Reston National Golf Course Owners File VA Supreme Court Appeal

Golfers at tourney at Reston National/Credit: Jay SzlamowiczThe owners of Reston National Golf Course have filed a notice of appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court in regards to the recent lower court ruling on the 166-acre course’s land use designation.

RN Golf, owners of the public course claims in its filing that By Right development means it can develop what it wants with no zoning changes or public hearings.

The filing sets the clock ticking for a hearing at the Supreme Court sometime in the next several months.

RN Golf’s filing at the state level caps a year of many court appearances on the continuing quest to get a definitive answer on the golf course’s zoning or future zoning, as well as continuing efforts in the fight for Reston’s open space.

The story goes back to 2012, when the owners asked the county whether the course could be considered zoned residential. The Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning Staff said no, the land is open and recreational space and a change would require rezoning.

In January, the county Board of Zoning Appeals held a lengthy hearing, in which it heard from the owners’ attorneys as well as Reston Association attorneys a representatives and members of advocacy group Rescue Reston.

In April, the BZA returned its ruling that said the owners could redevelop without getting a comprehensive amendment, which could ease the path to redevelopment of the land.

Rescue Reston, RA and Fairfax County all filed appeals of that ruling in Fairfax County Circuit Court, and in November. Circuit Court Judge Michael Devine then granted the motion for summary judgment and vacated the Board of Zoning Appeals decision from earlier in 2015.

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

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.

So the saga continues. Meanwhile, play through.

“RN Golf, backed by the deep pockets of Northwestern Mutual, knows the legal option is their only near term chance of success, so they are going for it,” said Rescue Reston President Connie Hartke.

John McBride, RA’s land use attorney, said the association, the county and the individual landowners will file a brief in opposition within 21 days.

After hearing oral arguments by RN Golf, the supreme court will need to decide whether to accept the case for review. This will likely happen in May or June, said  McBride. If the case is accepted for review, then it would be scheduled for briefing and argument later in the fall of 2016.

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