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Letter: Why You Should Care About the Reston Zoning Cap

by RestonNow.com January 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm 24 Comments

This letter was submitted by Bruce Ramo, a member of community groups Reclaim Reston and Coalition for a Planned Reston. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.

It’s a lot to ask of everyone in Reston to understand the minutiae of land use law. We have families and jobs and other responsibilities. And, after all, we chose to live in a planned community with loads of covenants and design guidelines. We can leave it to the “experts.” Except we can’t.

Like it or not Restonians have little say over how our community is being developed, and the elected official who should be watching out for us, our county supervisor, has retreated to a defensive posture. She frequently tells us “we just don’t understand” and has suggested that Reston, perhaps the most progressive community in Virginia, opposes the proposed increase in the density cap out of fear of “the other” sharing our neighborhoods. This is simply untrue. The community group Coalition for a Planned Reston proposed an increase in the required affordable housing levels for Reston–our supervisor did not support us.

So what’s the big deal about increasing the density cap, from 13 to 15 persons per acre, in the primarily residential areas of Reston called the Planned Residential Community district? The supervisor and county staff tells us that the increase is necessary to implement 2015 changes to the Reston Master Plan. Those changes allow significantly increased density in the Village Centers and other “hot spots” throughout established neighborhoods of Reston, far from the Metro stations.  We are also scolded about speaking up now because, as the story goes, the public had lots of opportunities back in 2014-15 to comment on changes to these portions of the Reston Master Plan changes called “Phase 2.” (Phase 1 involved only the transit station areas.)

Our supervisor and county staff frequently repeat the myth of significant community involvement in Reston Master Plan Phase 2.  However, the county disbanded the citizen “task force” set up for community review before the Phase 2 review. There simply was little in-depth public review of the changes that are the driver for increasing the density cap.

Why should you care? Because if the zoning density cap is lifted, the ability of the community to push back on significant high-density development in our established residential neighborhoods effectively will be eliminated. Sure, each of us can watch out for individual development applications, but the force of overall community oversight based on a reasonable density cap will have been taken from us forever.  

We have invested our financial resources, identities and emotional loyalty to Reston as a planned community. The density increase is an existential threat to those investments.

Take action to protect your hometown. Help maintain the current density cap and the modicum of control it provides over those who would rob us of a community grounded in diversity, environmental stewardship and quality of life.

Attend the Jan. 23 meeting of the Planning Commission at the Fairfax County Government Center at 7 p.m. (and wear your yellow shirts!)

Write to our County officials: Supervisor Hudgins: [email protected]; other Fairfax County Supervisors:  [email protected]; and the Fairfax County Planning Commission: [email protected]gov.

File photo

  • Mike M

    “The community group Coalition for a Planned Reston proposed an increase in the required affordable housing levels for Reston.”


    • Chkitout1

      I couldn’t agree with you more. The fine people of Reston continue to vote for anyone as long as they are a Democrat. The Democrat Board of Supervisors along with Reston’s member of the board has sold Reston out to developers. Now everyone is up in arms. Well it’s a little late for that, it’s tough to get that genie back in the bottle once it’s out.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      And do you seriously think the situation would have been any better if somebody with an (R) after their name on the ballot would have done any better?

      • Mike M

        Only if we switched them out every few years.

        • 30yearsinreston

          Those who place party loyalty over their constituents should be replaced
          Plum is a poster child for party apparatchiks

    • Bill S Preston Esq

      Hey dumdum, she ran unopposed the last 8 years.

      • Mike M

        Thanks for the name calling, Bill Preston. Brilliant. So, did you vote for her or not? Dumb Dumb. And why do you think no GOP candidate ran against her? Dumb dumb. Thanks for demonstrating the intellectual superiority of the left. Now you lit the bed on fire, lay down!

  • 30yearsinreston

    All kabuki that allows Hudgins to enforce her agenda
    When are they going to get serious by withdrawing support for Hudgins
    A movement to impeach will get her attention

    • Drip

      Agreed. Instead of urging people to bring their yellow shirts, he should be asking people to bring pens to sign a recall petition and a petition demanding her resignation. Even if the gambit ultimately fails due to whatever technicality is out there, notice would be served and her high-and-mighty sheen will be exposed.

  • Umust B Kidding

    There is reason to believe the Planning Commission is confused about, and some outrightly opposed to, the proposed zoning increase that is being pushed singularly by Supervisor Hudgins and the planning staff.

    Our voices, if broadly and boldly stated, can and will make a difference. Be at the Planning Commission hearing next week in your YELLOW shirt and, if you wish, sign up to testify yourself for up to five minutes. ( https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planningcommission/speaker ) You need to be heard and now is the last meaningful chance, the only chance, you will have to let the Planning Commission know your views on the proposed PRC density increase. You can make a difference.

  • 30yearsinreston

    A damning indictment of Hudgins
    The sheep are waking up

  • Chuck Morningwood

    “Take an action to support your hometown.”


    Morningwood for Supervisor, because “No Growth is Smart Growth”.

    • 30yearsinreston

      Anyone but Hudgins

  • Reston must remain the planned community that brought us together. I am running for the Board of Supervisors from Hunter Mill District, hoping to succeed Cathy Hudgins, who has held office nearly all of the 23 years I have lived here. Like others who love this diverse community with open space and a high quality of life, I will be at the Planning Commission hearing, wearing yellow and speaking out. We must oppose this density increase now. We must plan our growth wisely to ensure that Reston remains a place where we can live, work, play, and thrive. I hope the room will be packed!

    • TheKingJAK

      What it really comes down to, is in fact changing out the politicians who’ve been holding sway throughout these debates. Good for you!

  • hutchens lied squirrela.died

    we did not do anything in 2014 because we were.told we had a masterplan. solid!

  • Greendayer

    Elections have consequences. If you voted for Supervisor Hudgins, you are part of the problem. You supported someone who wants to raise the cap.

  • 30yearsinreston

    This is not about divesity and just deflects
    This is not about Hudgins personality or motivations
    This ia about her PERFORMANCE as a FCBOS representing Reston
    She has been an abysmal failure as a WMTA chair and standing up for Reston quality of life
    She has given away any leverage for infrastructure improvements, including schools, in her blind pursuit of some airy fairy ideal
    Developers have been given a free ride while residents are left holding the bag and paying for the future

    The sooner she is held accountable, the sooner we can start to alleviate the results of her tenure

    • Tammi Petrine

      30years, Sorry you feel my comments were deflection. I have lived in Reston 43 years but have only worked non-stop for 10 years to give citizens a REAL voice in the Reston Master Planning process. I am totally aware of the complex technical issues facing us and stated that Ms. Hudgins will not be our supervisor for another term based on her incredible recent loss of support due to all the reasons you state.

      My point is that Mrs. Hudgins IS concerned about diversity and hints that those of us opposing her proposed Cap increase are opposed. (view tape of SLHS 10-23-17 at end when she speaks https://youtu.be/0FEQbVsF7JI ) She is so mistaken. Her goals ARE shared by many though not all. But she herself is torpedoing opportunity for the very needy by her own action.

      The high-rises she is hyping with more density may supply workforce housing but not many lower income affordable units and only represent a small % of the MANY more new residents for which the Co.will be required to provide services, roads, etc. When sufficient service levels fail (and the Co’s promises for relief are YEARS if not decades away), ALL Restonians, commercial and residential suffer and our community degrades.

      Ms. Hudgins fears no more room for less fortunate. But her very insistence on more density will kill that goal; not strengthen it. And that’s the shame.

      See you all clad in yellow on Wed. Jan 23 at 7PM sharp. Get there early to get a seat!

      • 30yearsinreston

        Hudgins is not the sharpest by any measure

        • Greg

          Clearly, Hudgins is trying to avoid lame duck status, but, like nearly everything else she attempts, doing a poor job at it.

          Hudgins failed Reston (and all county taxpayers) by voting to consistently increase our property taxes (up more than 25 percent in the last five years), and failing to support common-sense county pension reform. The only reform that passed is upping the retirement age from 50 to 55. The only reason this changed is because the county food tax failed.

          The Social Security benefit pathway is still present and leaves us with at least a $5 billion unfunded pension burden.

          And, of course, more free, low-income housing is the very last thing Reston needs. There is already more in Reston than anywhere else in the county and most of it is poorly managed.

  • William K

    “the ability of the community to push back on significant high-density development in our established residential neighborhoods effectively will be eliminated.”


  • Mike M

    Boo, Tammi! Boo. There is no excuse. Reap what you sow.


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