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by RestonNow.com April 24, 2018 at 1:00 pm 35 Comments

More community meetings about a controversial plan to increase Reston’s population density may be forthcoming.

In an April 23 letter to the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a community group opposing the increase, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins suggested holding more meetings to discuss issues related to the proposal, which would increase population density from 13 to 16 people per acre in Reston’s Planned Residential Community areas.

Hudgins pitched the idea of holding another group meeting with CPR, Reston Association and the county’s planning staff. Work sessions in small groups would follow based on topics like infrastructure implementation, transportation, schools and parks.

CPR and RA declined to meet on April 2 to discuss the county’s response to their concerns. County planning staff reiterated the need to pursue the proposal in order to effectively implement Reston’s master plan. Staff affirmed their commitment to ensuring infrastructure matches the pace of development, but did not accept a number of amendments suggested by both parties.

In her letter, Hudgins acknowledged the county’s response was “slow in coming.”

“But a commitment was made to respond and the planning staff did so in a detailed and thoughtful manner. It is unfortunate that CPR and RA declined to meet on April 2 and to discuss the staff’s response and to outline next steps and the process going forward,” she wrote.

Hudgins also noted that Reston’s master plan includes protections for existing residential communities and Reston’s golf course.

Most of the potential growth is slated for village centers, St. Johns Wood apartments, the retail area north of Baron Cameron avenue near Home Depot, Reston Town Center North, parts of Reston Town Center and other parcels in Reston’s Transit Station Areas.

“As was evident again this year at the Founder’s Day celebration, Reston is a special place that we all love and I am confident that we can all work together to resolve the issue of the maximum density allowed in the PRC zoned area and the concerns of the community regarding the Reston Master Plan,” Hudgins said.

CPR met on Monday to discuss the county’s response. In a statement, Bruce Ramo of CPR said the opposition group is disappointed with the county’s response.

It is evident that in the absence of leadership by the Supervisor, Restonians must step forward directly to convince the Board of Supervisors of the need for changes in the Master Plan,” Ramo wrote.

Dates regarding when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will officially introduce the legislative proposal have not yet been announced.

by Fatimah Waseem April 2, 2018 at 12:00 pm 65 Comments

The Coalition for a Planned Reston, an umbrella organization for citizen groups like Reclaim Reston, is seeking additional community forums as the county considers a plan to increase Reston’s population density in certain areas from 13 to 16 people per acre.

The move comes as Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning issued a formal response on Thursday to requests made by Reston Association and CPR to change Reston’s master plan by curbing additional development and adding more language to manage infrastructure.

The group postponed a planned Monday meeting on the issue with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, noting it would not be a “constructive use” of time. CPR also cited the county’s inadequate response to their concerns.

“Given the six-week delay in the county’s response and the significant community interest in the density issue, we believe the best way to address these issues of mutual concern will be for CPR to hold one or more community wide meetings to discuss with the public the County’s positions as represented by the March 28th letter,” the group wrote in a statement to Hudgins.

CPR plans to hold community forums on the county’s responses to requests for amendments this month. The group is also seeking to meet with county officials in early May.

“Madam Supervisor, the issues before us will directly affect every resident of Reston, current and future, for decades to come. We have confidence that you agree that it is imperative,” the group wrote.

On Thursday, a RA spokesperson said RA is analyzing the March 28 letter by the county but declined comment. 

by Fatimah Waseem March 8, 2018 at 2:45 pm 23 Comments

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved plans to realign Sunset Hills Road this week, pencilling in planning language caught in gridlock the proposal hopes to prevent.

Although the project remains far from groundbreaking, the board’s vote approves the realignment of Sunset Hills Road to Crowell Road — a move board supervisors said preserves the character of the surrounding residential area while calming current and future traffic. A roundabout will act as the intersection control and Hunter Mill Road will be converted to four continuous lanes from the realigned area to the Dulles Toll Road’s westbound ramps. 

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the plan balances the community’s interests while calming traffic in a “critical” area long-slated for improvements. Still, Hudgins hinted much more remains to be done to calm traffic in surrounding areas. 

“I would love to say we’re finished,” she said.

The issue boasts a long and beleaguered history. Proposals have been in county’s books since 1975, when an alignment similar to the current plan was approved.

County staff pitched the plan after a two-year public engagement period yielded seven options, including a no-build alternative. Staff narrowed options to three possibilities, two of which were struck down because they fell in the path of a Metrorail power station or would have required purchasing land from Reston Presbyterian Church. 

“We wanted to come up with a solution that helped preserve the character north and the roundabout really does that,” said Kristin Calkins, who works with the county’s transportation department.

The addition of the roundabout increases the total price tag of the project by around $3 million. No comprehensive cost analysis has been conducted to date.

Some residents expressed satisfaction with the plan after the county’s Planning Commission added language to push the realignment east of the Edlin School, restrict the alignment past north of Crowell Road, and maximize the distance between the new Sunset Hills Road and the adjacent Hunting Crest Community when the road is designed.

Lauding community engagement by Hudgins and Planning Commissioner John Carter, Raj Jain, president of the Hunting Crest Homeowners’ Association, said the changes addresses the community’s concerns about traffic noise and safety. He suggested completing a noise impact and mitigation study during the design phase of the project.

But others like Benise Ungar, vice president of the Hunting Creek Homeowners’ Association, said amendments to allay community concerns carried no legal weight.

Citing her appreciation for the county’s “good faith efforts,” Ungar said the roundabout “will be massive and not compatible with the surrounding area.” She also said residents and property owners impacted by the plan have publicly stated they will not sell their land to make way for the project.

Staff conceded the plan was an imperfect solution. The approved plan adds language into the county’s comprehensive plan. The roundabout is not a prescriptive solution — only  the “preferred solution.”

Information on the following phases, including designing, was not immediately available.

by RestonNow.com March 7, 2018 at 10:15 am 1 Comment

Residents of the Hunter Mill District will have a chance tomorrow to weigh in on the fiscal year 2019 budget.

Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill proposed the $4.29 billion general fund budget in February. The proposal would raise the residential property tax rate from $1.13 to $1.155 per $100 of assessed value.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will hold a town hall on the proposal tomorrow at South Lakes High School from 7-9 p.m.

During the public meeting, Hill will discuss his proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as the county’s financial forecast. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions following county presentations.

Photo via handout

by Fatimah Waseem February 7, 2018 at 11:30 am 9 Comments

County officials have not reached a decision on a controversial plan to bring an assisted living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive.

For the second time this year, the county’s Board of Supervisors unanimously deferred a decision to Feb. 20 at 3:30 p.m.

At a Tuesday board meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins did not explain why the decision was delayed. In January, Hudgins said she wanted to work with residents and the developer of Kensington Senior Development to tackle concerns raised by residents over several months.

Neighboring residents have expressed staunch opposition to the plan, which they said shoehorns a large, incompatible facility in an established, residential area.

The building, which would include up to 125 beds and 91 rooms, is more than eight times larger than the current child care facility on the site.

Rendering via handout

This story may be updated. 

by Fatimah Waseem February 6, 2018 at 9:00 am 8 Comments

County Set to Decide on Assisted-living Facility Today – A decision on a proposal to bring the 91-unit project, called Kensington Senior Development, to 11501 Sunrise Valley drive is expected today at around 3:30 p.m. The project has drawn backlash from neighboring residents. [Fairfax County Government]

One-on-One Time with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins – On Wednesday, Hudgins will be available to discuss issues with residents. No appointments are necessary for the drop-in time from 4-6 p.m. at Reston Regional Library.

Watch Capitol Steps Perform Live – Reston Association is organizing a trip on Feb. 23 to watch a live performance by Capitol Steps at the Ronald Reagan building. The group has “been putting politics and scandal to music” for the last 30 years, according to an event description. [Reston Association]

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

by Fatimah Waseem December 14, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

South Lakes High School Collaborates with Lake Anne Service Center — The high school’s Parent Teacher Student Association has partnered with the center on 11410 North Shore Drive. For every gallon of gas pumped, the service center will donate $0.005 to the PTSA. Customers should save their receipt and drop it off at the school’s main office. [South Lakes High School PTSA]

Donate New or Gentled Used Coats and Winter Clothes Through Jan 31. — The office of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is collected new or gently used men’s, women’s and children’s coats, hats, gloves, scarves and mittens at the office on 1801 Cameron Glen Drive. Items can be donated in a 24-hour drop off box or during operating hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 – 7 p.m. [Cornerstones]

Tour de Lights Holiday Bike Road on Saturday — Reston’s Multimodal Transportation Committee will take a bike tour around north Reston to experience the holidays lights on Saturday from 5 – 7 p.m. Participants must be able to keep a pace of around 10 miles per hour over a 1.5-hour drive. [Reston Association]

by Fatimah Waseem December 7, 2017 at 2:45 pm 3 Comments

Opponents of a proposal before the county to increase Reston’s population density continue to mobilize ahead of community meeting on Monday night.

The Coalition for a Planned Reston, a community organization that includes Reclaim Reston, Reston 20/20 and the Reston Citizens Association, will gather community feedback about the proposal and discuss specific changes to scale back Reston’s master plan in an effort limit the scale of development in the planned community.

The proposal, which will go before the county’s Board of Supervisors, would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community district from 13 persons up to 16.

The zoning change could also open up Reston’s village centers to increased residential development. The proposal would allow the Board of Supervisors to approve developments above 50 residential units per acre within the district’s Transit Station Areas (TSAs) — so long as the projects comply with the area’s master plan that guides development.

Reston Association staff opposed the changes. In a letter, In the letter, the RA staff also asks county supervisors to hold off on any further consideration of the PRC density cap increase until RA staff and county staff together can examine the Reston Master Plan portion of the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Meanwhile, the coalition will pitch amendments to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins before Christmas. Overall, the coalition is seeking to constrain density growth and ensure infrastructure keeps up to pace with development.

CPR hopes to maintain the intensity of opposition to the proposal, which eclipsed in late October during a 900-person public community meeting in Reston where an overwhelming majority of attendees opposed the proposal.

“We are anxious to present what we believe are reasonable Reston plan amendments to Supervisor Hudgins rather than just denoting a list of topic areas where changes could be made,” said Terry Maynard, co-chair of the Reston 20/20 Committee. “We are hopeful that the community will buy in to these proposals and possibly suggest some modifications and additions.”

Changes under consideration include reinstating a population cap throughout Reston which existed in the community’s 1989 plan; placing a cap on high-density, high-rise residential development, which the coalition stated is unlimited in the current plan; and phasing development with supporting infrastructure similar to the Tysons plan.

On a broader level, the coalition seeks to ensure county policies and standards that govern schools, parks and transportation are realistically in line with Reston’s growth potential.

CPR will also use the meeting platform to discuss other controversial zoning matters, including the “densification of Saint Johns Woods” and the addition of a road through Hidden Creek Country Club.

“The last minute inclusion by the Planning Commission of developer language allowing Bozzuto to re-develop St. Johns Woods at triple its current density is a perfect example of community exclusion in the development process,” said Reclaim Reston member Bruce Ramo.

The meeting will be held on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Reston Association Conference Center.

by Fatimah Waseem November 27, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Jurisdictions in Northern Virginia are collecting gently used and new coats and blankets for Syrian refugees in this year’s donation drive. The drive is powered by the Northern Virginia Relief Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to create a better life for people who come to Northern Virginia from around the world.

Since 2013, the drive has collected more than 100 tons of donations for Syrian and Iraqi refugees from jurisdictions like Fairfax County, Prince William County and Alexandria. Last year, 40,000 blanket and 33,000 winter coats were collected at over 100 drop-off sites throughout the country.

Donations will be accepted through Sunday at more than 30 locations. Local government drop-off locations will stop collecting donations at 5 p.m. on Friday.

In Reston, donations can be made at the Hunter Mill District Supervisor Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. A complete list of all drop-off locations is also available online.

The organization is also accepting online donations. This year, all donations will be shipped to refugees located in Lebanon through a partnership with Paxton Van Lines and Maersk Line, according to the center’s website.

Photo via Northern Virginia Relief Center

by Fatimah Waseem November 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm 7 Comments

In a draft letter to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Catherine Hudgins, Reston Association President Sherri Hebert has proposed a series of amendments to Reston’s Master Plan, a document that lays out a vision for the planned community.

The suggestions broadly push for more mechanisms to ensure public infrastructure matches the pace of development.

Some have estimated that the Reston Plan will result in more than doubling the current number of residents, not counting increases in employment population and visitor/pass through populations. If commensurate planned infrastructure can no longer be provided, then the level of residential development must be reduced to maintain the balance between land use and infrastructure,” she wrote.

A summary of each recommendation is below:

  1. Add an overall residential population cap that includes affordable housing units and work-force housing.
  2. Clearly state Reston’s village centers, except Lake Anne and Tall Oaks, will have the same land uses as they have today.
  3. Add periodic plan updates that tie specific development milestones with infrastructure improvements. A similar method to condition development on the availability of public infrastructure was included in the Tysons Master Plan.
  4. Request the Reston Network Analysis Advisory Group to review its transportation network analysis assumptions and methodology.
  5. Establish a realistic plan to increase the scope of recreational activities in Reston. The plan should account for space and funding.
  6. Add clearer statements that assertively state infrastructure capacity must increase as new development rather than “lag decades behind.”
  7. Establish a realistic plan for increased school capacity in Reston.
  8. Remove a “grid of streets” road connection between American Dream Way and Isaac Newton Square because it hurts environmentally sensitive areas and the Hidden Creek Golf Course.
  9. Change the dwelling unit density of lands with the high-density multi-family zoning from an unlimited amount to the maximum number of units per acre necessary to accommodate the two parcels that designation covers.

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

by Dave Emke October 18, 2017 at 10:15 am 25 Comments

Citing the great interest the community has shown in the topic, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ office has announced additional arrangements for Monday’s meeting on a Fairfax County proposal to increase Reston’s density cap.

The meeting, scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive), will be streamed live on Fairfax County’s Channel 16. In addition to being available online, that channel can be found on Comcast, Verizon Fios and Cox cable services on channel 16, as well as through digital television (with QAM tuner) on channel 34-16.

To accommodate for parking difficulties at the school, the county will also be offering a pair of shuttle buses from the parking lot at the Human Services building (1850 Cameron Glen Drive) to the school. The first will leave and 6 p.m. and the last will go at 6:30. Seating will be on a first-come, first-serve basis, and each trip can take 39 riders.

See the full announcement from Hudgins’ office here.

Next week’s meeting was scheduled after a planned meeting last month at Lake Anne Elementary School was called off when a large number of people — estimated at more than 400 — showed up to oppose the plan, which county officials said breached the fire code.

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 proposal from the county 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 county’s Department of Planning and Zoning says the change to the density cap is necessary to make way for growth that is expected after Reston’s Master Plan was updated by Fairfax County in 2014 and 2015 to guide redevelopment in Transit Station Areas, Town Center and village centers.

“A full buildout would not necessarily ever be reached, and if it even approaches that point, it wouldn’t do so quickly,” said Cathy Belgin of the county DPZ’s Zoning Administration Division, of the potential population growth, at a meeting in May. “But staff feels it is important, because the Master Plan takes a long look forward in time, that the regulations should be aligned accordingly for there to be the opportunity.”

More information about the proposal is available at Fairfax County’s website.

File photo from Sept. 25 meeting

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.

(more…)

by Dave Emke October 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm 7 Comments

UPDATE: This information was later made official. (Full article)

We have received numerous messages from readers today regarding information they’ve seen about a proposed date, time and location for the rescheduled public meeting on Fairfax County’s proposed zoning ordinance amendment for Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) District.

Representatives from both South Lakes High School and Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ office tell us that information (Monday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. in the SLHS cafeteria) was inadvertently released publicly before it was confirmed by all necessary parties. It is subject to change.

We will print a full story on the rescheduled meeting when information deemed official is provided. Thank you for your patience.

by Dave Emke September 26, 2017 at 10:15 am 70 Comments

Reston residents argue that a zoning ordinance amendment proposed by Fairfax County would cause the community to become too overpopulated to manage.

That makes what happened at a scheduled county meeting to discuss the topic Monday night particularly ironic.

After hundreds of Restonians crowded into the cafeteria at Lake Anne Elementary School for the forum, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and staff from the Department of Planning and Zoning told them the meeting would have to be postponed until a larger venue could be booked.

“It is a safety issue and a code violation [to have so many people in the cafeteria],” Hudgins said to a chorus of boos from the crowd, many of whom were wearing yellow-shaded Reclaim Reston and Rescue Reston T-shirts. “You did come out and that’s important, and I’m glad that you did, we appreciate that.”

The proposal from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning 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 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 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.

According to signage displayed in the cafeteria at Lake Anne Elementary School, the fire code caps the number of occupants of the cafeteria at 210 when tables and chairs are present, as they were Monday night. Estimates of attendance for the meeting ranged from 350 to over 400.

(more…)

by Dave Emke September 25, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

County Meeting on PRC Zoning Ordinance Amendment Tonight — Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and staff from Fairfax County’s Department of Planning & Zoning will host a community meeting tonight at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at Lake Anne Elementary School (11510 North Shore Drive). They will discuss a proposed zoning ordinance amendment that would increase the cap on density in Reston’s Planned Residential Community, among other changes. [Reston Now]

SLHS Football Suffers First Loss of Season — The Seahawks were upset Friday night by the Centreville Wildcats, 30-14. Statistical leaders for SLHS included running back Spencer Alston (6 carries for 58 yards, 3 catches for 35 yards, 1 TD); running back Albert Mensah (13 carries for 29 yards); and punter Evan Matthes (56.3-yard average on 4 punts). South Lakes is now 4-1 on the season and next plays Oct. 6, homecoming, against Langley. [South Lakes Athletics]

Fairfax County Home Prices Rise — County home prices were up $20,000 in August compared to the same month last year. The median sale prices in August 2017 was $505,000. [Reston Patch]

Car Tax Due Date Coming Up — The deadline for vehicle owners to pay their bill is Thursday, Oct. 5, and residents are being reminded not to wait until the last minute. [Fairfax County]

Reston Man Named to State Commission — Khurrum H. Khan of Reston, president of OurKare of Herndon, has been appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to Virginia’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Commission. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Herndon Officer Participates in ‘Rodeo’ — Senior Police Officer Ron Eicke participated in the recent Mid-Atlantic Police Rodeo, along with other police representatives from across the region. [Herndon Police/Facebook]

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