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Tree Clearing Along Butler Pond Planned to Comply with State Dam Safety Code

Reston Association will remove dozens of trees near Butler Pond after learning the trees that line the pond are in violation of a state requirement for dam safety. The problem was flagged last year.

RA staff’s said crews expected to begin the work in the beginning of September last year, but RA later realized the area where clearing was slated was larger than 2,500 square feet — kicking in a county requirement for an engineered plan and permits from Fairfax County, Nicki Bellezza, RA’s watershed manager, told Reston Now.

RA received permits last August and finalized a contractor after putting the project out to bid, she said. Roughly 126 trees larger than four inches in diameter will be removed by the end of the year, along with hundreds of other smaller trees.

Clearing the trees is necessary to ensure protection from floods and preserve the dam’s safety. The violation of the state requirement was found during a routine inspection of the pond, Bellezza said.

“Trees on the dam may look good but can lead to surface problems,” she said. The uprooting of trees can cause major voids in the embankment to surface and decaying roots can create cause the back side of the dam to slide. Also, in some cases, channels necessary for water to pipe through can become exposed, resulting in leakage and dam breaching, which can cause flooding of downstream homes.

Reston Association expects the work to be completed by the end of the year.

According to Virginia code:

Dam owners shall not permit the growth of trees and other woody vegetation and shall remove any such vegetation from the slopes and crest of embankments and the emergency spillway area, and within a distance of 25 feet from the toe of the embankment and abutments of the dam.

Butler Pond is located on the west side of Reston Parkway near the intersection with Route 7. It was created in 1989 and has a surface area of about three acres.

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Reston Association Board To Consider PRC Zoning Amendment Motion Thursday

During its meeting Thursday, the Reston Association Board of Directors will consider what they heard during Monday’s county meeting on a proposed zoning ordinance amendment for Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) District and discuss its options.

According to the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, the Board will hear a presentation from land-use attorney John McBride and Larry Butler, RA’s senior director of parks, recreation and community resources. The Board will be asked to consider the following motion:

Move to direct RA staff, in coordination with Land Use Counsel, to work with Fairfax County staff, including testifying at Fairfax County’s public hearings, to amend the proposed Comprehensive Plan Guidelines for Building Repurposing to only allow for the conversion of office to residential uses in buildings located within one half mile of the Reston Metro Stations.

The plan from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning would bump the overall limit of people per acre from 13 to as much as 16. The current density rests at 11.9 people per acre. Changes would not apply to Transit Station Areas (TSA), which are located along the central east-wise spine of Reston.

The zoning change could also open up Reston’s village centers to possible major residential development. The proposal allows the Board of Supervisors to approve developments above 50 residential units per acre within the district’s TSAs — so long as the projects comply with the area’s master plan that guides development.

The planned discussion follows a spirited public meeting Monday where hundreds of residents voiced strong opposition to the proposal.

In addition, the Board will discuss several budget items during the meeting.

Directors will consider approving nearly $295,000 in improvements to North Hills Tennis Court (1325 North Village Road). Changes include resurfacing clay courts, adding bathroom access and replacing lighting, fencing and a water fountain. Residents voiced support for the upgrades at a community input session in mid-October. The Board says putting the projects back into the budget will not impact the 2018 Repair & Replacement Reserve Fund (RRRF) appropriation or the annual assessment rate.

The Board will consider a move to add $104,000 to remove trees from Butler Pond. The project is necessary in order to comply with a state law that prohibits woody vegetation on dams to prevent dam failure, according to the board’s agenda packet. The project would increase the annual assessment for next year by 49 cents.

Additionally, the Board will vote on a move to fund $60,000 for a business process audit, which would increase the annual assessment rate by $2.85.

The Board will also hold a public hearing on the budget during the meeting.

At its Thursday meeing, the Board will also consider the appointments of members to the Hook Road Working Group. The Hook Road Recreation Area is slated for comprehensive upgrades as part of a pilot project that aims to improve facilities at once instead of completing upgrades over time and as needed. The working group is tasked with making a proposal to the Board on the project’s scope by early next year.

A meeting on the project is planned for Thursday, Nov. 2, at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.). Two other meetings took place this month.

The names of individuals under consideration have not been made available.

Other issues on the agenda for the Thursday’s meeting include:

  • The appointment of Charlie Hoffman to the Design Review Board as a lay member, to fill a vacant seat through March 2019. Hoffman also serves on the covenants committee.
  • The appointment of Mike Martin to the elections committee through October 2020.

The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The meeting will also be streamed on Reston Association’s YouTube channel.

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