Reclaim Reston is upset with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who they say are ignoring their urging to slow down development.
The grassroots activist group wrote to the Board of Supervisors last month, asking for a moratorium on proposed zoning ordinance amendments from the county’s Department of Planning & Zoning and on approval of any development projects that haven’t yet been submitted.
After receiving no response in over three weeks, the group is not happy.
“By silently thumbing their noses at the legitimate concerns of the Reston community, the Board of Supervisors sent the unambiguous message that they hold all the cards and view the Reston residents as powerless to interfere with the Supervisors’ cozy relationship with developers,” group member Bruce Ramo wrote to Reston Now.
An online petition Reclaim Reston set up in support of the moratorium has nearly 700 signatures.
Reclaim Reston is urging the Board of Supervisors to control development and ensure that planning and funding for infrastructure such as schools, roads, bridges, parks and other recreational facilities, remains in sync with the influx of new residents.
When asked by Reston Now about Reclaim Reston’s request, Hudgins provided the following statement (presented as written):
I recognize that good economics time, particular the last two years, provides more economic opportunity for new development. This does not mean the support for that development will not occur. While it would be great if all the planned transportation projects were already built, however, infrastructure improvement depend on those developing the land and a blending of federal, state and county funding. Three new Reston north/south crossings and three new rail stations scheduled to open in Reston and Herndon area, will relieve much of the traffic that travel today to Reston and Wiehle stations on many primary Reston arteries. I am working to build these sooner than planned.
My pledge is the outcome of future growth will more than conform to Reston’s planned community. Bob Simon believed people should be concentrated around Villages. Today’s village comes in a more urban form with the support of transit, retail and parks, in addition to housing. Mr. Simon voted for the Comprehensive Plan. I hope the outcome will meet his and your desires when we see it completed.
Ramo, though, says that the board’s silence on Reclaim Reston’s call for a moratorium shows that the County will go forward with its plans no matter what, leaving potential infrastructure problems to be resolved at some future time.
“Fairfax County has every intention of moving forward to convert Reston to the County’s cash cow, regardless of what it means for the education of our children, or the quality of life, safety or environment of our community,” Ramo said.
Today, we open the voting for our 2017 Best Reston Business award in the Best Arts/Entertainment Venue category. This poll will be open through 5 p.m. Thursday, July 20. After that, the top two vote-getters will advance to final voting, which will take place in early August.
We have several fun venues and entertainers who are in the running for the honor this year. Cast your vote below.
Check back each weekday through July 26 for another category’s ballot.
Open through July 21: Best Builder/Remodeler/Contractor
Open through July 24: Best Child Care/Preschool
Open through July 25: Best Financial Business
Open through July 26: Best Fitness Business
Open through July 27: Best Real Estate Agent
Three meetings in May to discuss a proposed zoning ordinance amendment for Reston’s Planned Residential Community district did not satisfy residents upset about the plan.
A fourth meeting, though, is on the horizon.
Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has announced that the county Department of Planning and Zoning will hold another public meeting on the proposal. A tentative date of Sept. 25 was reported.
The proposal from the county DPZ would increase the limit on people per acre in Reston’s PRC District from 13 to 16. This would allow for 18,737 more people beyond the current cap in Reston over time. Reston’s PRC District is currently at about 11.9 persons per acre. The amendment would also allow for the Board of Supervisors to be able to approve individual developments in excess of 50 dwelling units per acre in Transit Station Areas within the PRC 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 May meetings, 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.
Restonians who attended the May meetings expressed their concern that the county was trying to rush the amendment through the approval process. They were especially upset when the third meeting was held in an open-house format rather than as a question-and-answer session.
“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, at one of the meetings. “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 [in May].”
The Reston Association Board of Directors adopted a resolution at its May meeting asking the County to give more time and consideration to the community’s voice.
The original plan for the DPZ was to bring the plan before the Board of Supervisors this month, followed by a Planning Commission public hearing in September and the Board public hearing in October. It now has those dates pushed back to November, December and January, respectively.
Map courtesy Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning
Developers of the new residential community at Tall Oaks will present their plan to Reston’s Design Review Board during its meeting next week. The developers will seek approval of their plans for landscape and lighting, as well as site amenities and architectural elevations.
Tall Oaks Village Center was purchased in 2014 by McLean-based developer Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG). In 2016, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors took an unprecedented step when it unanimously approved JAG’s proposal to rezone, rebuild and transform the smallest of Reston’s village centers.
The plan is to build 156 homes, community space, 8,500 square foot of retail and about 6,000 square feet of office space in the location. JAG has provided an animated virtual tour of the plan.
The 70,000-square foot center was 86 percent empty by the time the redevelopment was approved. Jefferson had conducted a market study that showed attracting a new retail anchor was not an option. Remaining businesses at the village center are in the process of deciding where to go once the redevelopment begins. The last remaining restaurants will all be out of their space by the end of the year.
The DRB meeting will be Tuesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The public is invited to attend.
Renderings via Jefferson Apartment Group
During the primary election season when both parties in Virginia were making their selection of a candidate for governor, one candidate who went on to get his party’s nomination proposed the clincher of a policy proposal to secure his success in the election: a billion-dollar tax cut!
For those who have been around the state for some time it may sound familiar; the successful car tax cutting proposal that elected a previous governor is still costing the state about a billion dollars each year. That cut was particularly ironic in that it had the state cutting a local tax by reimbursing the localities for taxpayers. It was great for Northern Virginians as less wealthy downstate taxpayers reimburse the wealthiest jurisdictions in a reverse “Robin Hood” plan.
Before voters jump at a promise of reduced taxes, I hope there will be a serious consideration of the consequences. Virginia prides itself on being a “balanced budget” state; its revenues cover its operational expenses. Borrowing is permitted under the State Constitution for capital projects when approved by voters unless the project raises enough revenue to pay for itself. All that is good with a major exception. At no time does the state quantify its needs in order to determine what the cost of government would be if the state met its responsibility in providing funding. Two examples are offered below to make my point.
The first example is the state’s refusal to fund education at the level it has in the past and that is required by the Constitution. A report by the Commonwealth Institute, “State Cuts Mean Fewer Staff and Resources for Virginia Students,” in April 2017 makes the point.
“Statewide, state support has fallen 11 percent per student since 2009 in real dollars. This has impacted the ability of schools to maintain staffing and facilities. Across the state, school divisions have about 2,800 fewer staff than they had in 2009, despite growing enrollment. If they had kept pace with enrollment growth, Virginia’s schools would have 10,400 more staff instructing students and making sure the schools run smoothly.”
The other example is in health care. The Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic in Wise County is well known having been featured on an edition of 60 Minutes. There, thousands of Virginians receive their health care for the year in a weekend clinic held on the local fair grounds. The federal Affordable Care Act did not help as the legislature would not take federal monies to expand Medicaid that would have helped these people in need. The state turned its back on nearly $5 billion paid into the federal system by Virginia taxpayers because it did not want to have anything to do with what it termed Obamacare. What has happened in the meantime? A second RAM weekend clinic has been opened in Lee County nearby to Wise in Southwest Virginia, and a new clinic has been started in Emporia in Greensville County in Southside Virginia.
We definitely need to balance our budget, but we need to balance it against our needs. How could we seriously propose to cut our income when there continues to be such extensive unmet needs in the Commonwealth?
Saving the Environment One Straw at a Time — Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day. Karan Marari, 11, of Reston, is aiming to reduce their use locally with his “no straw request.” He is educating restaurant owners, urging them to change their wait staff’s behaviors and practices that lead to the unsolicited placement of plastic straws in patrons’ drinks. [Reston Connection]
One Month Anniversary of Nabra’s Death — An event is scheduled for Sunday to mark the one-month anniversary Nabra Hassanen’s killing. The goal of the event is to ease people’s pain through prayer. [All Dulles Area Muslim Society]
Boating Safety Tips — The Marine Patrol Unit has published a list of safety tips for those who plan to spend time on the water. These include wearing a life jacket, checking the durability of one’s boat, bringing emergency items such as snacks and water onboard, and more. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Line Dancer to Instruct Tonight at Lake Anne — The “Take A Break” concert series at Lake Anne Plaza will continue tonight with a dance night from Cedar Creek. Learn to dance as the tunes take over. [Lake Anne Plaza]