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Restonians Encourage Each Other To Fight Against PRC Zoning Ordinance Amendment

by Dave Emke September 21, 2017 at 11:30 am 73 Comments

A zoning ordinance amendment being suggested by Fairfax County could result in Reston’s population increasing threefold by 2050, community advocates say, and local residents are being encouraged to speak out against it.

Reston 20/20, Reclaim Reston and the Reston Citizens Association presented a community information session on the County’s proposal Wednesday, attended by more than 100 concerned Restonians. The goal of the event was to help residents learn more about what the amendment means and to prepare them for a fourth public meeting on the proposal, being presented by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins at 7 p.m. Monday at Lake Anne Elementary School (11510 North Shore Drive). The first three meetings on the proposal, held in May, were not seen as adequate by many Restonians who attended them.

“Community participation is vital and must be continuous,” said Dennis Hays, Reston Citizens Association president, during the presentation. “I don’t believe just sitting and having someone tell you what they’ve already decided is participation.”

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. (The density is currently about 11.9 people per acre.) The PRC District does not include any of the Transit Station Area 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.

The ordinance 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 TSAs within the PRC and when in accordance with Comprehensive Plan recommendations. Those areas that would be marked for major residential development include all of Reston’s village centers.

If the zoning ordinance were to go into effect, Hays said, it would be akin to the genie being let out of the bottle for development all over Reston.

“Once it’s a zoning ordinance, it’s done; it’s over; there’s not much we can do, ever,” he said.

According to numbers presented by Terry Maynard, co-chair of Reston 20/20, the proposed changes combined with high-rise development in TSAs could result in Reston’s overall population increasing to more than 177,000 by 2050. John Mooney, representing Reclaim Reston, said that even by conservative estimates, this would increase peak-time traffic in the community by nearly double if infrastructure needs are not addressed concurrently.

In addition to a lack of adequate streets to accommodate the increased population, Maynard said the lacking infrastructure would also include a deficit in schools and parks. Concerns about police staffing, fire coverage and more were also brought up by other residents.

“You don’t put that cart before the horse,” said Bruce Ramo, of Reclaim Reston, which has organized a petition effort in the attempt to get the county to stop new development proposals and zoning changes until infrastructure needs are addressed. “That’s why we’re saying what we’re saying here tonight: Let’s step back and do it right.”

Residents were encouraged to show up en masse to Monday’s meeting, to let Hudgins and county staff know that they do not want to see Reston grow out of control. They were also requested to call Hudgins’ office and leave messages relaying their displeasure.

“Shut down the office with your phone calls,” resident John Farrell told those in attendance. “Tell her what you think, and don’t stop telling her what you think.”

The DPZ had originally hoped to bring the proposed amendment before the Board of Supervisors in July, followed by a Planning Commission public hearing in September and the Board public hearing in October. It now has those projected dates pushed back to November, January and February, respectively.

If Reston residents who attended Wednesday’s meeting have their way, though, the end result will be the proposal being left by the wayside until more pressing concerns are met.

“It’s quite clear that the County, with our spineless supervisor, is determined to push through an ill-considered, ill-organized PRC proposal,” said John Hanley. “We need to stop it dead … for at least a year or two years to discuss it and to find out what all the ramifications are.”

Restonians who want to learn more should contact representatives of Reston 20/20, Reclaim Reston and/or the Reston Citizens Association.

  • cRAzy


    • Mike M

      Dilly, dilly!

  • YIMBYonTheBlock

    And of course……most of the people in the picture are old. Alas, they fight for changes they won’t be alive to see the effects of. YIMBYs oughta step up harder, we get drowned out far too much. Reston will wind up eventually like any big city in America (i.e. San Francisco) with out of control home and rental prices if we continue to constrict supply like this.

    • Mike M

      Master YIMBY. Please follow Sir Brad. He is going to give you a private tour of the Pit of Misery. Dilly, dilly!

    • TheRealMikeSapupello

      I attended this meeting and I’m 32.

    • Tom

      Hey, if young people want to fight these changes, then they should show up to these meetings. I for one have zero sympathy for them if they don’t want to participate.

      • Hieronymus Bosch

        Looks like the older, perhaps retirees are seated and probably got to the meeting with plenty of time to spare. Those standing in the rear of the room, younger and possibly coming from work, soccer or baseball practices or other family commitments that occupy time in the evenings.

  • Donald

    Where was the RA board?


    • Ray Wedell

      I have promised to be nice……so I will pass on answering that question! Kudos to John Mooney for being a major part of the fight, however.

  • SmartGrowth in Reston

    While it is great to see so many people coming out and caring about an important decision it would be great if both sides were presented

    Many people at the meeting seemingly wanted to deny market forces in that people want to move to reston and it is profitable for companies to make massive investment in reston by building new buildings. This new construction at a time when real estate in reston is at a premium will only drive land values higher not lower as it was alleged, if nothing is none and supply says the same the reston will price out many families and no longer will it be socially diverse…

    Reclaim Reston one demands is legally a non starter and Reston 20/20 while the research that is produced is impressive it usually involves assumptions which tilt towards worst case scenario. Never have I seen these two organizations present alternatives that would allow Reston to expand.

    It seems both groups want to keep Reston “suburban” the problem is Reston is no longer suburban and with the arrival of metro is will no longer be at least not in the TSA’s

    The current plan has issues and Reston show demand answers on how certain needs are meet and are planned for as Reston is in a unique place to show how urban and suburban can work in one area

    • Mike M

      I am assuming you work for the development industry. Right?
      Here are some facts that your arguments ignore:
      1) Market forces can be shaped by developers and the County’s enabling. Why Reston? Because the County and the developers have decided.
      2) People want to move to Reston? Really? The Reston that is being destroyed? Or the one where all the new housing is being built due to the decisions made by the County and their development bosses?
      3) Your statement “This new construction at a time when real estate in Reston is at a premium will only drive land values higher not lower,” reflects poor understanding of markets. You are 180 degrees incorrect. As supply increases, quality of life decreases, and taxes increase, prices will be suppressed. We are already seeing that. I have also seen evidence that development industry firms are taking measures to ensure that prices stay suppressed.
      4) Current residents have every right to speak out about what is being done to their community by non-residents.
      5) Current development plans are not well-planned with respect to infrastructure capacity. That is the opposite of “smart growth.”
      6) What few plans for adjustments in infrastructure capacity that exist rely on unrealistic funding or funding at the expense of current residence. Developers are not paying for what will benefit them directly.

      • Why do you bother?

        The Apocalypse has arrived – I agree with Mike M!

        • Mike M

          Would you like a yard sign to attest to that?

          • IllegallyLivingInReston

            This town isn’t large enough for us both to sell signs.

          • Mike M

            Just sell the “I agree with Mike M” signs.

      • TheRealMikeSapupello

        I wish I could upvote this more.

      • Ray Wedell

        Mike M….this is an incredibly great answer. May I borrow it in blogs and discussions I have on this issue in the future?

        • Mike M

          I’d be flattered.

    • Why do you bother?

      ” Never have I seen these two organizations present alternatives that would allow Reston to expand.”

      What does that tell you? Reston does not need to expand!

    • Reston Realist

      you obviously have no clue how market forces and real estate development economics work. I’m not going to go into all the metrics, theory and historic examples because it would take up too much space here…Just read what Mike wrote below. He summarized it well. I would only add that: if the underlying zoning allows for higher density development and interloping developers can make $$ by exploiting it — the lifestyle of the existing residents becomes an unfortunate footnote

      • Ray Wedell

        Can I get about 10,000 “amens” on that Reston Realist comment?

        • Mike M

          Amen, amen, amen, . . . I’m tired.

    • cRAzy

      The whole point of zoning is to manage growth because landowners are greedy buggers and they don’t care what they do to the rest of the community.

  • Simple Question

    One question that has not been answered IMO is how does a 23% increase in cap mean a 300% increase in traffic and 100% increase in people?

    • TheKingJAK

      If you click on the first link in the article you’ll see the county’s math, which certainly leaves a serious margin for error.

      • cRAzy

        Mmmmmmm . . . Because the County uses really funny math!

        Its not counting affordable housing or the bonuses it generates nor the tens of thousands of homes that will be added in the station areas outside the Reston PRC. In short, they want us to look at a fragment of Reston, not the whole picture. Just don’t look behind the curtain!

        • Ray Wedell

          You got it….just skip along the yellow brick road and when you reach the end, please do not pull back the curtain.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    It all begs the question. Why does Reston need any new development AT ALL?

    • IllegallyLivingInReston

      Because Northern Virginia is growing and for whatever reason instead of building upward, planners have decided sprawl and two lane roads are much more appropriate. As such, sprawl is well underway in Fairfax and before long will be in Loudon.

      • cRAzy

        Actually, Fairfax County is suffering outmigration compensated for primarily by international arrivals. Very weak growth and little prospect for greater growth!

        • Greg

          “International arrivals.” Is that the new term for it?

          • The Constitutionalist

            It rustles less jimmies this way.

      • RVA_101

        It’s already hit Loudoun. Miles of endless, soulless sprawling cul de sacs. Fairfax can distinguish itself from suburbia by building good transit oriented development/smart growth. Reston and Tysons come to mind. Arlington too.

        • IllegallyLivingInReston

          Loudon might actually be one of the fastest growing counties in Nova now. There’s a disconnect between the people who move here and the people who have lived here. You’ll see older generations talking about Robert E Simon and his vision. First issue here is that people moving to Reston from out of the area probably have little to no idea who he was, and much less what the original vision for Reston was. The second issue is that DC and the surrounding areas have just exploded in population and development. Fairfax County had 275,000 people living in it in 1960. It currently has an estimated 1.1M. There’s only so much room for farms and homes with large backyards. And if they’re attempting to attract young adults, apartments are the only way. Not that any young adult could afford a house out here anyway. I don’t know many young adults that should reasonably live in an apartment alone considering rent prices. However, maybe they aren’t trying at all to attract fresh out of college kids. All of the new apartments currently being built have rents of around $1500-$1600 for a one bedroom.

          I think Reston is already trying to turn itself into some sort of walkable town. There’s a ton of development around Wiehle-Reston, and oncet he second metro is up near the town center, it’s only a matter of time until it’s highrise apartments and office buildings lining Sunrise Hills. Maybe they’re trying to turn it into what the Ballston-Clarendon-Rosslyn corridor looks like — but with less of a bar scene.

          • Donald

            For what it’s worth. Loudon is the wealthiest county in the USA.


          • IllegallyLivingInReston

            Fairfax is the second wealthiest! Though that wealth does not help a fresh-out-of-college young adult afford the rent any better.

        • Mike M

          Tysons? Wanna live there? I know major employers who are abandoning it.

      • Mike M

        You mean like a place where people want to live when they grow up?

        • IllegallyLivingInReston

          I’m sorry I’m ruining your old man paradise with my youth. Though I choose to live in Reston because I work in Reston and I’m not a fan of commuting.

          • Mike M

            You have absolutely no idea of my age. None.
            I have worked in Reston. But the firm moved. That’s real life.

          • The Constitutionalist

            We have to be at least 75 or 80, right? There’s no way that anyone in their late 20’s or 30’s could possibly have conservative views.

          • Greg

            Like Ben Shapiro? Young, conservative AND Jewish. Imagine that!

          • IllegallyLivingInReston

            Well statistically, late 20s or 30s are more likely to be liberal than conservative, especially in Northern Virginia.

            Facts, feelings, blah blah blah.

          • Mike M

            The other subtext here is that old people don’t matter. Imagine, the people with all the experience don’t matter. Disgusting.

          • Heh

            Photo up top mainly shows old women. Wonder how many of them grew up here?

  • TheKingJAK

    In building up the TSAs so dramatically, Reston is effectively being cut in half.

    • Mike M

      It’s a cancer on the residency.

    • Ray Wedell

      Making “One Reston” even more of a mere slogan. We will be fortifying our own Mason-Dixon Line….or is it the equivalent of Korea’s 38th parallel?

  • Skylar

    Long term Restonians need to understand that this is no longer their little village and along with their desire to have a Metro in Reston, they have to accept building sprawl AND traffic. The resisters are likely the same people who failed to clean up the mess that is Lake Ann village because of all their lack of forward thinking, open mindedness and demands to maintain a certain status quo. Reston is a hot spot….people want to live here….and yes the roads will be more crowded. But, services will likely increase as part of demand and increased population growth. Think of the upsides dear people….stop focusing on the downsides and embrace change. Change is coming….the easy way or the hard way….

    • cRAzy

      Wow, you certainly mis-read what happened at Lake Anne! That suggests the rest of your comment is also flawed.

      • Greg

        No. But for tens of millions of public support, Lake Anne would long ago have failed. Even with that support, Lake Anne’s redevelopment failed and the developer walked.

    • Mike M

      Change is coming so long as the County holds the current residents down while the developers have their way with us.

    • Feh

      “Think of the upsides dear people” – like what?

      Higher taxes, worse traffic, more aggravation. What’s the upside?

  • CaptainObvious

    Big crowd last night–I rough counted over 170. Some first timers who were shocked by a lot of the over-the-top the sky is falling and it’s all a tightly woven conspiracy by developers who’ve captured the Supervisor. Much nonsense.

    Supervisor Hudgins who is a short-timer, is likely persuaded by county staff to charge ahead with more development at a faster pace than the county & Commonwealth can provide transport, parks and schools infrastructure for in order to sustain the Reston vision!

    There is no justification for jumping from 13 to 16 immediately as the county demands. When the county brings forward proposals which include and designate areas for fully adequate parks & open spaces & schools as well as plans with budget estimates for transportation to sustain our Reston quality of life, then and only then should we support increases to zoned density consisting with these prerequisites.

    I for one am prepared to see Reston grow, as Robert Simon envidioned, but not as a place that will not function as a place for us all to live –which is the path that Hudgins and the revenue-starved county bureaucracy seek to shove down our throats!

    Show us the sensible plan for greater density, then we can talk. Not before.

    • Greg

      Hudgins is a short-timer?

      • Alas

        If only.

      • LaureenMT

        Meaning that she may have been in office for years, but many believe she will not continue there much longer.

  • Keep Reston Awesome

    I am a millenial. I am a Reston home owner. I agree with all of the old people in the photo, I just couldn’t make the meeting and represent younger Restonians b/c I work late hours. I hope to still be living in Reston in 2050 because I love Reston . . . the way it is now. If these zoning ordinances pass and county developers who only see dollar signs run wild, Reston will slowly become Arlington 2.0 . . . and I will be out of here. Born and raised in NOVA I chose to buy in Reston in 2016 for the nature, trails, amenities, people, vibe and Simon vision. It’s always been a cool place. It will be a shame to watch that all slowly die with all this Zoning and rapid growth BS.

  • Tammi Petrine

    Allowing building without an infrastructure budget in place is a no-go. The county has NO money to build the necessary infrastructure for what exists NOW, let alone that which has been approved but not yet built. Neither are the state nor Fed gov’ts able to help. Developers are NOT required to provide all of the infrastructure that their profit-making enterprises require but instead already corridor and RTC residents are on the hook to help with transportation improvements in the TSA’s in a tax service district with an annually adjustable tax rate. And it’s not like we would have to wait a year or two… the wait is indefinite. NO distinct dates have been set for anything to get built. The meager funds available in northern VA for transportation improvements are slated to go elsewhere: NOT Reston.

    School bonds are on the ballot this Nov. with no assurance that they will pass. And even if they do, certainly this bond grouping will not cure all of Reston’s educational ills. Don’t get me started on parks… the county is starving the Park Authority and the Library budgets. The machinations in both organizations to hide from the public what is really happening is truly maddening. That is substance for its own column at another time.

    The standard of living in Reston is decreasing as we wait in traffic, schools are over-crowded, library services and books dwindling, and park space is too limited. Already the functioning of our environment is being seriously compromised. People living here are stressed and unhappy. This is why so many came out to the meeting last night!

    So the county’s answer is to pour more capacity into an already too crowded town? Ah, no. WE are not Crystal City or Arlington or all-urban despite the brainwashing from our supervisor. Her own renowned smart growth lecturer in 2015 confirmed that Reston can not be successfully urban except for RTC and small surrounding area. Even the corridor area is too limited (narrow) to be a good urban landscape due to a pitiful grid system including the newly designed master plan. Metro seemed to promise much more than it can deliver. IT alone does not urban make. We are suburban with an ersatz urban corridor bisecting us. We are One Reston. We say leave our planned community with its planning principles in tact and stop the move to remake a gem into something that will never have the livability or reputation of the original.

    Bottom line: Reston does not owe Fairfax County BOS its soul because the county has a pension funding crisis. Killing its golden goose of high tax receipts (Reston) is just plain stupid. We will work together with all other county businesses and residents to help solve the pension mess but we will not allow our town to be the sole scapegoat for someone else’s error.

  • Donald


    Mr Hays, you state:

    “If the zoning ordinance were to go into effect…it would be akin to the genie being let out of the bottle for development all over Reston.”

    Really, you just figured that out. That’s all you have to say? Do you have a plan of action?

    Mr. Hanley, you state:

    “It’s quite clear that the County, with our spineless supervisor, is determined to push through an ill-considered, ill-organized PRC proposal,” said John Hanley, a member of the Reston Citizens Association Board of Directors. “We need to stop it dead … for at least a year or two years to discuss it and to find out what all the ramifications are.”

    I ask you John — how? What’s the plan of action?

    Mr. Maynard, you state:

    “The proposed changes combined with high-rise development in TSAs could result in Reston’s overall population increasing to more than 177,000 by 2050.”

    Yup, I would say that’s a given — and I didn’t need your analysis to tell me that. So, what’s your plan to change that, or to mitigate its impact?

    Mr. Ramo, you state:

    “You don’t put that cart before the horse,”

    You know — we get that. So, what do you plan to do?

    I sat in a very large room, with a lot of people, with varying opinions, who were concerned one way or the other, looking to see what could be done — looking to see what was going to be done. What we got was, the sky is falling, you must be angry, and call Hudgins. And RA sat on the sidelines.

    Wow, the best minds.


    • cRAzy

      And so what have you done? What are you planning to do?

      • Donald

        This density matter has already been taken into account. The politics say it will happen.

        Right now I focus my time on specific redevelopment projects. I think that’s where I can have the most impact as an individual. I put a lot of time into attending and speaking at the P&Z meetings as well as County Hearings.

        What I’d like – at the outset, is a dedicated Land Use Attorney working with us like minded individuals. One who knows the county system, (and the state,) one who is respected, and is innovative.

        This person better know how to negotiate with Looney and the Cooley team. Hell, I wish Cooley was on our side.

        And finally — one who knows the politics, cuz that’s where all of this will end up.

        As the brilliant minds above have stated — the genie is already out of the bottle – wonder how long it took them to figure that out. We need to recognize growth is here to stay. We now need to focus on the specific projects identified and get involved with them early on to mitigate their impact.

        These efforts need to be well organized with outcomes identified

        The Reston Association Board has the opportunity to organize and leverage its legal resources on our behalf. Wish the community would accept that, and the Board would realize that.

        Needless to say, now is the time to get the Hawkeye’s in the air, identify specific targets of opportunity and execute.


    • Ray Wedell

      So Donald…what is YOUR plan? Mssrs. Maynard, Hanley, Hays, and Ramo, all mentioned with skepticism above. I believe in all of you. Thank you for showing up, and for showing leadership. Maintain the strategy: “Fight ’em till hell freezes over…then fight ’em again on the ice.”

  • Ray Wedell

    I want to thank the following four persons, and all of those who helped them prepare for this event: Bruce Ramo; Terry Maynard; John Mooney; and Dennis Hays. They have all fought long and hard, and will continue to do so, as volunteers for this amazing cause. We should all show up on September 25, and follow these four leaders. The presentation and q & a on Wednesday was so informative and so well presented by all. Thank you again.

    • LaureenMT

      I agree with Ray Wedell on this point.

  • Tree Hugger

    My biggest concern/question is why must they build more in the already established residential areas? Removing the shopping areas and replacing them with high-rise residential buildings? No current Reston home owner wants this. How does this make things better? Increase the population density and it will take away all the reasons people love living and owning homes in Reston.
    So, again, why is the county doing this?…

    • Ray Wedell

      Why? Answer= $

      • Donald

        Already zoned.


    • Arlene Krieger

      You are absolutely correct.

    • Donald

      You need to realize, these areas were always zoned accordingly (mixed use, higher density).

      You now need to focus on making these inevitable new developments work within the community as best as possible.


  • The Constitutionalist

    Oh but he lives on in the hearts of liberals everywhere.

  • Arlene Krieger

    As our Supervisor is short term why give her more power. She has always been with the Developers. She never saw a development plan she did not like. The developers can always count on her. I think now is the time to start vetting candidates to run for the supervisor office. I don’t want one who is accountable to Fairfax County and other interests that are trying to make a big bucks off the people of Reston by destroying our residential neighborhoods. We, the Hunter Mill people want to select our own candidate. I’d like to see a lot of competition for the position. I’d like to see debates and a primary. I can think of quite a few people who should run next time around. I’d like to see a committee to encourage certain people to run. People who will work for us.

    • Donald

      I’m curious. Does it matter the party affiliation of this candidate?



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