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

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

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