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Golf Course Development Would Have Negative Impact, RA Says

by Karen Goff May 19, 2015 at 9:30 am 29 Comments

Reston National Golf CourseReston Association says it will be “substantially impacted” if the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals decision on Reston National Golf Course is allowed to stand.

Reston Association, as well as the county Board of Supervisors and citizens advocacy group Rescue Reston have filed appeals in Fairfax County Circuit Court after the BZA ruled in April that potential development at the 166-acre course does not necessarily have to go through a comprehensive plan amendment.

That ruling could open the door to the public golf course eventually being redeveloped as residential, RA, along with many citizens, say would be unfortunate for Reston’s open space.

“The BZA decision in this manner will directly contribute to unplanned residential development of 166 acres that has clearly been identified as, and designated for, open space and golf course uses on the detailed development plans approved by the Board of Supervisors,” RA says in its appeal.

“If upheld, the BZA decision will have significant adverse impacts to the RA. Unplanned residential development of the golf course will substantially impact the RA’s financial and management resources, by increasing its burden to operate and maintain a sufficient number of environmental and recreational facilities to serve the appropriate number of residential dwellings.  More frequent stream restoration and lake dredging will be required — at significant cost to RA.”

The golf course’s owners, RN Golf Management, first inquired with Fairfax County Zoning whether the course is considered open and community space or residential in 2012. After the county affirmed open and community space, RN Golf appealed the ruling. After delays of more than a year, the BZA finally heard testimony in a January hearing and issued its decision in April.

The golf course owners have not shown any plans for what, if anything, they intend to build at the course.

Other key points of RA’s filing:

The BZA decision will affect more than just the course. It will affect any redevelopment within about 450 acres, including the golf course, private residences and RA common property such as lakes and streams.  Residential development would have a serious negative affect on stormwater management, RA says. The 450 acres is the area covered by the three development plans from the early 1970s that include the Reston National and the houses that surround it.

Allowing residential development would harm the “interconnected balance of recreational, open space and residential uses .. specifically approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1971.

Any change in a development plan normally requires the consent or inclusion of landowners. “RN Golf maintains that no development plan amendment is required to convert the golf course to residential use, therby depriving property owners such as the RA of the aforementioned protections against an unplanned change to their common scheme of development.”

See the entire filing on RA’s website.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    “…by increasing its burden to operate and maintain a sufficient number of environmental and recreational facilities to serve the appropriate number of residential dwellings…” – and school facilities. Additional kids going to Terraset, Hughes, and South Lakes. Additional educational funding needed to support those kids. Additional buses needed.


      Funny Arielle that you aren’t worried about the funding of additional illegal immigrant children needing more buses, special ESOL programs, subsidized housing, etc?? But potentially high income individuals buying million dollar townhomes, paying real estate taxes, supporting local businesses are of concern to you?

      • Arielle in NoVA

        What on earth are you talking about? This is about keeping the golf course as open space vs. turning it into yet another housing area.


          Stating that a housing community there would adversely affect budgets because of increasing student population in the South Lakes pyramid (additional buses, educational funding) holds no water.

          • Arielle in NoVA

            So say that, if that’s what you mean. You were going on about illegal immigrants for some reason.

  • restonresident

    Property rights should prevail. If zoning allows development then it should be developed.
    How can RA say it negatively impacts RA? New residences equates to higher revenues to RA which may help reduce our ever increasing RA fees!

    • anotherrestonresident

      Their claim to property rights of thirty some mislabeled acres, does not give them the right to do whatever they want on the whole property. I have property, but I have to follow the PRC plan, but golf course owners do not? It will be interesting to see what the circuit court has to say. I think the BZA’s ruling violates the laws in place. So let’s see what the Circuit Court says.

      • restonresident

        Neither of us can know if it was ” mislabeled ” 30 years ago or if it was in fact zoned for development. Guess that’s what the courts will decide. But I do object to my homeowners fees being used to pay the legal fees. These fees should be paid by Rescue reston

        • JoeInReston

          Reston was a planned community. Certainly the plan was for an open space. The areas around the gold course would be ruined by redevelopment.

          I support the right of planned communities the right to enforce their original plan.

          • JCSuperstar

            Be prepared, if Northwestern gets its way, the likelihood of other communities around it, especially multi-family, will be redeveloped.

          • JoeInReston

            Are there not privately held townhouses surrounding the area? It would be harder to buy all of those places out.

          • JCSuperstar

            Not impossible, but yes, hard. In the end, if Northwestern gets its way, it is a precedent setter for other older areas. Obvious candidates would be places like Shadowood.

          • JoeInReston

            Are there any zoning distinctions between a 3 level apartment complex and a 30 level apartment complex? Can the property owners of a 3 level apartment complex decide willy nilly to expand to a 30 level apartment complex without having to seek permission from the governing municipalities in the area?

          • JCSuperstar

            the driving factor is the approved density numbers. But, look at St. Johns Woods to get an idea of what’s possible, when argued by developers. It will easily triple in density.


    I think RA should buy out the owners at Shadowood, implode the condominium units and create a park there.

    • Greg

      Best suggestion ever! Bargain price compared to Tetra no less.


        thanks Greg!

    • JCSuperstar

      If Northwestern gets its way — it’s almost a guarantee.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      Can we include Winterthur in that purchase as well? That would make a wonderful location for a new Rec Center.

    • novatom

      As a resident of nearby Bristol House, I fully support this!


        Thanks for your kind comments. I’ve taken a lot of crap from people on this site who just don’t get it.

  • DejaVu

    Hey! I have a good idea: RA should get an appraisal of the property assuming high density residential could be built there; then ask RN Golf Management to ask us to sell the property to us for that amount. Then we should have a referendum to ask us if we want to borrow the money to buy it saying it’s the only way to prevent the possibility of development and preserve open space (and it’s for the children).
    The revenue for the golf course fees will pay back the loan. It’s like preserving open space for free.

    • JoeInReston

      Highly likely that the revenues from developing the area far exceed the revenues from a golf course. If it wasn’t than the property owner wouldn’t be considering a redevelopment plan.

      Therefore, the cost would be far from free.

      • JCSuperstar

        I agree. It is a very, very, very big price tag.

        And here’s a kicker — much, much, much higher than the current County Assessed value.

        Mr. Maynard said it best:

        “The future of the Reston National Golf Course (RNGC), the neighborhoods that surround it, and County and RA infrastructure that supports that area of southern Reston—schools, streets, parks, open spaces, and natural areas—are in jeopardy because golf course owner Northwestern Mutual (NWM), operating as RN Golf Management, wants to turn its $5 million golf course purchase into a one billion dollar-plus mega-housing extravaganza. That could be some 8,000 new homes and more than 20,000 added people living on its 166 acres, limited only by Reston’s overall density ceiling of 13 people per acre.”


  • MJay

    For me, Rescue Reston lost much of its credibility when it vigorously supported the Tetra purchase. With Tetra, they cried wolf in advocating for an inflated expenditure tantamount to an “open space at all cost” mantra. I fear they are now viewed as less pragmatic which diminishes its impact on something as major as the golf course. Development of the gold course will certainly impact traffic, among other items, but since Tetra, I am much, much more leery of any RA expenditures under this “open space at all cost” mindset. While the Tetra controversy is decided, this may very well be an unintended consequence.

    • Ed Cacciapaglia

      I fully agree with your views expressed here, MJay. I was extremely disappointed that Rescue Reston took a stand on this issue. By purchasing of property (that was far less at risk for development) at a grossly inflated price RA lost significant financial leverage to ever purchase the golf course at a reasonable price.

    • JoeInReston

      If a layman were required to recommend an action on an issue that concerned rocket science, they would likely have to rely on the credibility of a rocket scientist, as the layman doesn’t know enough (or anything) about rocket science.

      This is not that kind of situation. You can make a determination on the Reston Golf zoning issue without having to rely on Rescue Reston’s credibility (or lack there of). Rescue Reston, in this case, is a partner fighting in a cause that you believe in. Its an example of the phrase “politics make strange bedfellows”.

      • MJay

        The problem is I believe Rescue Reston, and by extension RA, have committed themselves to preserve open space at all cost. I am active in my local community and while I prefer the golf course, I now fear that Rescue Reston via RA will commit way more of our dues than is feasible per the budget. Where they once appeared pragmatic, it now comes across as extreme. I am not willing to risk a special assessment or a massive increase in dues to pay excessive legal bills and/or make such an extravagant purchase. Bottom line is the trust is gone.

  • meh

    I am glad all of the deer & possums living on this 166 acre site will find a new safe home close by at the Tetra property.


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