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Fairfax Planning Commission Recommends New Density Standards

by Karen Goff — June 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm 3 Comments

Reston Transit Areas/Fairfax County

The Fairfax County Planning Commission recommended for approval on Wednesday new standards that will allow for denser development in nearly two dozen areas of the county where transit-oriented development is rapidly happening.

The proposal will now go to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for final approval on June 21.

The proposal will increase density limits in 22 areas in the county around the Metro’s Silver, Orange, Blue and Yellow lines. 

The proposed ordinance would establish a maximum FAR of 5.0 for Transit Station Areas and a maximum FAR of 4.0 for Commercial Revitalization Districts, (CRD), Commercial Revitalization Areas (CRA), and Community Business Centers (CBC).

It also wants to see residential areas increase from 1.5 FAR to 2.5 FAR if provisions for open space and affordable housing are put in place.

FAR stands for Floor-Area Ratio, a mark of density.

However, even though Reston is undergoing a rezoning and building boom related to transit stations, this would not affect Reston as much as one would think.

In order to implement any new zoning ordinance, the Board of Supervisors would have to adopt an amendment to the comprehensive plan for the Reston TSAs after a public hearing before the planning commission and the board of supervisors.

Says the county:

The proposal to increase the maximum FAR in both of these districts is a direct response to the Board’s adoption of amendments to the comprehensive plan that provide for increased density/intensity recommendations for specific areas located within certain geographic areas of the County.”

Some of the density/intensity recommendations for these
areas would allow for FAR levels greater than those which are currently permitted by the Zoning Ordinance. The proposed increase in the maximum FAR in the Selective Areas will enable a developer to propose a project that will implement the plan recommendations.

For example, certain areas of the Reston Transit Station Areas (TSAs) would permit up to 4.5 FAR under the adopted comprehensive plan and, at this time, there is no zoning district that can be utilized at this geographic location to achieve a 4.5 FAR.

In laymen’s terms, this could mean taller buildings or more units packed into a smaller footprint. It would be in effect for future projects — and it could mean previously approved projects could go back to the county for amended density.

In Reston, TSA’s are considered within one-quarter mile of a Metro station.

There is a growing backlash against the plan by some homeowners associations countywide. They sat the higher density will change the suburban atmosphere of neighborhoods.

At a May 25 public hearing at the planning commission, eight of 11 speakers opposed the proposed regulations. Planning commissioners pointed out at the meeting that just because the FAR is growing, it doesn’t mean all developers will build to the maximum density.

Map: Reston Transit Station areas.

  • cRAzy

    …because there is NO neighborhood that can be too densely developed!

  • Waitwhat

    Pack ’em in. Rack up the profits.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    I recommend against it. The place is crowded enough as it is.

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