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Second Public Hearing Scheduled on Sunrise Square’s RA Membership

by Dave Emke January 27, 2017 at 2:45 pm 14 Comments

The Reston Association Board of Directors decided at their Thursday meeting to hold off until next month on determining whether to add the future Sunrise Square cluster to RA.

CEO Cate Fulkerson had planned to ask for board consideration of the request following a public hearing at the meeting; however, that decision was postponed after a number of questions were raised by both board members and community residents.

The property is located at 11690 Sunrise Valley Drive, the former site of the American Press Institute headquarters. That building was demolished last fall.

Concerns raised Thursday regarding bringing the new development into Reston Association included a clause written into the agreement that would make RA responsible for maintaining a shared-use public space on the property; and the fact that as the property is not yet part of RA, development was not scheduled to be considered by the Design Review Board.

Director Ray Wedell said he didn’t feel comfortable making a decision one way or the other on the property until the board had fully considered what approval would mean.

“This is just one of many [new developments] coming up, and it’s going to be somewhat of a test case. Like it or not, it may set some kind of precedent — good and bad — on a lot of different issues here,” Wedell said. “I don’t want to open doors to give people a back doorway for getting things approved that shouldn’t be approved, nor do I want to set a precedent of us appearing to be obstructionist or over-regulatory.”

Eve Thompson, board secretary, said it is important for new developments in Reston’s Transportation Station Area corridor to become members of RA, but that the situation involves “walking a tightrope.”

“We want the membership — the property is going to get developed regardless of what we say or do,” she said. “So we’re trying to get them in the fold without [giving up too much].”

Director Sherri Hebert said the loophole created by allowing the development into RA before it goes down the channels required for existing properties would be “dangerous.”

“It’s not going to meet our standards, our Reston principles,” she said. “I’m not sure that I would want to create that loophole and precedent for anybody else on the TSA to do the same thing, come after the fact and say, ‘We want to be members, but we just bypassed everything that you value in Reston.'”

Citizen Irwin Flashman also addressed the board, saying he didn’t believe there had been enough notice of the public hearing.

“There needs to be much more time for the public to review the documents, think about them, discuss them and raise questions to the board as to whether this is appropriate or not,” he said. “Too often we have seen with the Reston Association a rush to judgment, and too often, the rush to judgment has been wrong.”

Fulkerson said information about the proposal was provided to the Board Operations Committee in November, and that proper public hearing announcements were made.

The board eventually decided to hold a second public hearing on the matter at its Feb. 23 meeting, with RA committees including the Design Review Board to examine the plan before that time.

  • “Walking a tightrope”

    Eve Thompson cannot offer a qualified opinion on this because she is in conflict of interest, she is a realtor.

    We need a solid board member and not an industry lobbyist.

    • Mike M

      You will see that throughout our local “boards of authority” and even the “citizens groups.”

  • Conservative Senior

    I never received notices of “proper public hearing announcements were made”. Cate lives in her own little world.

    • Tammi Petrine

      Sorry, but public notices of this hearing have been in print newspapers for two weeks. Still the RA board was correct in deferring the decision as so much rides on this precedent setting example. Cate is not the villain here. The subject is very complex and time is needed to think and discuss this BEFORE the next meeting.

      • Greg

        Print newspapers? As in more than one? For two weeks? And, no doubt as paid advertising? This is not 1965. The RA should use its multi-million-dollar IT systems to get the notices out in a contemporary and contemporaneous manner.

        I am sure it could even post notices here.

        • Tammi Petrine

          Print newspapers are the law for public notices. Have you ever seen legal notices on Patch or RestonNow? I have not but perhaps that’s a new market for them? Sorry that the laws have not kept up with technology but that’s not RA’s fault.

        • John Higgins

          Tammi makes the point that RA met the minimum legal standards for advance notice of a public hearing. But as you point out, that’s hardly adequate communication. There are many items posted by RA on Facebook, on its own website and in new releases picked up by Reston Now and Patch. As near as I can tell, none of these tools were used to inform us of the Sunrise Square proposal.

          Perhaps RA didn’t see this as a “big deal” and believed the minimum effort was sufficient. We can hope that the lesson was learned: everything involving development in Reston and commitment of RA resources is a “big deal” among members and the more sunlight, the better.

  • restonista

    “Concerns raised Thursday regarding bringing the new development into
    Reston Association included a clause written into the agreement that
    would make RA responsible for maintaining a shared-use public space on
    the property…”

    This is confusing to me. First, “shared-use” with who? I think I’m correct in saying that these townhouses are very narrow, making use of a proper 2-car garage, side by side, practically impossible. The garages are too small and thus the owners’ (usually 2nd and 3rd) cars will end up using all the guest spots. So, how would anyone else drive over there and share the space? Secondly, why wouldn’t this neighborhood become a cluster (which would be responsible for open space maintenance) and ultimately become part of RA?

    • ClusTerp

      Exactly. Unless they’re putting in a truly-usable, “public” facility that can be easily accessed and amounts to more than a tot-lot, I don’t see why RA, and by extension the rest of us, should pay to maintain their common, “cluster” property. If RA is looking to take over some neighborhood maintenance, our cluster has some rather-expensive-to-maintain common elements they can come pay for…hello?….RA?….anybody?…didn’t think so.

      • John Higgins

        The theme of your comment is right on the mark. What was missing at last night’s meeting were the details that are needed to understand the deal. The proposal suggested that this new cluster would pay a fee to RA for the grounds maintenance. How would that fee be determined? Why RA rather than a commercial entity? Does RA have excess maintenance capacity or would this require additional staffing? The whole package was a bit too conceptual to permit a decision last night. And, as others have pointed out, it’s an interesting precedent. Maybe other new clusters will want the same…and how about existing clusters? Yeah, this needs not only discussion, but a lot more detail.

        • 30yearsinreston

          The RA board don’t do details
          It may interrupt their snoozing

  • Greg

    Let me guess — the RA and its loathed DRB want a new Brutalist bunker…

    • Ken Perkal

      What a sh%tty thing to say, Greg. That Marcel Bruer building was a historic building design by one of the top ten contemporary architects of the 20th century. Have respect,Greg! Nobody like a smart @ss. Shame on Reston/Fairfax County for it’s demolition.

  • 30yearsinreston

    Another ‘developer’ boon
    What could possibly go wrong ?

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