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Residents to County on Density Cap Changes: What’s the Rush?

by Dave Emke — May 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm 20 Comments

The dozens of residents in attendance at Monday’s Reston Planning & Zoning Committee meeting were asked to raise their hands if they oppose the county’s plan to increase density limits in the Reston Planned Residential Community District.

The response was practically unanimous.

After hearing — many for the second time, after a May 3 meeting — the Fairfax County Department of Planning & Zoning’s presentation, numerous attendees spoke up to share their concerns. One of the most repeated was a thought about the seemingly short timeline of the county’s plan to amend the zoning ordinance.

“The County and the community need to understand the implications for Reston of the zoning ordinance amendment and quite possibly amend it so that it is consistent with Reston’s vision and planning principles,” said Terry Maynard, co-chair of the Reston 20/20 committee and an outspoken opponent of the proposal. “This will take time, not the headlong rush the County and Board [of Supervisors] seem to be in to get this amendment passed with three public meetings in three weeks this month.”

The third public meeting on the DPZ’s proposal is slated for Wednesday, May 24, at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at Lake Anne Elementary School (11510 North Shore Drive). The DPZ says it is hoping to bring the plan before the Board of Supervisors in July, followed by a Planning Commission public hearing in September and the Board public hearing in October.

The DPZ says the current limitation of 13 persons per acre in the Reston PRC “cannot support the amended Master Plan.” It is planning to recommend the Board of Supervisors change that limit to 16 persons per acre. It says that would allow for up to 18,737 more people in the long term, beyond the current cap.

Reston’s PRC District is currently at about 11.9 persons per acre.

“A full buildout would not necessarily ever be reached, and if it even approaches that point, it wouldn’t do so quickly,” said Cathy Belgin of the county DPZ’s Zoning Administration Division, of the potential population growth. “But staff feels it is important, because the Master Plan takes a long look forward in time, that the regulations should be aligned accordingly for there to be the opportunity.”

The proposal also calls for allowing the Board be able to approve individual developments in excess of 50 dwelling units per acre in TSAs and when in accordance with Comprehensive Plan recommendations.

The PRC District does not include any of the TSA property surrounding the Wiehle-Reston East and Herndon Metro stations, nor does it include most of the property in the Reston Town Center Metro station TSA south of the Dulles Toll Road. This was pointed out by several individuals who spoke during the meeting, saying that this means the population and density estimates provided for the PRC District would in reality be much higher in Reston as a whole.

Ron Weber, a longtime member of the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee, was particularly vocal about his objection to the proposal, calling it a “terrible shame.”

“Zoning and planning have to mesh, and that doesn’t seem to happen in this county,” he said. “In the plan for Reston, originally, we gave up density for open space.”

Sridhar Ganesan, president of the Reston Citizens Association, said the proposal needs much more time and analysis before it is decided to be what is best for Reston.

“We’re not against development per se,” Ganesan said. “But anything we do must be consistent with Reston’s founding principles.”

Map courtesy Fairfax County Department of Planning & Zoning

  • Heh

    Top photo caption:

    Grumpy Old White People Complain Grumpily: Lack of Bocce Courts, Access to Laxatives Seen as Problem for Reston

    Aging Boomers Question Need for Soylent Factory on County Land in Reston: “Necessary to Revitalize Reston,” Says Hudgins

    • Mike M

      Made me laugh.

      I am surprised at the apparent average age. Maybe they feel intense interest due to concern about their property values. I am surprised they plan to stick around. Maybe they will rent. But the problem is the younger folks who settled families here cannot participate in these meetings. It’s a big problem.

    • cRAzy

      Stakeholders in Bob Simon’s vision, some even came when he did!

      And it’s still a great vision as are the planning principles that go with it. These are routinely ignored by the county in development reviews and approvals, even if they are in the Reston Master Plan.

  • FollowTheMoney

    Why are Boston Properties and their lawyers pressuring the County to put this rezoning on such a fast track? Follow the money….

  • Amy Sue

    Thanks to all of those who attended yesterday. Maybe the reason attendance was lower among the younger crowd (which includes me) was because they are not retired and do not have as much time to make their voices heard. That does mean that young people are not against the increase in Reston density. I think the fairest approach to deciding this issue would be to hold a referendum open to all Reston households. One household, one vote. I personally strongly oppose greater density, but I’m willing to go with the wishes of the majority of my fellow Restonians. I’m NOT willing, however, to let developers and politicians make these decisions for Reston.

    • JoeInReston

      I won’t frame it as a question of density vs no density, a huge increase in density has already been approved and coming our way. The question is just how much density we won’t to allow. Is there a point where its too much?

      • TheKingJAK

        Reston is already capped out in terms of density. Everything they’re building from this point forward is overdevelopment.

        • cRAzy

          That is not true. It’s an “alternative fact.”

        • Derrell J Battle

          Reston is not capped out.is still suburbs.

    • TheKingJAK

      I’m with you. I’m of the younger generation as well, but I fully support those who are standing up for all of us. I should also add that so far every single friend of mine is against this out of control development, and that’s coming from my peers who are very much the future of this community. Just because many of those among my generation aren’t present at the meetings, it doesn’t mean we don’t agree with Reston 20/20 and others.

    • 40yearsinreston

      Commissar Hudgins would never allow it

    • Sam

      I am also with you. We have a young family and moved out of Arlington for several reasons, including overdevelopment, overburdened schools, and high cost of living. Reston is the happy medium for us — not urban and not the sticks. I have no desire to live in an urban downtown and pay all that it requires. I grew up in Herndon and have seen the growth that has occurred and like it just as it is now.

  • Hieronymus Bosch

    Everyone has time – if you cannot attend a meeting call or email the DPZ. Voices need to be heard or we will get what the Zoning Board, Reps or developers want for Reston: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/contactdpz.htm

    • Jenny Gibbers

      Pay cheque comes first

      Unlike the older generations young people do not have the luxury to sit on kushy retirment plans and complain about density.

      https://youtu.be/ac_MFSBJc00

      What strikes me is how many old people retire here in this area. My guess, its better than Puerto Rico.

      • Mike M

        I agree. I am a younger old man and wondering what will keep me here much longer?

      • Hieronymus Bosch

        I provided the link to contact the PNZ Board so in the length of time it takes to reply to one of these posts, one could send an email to the powers that be sharing your support or not. If you live in Reston these types of density issues will impact everyone from schools, roads, traffic security etc.

        • Jenny Gibbers

          I thank you on the off chance it wont amount to anything, regardless.

  • Derrell J Battle

    U guys are lucky, nothing is being built here on the east side of Montgomery County.

  • RestonResident

    “We’re not against development per se,” Ganesan said, who purchased a 5 bedroom 4.5 bath home in 1999 for $337,500 . “But anything we do must be consistent with Reston’s founding principles.” That home is now worth aprox. $740,000

    • cRAzy

      Your point?

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