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Golf Course Square May be Planning its Own Reston National Case

by Karen Goff February 29, 2016 at 2:45 pm 14 Comments

Reston National Golf CourseAs the battle for open space in Reston heads towards the Virginia Supreme Court, a group of homeowners whose properties overlook Reston National Golf Course may be preparing for a lawsuit of their own.

The attorneys for the owners of RN Golf, the owner of Reston National Golf Course, have filed a notice that they plan to appeal the Fairfax County Circuit Court decision from last year that granted the motion for summary judgment and vacated the Board of Zoning Appeals decision that said the golf course owners could redevelop without getting a comprehensive plan amendment, which could ease the path to redevelopment of the public course.

RN Golf, a subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Insurance, has until this week to to appeal the latest court order, says Rescue Reston, the citizens advocacy group that is fighting to maintain the golf course as permanent, open space in Reston.

Meanwhile, residents of Golf Course Square appeared at last week’s RA Board of Directors’ meeting to ask the board for its assistance in taking filmed depositions of some of the cluster’s original homeowners.

“Since 2012, our cluster has been discussing legal action we can take separate and apart from the zoning case [heading for] the Virginia Supreme Court,” said Golf Course Square resident Wilfred Hearn. “Our case is broader. The open space [is protected by] covenants and deeds. We have discussed our legal rights with an attorney.”

Hearn said the clusters has located four witnesses who either worked for Reston developer Gulf Reston (in the 1960s and 70s) or bought a house from Gulf Reston.

“The witnesses said the original developer intended the golf course would be permanent and sold houses around the golf course on that basis,” Hearn told the RA Board. “Prospective buyers were told the golf course would always be permanent and bought houses on basis that the golf course would be permanent. These witnesses have direct knowledge of the events between 1964 and ’68 in our cluster, including the building the buying and selling of our homes that surround the golf course.”

Hearn says the cluster leadership wants to petition the circuit court to for an order to take the depositions of the witnesses “to perpetuate their testimony for later use in court.”

“If we don’t take it now, we risk losing testimony,” she said. “The witnesses are in their 70s and 80s. We have no idea when the case will be filed. It might be too late.”

Golf Course Square is requesting RA pay for the depositions. Hearn did not say how much the depositions will cost. RA noted their request but had no immediate answer.

The Reston National case has been in the news since 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.

After many delays by RN Golf, the county Board of Zoning Appeals held a lengthy hearing in January 2015. In April 2015, 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. No formal plans have been filed.

If the case is accepted for review by the higher court it likely will not be heard until at least fall of 2016.

  • Mike M

    I wonder if they will buy them out, or they would even sell. I wonder sometimes about every community along Sunrise Valley, if in ten years, it will be condos.

    • Nyla J.

      Love this idea and hope it will be as you describe. What would it take for an entire cluster to sell to a developer? Hypothetically, one on the golf course at the location of the proposed Soapstone Connector.

      • reston is changing

        75% of cluster residents agreeing to the terms of a developer’s bid to purchase according to Karen Goff’s previous responses. Karen – do you have any additional info to offer on this subject?

        • Karen Goff

          Yes that is correct. If a developer approached a development, it would need at least 75 percent of owners willing to sell. However, that is not what this story is about. There is no indication anyone at Golf Course Square wants to sell to developers. They want to keep the golf course from being developed as they were promised views and open space when they purchased.

        • Greg

          It’s a matter of what the cluster’s governing documents, the relevant law, or both set forth for dissolution of the cluster or condo.

      • smart growth first

        What about this idea do you love? increased traffic? decreased open space? both? Maybe before they destroy open space they should redevelop all the office buildings along Sunrise Valley with less than 50% occupancy rate first. But even then, without real infrastructure changes, Reston simply cannot accommodate the influx.

        • Nyla J.

          What I love is the idea of me selling my town house at a nice price to a developer that will level it. It’s too late for smart growth here. We’re already retrofitting Reston. I want to cash in.

          • Greg

            You are the smartest of us all!

          • Arielle in NoVA

            Sad. Reston was designed to be a community for generations to live and work locally; not a place to live for a while, then cash in so you can get out. Sounds like you missed the whole point.

          • Nyla J.

            I’ve been here for 30+ years. You’re the one missing the point.

            Change is here, with more on the way. The Reston you speak of is long gone. I want out while I can still make a buck off my home. This place will be Springfield before you know it.

  • Sure if they want to Golf Course Sq. residents can probably
    get double their assessed value if they are the only opposition at the
    end. Big payout!

  • Greg

    No, RA should not pay for the depositions. The covenants speak for themselves.

  • Live work and pay

    RA should pay for the depositoons. They should be engraved in copper and along with wax figurines of the witnesses moved into the Reston mausoleum. 24×7 security should protect this holy shrine. A huge payout is awaiting RA if this is done properly.

  • MarkR307

    There is PLENTY of space to build in the area, in the SW quadrant off the Reston Pkwy / Dulles Toll Road intersection. There are only sparse office buildings, and ENORMOUS parking fields. You could build another Reston Town Center there! Why even consider building on green space, when much better options haven’t been utilized?

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