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Residents Express Displeasure with Format of Third PRC Amendment Meeting

by Dave Emke — May 25, 2017 at 11:30 am 16 Comments

The open-house format for third public meeting on a proposed change to the population density cap in Reston’s Planned Residential Community District was not met favorably by Restonians.

The Fairfax County Department of Planning & Zoning came to Lake Anne Elementary School last night to once again address citizens about the proposal, which would bump the overall limit on people per acre in Reston’s PRC from 13 to 16. It would also allow for the Board of Supervisors to be able to approve individual developments in excess of 50 dwelling units per acre in TSAs within the PRC and when in accordance with Comprehensive Plan recommendations.

When they heard Wednesday’s meeting would not feature further public discussion of the plan, but rather the opportunity for attendees to ask individual questions of staff around the cafeteria, residents were displeased.

“Why can’t you change the format?” a resident shouted. The remark was echoed with calls including “It’s our meeting!” and “You work for us!”

Fred Selden, the director of the county DPZ, said staff believed the format would be a better opportunity for residents to ask specific questions about the plan. He said that at previous meetings, residents who spoke were spending a lot of time straying from the issue at hand.

“There have been opportunities for people to ask questions and also opportunities for people to make statements,” Selden said. “Quite frankly, a lot of the questions did not deal with the zoning ordinance that’s being proposed.”

Residents argued that if comments aren’t being made in front of the whole group, they aren’t useful to the overall discussion of the plan. Staff eventually agreed to a short period at the end of the meeting to reconvene and share thoughts.

Residents who spoke up during Wednesday’s meeting said the up to 25,000 additional people the change would potentially bring would choke infrastructure in Reston. Cathy Belgin of the county DPZ’s Zoning Administration Division said the amendment itself is not about approving new development.

“We are not proposing development; we are adjusting the rules such that development would not be inhibited from going through an approval process,” she said. “When any developments go through that process, the issues of traffic and open space are part of the analysis.”

Only one public meeting and a Reston Planning & Zoning public information session had originally been set by the county. Wednesday night’s meeting was later added. Belgin said staff would consider arranging a fourth meeting at a later date.

“Based on people’s availability that gets more limited in the summer, I think we would have to decide [to do that] quickly,” she said. “We would probably need to accommodate it in June.”

The current desired timeline for DPZ on the zoning ordinance amendment is 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.

Belgin said it is no shock that people in Reston have been so outspoken about the proposal.

“The citizens of Reston have always been very devoted to the community and to what is important to them about it,” she said. “Having a strong reaction to proposals to change that in a way that they are concerned about isn’t surprising. We’ve been trying to reach out accordingly to make sure not only that we get our message out, but we get the comments back from the folks as far as having their voices heard.”

Anyone who did not attend the meeting but who has comments on the plan can make them at the county DPZ website.

Reston PRC map courtesy Fairfax County

  • Jenny Gibbers

    “You work for us” best comment ever.

  • vdiv

    Oh, good! That means I can finally put my broom closet on air b’n’b…

    Still no?!

    • Greg

      I am getting ready to list some of the potholes on Bennington Woods on airbnb…

      • EliteinReston

        What is IT with those potholes and beat-up pavement along Bennington Woods and Walnut Branch? It’s as if VDOT crews never travel those roads. I skip ahead to Lake Newport Road to avoid those stretches,

        • TheKingJAK

          All of the heavy truck traffic probably has something to do with it.

          • Greg

            Trucks are supposed to be banned from that stretch of Bennington Woods.

        • Greg

          There’s been no attention to the road, other than patching the patches, since it was built in 1980.

          Used to be that it was rarely salted or sanded in winter, but now VDOT makes up for that and leaves piles of salt and sand on the road all year.

          No street lighting, of course, despite all those dangerous potholes and patches, curves, numerous entrances, overgrown vegetation, hidden entrances, and crosswalks.

          Pardon me, I forgot to add that VDOT added lane striping and turn lanes around 1990 and banned trucks in the early 2000s.

          • EliteinReston

            Thank you for the back story. I have found VDOT generally responsive to requests. Has anyone ever pressed them to rehab the road? Crews currently are repaving a portion of Bennington Woods near North Village Road that is nowhere near as needy as the stretch west of Reston Parkway.

          • Greg

            You may be able to get some help from Hudgins’ VDOT person:

            Hello,

            All I can speak to is what VDOT has scheduled for this summer, which will be North Shore Drive, Twin Branches, Glade, Colts Neck, and a few other stretches within the area. VDOT does not have a schedule in place for all the roads in Virginia. I can submit a request for maintenance request if there is particular pot hole or problem area. I will also send a note to VDOT stating that this is a road of concern in hope that it will be addressed in the next set of repaving in summer of 2018, though repaving is not guaranteed.

            I hope I have addressed your questions. Please do let me know if you have any other concerns.

            Best,

            Denver Supinger

            Legislative Aide, Transportation and Public Safety

            Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins

            Hunter Mill District

            1801 Cameron Glen Drive

            Reston, VA. 20190

            703.478.0283

  • cRAzy

    Not mentioned is Hudgins’ blubbering at the beginning and end of this fiasco.

    The whole purpose of the County’s format was to deny the community from speaking out on the multitude of stupidities in this zoning amendment proposal.

    There is no legitimate or other reason to proceed with this zoning ordinance amendment at least until we all know the specific consequences for our community and the County has committed to fulfilling its core responsibilities of providing key public services, including improved transportation, schools, parks and recreation, etc. (And not more of the idle BS we usually get.)

    Then, if it makes sense, maybe we can proceed.

    Otherwise, dump it.

    • Reston Realist

      Very good point Crazy… What is the hurry to proceed with this? It struck me earlier today that by raising this cap, Reston is going to be the “goto” place for new residential development – while areas like Herndon and Vienna will be left alone. Consequently, Terry’s projections will prove to be too modest…. ALL the growth in FFX Co. will be coming here. Reston is being exploited by interlopers. It’s time for this to end.

      • TheKingJAK

        Reston has become the county’s dumping ground.

    • Chkitout1

      Seems as though the county wants to stifle input from their tax paying citizens. The county already made their mind up on this issue and they could care less about how the people of Reston feel.

  • Tammi Petrine

    Cathy Belgin is an employee of the County who is just doing her very difficult job. Her job is to convince a too smart public that what the BOS wants is ‘good’. Of course it is ‘good’… FOR DEVELOPERS; not existing residents.

    Restonians must not ever accept this crazy cap expansion until and unless the infrastructure missing NOW from our community has date-certain funding. PS: Now the county has very few resources and despite our good will, enormous tax revenues and generosity, Reston has never been at the top of the list to receive our share! We are notorious for paying from within for things provided to others for free. Witness, we are the only district without an indoor rec center! Been waiting 50 years for that one!

    Annoying fact #1: Last night there was double talk about the Soapstone Overpass. Over a year ago there were meetings at SLHS about the alignment of this #1 traffic-alleviating infrastructure addition after which its location was set. In recent meetings, planners have stressed they would not let any plan be approved that interfered with this alignment. Then, in the next statement, we are told the exact alignment is not set and therefore no funding can be arranged? Later, at the same meeting we are informed by a citizen that the Overpass failed last week to receive State funded design money from Smart Score! WHAT??? If it isn’t ready for funding, how could it even be on the Smart Score consideration list?

    Annoying fact #2: At the May 3rd meeting, the community requested figures of how much development (estimated population) had been approved for the TSA (corridor) areas that fall OUTSIDE of the PRC district. Last night those figures still remained a mystery. Why? Does the County not want Restonians to do the math to figure out just how grotesquely over-crowded One Reston (the whole community, N, S and corridor) will be when all to-date-approved plans are built? They keep trying to claim that our questions were ‘off target’. (Watch when someone says “frankly”… a hint that BS follows.) Yes, but only if you want to deflect attention from a necessary holistic evaluation of how all of Reston might function with a PRC Cap increase. You see the corridor already has had its ‘by right’ densities increased by other recent zoning changes AFTER acceptance of the 2015 Reston Master Plan. In short, the County seems intent to densify Reston as much as possible before enough in our community catches on and screams bloody murder.

    I am encouraged that many new faces were in the crowd last night. I was also encouraged that staff and Supervisor Hudgins recognized that the cap of 16 was way too much and that more meetings are necessary for Reston to make good decisions on our way forward. Really, there is no rush. It will be years before we have the ability to sustain many more residents without substantial improvements for which funding is elusive. That’s OK. We are patient. The developers must be too… unless they plan to fully fund all the improvements made necessary by their projects.

    In the meantime, P & Z staff, committees, and commission and for sure, our BOS, PLEASE approve ONLY development plans that actually follow Reston’s planning principles and require few if any exceptions. Developers passing the buck for adequate open space, rec amenities, % of retail, careful ecology, etc. to the last parcels in line is guaranteeing that they will NEVER be developed and therefore negating the intent of the plan. Speed and Greed are not the hallmarks of a well planned community such as the NEW One Reston aspires to be.

  • 40yearsinreston

    Typical apparatchik excuses
    They arent even original

  • Dale

    No one in Reston wants this! Yet this is their end-around for moving forward on the Selling of Reston for development to the highest bidders…

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