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.

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