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Citizens Frustrated by Lack of Notice on Reston Development

by Karen Goff October 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm 18 Comments

Crane at new residential construction in RestonReston is changing at a fast clip — with several large development projects in progress and more than a dozen new applications in the pipeline.

Concerned Reston residents say they want to know about those projects in an equally speedy manner.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and representatives from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning held a public meeting at Reston Association Monday in which they spelled out how the development process works, from application to final approval from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Even though the development process can take years, the citizens in attendance complained about a lack of opportunities for community engagement earlier in the process.

“The planning process is making me crazy,” said longtime Reston resident Tammi Pettrine. “In reality, citizens have no power against the county.”

Pettrine said she — as well as many other in the crowd — are frustrated that the county does not publicize applications or engage the community until the projects are about to go to a public hearing before the planning commission, where the projects are essentially a done deal. They also said they are concerned that projects are getting a number of amendments that allow them to work around rules for landscaping, parking and other planning principles.

Citizens used recent examples of the teardown of Reston’s American Press Institute building and the redevelopment of St. Johns Woods as recent areas of concern.

In July, the supervisors approved the demolition of the Brutalist office building that was the home of the API for nearly 40 years. The building did not have historic designation, but the significance of the Marcel Breuer-designed property should have been marked early in the application process, citizens pointed out.

Citizens attempted a late effort to save the building — and the planning commission even recommended denial of the application. The building is now in the process of being torn down to make way for 34 condos and 10 townhomes.

“We need to get our voices heard before the [county planning] staff report,” said Stephen Canner, who has been active in opposing the application to double the size of St. Johns Wood apartments at Reston Parkway and Center Harbor Drive. The St. Johns Woods project, from Bozzuto, is now scheduled to go before the planning commission in January.

“We have got to find a way for you have that conversation before you write that report,” he said.

In the case of St. Johns Woods, there have been several community meetings and developers have amended the plans several times.

Hudgins pointed out that she publishes a monthly summary of development applications that is available for free email subscription to citizens. The Reston Planning and Zoning Commission, which makes recommendations to the county but has no formal development power, also had monthly public meetings where they discuss applications early in process.

Hudgins defended both the process and the projects in Reston. She said most of the projects are happening in Reston’s transit areas, where high-density residential and office was always planned.

“There is a lot of development going on here,” she said. “The only area it is going on is where it was previously planned. Everything else stays as is under the comprehensive plan. Even Tall Oaks and St. Johns Wood.”

“I do agree the communications piece would be more helpful,” she added. “When applications come in, we will continue to publish that as we always have.”

  • Mike M

    Citizens don’t know before it’s too late? Sorry, there will be no “If it weren’t for these meddling kids” type scenarios here. The developers, the polls, and the zoning shills have seen to that. They WILL have their way upon this community.

    Did you see how quickly they delivered decisive damage to the API building? They aren’t in a hurry to get rid of it. I’ll bet the rubble sits there for months. They just want a fait accompli.

    The system is set up to keep the citizens out of it. The citizens deserve this however, because it is what you get when the local pols know you won’t vote them out. The pols have lots to gain and NOTHING to lose. They have been granted immunity by the electorate.

    If you vote for Bulova and Hudgins, don’t complain.

    • BOHICA

      Never did, never will.

    • Scott H

      Chicago and Detroit have been under one party rule for 50+ years and people wonder what has gone wrong. That same party now runs Fairfax County. It won’t be long before VA, like MD (& NJ, NY, CA) starts bleeding wealth and companies seeking lower tax municipalities.

      • One Really

        Your’re going to scare the neighbors.

        There is a nice quite town in NC that I am so ready to retire too.

      • Guest

        Like all those companies fleeing the high cost of an office in SF or Manhattan? Local economic stability artificially supported by Federal funding keeps companies around. Oracle’s even building a third tower.

      • Edward Calvert

        I did read about NJ towns going bankrupt. Atlantic City is close enough but government and Christie at the capital won’t let ac do it for fear of a wave of bankruptcy in nj.

        But nova doesn’t seem like it’s poor. Am I wrong in that it just seems like the politicians are just selling out to the developers? Citizens opinions don’t matter. What’s the point in getting rid of the unique character of reston ? For one more tysons or crystal city ?

        As far as residents frustrated by how much and quick the development gets passed, I feel like I try to stay tuned to the latest news and information on this, through this site and other information about reston and fairfax, but one day I’ll see that 7 or 8 (very massive ) developments have all passed on for zoning and development. In the space of a day or two. And I’m like = wth ??? Very frustrating

  • JBW

    I don’t know who Cathy Hudgins thinks she represents, but it isn’t the people of Reston.

    • noodmik

      So you signed up for the newsletter… right?

    • BOHICA

      She’s in it for herself…..

  • Hank from Reston

    The planned disintegration of Reston has been orchestrated by our County Executive in order to obtain additional tax revenues. The Master Plan was gutted and corrupted by the task force that Ms. Hudgins appointed, 1/3 residents, 1/3 developers and 1/3 lawyers who worked for developers. No wonder the planned population of Reston went from 78,000 to 120,000 with no funding for the needed infrastructure. The community is not against density, it is against congestion, loss of open space, lack of infrastructure and lack of a significant influence in deciding what will be built.
    The community is very angry with Ms Hudgins. How about starting a movement for “no new Reston development” until all infrastructure projects have been funded?

    • Mike M

      The answer comes in three parts:
      1) Get someone to run against her.
      2) Start campaigning now.
      3) Developing funding.
      4) Get the lefties of Reston to vote for them.
      Each step is harder than the one previous.

      • Hank from Reston

        Agreed, except that I wouldn’t use the term “lefties”. I believe Reston’s “liberal” community is aligned in opposing the county’s actions and would welcome a supervisor who was more responsive to the voice of the community. But first, someone has to come forward.

        • Scott H

          …but the “lefties” will never vote for a non-democrat and a Democrat will never vote against increasing the size of government or its revenue stream. Money = power and influence and Dems want more power in government for them to control.

          We get the government we vote for and Reston is full of “lefties”.
          Buckle up folks! We’ve just seen the beginning. The DTR corridor is getting packed with people with only 2 reasonable crossing points. (Hunter Mill is not reasonable today.) The fact that the BoS has not prioritized more DTR crossings as a necessity of the mass development is unforgivable in my humble opinion.

          • Guest

            Agreed! Traffic craziness.

            It’s astonishing that they’re only “preparing” and not full ahead on the RTC underpass. South Lakes bridge won’t relieve north-south local traffic since cars still have to flow through on Wiehle. Metro developments will probably make it necessary.

          • RestonGrandma

            I am what you call a “leftie” and am sickened by what the BoS is doing to Reston. But I don’t know what we can do to stop them. Maybe start by not calling each other names but with some concerted action like the residents of St Johns Woods have done. I’m afraid it’s too late and Reston is ruined.

      • One Really

        The last time she ran against somebody was in 2007, right?

        Hunter Mill District: Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins (D), after
        eight years in office, has established herself as a constructive voice
        on affordable housing and social services, particularly mental health.
        She faces token opposition from three independent candidates — Mike J.
        “Spike” Williams, a customer service representative; retired diplomat
        Marie T. Huhtala; and environmentalist Geraldine A. Butkus —

        I remember Spike out at Lake Fairfax trying to gather support.

        • Mike M

          I don’t even remember. Like Bulova and most of the Dems Kathy’s primary issues are heart-string issues and at the end of the day her accomplishments are junk while her failures wax catastrophic to the Reston she supposedly represents. She is simply a part of our meat-and-potatoes problems.

  • 30yearsinreston

    Hudgin is a shill for developers
    Always has been and always will be

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