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Stronger Voice in County Dealings Labeled as Priority by RA Members

by Dave Emke — June 29, 2017 at 2:45 pm 15 Comments

Some Reston Association members have strong feelings about the community’s relationship with Fairfax County — and specifically, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

“In terms of what Reston looks like, what Reston feels like — she’s moving Reston away from it,” Stephen Canner said. “We don’t want that.”

Canner was speaking to RA Board directors and CEO Cate Fulkerson during an informal feedback-gathering meeting Thursday evening at RA Headquarters. Canner and others expressed their displeasure with how they feel Hudgins and other members of the County Board of Supervisors are allowing developers to take over Reston.

“They’re moving us in a different direction, trying to make us look like Arlington,” Canner said.

Victoria White, Hunters Woods/Dogwood District director, said Board president Sherri Hebert and vice president David Bobzien have been having weekly meetings with Hudgins to try to facilitate more communication. Eric Carr, At-Large director who moderated the meeting, said it’s the start of a conversation to try to improve Reston’s standing with the County.

“One of the underutilized resources we have is our ‘soft power,'” Carr said. “We don’t have any legislative power, we’re not a municipality, but boy, can we be annoying — in a good way.”

Carr said it is important for Reston Association members and the Board to stay vigilant in letting the County know the problems Reston citizens have with new developments and other legislation. Some members also expressed displeasure with what seem to be futile attempts to get their opinions heard during county meetings, citing particularly the recent public meetings on the Planned Residential Community zoning ordinance amendment.

John Mooney, At-Large director, harkened the St. John’s Wood public meetings — which resulted in the project being deferred indefinitely — as he reminded residents that their well-formed and -organized thoughts on specific plans do matter.

“You have to have the community involved on policy level issues and zoning ordinance issues, but you also have to have communities get really informed, bust their butts understanding what’s going on in particular projects,” he said. “You have to have those two levels of citizen interactions … for political change to happen. It can’t happen with just one line of attack or one line of engagement.”

Mooney said that in addition to the meetings taking place between RA Board leadership and Hudgins, there are staff-to-staff meetings and other interaction going on with the County. Members in attendance said they’d like to know more about how those conversations are progressing.

Members continued on to say it is difficult to learn any information about what is happening within Reston Association, because of a lack of communication and what they view as a confusing website. Most agreed they get more information from local media and from Nextdoor than they do from RA itself. Carr agreed that work needs to be done to better reach members.

“We have an extensive site, but we’re not reaching you the same way other avenues of information are reaching you,” Carr said.

Mike Leone, RA’s communications director, said he is working to increase Reston Association’s presence on Nextdoor to push more news out to the community more efficiently. Attendees were also encouraged to sign up for RA’s email bulletins and other local newsletters.

  • Bill2298

    Oh good, we’re calling young people snobby elitists. Safe to say it takes one to know one, and the young people aren’t the ones opposed to all forms of development simply because they want to keep Reston “elite.”

  • Hieronymus Bosch

    Update: SJW’s by Bozzuto – being “deferred indefinately” appears to only be until the July 18th Meeting of the RA DRB; they are back (in the middle of the Summer) with revised plans.

    • 40yearsinreston

      Surprise,surprise

  • Mike M

    “. . . but we can be annoying, . . .”

    Give that man a cigar!

    How desperate have we become when there materializes the notion that RA can fix ANYTHING, let alone our Hudgins problem?

    • Donald

      Apparently the new RA board believes they are on top of this:

      “…Victoria White, Hunters Woods/Dogwood District director, said Board president Sherri Hebert and vice president David Bobzien have been having weekly meetings with Hudgins to try to facilitate more communication…”

      Really? To what end?

      Donald

      • 40yearsinreston

        Hudgins loves meetings
        The requisite level of kowtowing and deference gives her the impression she is working hard

      • Umust B Kidding

        I hear tell that Hudgins, how do I say this?, expressed extreme displeasure with our RA leaders recently in one of their meetings for advancing Restonians’ interests in the Reston PRC matter. She not only isn’t representing us, she’s telling us to bugger off.

        • Donald

          Well, I also believe it’s the messenger(s).

          This is where the likes of McBride and his team would do well to educate Ms. Herbert on the best way to get the politician to play ball. But, I doubt she’s willing to listen. I think she’s more interested in firing the guy.

          Bobzien should know the “ins” and “outs” to working the BOS.

          Donald

          • CitizenComment

            Ugh Donald – I usually agree with you – but these lawyers have been on the books for years and have not had any impact on Hudgins, the Board, or the pace of development…the county is running the show and does not listen to its residents. Last year we paid $1 million to attorneys!!! And this year we are talking about reduced hours at pools?? C’mon! Sherry is right to want to look for new (cheaper) representation – we are not losing any “big influence” with the county – only thing we will lose is a big fat paycheck to attorneys and gain some money to keep our pools open and operating. Need I remind you that these same lawyers and their “team” (yes we paid for multiple attorneys) were central players in the Lake House debacle??? We pay too much in legal fees. The benefit does not exceed the cost.

          • Donald

            I understand your concern with the cost, but I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one – but hey, that’s ok.

            I think McBride (and his resources) provided invaluable direction and assistance with regard to the Reston National case. I believe he has done an excellent job educating the RA boards about the actual land use process and how to get a seat at the “adults-only” table.

            The problem has been with the RA boards. They pay McBride, but then do nothing.

            Watching Ms. Hebert with McBride the other evening was painful. She was almost rude with her lack of interest, and strong desire to get him to speed up and finish, so she could keep her agenda on time. She was not listening, she didn’t rally the Board, she didn’t demonstrate taking action. Instead, she came across as if she knew more than McBride.

            Donald

          • CitizenComment

            I am just not certain of the benefit. What has it yielded us to date?? Education of the Board? Half a million dollars to educate our Board on land use policies and practices?? Really? Where are the big wins?? And you know we have another attorney (a SECOND attorney) who attends every meeting (and we PAY for that too) to “advise” RA in Executive Session (i.e., in secret), which members hate. Over $1 million in legal fees last year. If land use is a priority, then maybe we should direct our OTHER attorney to focus on THAT rather than taking notes at meetings, or focusing on collections of assessments or administering Robert’s Rules of Order at $300-350/hr!! These guys have a good gig with RA – they are definitely growing their business, but at what expense? We have issues with facilities, cut-backs in pool hours, a hefty mortgage on the Lake House property, AND a growing legal budget, all under their watch. We clearly are not an endless stream of money – assessments went up and pool hours went down – the choice this year was to cut back on services to members (services that benefit MANY) and maintain the budget for legal fees? Really? And now we are going to pay them more to “negotiate” Reston National for us?? The same guys who “negotiated” the contracts for the Lake House?? Seriously? Sherry is probably looking at the cost and asking what the heck we are actually getting for all that money and looking at the time knowing that we are paying them for every minute they’re there – so I applaud her efforts to push them to “cut to the chase” and I am guessing most of the membership would probably agree with her.

          • Donald

            Well, we shall see. I say, if you’re paying for it, use it wisely. I haven’t seen much wisdom from this board – just arrogance and naivete.

          • CitizenComment

            I think this Board is asking all the right questions…

          • Donald

            As I said, we shall see.

            From my perspective, all I’ve seen so far is people focused on their own presence on camera, saying what they believe are the right things to say — for all the wrong reasons.

            I hope I’m wrong.

            Donald

  • EliteinReston

    What’s wrong with Arlington? The county is a national model of planned growth, with its highest density along the transit corridor. Its wise development resulted in a solid tax base, jobs, housing, good schools and regional amenities like restaurants and shopping. Fairfax officials, including Hudgins, know that Reston/Fairfax residents don’t want to replicate Arlington densities so the Reston plan is a compromise. Call it Arlington Lite. And if you don’t like Hudgins, run someone against her.

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