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Bill Could Ease the Way for Effort to Make Reston a Town

by Karen Goff — January 11, 2016 at 4:30 pm 11 Comments

Midtown at Reston Town Center When the Virginia General Assembly’s 2016 session gets underway this week, one prefiled bill to be discussed is the way for new cities to be established in the Commonwealth.

Del. Randy Minchew of (R-Loudoun) has filed a bill that would lift a longtime moratorium on towns and jurisdictions with populations of more than 40,000 transforming into cities. The law was enacted in 1987 and is set to expire in 2018.

Minchew’s bill is mostly aimed at Leesburg, which has town status and whose residents often complain they are double-billed by county and town taxes.

So what does this have to do with Reston? Passage of Minchew’s bill into law could resurrect the movement to make Reston a town.

That movement has been dormant the last several years, but was a hot topic — particularly among members of the Reston Citizens Association — about a decade ago.

With about 60,000 residents Reston, which is a Census-designated place but neither a town nor a city — would be among the largest towns in Virginia.

In 2005, RCA held a series of community meetings and collected more than 600 signatures asking for a state referendum on becoming a town. There were also similar citizen efforts in 1980 and 1988.

Since some Reston residents pay Fairfax County taxes, Reston Association assessments, cluster dues and Small Tax District 5 taxes, town status would save Restonians money, RCA said at the time.

The most recent effort did not receive broad support from Reston Association, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors or Del. Ken Plum or Sen. Janet Howell.

“We’re 60,000 people and we go to a meeting, a county meeting, and Reston Association gets to talk for three minutes, and the mayor of Herndon gets up and gets to talk for five minutes and he only represents 23,000 people,” Mike Corrigan, leader of the most recent RCA effort, said in 2006.

The issue for us,” said Corrigan, “is that Reston doesn’t have a voice specifically for Reston.” Corrigan and other RCA board members said that Reston would be empowered by town status, better able to maintain Reston’s founding principles, and less confusing, the Reston Connection reported.

Colin Mills, the former president of RCA who was involved in the efforts for town status, said Monday he would welcome the passage of Minchew’s bill into law.

“With all the change that has come and is coming, it’s a great time to consider the possibility of Reston becoming a city,” he said. “At the very least, passing this bill would allow us to have the discussion.”

Is it time for Reston to become a town or even a city? Tell us in the comments.

  • jvb11

    Totally agree. It really is time for Reston to become a city in order to have a proper say in what happens in our area and perhaps to have local law enforcement that is city only.

  • Guest

    Howell and Plum stood stonily silent in the way of RCA’s last attempt to create ResTown. Why would they endorse undermining their fellow Democrats running Fairfax County now???

  • Chuck Morningwood

    The best chance we have of stopping the greedy hordes of developers from their concrete version of “slash and burn farming” is to impose a Board of Zoning that is only beholden to Restonians.

    • Ming the Merciless

      No, becoming a town will not stop “greedy developers”.

      It is even easier for developers to buy a town government than a county government.

      (The tirades against “greedy developers” never cease to amuse me. Reston only exists at all because of a “greedy developer” named Robert E. Simon.)

      • Bobby Love

        I cannot imagine developers with an eye on Reston having it any easier than they do with Fairfax County. They are just destroying Reston with their decisions and bumping up of allowable density – now slated to go from 13 to 16 people per acre.

  • Ming the Merciless

    It was a “hot topic”.

    But advocates couldn’t collect more than 600 signatures.

    Because it is a stupid idea that will only create an additional layer of bureaucracy, expense, and taxation.

  • WW

    So the answer to county bureaucracy is the creation of yet another layer of Reston bureaucracy? Or would RA be folded into the town government? And if so, would those parts of Reston not under RA jurisdiction then be folded in?

    As for speaking time at county meetings, right now the one thing coming out of Reston is NIMBYism. If they brought that out with full force we’d have no metro, no new library… but hey, we’d have our own police force giving out speeding tickets for going 26MPH in a 25MPH zone. Yup – that’s Herndon’s revenue generator. I guess it could be Reston’s too.

    • JoeInReston

      What is the basis for the comment that Reston NIMBYism would have prevented the Metro? Its in our own self interest.

  • Terry Maynard

    It is not clear to me how Del. Minchew’s proposed amendment may help Reston. Reading the link, the draft amendment proposes enabling large TOWNS to become CITIES. It doesn’t seem to ease the problem Reston faces of reaching TOWN status (& we couldn’t handle fully independent CITY status in the near future), but I may be missing something. Anyway, don’t get your hopes up–and that’s from someone who really would like to see less County control of our community.

  • Lake Anne Fan

    My recollection is that Reston Citizens Association collected over 4,000 signatures on petitions to hold a referendum on incorporating as a town. With our population of over 60,000 we could even be a city. Given projections and the growth anticipated under the new Reston Master Plan, we are likely to reach well over 100,000 in the next 20 years. Far bigger than Leesburg, for example.
    Unlike many incorporated towns and a couple of cities in Virginia, Reston has a set of founding principles and a much greater sense of place and community. We really should be a town—at least.

  • Travis Johnson

    Yes. All Restonians should have a much stronger voice on local issues than we have. And non-homeowners need ANY voice at all. Our current local government status is appalling.

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