DRB Vice Chair on St. Johns Wood Proposal: ‘Internal Overdevelopment Will Destroy Reston’

by Dave Emke April 19, 2017 at 4:00 pm 27 Comments

Speaking to representatives for developer Bozzuto during an informational session Tuesday night, the vice chair of Reston’s Design Review Board expressed deep concern about the future of the community.

It’s imperative as we get new developments that they respect the Reston quality, and not allow us to become simply another suburban development,” Richard Newlon said. “Internal overdevelopment will destroy Reston.”

Newlon, who has served on the DRB for 18 years, said roughly 10 percent of the 134 clusters in Reston are owned by developers such as Bozzuto, JBG and Lerner. He said the St. Johns Wood project is a “precedent-producing application.”

One of my concerns is if all of those 13 or so clusters do the same thing, Reston as Reston exists today is gone,” he said. “Reston as we know it would cease to exist.”

Bozzuto’s redevelopment proposal features 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre North Point property, where there are currently 250 multifamily units in nine buildings.

Members of Reclaim Reston also spoke during the session, presenting similar information to what they did at a Monday night session with the Planning & Zoning Committee. Members of the DRB agreed with much of what the affected parties shared, including about the apparent lack of context-sensitive design within the proposal.

Contextualism is a term that suggests an architecture that responds to its surroundings by respecting what’s already there, and I think we have a problem here because I don’t think that’s happening,” Newlon said. “I think you guys [Bozzuto] are going to really have to look at the design and do what you can, both from a massing standpoint and, as we get to it, an architectural standpoint.”

DRB member Neal Roseberry said the potential of having such an imposing development go up in a residential neighborhood is frightening.

“How do you insert this relatively high-density anomaly into an existing setting, an existing neighborhood that doesn’t have anything like this at all, and [the development] obviously scares people?” he said. “It’s literally scary to think of this thing landing in that neighborhood up there.”

Brian Winterhalter of Cooley LLP, the commercial real-estate attorney representing Bozzuto, said his team would follow up about scheduling a work session with the Design Review Board. However, he expressed disappointment with how the process is progressing.

“You have approved a plan [in July], we came back with a revised plan. You had very specific comments about the revised plan, which we feel we have addressed very well based on what you gave us, and now we’re back two steps backward,” Winterhalter said. “And so I don’t know what we make of that going forward in terms of the comments we just received.”

Newlon said the plan that was approved in July was a different plan that the board felt was “going in the right direction.”

“This is a whole new project, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “It’s doing, in my mind, all the things we were hoping wouldn’t happen.”

Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has a community meeting on the proposal slated for next Tuesday at Langston Hughes Middle School. The proposal is set to go before the Planning & Zoning Committee and the Design Review Board again next month, on May 15 and 16. A Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the project remains scheduled for May 25.

Screencap via Reston Association YouTube channel; rendering via Bozzuto/KTGY

  • Jenny Gibbers

    Blessed are they who expect nothing from these politicians, for they shall not be disappointed when that is all they get.

    • takingthelongview

      Let’s be clear, in this situation there are no politicians, only community volunteers and concerned citizens trying to protect Reston, our quality of life, and the value of our homes. In fact, one of the challenges in protecting Reston from the over-reach of developers like those mentioned in the article is that Reston is not an incorporated municipality.
      Hence one of the limited means that we have in Reston to maintain some semblance of control over those who would over-build at the expense of the existing neighborhoods is the DRB. They are responsible for making decisions involving the design covenants in the Reston Deed. Hats off to those folks and the Reclaim Reston group for taking a stand to protect North Point and all our other neighborhoods!

      • John Higgins

        Thanks for lucid and well-deserved appreciation of the value of the many hours and hard work of the volunteer DRB. (Although I read Jenny’s comment as a reference to the last paragraph of the story.)

    • The Constitutionalist

      We would all be so much better off if our politicians truly gave us nothing.

      • Greg

        And took far less from us.

    • Umust B Kidding

      I’d settle for “nothing.” Instead, we’re getting abusive and excessive development crammed down our throat. And Hudgins is helping with the forced feeding!

  • Jenny Gibbers

    Blessed are they who expect nothing from these politicians, for they shall not be disappointed when that is all they get.

  • Concerned Reston Resident

    It was noted that the developer wants to schedule a “work session”with the DRB. Prior to Bozzutto info session last evening, the developer for the Kensington development (Sunrise Valley) asked if the DRB still does this and wanted to hold a session. Does anyone know what these work sessions with the DRB entail? Seems like an opportunity for the developer to push their plan through.

    • Donald

      I thought I heard that evening thst the work session is an open meeting to the public. I would anticipate much more dialogue, spreading out the drawings on tables, people marking things up, a lot of give and take. Much different from an information session.

      • 40yearsinreston

        A Charrette!
        that will do the trick

  • Chuck Morningwood

    It’s past time for Reston to BECOME a town, if for no other reason to tell these Jerkoffs to take there developments elsewhere, like Loudoun

  • Umust B Kidding

    It is a tremendous pleasure and relief to see Restonians, in the form of the DRB and Reclaim Reston, strive to stop mindless, endless developer greed in our community, especially when our supervisor doesn’t–ever! She is worse than useless.

    Who knows, maybe even the RA Board will show some guts for a change.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Bernie Supporter

    Feeling quite proud of the DRB, a day after feeling equally proud of the P & Z. Not to mention the incredible work done by the Reclaim Reston task force. The side by side photos they presented of our current neighborhoods alongside the developer’s monstrosity proved once again that a picture does speak a thousands words. Good work, every single one of you.

    • Jenny Gibbers

      Which pics? Please show.

      BTW whenever you jump on the band wagon I feel like throwing myself under it, maybe its just me and my election hang over. Thanks!

      • The Constitutionalist

        Drink more water. You shouldn’t be hung over five and a half months after your binge.

        • Jenny Gibbers

          I just just thinking about the Krieger campaign and how it derailed … who cares about H.

      • Bernie Supporter

        LOL, Jenny. I think that says more about you than me.

        For me, the election is over and I want ALL winning candidates to do a great job for Reston. You can probably find the presentation, along with the photos, on Mooney’s website. Sorry you missed the meeting.

        • Jenny Gibbers

          So you admit it, Mooney slipped you some pocket money and a starbucks gift card. Enjoy!

          • Bernie Supporter

            If you’re implying that my support can be bought, I must protest. It can only be rented. 😉

            Seriously, though, if the side by side photos are not on Mooney’s website contact Reclaim Reston, who put that part of the presentation together. Unfortunately, I have never been part of Reclaim Reston, so I don’t personally know if they have a specific web page or email address. However, Mooney has been a part of that group, and can probably answer your question. (Basically, the photos were laid out with three North Point townhouses with the proposed new development in the corner of the screen. Then the slide would change, over and over again, with the same Buzzotto image, in the same corner. After they were finished with that, they did the same thing with showing the façade of the proposed “new” SJW with the facades of buildings by the metro and other large development projects. It was a powerful presentation.

            I can’t imagine that they won’t repeat it at the next planned development meetings, including the Supervisors. So if you want to catch the presentation live, I’m confident they’ll be another opportunity to do so.

  • Guest

    This is what happens when we adopt expressions such as
    the “new urbanism” or worse yet, “smart growth” as desirable trends for existing suburban neighborhoods. The debacle called the Reston 2020 planning process told us that our elected decision makers will back unneeded and unwanted development proposals so long as the carrot of increased tax revenues is dangled in front of them, with meaningful community input relegated to an afterthought. Bozzuto and other builders are “all in” on these massive residential dwellings lately, and why shouldn’t they be? They can quickly sell them to an REIT or other investor group when completed, they are an extremely lucrative real estate product, but the builders do not care what the neighbors think, just look at the comments by Bozzuto’s attorney, see how he feigns being so “wounded”, it’s the “hey, I thought we had a deal” or “we are now going backwards” sort of thing. Such public posturing demonstrates how shameless they can be in pursuit of short-term gains, and that terms such as smart growth or transit-oriented development are essentially meaningless in practice. These development proposals ( St. John’s Woods) are not all that smart and their relationship to transit is tenuous at best.

    • Tammi Petrine

      Guest, Please clarify the following: “The debacle called the Reston 2020 planning process…” When did Reston 2020 lead a planning process? Do you mean the Reston Master Plan process that was concluded in 2014/15? The county was in charge there. Reston 2020 has always advocated for Simon’s planning principles throughout the years but, sadly, never had a the authority to ‘lead’ a planning process. sigh…

      • Mike M

        Simon’s planning principles! You’re funny!

        • Jenny Gibbers

          “Density is community”

      • Terry Maynard

        The Reston Master Plan planning process was carried out by a Hudgins-appointed task force so one-sided with developers and their attorneys that it practically capsized. As RCA’s (of which Reston 20/20 was then a part) representative to the TF, I was constantly arguing for less density, better transportation, more parks & recreation, and greater attention to Reston’s planning principles–almost universally to no avail. Reston 20/20 even went so far as to offer an alternative vision for Reston Town Center (https://reston2020.blogspot.com/2010/12/reston-town-center-alternative-vision.html) with much less density, a better residential/employee ratio, and more amenities–but clearly not enough cheap office density for developers.

        Reston 20/20 continues that fight, some of which you have seen in Reston 20/20 op-eds here in RestonNow (such as this recent one–https://www.restonnow.com/2017/01/25/op-ed-the-countys-reston-road-tax-lies/). We have also testified at Board of Supervisors’ hearings–see RestonNow’s article here (https://www.restonnow.com/2017/03/01/reston-road-tax-approved-by-board-of-supervisors-as-part-of-transportation-funding-plan/) and our highly critical testimony on the new station area TSD tax (https://reston2020.blogspot.com/2017/02/statement-of-terry-maynard-co-chair.html). And we’ve also taken on RA for its handling of Tetra from Day 1–see this latest Reston 20/20 “preliminary report” derived from StoneTurn’s effort (https://reston2020.blogspot.com/2017/03/a-preliminary-report-on-key-issues-in.html).

        So we welcome you keeping up with our efforts here and elsewhere–and welcome your comments by e-mail, here, or on our blog.

        In fact, I’d urge all RestonNow readers to peruse our blog (https://reston2020.blogspot.com/). At this time, we are just short of 300,000 views and we have posted 2,172 posts since October 2009. It is both timely and a rich resource of information on Reston development planning issues.

        • Donald

          Mr. Maynard,

          I hope you would recognize the concerted efforts of the Reclaim Reston group and the Reston Design Review Board. Their direct efforts went a long way to protecting SJW.

          In my little opinion, Restonians are looking for grass root actions, not numbers of page views.


          • Terry Maynard

            Absolutely! My comments were directed at what appears to be some confusion over what Reston 20/20 is doing.

            Reclaim Reston took the lead in the effort to deal with the outrageous proposals put forward by Bozzuto and, along with the DRB, was successful. Reston 20/20 has played a supporting role in that effort.

  • Space__jockey

    The DRB needs to be refocused to only do this kind of work and stop micromanaging every design aspect of our homes. They need to get off our backs before they piss off residents so much that they get removed from the bylaws.


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