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Reston National Golf Course: What Happens Now

by Karen Goff November 9, 2015 at 10:30 am 14 Comments

Reston National Golf CourseFriday’s decision by a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge to vacate last spring’s Board of Zoning Appeals decision means a setback for potential developers — and a small victory for open space proponents.

That does not mean the 166-acre public golf course will automatically remain open space forever. However, the decision does make it more difficult for developers to come in with a new plan.

Plus, Friday’s development may wind up in higher court eventually.

Judge Michael Devine on Friday granted the motion for summary judgment filed by lawyers for Rescue Reston, Reston Association and other parties concerned about Reston’s open space. He also vacated the Board of Zoning Appeals decision from earlier in 2015.

This means that golf course owners RN Golf Management would have to file a formal plan with Fairfax County in order to pursue redevelopment of the course.

The motion was filed last spring after the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals ruled, after a complicated and lengthy BZA hearing and the ruling that RN Golf would not need a comprehensive plan amendment to plan residential development on acreage.

Devine said RN Golf had based its case on a letter from the county zoning administrator, which the court in effect found was merely an advisory opinion and was not appealable.

The issue dates back to 2012, when RN Golf asked Fairfax County if the course at Sunrise Valley and Colts Neck Road could be considered residential. Fairfax County Planning and Zoning said no, it’s open and recreational space. After several postponements, RN Golf filed an appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).

John McBride, RA’s land counsel, said the ruling is significant because any redevelopment of the course must now be preceded by the filing of specific plans with the county, which will then be compared with the “Development  Plans” approved in 1971. The 1971 plans were the main focus of the five-hour BZA hearing in January.

“These plans are in the county zoning files and clearly limit use of the land to a golf course, open space and driving range,” RA says. “Any change to these approved plans will require amendment approval by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The golf course owner had sought to avoid this requirement for a plan amendment by seeking by-right use status for a number of residential and other uses.”

So that means that RN Golf, which has never shown plans for what it would like to develop at the course, will now have more hoops to jump through should it want to build a residential neighborhood.

“The association is pleased with the circuit court’s ruling,” said RA CEO Cate Fulkerson. “Now, if pursued by the owner of the golf course, any proposed redevelopment of the golf course property or any portion thereof will have to go through the proper county and community review process.”

Rescue Reston President Connie Hartke says her group, formed in response to the original filing in 2012, will continue to be vigilant against development.

“While we have won this round, the fight is not over and RN Golf still has other options available to it including appealing today’s ruling or attempting to amend the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan,” Hartke said on Friday. “We must remain prepared to continue the fight so long as RN Golf remains committed to its attempts to destroy our community’s valuable open space.

  • hillary prune

    we should use those 166 acres to establish a refuge camp for the poor Syrian people. We can let them pitch tents and then pay food trucks to feed them.

    • Ugh

      I really hope you are joking, but given the level of liberal lunacy in northern Virginia, I fear you are not.

  • cRAzy

    I presume Hartke’s plan “to be vigilant against development” applies only to RNGC. Rescue Reston really screwed up endorsing the Tetra purchase out of ignorance and mindless fear.

  • Anonynous

    The questionable decision by Rescue Reston to endorse the RA purchase the Tetra property calls into question just exactly what “open space” they are talking about preserving particularly if the open space is private property, such as oh, let’s say just for discussion—a golf course? It’s just nimbyism, that’s all it is. It is no more Reston’s open space than the man in the moon’s. Let’s stop all the pretense here.

    • GB

      I agree the Tetra purchase was a mistake. However just because land is private property doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want with it (except for maybe in some parts of Nevada?). RNGC has a right to request a change in use, and RR has a right to argue against it. Hopefully the courts will hear both side and determine a fair and reasonable outcome.

      I’m pretty sure that ultimately it will get developed because there is sooooooooooo much money to be made by changing that land from open space to residential/commercial that the right wheels will probably get greased.

      • highlander53

        I’d rather see it developed residential/commercial with a considerable amount of it (1/3 to 2/3) restored to native vegetation as a condition of development.

        This is what Rescue Reston should be pushing for.

        No other sport uses so much space to the detriment of the landscape. With a site plan done right we can end up with higher quality ‘open space’, and a high density development in a transit corridor where it makes sense.

        • Another Anonymous

          One-third to two-thirds “native vegetation” as a condition of development? LOL Not likely to happen. A Restonian liberal landscape design/collectivist fantasy if I ever heard one. One day you will wake up and understand that “private property” rights actually means something. The golf course is a detriment to the landscape? I guess that means you are not a golfer? Poor you.

        • Bow Hunter

          If we restore more of it to native vegetation, this could give bow hunters a place to thin out the deer.

    • NIMBY Boy

      The pro-development commenters crack me up. It is 100% guaranteed that none of those anonymous people live on the golf course. No one would ever choose to have their home devalued and quality of life affected. These people are either trolls, or associated with the Lerners. Just ignore them.
      If someone was going to replace everything around their home with something that had a significant negative effect, they would be screaming the loudest. The difference is we wouldn’t heckle and insult them for trying to protect their family home.

    • Mike M

      Nimbyism. SO evil.

      Then I guess you’ll be OK with a new sewage treatment plant going in next to your house. You wouldn’t get all Nimby about that.

  • Mike M

    I have to agree with Ugh. I wrote pretty much the same thing but my comment wouldn’t save because my e-mail address was outdated.

    I simply marvel at the loony Liberals of Reston. They are truly a special breed. If we could fuel vehicles on naivete, Reston would be owned by an energy company.

    But I understand it. Some folks like to feel good about themselves and their gestures of saving the world on the cheap.

  • Nyla J.

    I wish we could rescue Reston from all the NIMBYs.

  • Reston99

    Agreed, only trolls here comment against their best interests. It’s in the best interest of all residents to keep this open space, as it increases the value of our homes and quality of living.

    • Another Anonymous

      How dare you pretend to know what may be in my “best interests”. Such arrogance!
      I must be a troll for the Lerners if I happen to strenuously disagree with the nimbys in Reston, right? I happen to live within spitting distance of the golf course. I guess had best remind the developers to send me a fat check for doing their bidding on this blog!

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