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TODAY: NPR Show Features Reston Density Debate

by Fatimah Waseem November 15, 2017 at 10:15 am 51 Comments

Reston’s ongoing impassioned debate on a move by county officials to change zoning rules to allow for more development will come to The Kojo Nnamdi Show today.

Hundreds of Restonians packed a public meeting earlier in late October to oppose the change, which many said opens up the area to further development without ensuring adequate infrastructure is already in place for current residents. Roughly 900 residents packed the meeting room after the first meeting was postponed due to an overwhelming outcry and burgeoning attendance from the community.

The show, which is on WAMI 88.5, a NPR member-station in Washington, will air at noon today. The segment is titled, “Growing Pains: Reston, Virginia Debates New Limit on Population Density.” The show issued the following description, which paints Reston’s debate as a microcosm of national development issues:

Developers and new residents are eying Reston, Virginia, and Fairfax County officials want to change zoning rules to allow them to move in. But in a trend that is playing out across the region, many long-time residents say their community is becoming too urban too fast. Critics are opposing a proposed change to a zoning ordinance that would raise the current population cap of 13 persons per acre to 16. And so many residents showed up to a meeting to discuss the change that it had to be rescheduled. Kojo explores Reston, Virginia’s growing pains and the difficulty of maintaining a suburban feel in a highly desirable, rapidly-growing region.

The show’s guests are Terry Maynard, co-chair of Reston 20/20 and Leslie Johnson, zoning administrator for Fairfax County.

Restonians can listen to the program when it is live on the radio at 88.5 FM or online at kojoshow.org. Listeners can also participate by calling  1-800-433-8850, emailing [email protected], or tweeting at @kojoshow.

  • Greendayer

    The optics would have been better with a diverse audience. The supervisor seemed to dismiss it as too many old, white, nimby types.

    • 20190

      Sounds pretty accurate to me.

    • OneReally

      Agreed!
      Every group gets the same notice.

      You can only put out so many notices. If a person or group doesn’t want to participate its on them.

      • The Constitutionalist

        Well, that only applies if you’re white. If you’re any other color it’s [insert-random-racist-against-white-people-reason-here-that-isn’t-actually-racist-because-you-can’t-be-racist-against-white-people].

        • OneReally

          Yes only white people are racist. Didn’t you get the memo?

          • The Constitutionalist

            Apparently I’ve been living that memo, depending on who you ask.

    • Amy Sue

      You’re making assumptions about how diverse the audience is. We need first to know the overall demographic profile of Reston. If 70% of Reston’s overall population–especially of property owners–were old white people, the meeting would be close to representative (at least according to age and skin color). But I don’t know why age and skin color should matter in this debate. Should someone have less of a say because he is white or “old”? ….Seems like racism to me….

      • EliteinReston
        • The Constitutionalist

          Were you trying to correct her? Looks like she was close enough that it makes no difference. Not that it should make any difference anyway, as why should the protest of someone of a different ethnicity be taken more into consideration than any other on the topic of development?

    • Greg

      That’s Hudgins’ hallmark and will be her legacy.

      It’s too bad that she has such disdain for those that are old, white, and not living in subsidized housing.

  • Mike M

    It’s OK to be white and old. It’s disingenuous to engineer optics. It’s bigoted.

    • OneReally

      Only one certain ethnicity can be racist. I thought we have covered this many times. 😉

      • Mike M

        I might be overdue for a trip back to the re-education camps.

    • Amy Sue

      No, it’s not what “democrats” do. I consider myself more democrat than republican but do not agree with the preposterous claim that those who oppose Reston development are racist or noninclusive. I’m not against diversity, I’m against congestion that benefits no one but developers and the politicians who seek their favors.

      • Mike M

        It is one of the pillars of the DNC mode of operation. In fact, some more clear-headed Democrats are calling them on their over reliance on identity politics lately.

      • Why do you bother?

        Thank you, Amy Sue. I’m so sick of his bigotry and bias.

        • The Constitutionalist

          Yet the #1 person here spewing it is you. Every time I turn around you’re calling someone a racist.

      • Reston Resident

        What if people back in the 1960’s had told Robert Simon that they didn’t want all the congestion that would come with his master planned community? If they had succeeded, you wouldn’t be living in Reston today!

        • TheKingJAK

          There’s such a thing as a community being built to capacity, which Reston is. Back in the 1960’s there were dirt roads and no traffic to speak of, so stop trying to compare apples to oranges.

        • The Constitutionalist

          How can you make that assumption? Perhaps Amy Sue would indeed be living here today regardless.

      • TheKingJAK

        Only ignorant trolls are out there screaming “RACIST!” at every turn, and they do it because they have nothing better to partake in.

    • Terry Maynard

      We (RCA, Reclaim Reston, and Reston 20/20) are proposing that the Reston plan be amended to assure that affordable housing goals (ADUs/WDUs) for new development are set at the maximum (20%) rather than the policy minimum (12%)–just like Tysons. It’s both consistent with Reston’s Planning Principles and the right thing to do in Reston’s station areas especially. I’m sure that won’t quiet people who see our concerns as being simply NIMBYs, but that is not the truth. We want a master planned community, not simply a gross jumble of oversized buildings with limited affordable housing.

      • Mike M

        I agree with you on most of this. Not the subsidized housing.
        The US in general has been guilty of favoring handouts over infrastructure. Same in this case.

        • OneReally

          Especially not when we subsidized this county with our housing and taxes.
          How about that it’s easy on my pockets.

          Personal property tax
          Reston transit area tax
          Sales taxes
          Nova Regional sales tax
          State income tax

          I see a theme….

          • Greg

            Add these:
            NoVA gas tax (which is why gas is always cheaper in Manassas)
            Utility taxes (gas, electricity, cable, internet, phone, wireless)
            Higher sewer charges to fund DC’s combined sewer system.
            Tolls
            And, if Hudgins had her way, another 4% tax on food.

          • OneReally

            Preach!!

            I always try to fill up in Manassas. 😉

            Now the I-66 tolls.

            It’s like these officials are saying “Hey we see you still have some Cash! We’re going to need that.”

            But yet people will still vote them into power.

          • Mike M

            Tolls

          • OneReally

            Tolls = Is Democrat for hidden taxes

          • The Constitutionalist

            To play devil’s advocate, and you know I’m no Democrat, at least a toll is a payment for services used. Unlike taxes.

          • OneReally

            Agreed! But once its paid please said tolls. It’s not (should not) a revenue source for other county or regional projects.

          • Greg

            The problem is that the tolls in this case are paying for services not used (mostly Metro, but pedestrian and biking too). And, these tolls are atop the many taxes, fees, and charges motorists already pay through owning, leasing, insuring, maintaining, and operating a motor vehicle — including, in some cases, fees for the EZ Pass device itself.

            The grand bargain including permanently eliminating the tolls once the toll-road asset was paid for. That happened long ago and the tolls are higher than ever with more increases on the way.

        • TheKingJAK

          Reston already has the majority of the county’s subsidized housing, along with Springfield/Mt. Vernon.

      • Amy Sue

        Boy, I wish Arlington, McLean, Bethesda, or Chevy Chase had some of that “affordable” housing. As it is, I have to live out in Reston because I can’t afford a home in any of these areas that would all be much closer to my workplace. Where can I get a subsidy to purchase a nice house in one of these areas so it’s affordable to me? I don’t want a run-down house in a bad neighborhood, btw. I want a nice house that’s been newly renovated with expensive appliances and a nicely manicured lawn. It’s my right…I work hard and am underpaid.

      • The Constitutionalist

        Why is it beneficial to bring people here who can’t afford to live here without subsidy? What, morality aside, can they contribute economically to the development of our community?

        I ask this legitimately, not satirically.

      • Greg

        “Affordable housing” only serves to increase the cost for the rest of us who have to pay for our housing. Both in acquisition or rent costs and in ongoing taxation.

        Moreover, there’s plenty of low-income, subsidized, and affordable housing all over Reston. How has this abundance benefited Reston and how will more of it (20% of all new habitational construction) benefit Reston?

    • TheKingJAK

      It’s actually interesting how a number of Democrats I know tend to vote otherwise when it comes to local offices. They vote for Democratic Presidents and other such officials, but locally they prefer Republicans and Independents.

  • Factoid

    For starters all the grassroots groups and activists, including myself, have done a bad job in raising awareness eg we have not been able to compile a comprehensive list of projects and their statuses, including how many household will join RA and how many non RA.

    Thing here is, based on clues, Reston will look like lower Manhattan in a few months but this time Carnegie Hall wont be sold.

    • John Higgins

      Below is a link to development projects/proposals; you might find it interesting. As a tour through RA’s website suggests, even those aware of the issues are at somewhat of a loss to know what to do with that info. A lot has been compiled and explored, but it’s not clear anyone knows what to do with it.

      https://www.reston.org/Portals/3/2017%20Development/OCTOBER%202017%20TRACKER.pdf

  • Clarity please

    Based on recent posting and self proclamation Terry is not against development, whatever that means. These and other statements of ambiguity have not helped the cause, one may add.

    • Terry Maynard

      Clarity–A plan and zoning that allows a tripling of our population neither. Thats simply too many people in the area we call Reston. We could probably double our population (60K or so) in 40 years (almost all around the Metro stations) IF–very big IF–the appropriate infrastructure is provided contemporaneously. Unfortunately, there is no indication that the County or developers have the intent, will, or funding to meet that requirement. It is certainly absent from Reston’s Master Plan.

      • Reston Resident

        Reston has far more infrastructure than many communities with 2-3x our population. We have a Metro Line running right down the middle of the community, tons of bus service, plus a well developed road system that is getting upgrades. Sure, there will be congestion at some of the major intersections and roadways at peak times, but that’s inevitable and happens in every suburb of every major city in America.

        Sorry, the infrastructure excuse just doesn’t pass the smell test.

        • TheKingJAK

          Lol, no, Reston does not have far more infrastructure than “Many communities 2-3x our population”, unless you’re speaking of rundown communities. The proof is in the congestion, the decreasing reliability of our power grid, the need for the hospital, government center/police station, fire and rescue stations to be expanded, etc. You’re absolutely incorrect about “Every major suburb of every major city in America”. Spend time around NYC, and you’ll see just how false your assertions are.

        • The Constitutionalist

          Oh, this wasn’t actually a joke?

          That makes it even funnier! LMAO

          You are unbelievably detached from reality.

        • Arielle in NoVA

          The divide down the middle is part of why our congestion is so bad: as developers have been allowed (even encouraged) to build up Reston, they haven’t been adding or widening Toll Road crossings.

          • Greg

            That’s not totally true. Both the Reston Parkway and Wiehle Avenue crossings have been widened — each to more than double their original sizes. The Fairfax County Parkway didn’t exist and added a major crossing. Monroe / Van Buren Street is in Herndon, but it, too, was widened, and is set to again be widened.

            The Monroe metro station includes a toll road crossing.

            There’s a stub under the toll road now funded by Metro to connect Town Center Parkway and, I believe, Edmund Halley Drive, and there’s a semi-funded plan to extend Soapstone across the toll road.

            Funding and timing always seem to be behind the need, though.

            I digress a bit, but one way to force developers to expand and fund crossings is to allow them to build atop the toll road / metro abyss… Perhaps with new crossings.

          • Arielle in NoVA

            Exactly: they need to improve the roads/transportation first, not build lots of houses and other developments and then, many years later, try to get the transportation network to where it can handle the influx. There should have been another crossing before RTC was built up – it can now take 20-30 minutes to get from RTC to Hunters Woods at rush hour.

    • Reston Realist

      Clarity, can you provide more clarity on your comment? Why do you feel that one cannot be pro-development and still be anti-negligent development?

  • EliteinReston
  • INWDC

    I can understand the resistance to this development. While living in a large urban/suburban brings the risk of change, I think you need an equally opposing force to counter the bottomless appetite of developers – the counter in this case are the people who actually live in Reston. Developers often don’t live in the areas they develop and have little interest in making it compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods. Their primary motive will always be profit. Nothing wrong with making profit – but developers pursue profit without little regard to quality of construction, impact on a community/land, or affordability. Yeah sometimes NIMBYs can be annoying and complain about stupid things, but far more dangerous and numerous are unregulated developers building shoddy projects with little concern for the community that will be left dealing with the aftermath.

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