Op-Ed: Resource Protection Area Will Protect Tetra From Development

This is an op-ed by Reston resident and attorney John Farrell. It does not represent the opinion of Reston Now.

The Resource Protection Area is the law when it comes to the Tetra property Reston Association is seeking to purchase.

The Resource Protection Area (RPA) will prevent any lakefront restaurant on the Tetra Property — and Reston Association has known that since at least 2010. Below is an exhibit from the 2010 Appraisal ordered and paid for by Milton Matthews showing both the RPA and the floodplain easement on the Tetra property.

Map from 2010 Tetra appraisal

The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act is part of the Virginia Code: §64.1 44.15:67 et seq. It required Fairfax County to adopt the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance: Chapter 118 of the County Code.

Section 118-1-7(b)(3)(a) of the County Code requires any water body with perennial flow to be in the RPA. Lake Newport has perennial flow. A 100 foot buffer around Lake Newport is also require to be part of the RPA pursuant to §118-1-7(b)(ii) of the County Code.

While there are a very limited number of exceptions to the RPA in Chapter 118, Article 5, a restaurant is not included among them. Any exception requires a public hearing ( §118-6-3) and any decision on any exception could be appealed to the Board of Supervisors. ( §118-8-1)

A copy of the proffers applicable to the Tetra property can be found on the RA website. The proffers are only two pages. None of those proffers require work in the RPA. Thus, the exception cited in Mr. Sanio’s Op Ed on Monday does not apply.

The 1981 site plan that showed a lakefront restaurant was revised by the prior owner on Oct. 8, 1982 to remove that restaurant as described in Michele Brickner’s 2003 letter that is cited in 2010 Appraisal on page 12. Ms. Brickner was the head of Land Development Services for Fairfax County at the time of her letter.

Thus, while the approved PRC development plan for the Tetra property allows a restaurant somewhere, the RPA prevents it from being located within 100 feet of Lake Newport.

The parking easement held by RA covers almost of the rest of the Tetra property and precludes a restaurant from being built there either.

None of the rulings by the County applicable to Tetra over the last 15 years were appeal by the current or former owner within the appeal period and thus are now “a thing decided and not subject to further review.”

Obviously, the 2010 RA Board did not believe the Appraisal that Milton Mathews’ ordered and the other information that has finally been shared with the membership justified going to referendum to purchase the Tetra. What’s changed since 2010?


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