Planning Commission Vote Will Advance Reston Guidelines

Dock at South Lakes Village CenterJust 10 months after it began, Reston Master Plan Phase 2 — which will cement guidelines on future development — is sprinting towards approval.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday (8:15 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center) on the document that will organize the rest of the vision for Reston’s future.

The Master Plan Phase 1 took nearly four years of committee meetings before being approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in early 2014.

Phase 1 guides development near Reston’s transit centers, some of which were without previous residential development in the immediate area. Phase 2, which will guide development and redevelopment in neighborhoods and near Reston’s village centers, launched last June. But under the county’s new Fairfax Forward plan, it is already prepared for the planning commission. After that it will go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval on June 2.

Fairfax County officials say the the current comprehensive plan, last updated in 1989, requires revision because Reston no longer has a master developer to update the plan for Reston; the plan for Reston has outdated elements; and with population expected to grow with the arrival of Metro, Reston is evolving as a community.

The Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning completed the draft of the Reston Comprehensive Plan Amendment in early April. Here are some of the highlights:

Village Centers — The amendment establishes general vision and guidelines for redevelopment for any future village center redevelopment proposals. The general vision for Reston’s village centers addresses elements necessary for village centers to achieve the desired goal of becoming a vibrant community gathering space.

The Guidelines for Redevelopment establish a process for developing detailed plans and considering redevelopment proposals.

Redevelopment of Neighborhoods — There is only one active rezoning application, for the St. John’s Woods Apartments near North Point Village Center. While the rezoning application seeks additional density (up to almost 50 dwelling units per acre) and mid-rise residential buildings, the county planning staff’s approach “is consistent with the study’s larger approach, to maintain today’s existing built form, density and overall character. ”

In general, the report says “Reston’s clusters and neighborhoods should be protected from pressure to redevelop, which may be caused by growth and redevelopment elsewhere in Reston.” “There are some circumstances may arise that merit consideration of the redevelopment of an existing cluster or neighborhood, such as if a cluster should become blighted. Under such circumstances, the Board of Supervisors may consider proposals to amend the Comprehensive Plan and/or to rezone in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan to allow for the consolidation and redevelopment of such clusters or neighborhoods.”

Tall Oaks — One of the study’s community meetings was devoted to discussing village centers and another portion of a community meeting was spent discussing several limited issues related to Tall Oaks Village Center.

Tall Oaks was recently sold, and the new owners proposed a redevelopment concept that would result in mostly residential uses. If redeveloped, Tall Oaks should follow a “baseline” recommendation that would preclude both additional density and the mix of land uses proposed by the residential developer.

“Staff believes there needs to be additional community and staff discussion, as well as a detailed redevelopment proposal in order to properly consider if a redevelopment recommendation should be added to the Reston Plan,” the report says.

Tall Oaks’ new owners, The Jefferson Group, will present its preliminary plan for a mixed-use development at community meetings April 23 and 27, 7 p.m., at Reston Association headquarters.

Convenience Centers — Existing Reston convenience centers at Soapstone, Lake Newport (the Tetra building that Reston Association is seeking to purchase), Sunrise Valley and Fairways should remain the same density and usage as built.

The Home Depot shopping area should remain retail, but the plan gives guidance for mixed-use development in the future.

Golf Courses — Reston’s two golf courses (Reston National and Hidden Creek) should remain golf courses.

Road improvements — There are several roadway network improvements recommended. Among them:

  • Construct an enhanced street grid networking the transit station areas to increase connectivity Construct an overpass (four-lane bridge) across the Dulles Toll Road from Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive approximately at Soapstone Drive
  • Construct a Town Center Parkway Underpass (four-lane tunnel) from Town Center Parkway and Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive west of Edmund Halley Drive
  • Install an interchange at Fairfax County Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive
  • Construct an overpass (four-lane bridge) across the toll road from Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive approximately at South Lakes Drive
  • Improve Reston Parkway  with six lanes from South Lakes Drive to the toll road

The draft also addresses bike connectivity, open space, affordable housing, and park facilities. See the entire 300-plus page report on Fairfax County’s website.

Photo: Dock at South Lakes Village Center/file photo

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