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RA Board Directors: We Must Be ‘Bold’ in Challenging County’s Plan to Up Density Cap

by Dave Emke — September 29, 2017 at 10:15 am 19 Comments

A pair of reoccurring themes emerged as members of the Reston Association Board of Directors shared their opinions about Fairfax County’s proposed zoning ordinance amendment on Reston’s Planned Residential Community density.

The Board must be bold in the fight against the County, and infrastructure plans need to be in place before any density increases can be considered.

At Thursday’s meeting, eight members of the Board each shared their personal thoughts about the proposal to increase the overall limit on people per acre in Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) District — which does not include most of the community’s Transit Station Areas — from 13 to 16. The plan would also give the County Board of Supervisors the ability 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, and citizen activists warn that the combined effect of these changes could result in the population of Reston tripling by 2050.

Cathy Hudgins, Fairfax County supervisor from the Hunter Mill District, had scheduled an informational meeting on the proposal earlier this week, at the suggestion of the Reston Association Board. However, that meeting was postponed because the size of the turnout from the community caused concerns about the fire code at Lake Anne Elementary School’s cafeteria.

(According to Hudgins’ Sept. 28 newsletter: “At this time, a new, larger location for the next public meeting on the Reston PRC has not yet been scheduled. An announcement will be made as soon as details are confirmed.”)

Excerpts of each of the directors’ statements are shared below. To hear their comments in full, check out the video from Thursday night’s meeting.

Sherri Hebert, Board president and Lake Anne/Tall Oaks District representative:

“We can collectively say as a Board [that] we will be bold. We will stand strong. We will wait for the County to answer questions [and] we will continue to ask the questions until we get the answers we need. What I hear mostly, and I agree completely, is ‘infrastructure, infrastructure.’ … I feel like Reston is going to disappear if we don’t take a stand as a Board and as a community. … We’re coming at this in all different directions, and we need to continue to do that, in all directions. We need to be making our voices known.”

Sridhar Ganesan, Board treasurer and At-Large director:

“We need to stay at 13 [people per acre cap]. There is no reason to increase the density from 13 to 16 anytime soon. Let us get all the proposals, let the buildout happen based upon the existing density limit. Anything that we do really needs to be supported by infrastructure plans. Without infrastructure plans, I say no PRC amendment at this stage. We stay where we are, and I really think that as a Board and as RA, we need to be front and center — take leadership in order to make sure that we are behind the community on this.”

Michael Sanio, Board secretary and At-Large director:

“I was impressed that we have the kind of political leadership we do that actually resides within the community, [but] I’m really concerned that for whatever reason, that political leadership doesn’t appear to be hearing us. I ran for the Reston Board and no other organization because I recognize that the Reston Association is the only organization that has the potential for representing all individuals that live here in Reston. … We need to be bold. We as an organization need to be bold and we need to speak and represent the members of the community.”

Victoria White, Hunters Woods/Dogwood District representative:

“The Board should be working hard to ensure that the County is effectively communicating with the community about what the plans are for managing infrastructure. I was so excited to see so many people out on Monday night, but I was a little disappointed that folks closer to my age weren’t showing up. The thing I have to say to folks with kids in school, and folks who haven’t had kids yet — this matters. If matters if the County is not planning for how many kids are going to be in the schools.”

John Mooney, North Point District representative:

“I recommend that RA should press the County on four key points. First, a detailed justification of proposed zoning ordinance caps. … Secondly, we should insist on letters of understanding with appropriate county agencies on the earmarking of proffers from the new PRC and TSA development to be used for infrastructure within Reston to accommodate those new developments. … Third, similar letters of understanding committing to actual construction of infrastructure at pace with development. … Finally, amendments to key, problematic sections of the Reston Master Plan in coordination with the present zoning ordinance amendment.”

Julie Bitzer, South Lakes District representative:

“I think we owe it to each other and we must ask our County to honor and embrace our community. We may not be a formal town, in the municipal element for the county and state, but for all intents and purposes we are a town. We call ourselves Restonians, whether we live in the north, the south, Reston Town Center. We’re Restonians and I think we deserve more than the failings of advance planning and delivery to us of infrastructure, education and recreation.”

Eric Carr, At-Large director:

“My feelings on the proposal itself are clear, and those of you who know me know where I stand. I agree, we need to hold the line at 13. Reston is a planned community. The roads, schools, parks, pools, paths, courts and housing were mapped out over 50 years ago. When they did the math, taking into account of all these amenities, they came up with 13 people per acre. We’re approaching that number and, looking around our community, I’d say we’re right on target. Reston is built out and complete, just as it was intended to be from the start.”

John Bowman, At-Large director (appointed earlier in the meeting to fill the seat vacated by Ray Wedell):

“I think it’s clear to every one of us that the County doesn’t have the same vision of Reston that we do, that we bought into, the reason we live here. We do have to be bold, we have to be passionate. But we can’t be irrational. … We are the voice of 48,000 voting people, and it’s about time that we leverage that.”

(David Bobzien, Board vice president and Apartment Owners’ representative, was not present for the meeting.)

Screencap via Reston Association/YouTube

  • Mike M

    So RA finds it’s cajones! And not a decade too late! With RA on our side, . . . well, we’ll see. I wonder what kind of solution they will try to buy? Their townie lawyers have to be rubbing their hands together thinking this is going to be a sweet Christmas.

    • guest

      RA needs a new land use attorney.

      • Arlene Krieger

        RA had a land use attorney for SJW. It worked out well at the time.

    • JoeInReston

      The RA gets rightfully and unmercifully dinged on these Reston Now comments boards when they plan and take ill advised actions.

      I like the RA board’s comments here. I thought they were going to try to come up with a compromise value on the people per acre value – say 14.5. They didn’t. Lets give them the attaboy’s they deserve and metaphorically pat them in the rump.

      • Mike M

        I accept your point. But talk is cheap and results are what matters. Pat them on the rump for their words but have expectations in the results category. Thus far they have shown they are good at spending money and not much else. In fact, they haven’t even spoken to a concept of a plan of action to turn their “passion” into results.

        I’ll choose to be hopeful.

        • Arlene Krieger

          The RA BOD showed it colors last year when they all shot down the SJW project and hired a land use attorney to support them. In essence that meant all RA members were well served RA members won the day. They can do it again , Dave who wrote this article has it just right. He has addressed all the issues correctly. The question is will the BOD do the right thing again or will they chicken out. I don’t care if they do nothing more than this for the rest of the year until the 2018 election. I will then believe the Board works for the members of Reston. I always said that the BOD had a lot of power but it has to use the power. It’s up to them. The supervisor and Fairfax County must know that the voters are against this plan. The next thing to take on is how to pick a new supervisor when the time comes. We need several candidates vetted by the community of Hunter Mill. And we need to have real debates among the candidates. And put them on U Tube.

          • Mike M

            OK. But a quick drive up Sunrise Valley reminds me that the hour is later than late.

  • JoeInReston

    If all the RA can do is play the role of the squeaky wheel against Fairfax’s plans to increase the population density in Reston, it will be a positive contribution.

  • I’d rather post as a troll

    Throw in a Hooters and we’ve got a deal.

  • Anonymous Poster

    Give ’em hell RA!

  • TheKingJAK

    You have to love the response to the large turnout which has been put forth by Supervisor Hudgins, which indicates nothing more than her retreat and soon to be implemented regrouping effort before another meeting will be held.

    • Hieronymus Bosch

      “large turnout” of ~500 people? Hudgins won’t have to do anything if 500 show up and sit in a SLHS gym that fits 5,000 (per an earlier post), it will look as if nobody is there.,.large turnout in a community of 50,000-60,000 would be to fill the SLHS gym. If 1,000 people show up the gym will still be significantly empty – better get the word out to mobilize the slackers.

  • Umust B Kidding

    I see their lips moving, but I don’t see any action…yet.

  • Welcome to fantasy town

    The self proclaimed mayors anf mayorettes have spoken.

  • RoadApples

    I am a 21st Century individual.
    I look forward to the Reston Community burgeoning in the near future development ing into a successful mini-Manhattan (especially high rise growth on the site of the present Reston National Golf Course).
    Nimbyism has no place in our growing; diverse enclave.

  • Bernie Supporter

    Read these Board members’ statements carefully, friends. 8 board members took a hard stand against Supervisor Hudgins’ power play and Fairfax County’s newest Reston overdevelopment scheme. ONE board member — just one — wants “detailed justification of proposed zoning ordinance” from Fairfax. That’s not a NO, that’s a crack in the door.

    You were warned about Mooney when he ran against Krieger. Frankly, Mooney has turned out better in many ways than I thought he would. But we may need to REMIND him that he ran on PREVENTING overdevelopment, NOT negotiating it. Email or call him and tell him to stand in solidarity with the other 8 RA Board members on this. You can find his contact information on his old website mooney4reston.com .Use it.

    Increased growth in Reston IS inevitable. We all realize this. But we must make developers play the rules, which are outlined in our Master Plan and Deed. If they need wavers or exemptions, then they aren’t in compliance and Reston Review Design Board should send them back to the drawing board. Period. Growth should come on OUR terms. Not developers’. Not Fairfax County’s, which wants to change the rules. And certainly not Supervisor Hudgins’, who appears to have an agenda all her own.

  • Arlene Krieger

    Reston is built out. Finished! The horror of becoming a mini NYC must come from someone who never lived there, perhaps.. I grow up there and it is one of the major cultural centers in the world. That’s never going to be Reston. I left because NYC and Manhattan, where I lived , became just to hard to live there and too expensive. The roads are just big parking lots.. Manhattan is now mostly for the super rich.The Public schools still remain far from excellent. Had I stayed I would have had to send my kid to private school and I could not afford that. . Manhattan is dirty and has a bad smell in the air. It’s a fun place to visit but not to live. Three days in Manhattan is enough for me, take in a Broadway show, go to a few museums (they are the finest in the world with the exception of Paris. It does have major cultural institutions and so does DC and most large cities. We have none of that. Most people in the five boroughs use the subway system to get to work and across town and to all the five boroughs.gs. We will never have that kind of Metro as our silver line service is now so limited and so unreliable. The answer to what’s now happening is to follow the money!! Finally the board is pretty much on the same page with the exception of one member who want’s to change the Master Plan and other documents. That would be the end of us.. The current MP is our only salvation.

    • Meh

      “Manhattan is now mostly for the super rich.”

      That’s the way Fairfax County is going. Looked at the price of homes in Vienna and McLean lately?

    • RoadApples

      Ms. Kreiger, I mentioned and believe in a mini-Manhattan and I have lived on Lake Audubon since 1982. Regards

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