PRC Zoning Ordinance Amendment Meeting Rescheduled for Oct. 23 at SLHS Cafeteria

by Dave Emke October 4, 2017 at 1:15 pm 6 Comments

(This article was updated at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 6, to add official information about the cafeteria’s occupancy limit.)

After being postponed last month because of a huge turnout at Lake Anne Elementary School, the next public meeting on a proposed Fairfax County zoning ordinance amendment for Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) district has been rescheduled.

The meeting is slated for Monday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive).

The Sept. 25 meeting at the LAES elementary school was called off after a large number of people — estimated at more than 400 — showed up to oppose the plan. It was to be the fourth public meeting on the proposal, which 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 fast-growing 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 possible 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.

The occupancy limit for the SLHS cafeteria is 668 when tables are present, though it can hold up to 1,280 if the several dozen large tables are removed.

The SLHS activities office said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ office requested a space that would be able to accommodate around 650 people. The school’s auditorium was unavailable for the meeting, the activities office said, because of scheduled theater rehearsals. That space has fewer than 600 seats anyway, according to SLHS officials.

The school’s gym also was not an available or acceptable option, Hudgins’ office said.

Hudgins’ office said contingency plans are being considered if attendance exceeds the cafeteria’s capability, but declined to go into detail about what those plans would entail. A representative from the office said the lunch room is the largest available facility that can safely accommodate such a meeting.

The SLHS activities office also said there may be issues with parking for the meeting, as space is limited due to a renovation project at the school. Hudgins’ office said it is looking into alternative arrangements for that situation as well.

At a community meeting prior to the Sept. 25 meeting, members of Reston activism groups Reston Citizens Association, Reston 20/20 and Reclaim Reston encouraged residents to spread the word and rally attendance. Dennis Hays, president of the Reston Citizens Association, said those efforts helped spark the large crowd Sept. 25 and he expects the number to grow again before Oct. 23.

“We appreciate the Supervisor and her staff working to reschedule this meeting, but I think this location may be too small too,” Hays told Reston Now. “Interest in this issue continues to build.”

After three community meetings on the subject in May, which were met with growing opposition from residents, the Reston Association Board of Directors requested the fourth meeting be scheduled. At their meeting Sept. 28, directors expressed their opinions on the proposed zoning amendment, assuring members they will continue to challenge unfettered growth.

“We appreciate that Supervisor Hudgins has rescheduled this meeting,” Sherri Hebert, RA Board president, told Reston Now. “Restonians are very concerned about the proposed ordinance amendment so I expect a large turnout. Let’s hope the SLHS cafeteria is big enough.”

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