After months of discussing the title defect issue at meetings and in executive session, the MOU will move ahead after receiving four yes votes and two abstentions at Thursday’s board meeting.
Reston Town Center North is the 50-acre parcel of land owned by Fairfax County and Inova from Baron Cameron Avenue to New Dominion Drive. A land swap was approved by the county last fall in order to reorganize the parcel into blocks for development.
Future plans are likely to include a new Embry Rucker Community Shelter; a new Reston Regional Library; a new building for community health, social and mental health services; a 90,000-square-foot indoor recreation center; and more housing and retail. A multi-acre park is planned for the center of the parcel.
A large portion of the acreage within the redevelopment project area remains subject to the Reston Deed covenants, meaning this land is subject to RA Design Review Board review and new residents would be Reston Association members.
The association is seeking to prevent a “net loss” of open space within the project area. RA staff and counsel have been working with Fairfax County and INOVA Health Care Services for the past year to ensure the project does not infringe on the association’s objectives.
The MOU states that if a minimum of 10 acres of open space is not provided by RTCN by the end of the development process, then a “contribution of $64,340 per acre for each acre that the total area of open space is less than 10 acres shall be made to the Friends of Reston for Community Projects, Inc., to be used only for increasing the amount of or improving the quality of open space and natural areas in Reston.”
Several RA members spoke out at Thursday’s meeting both in opposition to to what one citizen called a “terrible agreement.” They were also upset that there was no opportunity for community discussion on the matter.
“In matters like this, are we in any way considered or heard?” RA member John Henley said to the board. “The unfortunate results of the Lake House [were planned] in a similar way. This should stop. Give us, your members, [a chance] to review and discuss how open space matters can be handled with Fairfax County.”
RA land use attorney John McBride said the county and Inova had been maintaining the open space language for the 10 acres had no legal significance.
“RA contends it still does,” he said. ” The MOU says 50 acres will remain under Reston deed and Reston covenants and that residents will be Reston Association Members. The second part deals with the 10 acres, which was deeded from Gulf Reston and was originally a 10-acre buffer in 1974. Obviously, things have changed — it’s not open space. It partially where the library and [Embry Rucker] shelter are [located].
“We have agreed to original 10 acres would continue and be honored in future redevelopment of the property,” he said. “All that does is set a minimum threshold. There will be no net loss for the 10 acres.”
Development-watchers at Reston 2020 are not pleased with the transaction.
“Once again, it appears the RA Board of Directors is on the way to selling out its members rather than fighting for them,” 2020 Co Chair Terry Maynard wrote in a letter to the board. “A proposed MOU that is a plain and simply a giveaway of RA’s deeded rights to 10 acres of open space in Reston Town Center North (RTCN).”
“While both parties would acknowledge that RA has deeded rights to 10 acres of open space in RTCN, the MOU goes on to call everything not covered by concrete as open space, meaning RA will end up with essentially NO open space in RTCN.”
Read a full analysis on Reston 2020’s website.