescue Reston was formed in 2012 in response to Reston National owner RN Golf’s inquiry as to the status of the golf course’s zoning. RN Golf, a subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Insurance, believes it has the right to residential development there.

Fairfax County Zoning said in 2012 that the 166-acres is open/recreational space. After many postponements, RN Golf is finally getting a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing. That hearing will take place Jan. 21, and Rescue Reston wants as many citizens as possible to attend.

Rescue Reston founder John Pinkman, a longtime golf course-area homeowner, says the issue affects everyone in Reston.

“The issue unites everyone,” he said. “Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative. It doesn’t matter what your background is, but what your backyard is.”

The rally, which took place in the cafeteria of Langston Hughes Middle School, included a number of speakers presenting the reasons why the golf course needs to remain open space.

At the entrance to the cafeteria, Rescue Reston provided a variety of materials for the community — bright yellow T-shirts, flyers, yard signs, and a large land use map of Reston.

At the far end, Mack.Johnson, a local band, played the thematically fitting Big Yellow Taxi — Joni Mitchell’s anthem about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot.

The presentation began with a recap of the situation so far by Rescue Reston President Connie Hartke.

Hartke talked about the upcoming hearing, presenting the parties on each side of the debate in a “Home Team vs. Away Team” chart. The mention of Lerner Enterprises, the development company speculated to be behind the push to rezone the golf course, elicited groans and boos from the assembled crowd.

Hartke encouraged everyone to come to the hearing on the Jan. 21, wearing the yellow shirts as a show of community involvement and support. Hartke says that the community needs to “leave a lasting impression, not only now but to any future landgrabbers.”

Other speakers, Reston Association President Ken Knueven, Sierra Club member John Lovaas, and South Lakes High School Golf coach Carol Molesky presented a variety of reasons — including financial, environmental and recreational — why an outcome where the golf course is developed is completely unacceptable.

Knueven, toting a golf club, presented the section of the Revised Reston Master Plan that states the golf courses remains open space.

“If a development violates the Master Plan, we are no longer a planned community,” he said. “If we are no longer a planned community, we are no longer Reston.”

Members of the community in attendance also voiced their opposition to redevelopment of the golf course.

Sue Cordek, a 15-year resident of the RNGC area who works near the Reston Town Center, expressed concern that traffic would intensify if the golf course were to be developed.

“My commute is already over 20 minutes from home to work.” she said, “I think a traffic explosion would be inevitable.”

“The golf course is more than just a golf course,” said Marco Rando, a longtime Reston resident and South Lakes High School teacher. “It is a place for wildlife, a place for walking, open space. Overdensity in the area would be a problem that the roads can’t handle. We would also need another high school.”

The rally concluded with a confident message — that Restonians are capable of stopping corporate entities and “carpetbaggers” from taking over our community — as well as resounding chants of “Save open space!” and “Yes we can!”

The Board of Zoning Appeals hearing  will take place at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at the Fairfax County Government Center.

Former Reston Citizens Association President Colin Mills at Rescue Reston rally/Credit: Rescue Reston

  • Rational Reston

    The rallying cry was a quote from Bob the Builder? Ironic.

  • Constance (Connie) Hartke

    Excellent reporting, Ryan! Glad you caught that audience reaction!

  • Dexter Scott

    “My commute is already over 20 minutes from home to work.” — Oh poor you! That is an awesome commute. Mine is 45 minutes, and I doubt development of the golf course would affect it.

    Lots of people in this town would love to have a 20 minute commute. 60 or 90 minute commutes to downtown from Reston are very common.

    • Adrian Havill

      “and I doubt development of the golf course would affect it,,,,,,” Interesting. (Almost as interesting as your avatar.) Do you have a study or an expert opinion that that backs up that assertion? Or are you the expert?

      • Dexter Scott

        I don’t need a study to tell me that I don’t drive through south Reston on the way to work, chief.

        • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

          Adrian is a lib nutjob.

          • M

            And you’re an internet troll. How does that feel?

          • Adrian Havill

            Cue the name calling. It’s all she’s got.

    • A Restonian

      I don’t have a commute, but I do drive on Reston’s streets. And I don’t want several thousand new residences on this golf course for master planning, transportation, environmental, and other reasons.

      • Dexter Scott

        You’re gonna get a thousands of new commuters anyway, courtesy of development in “allowed” places.

        • Mike

          So your solution is to lie on your back and take it right?

          • Dexter Scott

            How do you plan to stop the redevelopments that have already been approved?

    • Mike

      So you wouldn’t mind traveling 20+ minutes to go 3 miles? She works at the RTC not downtown. She lives near her work. Will you feel better when her commute is 45 minutes?

      • Dexter Scott

        Sounds like she should walk. The exercise will do her good.

  • Mike M

    John Pinkman:
    “The issue unites everyone,” he said. “Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative. It doesn’t matter what your background is, but what your backyard is.”

    We’ll need more of this and less “Yes we can” and “Big Yellow Taxi.” How about we take the issue to Supervisor Bulova and Hudgins? Make their job dependent upon it. If we are not willing to do that, then you get what you tolerate.

    • Dexter Scott

      It doesn’t unite me. But best of luck to those who care.

      • Mike M

        See you in traffic.

        • Dexter Scott

          More people and more traffic – they are coming, and there ain’t a thing you can do about it. Imagine how excited you’ll be when you stop them from redeveloping the golf course, and the high rises go up between Sunrise Valley and the toll road.

          • Mike M

            I have to believe there are things we can do about it. High rises = more traffic. With the golf course redeveloped + the high rises = even more traffic.

  • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

    He won and America lost.

    • Adrian Havill

      Correction. He won twice. And 57 million voters disagree with you.

      • Rational Reston

        President George W Bush also won, and won twice. So I bet you say the same thing in that regard, too.

        (Oh, and thanks for letting he sarcasm and irony of my original comment go completely over your head)

        • Adrian Havill

          It didn’t. You just think it did. And Georgw W. Bush “won” by receiving 580,000 less votes than his opponent so there’s that.

          • Rational Reston

            Nothing goes over your head, your reflexes are too quick

      • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

        57 million idiots. What’s your favorite thing Obama has accomplished? Mine is racial healing. No wait, its how he has ISIS on the run.

        • Adrian Havill

          Won’t take the bait. Tell everyone how you feel about the future of the golf course.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            I believe in personal property rights.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            And you usually love to take the bait? Like a catfish.

  • restownishot

    “If a development violates the Master Plan, we are no longer a planned community,” he said. “If we are no longer a planned community, we are no longer Reston.” Very true. And thus, there will be legal justification to no longer be paying Reston Association annual dues if we are no longer Reston. I am in no favor of this of course, but the ramifications of allowing developers to re-zone this space will be the biggest in Reston’s history. There are golf courses and open parks in areas with much more density because residents took a stand and said no to developers. If this changes for Reston, then shame on Fairfax County government and shame on those responsible for the decision to kill Reston, the planned community as we know it.

  • allan

    I would suggest the following, IF Reston Association would manage their budget properly I would be in favor of this activity, In the last 3 years the Reston association has increased due’s over 30 percent, If they continue to increase due’s and not manage their budget properly then bring in the new unit’s and lets see what justification Reston Association has for the continued un-managed budget increases. I would love to have a business that can just increase association fee’s over 30 percent in two years however this is unrealistic for any government institution or Association and Reston Association is currently running a UN-sustainable budget/ cost model and should be help accountable, If it take a issue like this to have proper governance then I guess Reston Association thinks they are above the law of good fiscal governance and will continue to skirt the law by precluding them selves from being incorporated as a town/city with proper governance. After the total mismanagement and the inordinate wasteful labor hours spent on Bocce ball “gate” I think it’s time that Reston Association be incorporated into a proper City or town , At least then a proper audit and budget justification by law would be conducted.

  • RestonRed

    I am interested in this topic, but am very turned off by the chants of “Yes we can!”, as it is tied to Obama and I believe, frankly, a communist or socialist movement in south America. I used to live right across Colts Neck Rd. from the golf course and regularly ran on the paths surrounding it. I agree that traffic would be a nightmare through there and that open space is very important. However, I am reluctant to get involved if the people around me are chanting Democrat slogans.

    • clambj

      Cut off you nose to spite your face. Got it.

      As John Pinkman said, it’s not a Democratic or Republican issue, so don’t make it one.

      • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

        Pinkman only cares because his personal property is on the edges of the proposed redevelopment. He does not want to lose his golf course view. Its a typical NIMBY deal. Personal property rights are the issue here.

        • clambj

          Actually, it’s a zoning issue, not a property rights issue. They bought the property zoned as open space. Signed the paperwork acknowledging such. Nobody put a gun to their head and forced them to buy this property. If they don’t like these restriction they never should have bought it.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            Perhaps that is the case. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But they have to right to pursue rezoning or whatever they want to do with their property. Rescue Reston also has the right to try to stop it. My concern lies in how much RA should be involved. They have even said they would try to buy the property to keep it a golf course. How much time and money are they willing to spend on this? How much would our dues rise in this scheme? How much will they spend on outside counsel to fight the possible redevelopment?

          • clambj

            Well, I always said that buying the property would be a smart move. Look at Herndon Centennial, muni-course that generates revenue. Regarding fighting the rezoning, who in their right mind would just roll over. That’s just an invitation for more legal headaches down the road. In my opinion they need to nip this in the bud thus save expenses in the long run.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            Clam,

            I disagree. The Town of Herndon has owned that forever. If they had to buy it for what is is worth today, they probably couldn’t afford it. I don’t know if RA has the legal standing as a homeowner’s association to get into land purchase of this magnitude. It has to be worth millions. Where will the money come from?

          • clambj

            I think I read that it’s worth around $15-17M. Perhaps a partnership with Fairfax County parks could work. Either way I think it would be a good investment.

          • clambj

            For something that is going to generate revenue every year, RA could easily borrow the money at a pretty reasonable interest rate. There are a lot of ways to make that work.

          • Rational Reston

            “Where will the money come from?” that thought has never stopped RA before.

          • Dexter Scott

            If the RA just wants to generate revenue, they will let it get rezoned residential. Countless new members of the association paying their ever-escalating dues, woohoo!

    • Dexter Scott

      I’m turned off just by the names Knueven and Lovaas.

    • Adrian Havill

      “Yes we can” is a common slogan, most recently used by the Scottish Independence movement in the United Kingdom, a conservative organization that wanted Scotland to break away from England.

  • Constance (Connie) Hartke

    There is only one issue being debated January 21 at the BZA hearing: is it zoned as permanent open space or is it not. Support our County Zoning! We have enough PLANNED high-density development, we don’t need UNplanned development.

    Suggest you watch this 30 minute interview if you need some clarification of the immediate issue on the table: https://vimeo.com/113940325

  • R Banks

    All bias aside…let’s be logical. Anybody that owns property around Lake Thoreau, RNGC, and possibly Lake Audubon should be concerned about their property values decreasing. The upstream development of the golf course may significantly increase the amount of environmentally harmful constituents flowing into the lake, reducing the water quality for wildlife and recreation. Upstream development will increase the probability of flooding during a storm event, so residents should prepare for higher flood insurance premiums, and higher taxes and fees in order for Fairfax County or Reston to prepare/respond to these risks.

    A traffic study would likely indicate higher traffic volume counts, longer wait-times at traffic signals, increased non-local traffic, more frequent road repair and a likely roadway expansion. When a municipality performs a traffic study, it is typically paid for by the municipal residents. The resulting increase in vehicles per day will reduce air quality and increase pollutants in stormwater runoff.

    Additional environmental and stormwater management measures will need to be taken in order for the developer to be able to legally acquire permits for new development. After the developer sells the property, it will be the burden of the local taxpayers to upkeep all of theses measures, all while enjoying a reduced quality of life that nullifies what presumably attracted residents to Reston in the first place — a prosperous planned community that pioneered long-term sustainability in suburban development. Any economic or monetary value gained over the short-term will likely benefit outside investment as well as local government revenues, thereafter it will become an expenditure for both local government and the community.

    If the developer(s) can address all of the above, and maintain the golf course, I would be very impressed.

    • Rational Reston

      Regarding the water runoff, creeks and lakes: RA could always participate in another creek restoration sham where trees are removed, bulldozer races are held and standing water (breeding ground for the bugs that the health department will warn us to turn buckets upside down for) becomes the designed norm.

      More people should take the longer view as you suggest

  • A

    Someone is this forum called Obama a socialist LMFAO… See, not matter WHAT the topic, some moron (RestonRed) will usher in completely ridiculous comments.

    Say No to Lerner and Northewestern Mutual’s sneaky plan to make some cash of the backs of the working community.

    I know RA sucks but at least they have our back here.

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