Reston, VA

The Reston Association Board of Directors is asking Fairfax County for another opportunity for residents to learn more about a proposed zoning ordinance amendment that would increase Reston’s population density cap.

At its meeting Thursday, the Board adopted a resolution calling for the public meeting, which would be the fourth on the topic. A meeting last week was scheduled to be the last hosted by the County and Supervisor Cathy Hudgins on the subject; however, numerous residents in attendance expressed their displeasure with the meeting’s open-house format, which they claimed was designed to limit public input.

The first two meetings were held May 3 and May 15, a time frame that has led residents to ask why the County is rushing the issue. The County seeks 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 proposal from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning would bump the overall limit on people per acre in Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) District 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.

Staff from the DPZ say these changes are necessary in order to ensure the community can grow in accordance with changes made to the Comprehensive Plan in 2014 and 2015. Residents, however, question the motives of making such a swift change to the density cap and have concerns about its effect on Reston’s infrastructure, open space and more.

During the board’s meeting, land-use attorney John McBride addressed directors on the county’s proposal. McBride said the “virtually unprecedented pace” of zoning applications in Reston is a “tribute to what a great community this is.” However, he added, public scrutiny and input is important on each application as growth booms.

“Although these changes to the current regulations are very limited — two little areas, two sentences — they are also very important,” McBride said. “More residents of Reston should become aware of these changes and should become engaged in the County’s zoning text amendment process.”

At the May 24 meeting on the amendment proposal, Cathy Belgin of the county DPZ’s Zoning Administration Division said staff would consider holding a fourth public meeting, potentially at some point in June. Residents have also been encouraged to submit their feedback through a form on the DPZ website.

In its resolution, the RA Board goes on record saying it does not currently support the proposed changes to the ordinance. In addition, the resolution states that the Board “does not condone Fairfax County staff withholding any information and not fully answering questions from the Reston community.”

Map courtesy Fairfax County

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