Reston organizations appealing a recent decision about the future of Reston National Golf Course will have a day in court this fall.
Reston Association, Fairfax County and advocacy group Rescue Reston, all of whom are appealing the 2015 Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) ruling on Reston National, will have a hearing on motions for summary judgment to reverse the decision in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County on Oct. 23.
The BZA ruled in April (following a January hearing) that golf course owner RN Golf Management would not need a zoning change in order to redevelop the 166-acre golf course from open and recreational space to residential.
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.
“We’re very pleased that our evidence will be heard at the Circuit Court level,” said Rescue Reston’s Connie Hartke. “A few weeks ago, RN Golf’s attorney tried to get this dismissed, saying that Reston Association and the petitioners who live around the golf course had no standing.”
“It is time to step up and help financially so that we can send our strongest message ever to the investor-owner, Northwestern Mutual (NWM), that it is time to STOP.”
The future of the golf course has been a matter of community and legal discussion since summer 2012. That’s when Fairfax County’s Zoning, responding to an inquiry from RN Golf, told the golf course owners that the space is recreational and developing it would require a comprehensive plan amendment.
After several years of delays and continuances by RN Golf Management, the company’s appeal was finally heard in a six-hour hearing in January. There has never been a redevelopment plan filed or made public by the golf course owners.
In the BZA’a April decision, board member Paul Hammack’s motion that “we overrule the zoning administrator to the extent she says a comprehensive plan amendment is a precondition [to development]” was unanimously approved.
Rescue Reston board member David Burns said at that time that the BZA ignored the law and rights of thousands of people in Reston.
“We believe the BZA has ignored not only the law and the property rights of the thousands who own property adjacent to the golf course, ” he said. “But also the will of the more than 6,000 supporters of Rescue Reston, and the thousands more members of the Reston Association, who respect the Reston Master Plan and oppose development of the golf course.”
A January county staff report also upheld the 2012 ruling.
Reston Association’s Board voted in May to also appeal the BZA ruling.
“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 at the time.
The missing development plans were a big point of discussion at the January hearing.
“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.”
RA said in May that 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.
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