Too Many People in Small Space Results in Postponement of Meeting on Increasing Density Cap

by Dave Emke September 26, 2017 at 10:15 am 70 Comments

Reston residents argue that a zoning ordinance amendment proposed by Fairfax County would cause the community to become too overpopulated to manage.

That makes what happened at a scheduled county meeting to discuss the topic Monday night particularly ironic.

After hundreds of Restonians crowded into the cafeteria at Lake Anne Elementary School for the forum, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and staff from the Department of Planning and Zoning told them the meeting would have to be postponed until a larger venue could be booked.

“It is a safety issue and a code violation [to have so many people in the cafeteria],” Hudgins said to a chorus of boos from the crowd, many of whom were wearing yellow-shaded Reclaim Reston and Rescue Reston T-shirts. “You did come out and that’s important, and I’m glad that you did, we appreciate that.”

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.

Citizen activists warn that the combined effect of these changes could see the population of Reston tripled by 2050.

According to signage displayed in the cafeteria at Lake Anne Elementary School, the fire code caps the number of occupants of the cafeteria at 210 when tables and chairs are present, as they were Monday night. Estimates of attendance for the meeting ranged from 350 to over 400.

Dozens of meeting attendees filed out the door after Hudgins made the announcement, saying they were making room for the meeting to go on as scheduled. Meanwhile, suggestions were shouted that the entire meeting be picked up and moved to the school’s gymnasium or even outside.

However, the decision to postpone had already been made.

“We want to communicate, and we will try to find a solution,” Hudgins said. “We’ll get a facility where we can accommodate you.”

The large turnout came after a community meeting last week where members of Reston activism groups encouraged residents to spread the word and rally attendance. One of leaders of that event was Dennis Hays, president of the Reston Citizens Association.

“I’m disappointed that we’re not having the meeting, particularly after several hundred people volunteered to walk out to try to get us down to the [maximum occupancy] number,” Hays said Monday night. “[But we] sent a message. The message was that the citizenry are concerned by this and willing to stand up and say something.”

The Reston Association Board of Directors had been scheduled to hear an update on the situation and take an official stance on it at their meeting Thursday; however, that will now likely be postponed as well, President Sherri Hebert said.

Hudgins and Fred Selden, director of the county DPZ, said the proposal will not move forward in any way until all feedback from the community has been received.

“This is not a done deal,” Hudgins said. “If it was a done deal, we would have stopped [scheduling meetings] long ago. We’re back here to continue to hear from you.”

Information about the date, time and location of the rescheduled meeting will be provided when it becomes available.

  • Umust B Kidding


  • cRAzy

    “We want to communicate, and we will try to find a solution,” Hudgins said….

    Regrettably, the County’s idea of communicating is telling us what it’s going to do, not listening to residents’ concerns. The pace slows, but the end is inevitable.

  • RN

    Love the title to this article.

  • Donald


    “…The Reston Association Board of Directors had been scheduled to hear an update on the situation and take an official stance on it at their meeting Thursday; however, that will now likely be postponed as well, President Sherri Hebert said…”

    Hey RA Board,why postpone? Last night’s outcome shouldn’t change your ability to take a stand. What are you waiting for? You have the resources and the ability to make these citizen groups super-successful.

    Unify dammit, demonstrate some LEADERSHIP!


    • cRAzy

      . . . or at least FOLLOW the community!

      What was it Lee Iococca, Chrysler CEO, used to say? “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

      • Mike M

        Iaccoca may have said it in reference to getting a Federal bailout. But it is attributed originally and with controversy to Thomas Paine. It is a fact that George S Patton said it.

        • Donald

          I’ll take Deputy Barney Fife over the RA board at the moment.


          • Arlene Krieger

            Yes indeed.

    • Ray Wedell

      Donald…. I gave you my take on this in another post. Be happy we have these three groups generating real leadership and doing whatever the RA Board is not designed to do and will never do. Consider it a blessing that we all know that fact now, and know that results occur when following leadership of those some RA Board members have called “splinter groups” in the past….I fought this for 2 1/2 years. RA is more open now than then, only because they have to be, and only minimally. It is 2017: they are in 1990-Land of Oz. It is great that we are all escaping Oz and getting off the yellow brick road and onto an express lane that is focusing on residents’ needs. No reason to focus on trying to pull RA along. ‘Nuff said on that topic.

      • Donald

        Actually Ray,

        I disagree. The Reston Association has the authority and legally represents over 21,000 households. If there is ever the opportunity to legally claim “affected party,” the Reston Association is the largest and the most impactful.

        Rescue Reston did well BECAUSE it helped each homeowner on the RNGC represent themselves as affected parties. The Reston Association also filed a VERY LARGE affected party.

        Rescue Reston collaborated, no, it TEAMED, with the Reston Association as they went to court separately but, behind the scenes — TOGETHER.

        This must happen again. Reclaim Reston and RCA have no legal standing whatsoever as we near each redevelopment project. Yes they can organize, BUT, they need the Reston Association’s legal standing and its resources.


        • Ray Wedell

          Given that I have been a Director at both Rescue Reston AND Reston Association, there is no need to lecture me on the vital role played by Reston Association in any of those events. I will leave details of what actually transpired to myself.

          However, as far as Reclaim Reston is concerned, not only was Reston Association not involved in any positive way about this, the four officers at RA at that time, with knowledge and consent of the CEO, went after me publicly and viciously for “wasting their time” and “creating an unnecessary disturbance” by encouraging their members (who were frustrated at the time and unaware how to gain attention) that they could speak out for three minutes at any Reston Association public meeting.

          This simple statement, made to Arlene Krieger, whom I did not know at the time and who called me seeking help, led to Arlene rallying others at Reclaim Reston to show up at a Board Governance Committee meeting en masse a mere 2 hours later. They effectively stated their case and asked for RA support.

          The RA Board was livid behind the scenes. Individually, the four officers at the time accused me of violating some code of ethics which did not exist, and warned me against ever doing such a dastardly thing again. How dare I rile up the populace! The RA rep for THAT district, who had been monitoring SJW for 18 months prior, was particularly nasty to me, accusing me of giving Reclaim Reston “false hope”, saying we all know there is “nothing RA can do to help them.” She even mae the sappy statement that, “You took them away from time they could have spent at home relaxing with their families.” It is all on public record….watch the video.

          The blind-sided attack by these four was a dismal failure. When they were all done, my response dissected the phoniness of all of them. It was followed by the affected parties at Reclaim Reston speaking one-by-one AGAIN at their three minute time period. By the end of the night, the attack against me turned into a meek and unanimous 9-0 vote to write a letter to Supervisor Hudgins in support of Reclaim Reston and against the SJW project.

          That is how RA’s “support for Reclaim Reston” happened.

          Those are the facts. It is all on video (assuming RA hasn’t erased it).

          You are very welcome.

          Will RA Board “wake up again”? Since they almost have to, there will be some sort of action, I have no doubt. But the heart and soul behind it will be absent, and they are already months behind in doing so. The community is WAY BETTER SERVED to follow Reston 20/20, Reclaim Reston, and RCA on this one. The best you can hope for from RA is a statement of support, and their encouragement to follow your lead.

          • Donald


            I’m sorry you had a lousy time on the board. But, I believe you missed my point entirely and decided to pivot. Love your enthusiasm though.


          • Ray Wedell

            That may be true. Let me read again. I did not have a lousy time, and I am proud of the accomplishments I was able to achieve. But most of them took enormous effort when they should have been easy, common sense moves. It wears you down after awhile, especially when it is not a paying job and you are sacrificing too many other areas of your life. The system is so mired in bureaucracy and a who-knows-who thing. And there are too many incentives for people to resist change and no rewards for them to embrace real change. I understand this, and so that is why I don’t blame any individuals; they are simply behaving as most of us would If in their shoes.

          • Arlene Krieger

            Everything Ray says is true about SJW. That’s how we got the BOD to stop the project and even hire a lawyer to represent the BOD. So we as RA members did indeed have legal consul to support us and we won .What going on now with the supervisor and Fairfax County is a plan to overcome any opposition. They learned from Reclaim Reston what them had to do to prevent opposition. If they change the density in the Master Plan we are all in a lot of trouble. And if the Supervisor has the power to approve plans then all is lost. These issues are so important that referendum should be required.

          • Donald

            Ummm Arlene,

            SJW has not been stopped. It will be built.

            It may not look like the first rendering, but it will be built. The RA board needed to do more than just a letter.

            Sorry to burst your bubble.


          • TheKingJAK

            There’s absolutely zero guarantee that it will be built. Sure, the developer would like to keep trying, but that doesn’t mean much if the opposition maintains or even expands itself.

          • Arlene Krieger

            It can only be built is the density is changed and the supervisor has the power to over rule every interested party. Listen I’m no fool. We are safe just for now but the developer will never give up. Just in case I’m doing a little work on my townhouse in case I have to move. I won’t be able to deal with the noise and traffic.

    • Arlene Krieger

      Right on. Now is the time for the RA BOD to take action and put an end to this. But will they? I don’t think so because there is no Ray to push them in that direction. I was there and everything Ray says about SJW is true. Ray shamed the BOD in doing the right thing because he is a person with honor.

  • Mike M

    “Thanks for coming out!” We’ll try to reschedule at a time when you can’t make it in such numbers. We have absolutely no intention of addressing your concerns anyway. We just want your money, your quality of life, and not your pesky opinions. G-night!”

  • 40yearsinreston

    Hudgins should be recalled for disrespecting Reston citizens
    Her pal Bulova should be jailed

  • SuperCoop1280

    We need a Supervisor who is going to stand up and for the people of the district they represent. I guess being in office since 1999 makes you think the people serve you. We need a new Supervisor FOR Hunter Mill.

  • Hieronymus Bosch

    The location of choice was brilliant, the cafeteria of an Elementary School. I think we are underestimating the powers-that-be.

    Perhaps October 31st or November 22nd an option for the final meeting, say 7 PM; that would help limit attendance and diversity.

    • Mike M

      I agree that there is more than randomness or ad hockery in most of the process. Much of it is shaped based on professional advice.

      • vdiv

        Saw a graffiti written on a wall at an eye level at a urinal stall that said:
        “Don’t look up here, the joke is in your hand.”
        I continue to find it rather profound instead of profane. We are the joke!

    • John Farrell

      If only they were competent enough to engage in such skullduggery.

      There’s an old saw about when faced with the choice between malice and incompetence to explain misdeeds, you’ll make the most money betting on incompetence every time.

  • LC

    oh the irony

    • Mike M

      Yes. In the future when Reston is overcrowded, we’ll just postpone traffic and schooling, just like we postponed infrastructure.

    • Chkitout1

      Hopefully one day the people of Fairfax County will look around and see that the Democrats they keep electing and re-electing, are not really concerned about what’s best for the people or the county.

  • Heh

    Too much density in the increasing density meeting!

  • Ray Wedell

    I must give my daily kudos to the real heroes here, before continuing on with my day.
    Thank you Reston 20/20, Reclaim Reston, and RCA. And thank you to all those who are following them. This movement is expanding, and the delay last night gives us all more time to introduce one or two more residents to get involved. How about a target of 1,000 for the next meeting? It can and should be done.

  • ewild

    This feels like an article from The Onion.

    • vdiv

      Our whole lives recently feel like an article from The Onion, it’s hard to take things seriously when they desperately demand to be taken so.
      “The fierce urgency of now.”

      • Mike M

        . . .of yesterday?

        • vdiv

          Sure, yesterday was now too, yesterday…

  • Thomas Stearns

    Last night’s insult to the Reston community orchestrated by Supervisor Hudgins should mark the final chapter in a history of misuse of the public trust. She displayed repeated lack of candor with the residents, the vast majority of whom were clearly concerned with the zoning amendment she supports. Her preference to convert Reston to an urban versus a combined urban/suburban area has led her to champion the developers’ land
    grab for all of Reston, including skewing the process that yielded the most recent
    Comprehensive Plan update.

    It is altogether appropriate and justified for the Reston community to begin the process of recalling Ms. Hudgins under Virginia Code Section 24.2-233, “For neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office.” Based on the 2015 voter turnout, only 1,828 signatures are needed to initiate the recall.

    • Arlene Krieger

      I agree and most the people I’ve spoken to on the campaign trail during the last 12 months feel the same way. We really need a group to organize just for this impeachment or insist that she step down. But as you know there is a group of people at RA who picks the supervisor for the Democratic Party. So we must figure out how to pick another candidate and have a primary and debates. Someone told me, actually a lot of people know the guy who heads this group up his named FARREL(SP) but I’m not sure. Unless we correct this process nothing can save us all from a horrible future. Some of these people came after me in the campaign with comments boarding on slanderer. The campaign was so nasty campaign because I’m the kind of person who would expose this sort of thing about picking the next supervisor. We need to change the whole system.

      • Donald


      • John Farrell

        There she goes again spreading misinformation by the pound.

        Put down the tinfoil hat, Arlene.

        The Hunter Mill Democratic District Committee (HMDDC), of which I am but one of more than 100+ members and not even the chairperson, will decide how the Democratic nominee for Hunter Mill Supervisor is chosen, unless Ms. Hudgins runs for re-election, in which case she will decide as is her prerogative pursuant to State Code.

        If she does not run for re-election, then HMDDC will choose from among 4 methods described in the State Party Plan:

        1) convention

        2) assembled caucus

        3) unassembled caucus (also known as a “firehouse primary”)

        4) the June Primary run by the Commonwealth.

        Please ask questions before you spread around more misinformation, yet again.

      • SuperCoop1280

        “Campaign trail”? What office are you seeking?

      • Umust B Kidding

        Wow, are you lost in a fantasy world of your own making! This is actually disturbing it is so inaccurate. You need help.

    • 40yearsinreston

      Sign me up

  • Why do you bother?

    So, having too many people crammed into too little space was not so great, eh? Can you say “irony?”

  • Walter Hadlock

    The next choice for meeting on this topic will be Coates Elementary School. That has been a favorite site this year for Reston related topics.

    • John Farrell

      The next meeting had damn well better be in the SLHS gym and not the theater!

  • LeftPolitico

    Yes, Hudgins did say that “the proposal will not move forward in any way until all feedback from the community has been received.” But, pointedly, she did NOT say that the County will change any of its own deadline schedules. In fact, she implied that the County schedule will remain the same. Soooo…, there will be less time for citizens to make their case. The incompetency shown last night seems like Hudgins wanted to get out of “communicating” with citizens. (Where have we seen that before>)

    • Donald

      The county itself may not be fazed by large crowds of yellow tees. I still strongly believe RA needs to take a pronounced lead in this — teamed with the best of the best at organizing. RA needs to push on all fronts — legal, zoning, and political.


      • TheKingJAK

        I agree.

    • John Farrell

      No, she said, at my prompting, that nothing had yet been scheduled.

      • LeftPolitico

        John, thanks for correcting my misunderstanding.

  • TheRealMikeSapupello

    Hudgins is sketchy. There was no Fairfax County Fire Official at the event who advised Hudgins to canx the meeting, and there was no Fairfax County Gov representative providing a head count of people entering the school.

    But the folks there last night in yellow shirts were great!! And they were angry, like an old man trying to return soup at a deli…

    • Walter Hadlock

      “return soup at a deli”, great Seinfeld analogy.

    • Arlene Krieger

      You can’t believe anything she says. But I’ll tell you one thing that may be in our favor — the voters. We are letting the government and democratic party know that we are not just protesters but VOTERS as well. And I’ll be thinking about this when I’m asked to support their candidates. And there is an election
      coming up. Let’s not forget all politics is local and Fairfax County may be one of the most important counties in the country. Why piss off the electorate?

      • TheRealMikeSapupello

        Wwwaaayyy ahead of you. I haven’t voted for a Democrat since I was an undergrad.

    • John Farrell

      The fire code room capacity placard is displayed in the cafeteria for all to see.

      If there had been a fire or other casualty, there is no way the 400+ people in that room could have made it through those two exit doors in time to avoid injury or harm to many.

      • TheRealMikeSapupello

        You’re missing my point, which is that Hudgins just eyeballed the crowd and determined that (1) they were largely in opposition to her and (2) it was of sufficient size that it violated the fire code.

        If a uniformed Fairfax County Fire Official was present and told her and the crowd that there was a safety risk it would be one thing, but the optics were bad in the way she handled it.

        Also, given that she’s the Supreme Leader of The Democratic People’s Republic of Fairfax, she could’ve issued a one-time, on-the-spot waiver to the fire code…

        • John Farrell

          I understood your false narrative. Cathy has faced down hostile crowds before.

          If there had been any casualties because the room was overcrowded, there would have been outrage over the failure to follow safety rules.

          What is also missed is that the postponement is an advantage for the opponents who now have more time to rally their supporters for the next meeting.

          • TheRealMikeSapupello

            So Crooked Cathy arbitrarily moving the target in order to wear down the momentum of her opponents while simultaneously allowing additional time to rally her supporters for the next meeting – at a time and location of her choosing – is a false narrative? …

            Come on, John. I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night.

          • John Farrell

            Crooked how, Trumpite? Your hero used that calumny last Fall but it won’t work here.

            She’s not waiting for supporters of this Amendment to rally because she knows that there aren’t 5 of them in the 20190, 20191 or 20194 zip codes.

          • TheRealMikeSapupello

            I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Cathy Hudgins could try harder to avoid the appearance of impropriety, so a moniker that includes the word “Crooked” is appropriate. Plus it seemed like “Crooked Cathy” would have legs given, ya know, alliteration along with the fact that “Crooked Hillary” is seared into the U.S. lexicon. In the interim, I think “Hudgins the Horrible” will suffice for “Crooked Cathy.”

            Sorry/not sorry for offending your sensibilities, and totally understand if you need to withdraw to a safe space for the time being to regroup.

            Beyond all that, it’s disappointing that you would use this forum to hurl insults related to national level politics. Come on, John, you’re better than that. Let’s try to stay focused on the issue at hand – Hudgins the Horrible and her unwavering intent to line her pockets with Developer kickbacks at Restonian’s expense.

          • John Farrell

            Sorry snowflake, you can hurl insults like falsely claiming someone is crooked but comparing you to someone who uses the same illegitimate tactics hurts your fee-fees. Oh the humanity!

          • Hieronymus Bosch

            Once the actual meeting place and date are announced – someone can proactively request the Fire Marshall be on hand in case the growing opposition rallies and fills SLHS gym or wherever they opt to hold the final meeting. The Fire Marshall was not available on such short notice at the last meeting as those we attended witnessed how quickly they shut the meeting down. Judging from how many people attended, I would surmise the next (final) meeting could easily double attendance or better.

          • John Farrell

            The SLHS gym would hold 5,000 or more.

          • Hieronymus Bosch

            That is the number we should have there…400 turning out from a community of 60K+ is hardly enough.

  • John Farrell

    This 4th meeting and the information that the County staff produced last week came as a result of the RA Board’s letter to Sup Hudgins.

    Last week’s meeting at the RA conference center was enabled by RA.

    Could they be doing more? Yes

    But its a new Board with new leadership trying to change a passive culture on land use issues. It was only a few years ago that RA hired a land use attorney.

  • John Farrell

    Supervisor Hudgins was ill served by her staff Monday night.

    They each owe her and all of us an apology.

    The next meeting had better be held in the SLHS gym. Not the SLHS theater. It’s too hard too more through the rows in the theater.

    SLHS gym was used by Congressman Moran for the health care town hall in 2009. It worked quite well.

    We also do not need At Large Planning Commissioner James Hart to floor manage this amendment at the Planning Commission.

    If we have to wait for a new Hunter Mill Planning Commissioner to take office in January, so be it. Whoever handles this case at the Planning Commission had better have an interest in administering the ordinance going forward. Only the Hunter Mill Planning Commissioner will have that interest.

    • Donald

      Excellent point:

      “Whoever handles this case at the Planning Commission had better have an interest in and responsibility for administering the ordinance going forward…”


    • Juli Vermillion

      Any boss who blames their staff is a pretty poor excuse of a manager. But what I’ve seen over the past 14 years tells me this is nothing new for Huggins. She has to be the most out of touch Supervisor I’ve ever seen, with little to no regard for the community she serves. I have lived all over Ffx Co and I’ve never seen any supervisor I thought was so bad. Your Democratic Party might want to listen to what folks are saying, rather than just blindly defending her. And the voters need a single good opposition choice…Imposing our own term limits is a good thing. Professional politicians, including Hudgins need to be put out to pasture. Choosing the same person and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. There is no reason why there can’t be a democratic primary. Well, except for corrupt processes. The people of Reston want a choice from what I’m seeing. Don’t be as blind as your National organization.

      • John Farrell

        Hudgins isn’t blaming her staff. I am.

        No one would confuse Cathy with a professional politician. Not a backslapper. Not a fundraiser. Not a bloviator. Rarely sticks a wet finger in the air to find out which way the wind is blowing.

        I criticize Cathy as much as anyone but I know that she is not “on the take” and is motivated by fanatically believing the positions she advocates.

        That makes opposing her even more infuriating because there’s no changing her mind on her fanatical beliefs.

        HMDDC could nominate you for the Hunter Mill seat and we’d win by 10%.

        Don’t know much about the DNC. I try to avoid that bunch as much as possible.

  • Steve Baldwin

    The property values in reston and vicinity are in hyperinflation mode. Just a box here roughly 1500 square feet will run over 300k yet the fed says we don’t have inflation lol

  • Gregg Rosenberg

    Many homeowners may not be aware of this, but over the last twelve months home values in Reston have actually decreased. Depending on the realtor report you look at, the decrease has been anywhere from 5% to 25%. This means for a Reston citizen owning a $600,000 home (not expensive in our city) has had between $30,000 and $150,000 taken out of their pocket in the last twelve months.

    There is no reason for our home values to be decreasing during an economic boom time except for the decisions being made over our objections by Supervisor Hudgens and the county board, decisions to green light massive urban construction in our community which are lowering the quality of life here. Approving an ammendment to actually increase the density limits in our community would only make this problem worse, taking thousands of more dollars out of Reston citizen’s pockets through continuing the fall in our home values, while also continuing to lower our quality of life. Supervisor Hudgens needs to be recalled and this process needs to be rebooted.


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