47°Mostly Cloudy

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

by RestonNow.com April 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm 29 Comments

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?


  • BuyIt

    Ok, so you proved no restaurant will ever be on lake Newport. Whats stopping a developer from building an oil refinery on the lake? RA must buy the Tetra building!

    • Ming the Merciless

      Ming hopes you are joking. If not you will be forced to memorize the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance before you are fed to the Lizard Men!

    • Reston Realist

      Gasoline is OK. Burnt burgers on dry buns are NOT!

      (Just guessing, but I bet refineries aren’t on the “approved” list either unless we can put a supertanker in Lake Newport.)

    • John Farrell

      The PRC District does not allow oil refineries anywhere in Reston, never mind next to Lake Newport. ;-p

    • Greg

      Not as impossible as it may sound. The major East Coast petroleum pipeline complex runs right through Reston. In fact, it sprung a leak about 20 years ago and landed Reston on the EPA Superfund list.

      Nonetheless, buying the old dilapidated visitors’ center at an outrageously inflated price is madness. Vote NO.


    • IGotIt!

      If an oil rig were dug into Lake Newport, the homeowners around the lake could take a percentage of the profits. They could then take that money and pool it together to buy the Tetra building, so that things like an oil rig or Hooters won’t be developed in their backyards! Perfect solution!

  • RAmember2


    And that means “thumbs down” on buying the Tetra property.

    • Secret Obsevers

      Agree with RAmember2.
      John, …Once again, absolutely and respectfully agree. Your op-ed is eye-opening with facts and not using “children” for fear mongering.

      There are differences between:

      -A community where “all” can Live and Play….OR ……Where “all” live to pay for a few to play …. and “LetsSpendAllYourMoney” for the few.

      -A Leadership to “Keep the community involved and informed” …..with scientific and factual evidences …. OR….. fictions, fears, and speculations.

  • JCSuperstar

    Feeling bad that he only received four comments to his latest treatise on Section 118-1-7(b)(3)(a) of the County Code, Mr. Farrell, Esq. moved on to provide legal determination stating any and all Pet Fiestas at Town Center are not allowed, and will never be allowed.

    • 30yearsinReston

      shoot the messenger – desperation

      • JCSuperstar

        Desperation? No. Amused, bewildered, absolutely!!!

    • Secret Observers

      ….. Just received the below:

      Dear JC Sup.,

      In every battle, there are friends, foes …. and traitors.
      In every politics, there are parties, opposites …. and swingers.

      You voted “NO” to support “property rights” of a restaurant, the fearmongering of “YES” votes.

      Should we feel bad about your vote or/and your words?
      You may not care but we do 🙂

      Best regards,

      Friends of “naïve” NO (votes)

      • JCSuperstar

        I’m am so very amused that you believe this is political now. I’m not in a battle here regarding this parcel, but apparently you are — to that I say good luck to you.

        I already voted! Nothing gives me more delight than to see so many voting my way.

        BUT, what amazes me is how many people here are following the grumblings of a character from the movie “Up”. And Mr. “Up” is wrong, apparently has a vendetta, and in general just appears to be pissed at everyone and everything.

        I’ll say it again, as it appears you are stuck on an episode from South Park. I voted NO as I would like to see the property developed to what is in the existing Development Plan — a beautiful restaurant and retail center. I believe it would be a wonderful addition to the community in the area — and yes, I admit, me personally.

        It is presently allowed to be developed as prescribed in the existing Reston Master Plan — Convenience Center.

        The existing proffers, development & site plans allow this.

        There are, by design in the Code, exceptions made everyday for structures, plans and developments, in existence, before the Chesapeake Watershed Act was enacted. Otherwise thousands of structures would have had to be torn down, like people’s homes built on the water, docks, boat houses, existing sheds, utilities, etc.

        I bring this up as you are misleading so many people by stating “it will never be developed, so don’t worry.” That is just outright false. Those folks voting NO should know the ramifications just as those voting YES.

        I suggest reading the Code yourself, versus letting Esq. Farrell lead you by your nose ring.

        This isn’t a battle, it’s a choice, pure and simple. Let it stay that way. It amazes me how so many people here are so bitter — sad.

        • JCSuperstar

          Secret Observers and Mr. Farrell meet:


          • John Farrell

            I’m much taller.

          • Secret Observers

            Secret Observers and Mr. Farrell meet. Secret Observers is told about the infamous “snipe”…
            ….and also about Bruce Jenner who is not in a battle to fight
            as man. It’s a choice, pure and simple to be a happy “…..”…. 🙂

  • LetsSpendAllYourMoney

    It doesn’t matter. Even if a restaurant could go there, it won’t if we purchase the property. So the fact that if we purchase the property then that potentially prevents the hypothetical case of if a restaurant would go there. Of course it doesn’t prevent the probable possibility of a full kitchen catering business with facilities to support 1000 wedding guests all drunked up on alcoholic beverages. Carousing and a carrying on to all hours of the night whooping and a hollerin to dance music the likes of putting right foots in and left foots out and swimming buck nekid in the lake.

    • yup

      This. This exactly.

  • 30yearsinReston

    So much for the ‘appraisal”
    real estate is only worth what anyone is willing to pay – not something that “someone may pay”
    The FACTS are that nor one will pay even half the price.
    That is the real appraisal

  • 30yearsinReston

    I’m waiting for Mr Sanio to offer to pay my $5 per year for the purchase
    Another one who loves to spend other peoples money

  • 30yearsinReston

    Does this mean that there will is no possibility of a lake Newport Hooters ?
    The Homeowners will be relieved

  • Julia Demichelis

    Of the compelling, affirmative voices for the purchase of the Tetra property, Ray Wedell offers his through his blog below. Reading it made me reflect upon the “direct life connection” between our earth and ourselves. Let’s not suffocate the earth from breathing through her natural surfaces as if blocking our own breath.


    • RAmember2


    • 30yearsinreston

      “In the long run, the wisdom of purchasing this land will be our
      equivalent to the Louisiana Purchase, or buying Alaska from Russia for
      $7 million”

      You gotta be joking – its only 1/4 acre of usable land

  • mathias

    A German Restaurant Group has visited the Tetra property.
    A Munich Style Hofbrauhaus is being proposed.

    • Prost

      one can only hope!


Subscribe to our mailing list