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RA Will Fight Zoning Appeals’ Golf Course Decision

by Karen Goff — May 12, 2015 at 1:00 pm 12 Comments

Reston National Golf CourseReston Association’s Board of Directors says it will appeal the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals’ recent ruling that could allow developers to forge ahead without a comprehensive plan amendment.

The owner of the golf course, RN Golf Management, appealed the county zoning office’s 2012 answer that the 166-acre course is zoned open and recreation/community space. The case was heard by the BZA in January at a Fairfax County Government Center packed with supporters of Reston’s open space.

On April 15, the BZA overruled “the zoning administrator to the extent she says a comprehensive plan amendment is a precondition [to development].”

That leaves open the possibility that residential development could occur at the course at Sunrise Valley Drive and Colts Neck Road. That would affect golfers, of course, but also hundreds of homeowners who purchased nearby because of golf course views and nearby open space.

The RA Board voted unanimously (At-Large Director Jeff Thomas was absent) at a special meeting Monday to go ahead with the appeal to the Circuit Court. Citizens advocacy group Rescue Reston is also preparing an appeal, and on Tuesday the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also voted unanimously to fight the BZA decision.

The deadline for the appeals is Friday.

“The decision reflects RA’s position that any redevelopment of PRC zoned land within Reston, including the Reston National Golf Course, must be reviewed and compared to the existing zoning development plans, and any proffers or conditions attached to the development plans,” RA said in a statement.

“This review and comparison is mandated under Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance Section 16-202 with the purpose of protecting the Reston community from unplanned changes to the development pattern previously approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. If the redevelopment is not in substantial conformance with the approved development plan, then a development plan amendment must be approved by the Board of Supervisors.”

RA says that during the three years of the Reston National situation, county staff did not find copies of the three development plans, which include the Reston National Golf Course and surrounding residential communities.

“A zoning determination for the golf course was issued in June 2012 without these three development plans being available,” RA said. “Because they were unavailable at that time, the golf course owner appealed to the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), seeking a “blank check” for residential redevelopment of the golf course.”

The missing plans were a big discussion during the six-hour January BZA hearing. RA says while the BZA did not provide a “blank check” to the landowner in its decision on April 15, it also “did not confirm that the three development plans later found by county staff in the zoning archives are, in fact, the approved development plans. As such, RA will be appealing the BZA decision.”

Ads RA: “The primary purpose of appealing the BZA decision to the Circuit Court is to have the court confirm that these are the official approved development plans which, until and unless amended, govern the use and development of the golf course, as well as the residences surrounding it. These development plans clearly show golf course and open space uses.”

  • JCSuperstar

    I’m absolutely amazed there is no discussion here. This matter has huge implications for Reston and development everywhere.

    Curious what all the obstructionists have to say.

    JC

    • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

      At this point JC , even I am tired of thinking about how RA is screwing us. How much will they spend in legal fees fighting an uphill battle that may go on for years? If Rescue Reston wants to pursue it, fine. Let them fund the fight. I see it as RA using a tremendous amount of time and money to

      • JCSuperstar

        It definitely gets interesting.

        • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

          JC ….please contact me …off line…it is important. You know my twitter handle.

      • JoeInReston

        This is a case where the status quo is in Reston’s favor, as the golf course remains while they duke it out in court. I hope it stays clogged in court for decades.

    • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

      appease owners of homes backing to the golf course. I believe the owners of the golf course have rights too. If the county rules against Rescue Reston, everyone here will just have to shut up and take it. Just as those of us against the tetra purchase now have to just take it.

      • JoeInReston

        I am not entirely sure of the history, so please correct me, but …
        Reston is a planned community, and a golf course is a part of that plan. I don’t know the legalities of it, but it seems that Reston should be able to prevent the development of that area. What did the business think it was getting into when it participated in the planned gold course development?

        • Jacobjobs

          I agree Joel. Reston is a planned community and the land owner should pay for a vote. If the residents want development then so be it but otherwise they should respect the bases of what the community was built on.

          • JCSuperstar

            It boils down to existing development plans, which tie into the Reston Master Plan(s). Northwestern claims they do not need to do a major Comprehensive Plan amendment to go forward with residential development — as the existing development plans allow it.

            In a Planned Residential Community (PRC) which used to be known as a RPC — the Master plan is the template, the guide. It’s not specific. The development plans are the actual implementations of the Master Plan.

            Existing development plans are already approved, and an owner can maximize what is allowed with that specific plan. For example: Northwestern says residential was already approved for the golf course.

            As of the 15th, the BZA decided nobody could show them otherwise, and told Northwestern you may be able to go forward, but first you have to show us was you intend to build. A major plus for the developer.

            RA, RR and the County Staff are appealing in Circuit Court. They argue the evidence (development plans showing only open space/golf course,) which they finally found, was not considered.

            It’s been a three year fight so far, and I anticipate much longer. The developer has $1-2 Billion in her/his eyes.
            This will also have major ramifications for other areas in Reston, especially older clusters, older apartment complexes, the other convenience centers (besides Tetra), and even the remaining village centers themselves.
            JC

        • Ming the Merciless

          The plan can be changed. The plan has been changed. The plan will be changed.

          • JoeInReston

            There is the way it ought to be and there is the way it is. My comment was more in response to the former.

  • JoeInReston
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