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by Katherine Berko — July 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm 11 Comments

Reclaim Reston is upset with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who they say are ignoring their urging to slow down development.

The grassroots activist group wrote to the Board of Supervisors last month, asking for a moratorium on proposed zoning ordinance amendments from the county’s Department of Planning & Zoning and on approval of any development projects that haven’t yet been submitted.

After receiving no response in over three weeks, the group is not happy.

“By silently thumbing their noses at the legitimate concerns of the Reston community, the Board of Supervisors sent the unambiguous message that they hold all the cards and view the Reston residents as powerless to interfere with the Supervisors’ cozy relationship with developers,” group member Bruce Ramo wrote to Reston Now.

An online petition Reclaim Reston set up in support of the moratorium has nearly 700 signatures.

Reclaim Reston is urging the Board of Supervisors to control development and ensure that planning and funding for infrastructure such as schools, roads, bridges, parks and other recreational facilities, remains in sync with the influx of new residents.

When asked by Reston Now about Reclaim Reston’s request, Hudgins provided the following statement (presented as written):

I recognize that good economics time, particular the last two years, provides more economic opportunity for new development. This does not mean the support for that development will not occur. While it would be great if all the planned transportation projects were already built, however, infrastructure improvement depend on those developing the land and a blending of federal, state and county funding. Three new Reston north/south crossings and three new rail stations scheduled to open in Reston and Herndon area, will relieve much of the traffic that travel today to Reston and Wiehle stations on many primary Reston arteries. I am working to build these sooner than planned.

My pledge is the outcome of future growth will more than conform to Reston’s planned community. Bob Simon believed people should be concentrated around Villages. Today’s village comes in a more urban form with the support of transit, retail and parks, in addition to housing. Mr. Simon voted for the Comprehensive Plan. I hope the outcome will meet his and your desires when we see it completed.

Ramo, though, says that the board’s silence on Reclaim Reston’s call for a moratorium shows that the County will go forward with its plans no matter what, leaving potential infrastructure problems to be resolved at some future time.

“Fairfax County has every intention of moving forward to convert Reston to the County’s cash cow, regardless of what it means for the education of our children, or the quality of life, safety or environment of our community,” Ramo said.

by Dave Emke — July 13, 2017 at 1:30 pm 9 Comments

Three meetings in May to discuss a proposed zoning ordinance amendment for Reston’s Planned Residential Community district did not satisfy residents upset about the plan.

A fourth meeting, though, is on the horizon.

Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has announced that the county Department of Planning and Zoning will hold another public meeting on the proposal. A tentative date of Sept. 25 was reported.

The proposal from the county DPZ would increase the limit on people per acre in Reston’s PRC District from 13 to 16. This would allow for 18,737 more people beyond the current cap in Reston over time. Reston’s PRC District is currently at about 11.9 persons per acre. The 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 Transit Station Areas within the PRC and when in accordance with Comprehensive Plan recommendations.

The PRC District does not include any of the TSA 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. This was pointed out by several individuals who spoke during May meetings, saying that this means the population and density estimates provided for the PRC District would in reality be much higher in Reston as a whole.

Restonians who attended the May meetings expressed their concern that the county was trying to rush the amendment through the approval process. They were especially upset when the third meeting was held in an open-house format rather than as a question-and-answer session.

“The County and the community need to understand the implications for Reston of the zoning ordinance amendment and quite possibly amend it so that it is consistent with Reston’s vision and planning principles,” said Terry Maynard, co-chair of the Reston 20/20 committee and an outspoken opponent of the proposal, at one of the meetings. “This will take time, not the headlong rush the County and Board [of Supervisors] seem to be in to get this amendment passed with three public meetings in three weeks [in May].”

The Reston Association Board of Directors adopted a resolution at its May meeting asking the County to give more time and consideration to the community’s voice.

The original plan for the DPZ was to bring the plan before the Board of Supervisors this month, followed by a Planning Commission public hearing in September and the Board public hearing in October. It now has those dates pushed back to November, December and January, respectively.

Map courtesy Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning

by Dave Emke — June 29, 2017 at 2:45 pm 15 Comments

Some Reston Association members have strong feelings about the community’s relationship with Fairfax County — and specifically, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

“In terms of what Reston looks like, what Reston feels like — she’s moving Reston away from it,” Stephen Canner said. “We don’t want that.”

Canner was speaking to RA Board directors and CEO Cate Fulkerson during an informal feedback-gathering meeting Thursday evening at RA Headquarters. Canner and others expressed their displeasure with how they feel Hudgins and other members of the County Board of Supervisors are allowing developers to take over Reston.

“They’re moving us in a different direction, trying to make us look like Arlington,” Canner said.

Victoria White, Hunters Woods/Dogwood District director, said Board president Sherri Hebert and vice president David Bobzien have been having weekly meetings with Hudgins to try to facilitate more communication. Eric Carr, At-Large director who moderated the meeting, said it’s the start of a conversation to try to improve Reston’s standing with the County.

“One of the underutilized resources we have is our ‘soft power,'” Carr said. “We don’t have any legislative power, we’re not a municipality, but boy, can we be annoying — in a good way.”

Carr said it is important for Reston Association members and the Board to stay vigilant in letting the County know the problems Reston citizens have with new developments and other legislation. Some members also expressed displeasure with what seem to be futile attempts to get their opinions heard during county meetings, citing particularly the recent public meetings on the Planned Residential Community zoning ordinance amendment.

John Mooney, At-Large director, harkened the St. John’s Wood public meetings — which resulted in the project being deferred indefinitely — as he reminded residents that their well-formed and -organized thoughts on specific plans do matter.

“You have to have the community involved on policy level issues and zoning ordinance issues, but you also have to have communities get really informed, bust their butts understanding what’s going on in particular projects,” he said. “You have to have those two levels of citizen interactions … for political change to happen. It can’t happen with just one line of attack or one line of engagement.”

Mooney said that in addition to the meetings taking place between RA Board leadership and Hudgins, there are staff-to-staff meetings and other interaction going on with the County. Members in attendance said they’d like to know more about how those conversations are progressing.

Members continued on to say it is difficult to learn any information about what is happening within Reston Association, because of a lack of communication and what they view as a confusing website. Most agreed they get more information from local media and from Nextdoor than they do from RA itself. Carr agreed that work needs to be done to better reach members.

“We have an extensive site, but we’re not reaching you the same way other avenues of information are reaching you,” Carr said.

Mike Leone, RA’s communications director, said he is working to increase Reston Association’s presence on Nextdoor to push more news out to the community more efficiently. Attendees were also encouraged to sign up for RA’s email bulletins and other local newsletters.

by Dave Emke — June 26, 2017 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

Ribbon Cutting for Clothing Store — Scout & Molly’s (11944 Market St.) hosted its official ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday morning. Among attendees were Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, representatives of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and more.

Summer Meals Program Starts Today — The Free Summer Meals for Kids Program provides free, healthy meals to children ages 5 to 18 at designated meal sites in Fairfax County. [Fairfax County]

Officials Talk Metro, Fields, More — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and more addressed the Vienna Town Council recently to give updates on the Silver Line, placement of athletic fields and more. [The Connection]

Kids Can Earn Prizes for Reading — Kids who complete the summer reading adventure at any Fairfax County library by Sept. 2 can win a coupon book with dozens of free and discounted fun treats like ice cream and miniature golf. [Fairfax County]

Image courtesy Powers Brand Communications LLC

by Dave Emke — April 25, 2017 at 2:45 pm 43 Comments

The Fairfax County Department of Planning & Zoning will host a community meeting next week to discuss proposed zoning ordinance changes that could increase the residential density limit in Reston.

The current zoning ordinance limits residential density in Reston’s Planned Residential Community District, which encompasses most of the community, to an average of 13 people per acre. The Comprehensive Plan for Reston was updated by Fairfax County in 2014 and 2015, guiding redevelopment in Reston’s Transit Station Areas, Town Center and village centers.

The community meeting will be held Wednesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive).

A representative for Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ office said the county DPZ is reviewing data to determine what changes to the ordinance may be necessary to accommodate for the growth approved by the changes to the plan. The meeting May 3, as well as a Reston Planning & Zoning Committee meeting May 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the same location, are opportunities for the community to share their thoughts, she said.

Map courtesy Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning

by Dave Emke — April 25, 2017 at 1:30 pm 6 Comments

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday morning marked up the proposed FY2018 budget, and the current real estate tax rate remains.

Upon approval of the budget, the real estate tax rate will remain at the FY 2017 level of $1.13 per $100 of the assessed value of the home, as proposed by the county executive. (The average Reston real estate assessment has gone down by 0.33 percent in 2017.) Board chairman Sharon Bulova said the stable rate “ensure[s] Fairfax County continues to be an affordable place to live for seniors and families.”

At the board’s Feb. 28 meeting, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) supported an amendment that would have raised the advertised real estate tax rate to $1.15 per $100. The amendment, introduced by Supervisor Kathy Smith (Sully District), failed by a vote of 7-3, with Supervisor Daniel Storck (Mount Vernon District) casting the third vote in favor.

Changes in the marked-up $4.1 billion budget include:

  • an additional $1.7 million in funding for Fairfax County Public Schools above the amount in the county executive’s proposed budget, for a total transfer of $2.17 billion (52.8 percent of the budget)
  • just under $2 million and 18 new positions to support the second year of the county’s Diversion First initiative, which helps divert individuals with mental illness from jail into mental health treatment
  • more than $13 million in reductions and nine position eliminations, resulting from agency reductions and continued savings in fuel and retiree health expenses

The marked-up budget was approved by an 8-2 vote of the Board, with Smith and Storck dissenting.

The board is expected to officially approve the budget May 2, and it will go into effect July 1.

by Dave Emke — April 20, 2017 at 4:20 pm 6 Comments

Developer Bozzuto is deferring “indefinitely” its application to redevelop St. Johns Wood, according to information sent out by Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ office Thursday afternoon.

Hudgins’ office says the community meeting on the project that had been scheduled for Tuesday is being canceled, and a representative for the supervisor said it is her understanding that “all meetings” regarding the proposal are off the table.

The plan was scheduled to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on May 25, following additional meetings with Reston’s Planning & Zoning Committee and Design Review Board on May 15 and 16. Meetings with the P&Z Committee and DRB this week featured many comments against the project from North Point residents, and the DRB in particular was critical of many elements of the project.

Brian Winterhalter of Cooley LLP, the commercial real-estate attorney representing Bozzuto, said at Tuesday’s DRB meeting that his team would follow up about scheduling a work session with the Design Review Board. However, he expressed disappointment with how the process was progressing.

The proposal has been in the works since 2014 and has seen numerous changes in that time. The current plan calls for 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre property.

Winterhalter has not responded to requests for comment.

by Dave Emke — April 14, 2017 at 4:00 pm 16 Comments

Developer Bozzuto is scheduled for two more informational meetings next week on its proposal to redevelop St. Johns Wood.

Meetings are on the agenda with Reston’s Planning & Zoning Committee on Monday night, and with the Design Review Board on Tuesday. The most recent informational meeting on the project, last month at the Planning & Zoning Committee, once again drew large community response opposing the plan.

That response from the community has been consistent since the project was first proposed in 2014. Bozzuto has made numerous alterations to the plan since, with the proposal made at March’s P&Z Committee meeting being the seventh iteration.

In addition, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will host a community meeting on the proposal later this month, featuring representatives from Bozzuto. That meeting will be held Tuesday, April 25, from 7-9 p.m. in the lecture hall at Langston Hughes Middle School (11401 Ridge Heights Road).

A Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the project is slated for May 25.

by Dave Emke — April 3, 2017 at 11:30 am 40 Comments

Reston National Golf Course has been advertised for potential redevelopment, but a lot would need to happen for that to take place, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is reminding constituents.

In a statement to media Monday morning, Hudgins said an interpretation of the property’s status made by Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning is “clear and concise.”

“According to the interpretation, the process is clear and concise and must be followed in order for development other than a golf course or open space to be considered for the property,” Hudgins said.

The interpretation of the golf course property by Fairfax County Planning and Zoning reads:

“Based on the previous approvals, the redevelopment of the property from a golf course to residential uses would first require an amendment to the Reston Master Plan which is part of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, as well as obtaining both Development Plan Amendment approval and Planned Residential Community Plan approval from the Board of Supervisors.”

According to Hudgins’ office, the supervisor made the statement Monday in response to the recent advertisement of the property by developer ARA Newmark as well as a recent article on real-estate news site GlobeSt, which quoted specific rumored sale prices and development values for the property. Hudgins believes the characterization of the property as a “by-right, mixed-use development opportunity” could be misleading to some residents, who may believe its redevelopment to be “a done deal,” her office stated.

Activist group Rescue Reston, which fought against a previous attempt to redevelop the property, has stated it will “mobilize [its] allies and supporters as necessary to oppose any attempt to amend the Comprehensive Plan that would threaten our open space.”

by Dave Emke — March 31, 2017 at 10:15 am 26 Comments

Speaking to community business leaders Thursday in Herndon, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said the amount of development taking place within Reston’s Transit Station Areas has surpassed expectations and has positioned Reston as an economic driver for the county, region and state.

At the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce’s legislative panel event, Hudgins said she and others believed Tysons Corner would grow faster than Reston when their respective plans were first laid out.

“I think it’s the reverse of that now, and I think it’s the reverse of it because Reston is a very stable community,” Hudgins said. “[It is] a community well-established, different from this [transit-oriented] development but very much in concert with it.”

Hudgins showed her audience a map featuring the three Reston TSAs — encompassing the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station as well as the future Reston Town Center and Herndon stations — and pointed out more than 40 development projects that are in the works within those boundaries.

“This would not be happening if we had not approved the transit that is coming to the area,” she said. “It’s working.”

Hudgins said the Tax Service Districts that have been established in Reston and Tysons in order to help fund transportation improvements in the community were “a lot of work” to develop, but they represent a “success model” for the county. She said increasing public transit and making more walkable communities around the stations is “a creative, very smart way to approach how we develop and keep economic development going.”

“Many folks — not just millenials, but seniors — find it important to be able to live in a community where everything is at their fingertips,” Hudgins said. “[With transit-oriented development], they feel that there is housing that fits for them, there’s recreation that fits for them, and there are restaurants and the thriving other services that they need. They aren’t getting in their car. They want to be able to walk or take transit, and that’s what’s happening here.”

Hudgins said that when the Reston Plan was approved over 50 years ago, it said “Fairfax County would be wise if they would establish these areas, preserving more open space for single-family homes and others, but bringing these more dense areas to concentrate things.”

“Fifty years later, we’re getting there,” she said. “I think it’s going to be the story about how Fairfax County continues to thrive.”

by Dave Emke — March 30, 2017 at 2:45 pm 17 Comments

There may be a sense of frustration and concern regarding ongoing construction of Metro’s Silver Line, area elected officials said Thursday, but its great potential must be remembered.

Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and state delegates Ken Plum (D-Fairfax) and Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax/Loudoun) talked about Metro and the surrounding future development during a legislative panel discussion sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and hosted by Dominion Virginia Power in Herndon. Plum, the former state chair of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association, said it is important to put the status of Metro’s Silver Line in perspective.

“We really ought to stop for a moment and celebrate where we are,” Plum said. “For 25 years of my life I worked on that project, and it was announced to be dead half a dozen times, at least. … Now, by 2020, we’re going to have it all the way out into Loudoun County. And we have an incredible opportunity with that.”

A large amount of development has happened or is in the works in the area of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, the current western terminus of the Silver Line. Other projects are also springing up near the line’s future stations in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

The Metro Washington Airport Authority’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, which is overseeing construction, announced recently that Phase 2 work to extend Metro through Reston into Dulles Airport and onward to Ashburn is more than 56 percent complete. However, deficiencies in Metro’s budget and decreasing ridership have raised a number of questions in recent months about the future viability of the transit system.

Boysko, whose district includes Herndon, praised the state’s creation of the Metrorail Safety Commission to examine how Metro is being organized and managed. She said as Phase 2 of the project continues, it is imperative that safety issues as well as financial and operational performance are properly monitored and addressed.

“People say this is the least functional transit system in the country,” she said. “We have such a great opportunity as we are expanding into Phase 2, [but] it has to be a success. We have really focused our economic development around Phase 2 being successful.”

Hudgins, who is also a member of Metro’s Board of Directors, said this is a conversation she “live[s] every day.” She said Metro is unique in many ways, most notably in its partnership between multiple jurisdictions as well as in its infrastructure itself.

“I think people need to understand, it is a different kind of railroad,” she said. “That system is one of the most difficult systems [to maintain] of all those in the country.”

Plum said Metro needs to be revitalized, and in order for that to happen, it needs to continue to receive the support of the surrounding community.

“Please, don’t wash your hands of Metro,” Plum said. “It’s vital to the economic development of our region and I think we all recognize [that].”

The legislative recap event sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce is a chance for local businesspeople to keep abreast of important issues in the community, said Mark Ingrao, GRCC president and CEO.

“We’re a catalyst for business growth and entrepreneurship in this area of Fairfax County,” he said. “We think that we have the type of programming our members are looking for to connect them with other businesses [and] to educate them on legislative things like this.”

by Dave Emke — March 22, 2017 at 9:00 am 16 Comments

Morning Notes - Winter

More Attention for Town Center Parking Debate — Reston Town Center merchant Aaron Gordon was on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on D.C. radio station WAMU on Tuesday speaking about paid parking at the Town Center. Supervisor Cathy Hudgins was also on the show to give her thoughts. [WAMU/player.fm]

Whole Foods Purchases to Benefit Fairfax County Charity — Five percent of purchases today at Northern Virginia locations of Whole Foods — including in Reston at 11660 Plaza America Drive —  will benefit Firefighters and Friends to the Rescue, which partners with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue to provide coats, books, toys and needed supplies to families. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Elected Officials to Discuss Economic Growth in Area — Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and delegates Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax/Loudoun) and Kathleen Murphy (D-Fairfax/Loudoun) will be among the speakers at a forum on economic drivers and opportunities March 30 in Herndon. [Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce]

County Officials Worry About Effects of Immigration Fear — At Tuesday’s meeting of Fairfax County’s Public Safety Committee, officials discussed concerns that members of the immigrant community will become afraid to report crime, ask for help or provide police information. They say that distrust may jeopardize overall safety in the county. [WTOP]

by Dave Emke — March 1, 2017 at 2:45 pm 32 Comments

Reston Transit Area/Fairfax County

At its meeting Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the $2.27 billion Reston Transportation Funding Plan.

Included in the plan is a 2.1 cent/$100 of assessed value tax assessed to properties in the Reston Transit Station Area (pictured). Under the agreed-upon plan, current homeowners in the TSA will be responsible for up to $44.6 million of the estimated cost. The remainder of the tax funds (totaling $350 million) will be collected from commercial/industrial properties and from residential properties built in the future.

The rest of private funds, about $716 million, is expected to be collected through in-kind contributions to the grid by developers.

The residential tax issue was a concern of several of the speakers during a public hearing before the vote.

“FCDOT implicitly declares that Reston homeowners must be taxed because the County cannot move any current tax revenues in its $4 billion budget to improve Reston’s streets, the County can’t use any future station area property tax revenues to invest in Reston’s streets [and] the County can never raise the rates on any countywide taxes that would help generate billions in future tax revenues,” said Terry Maynard of the Reston 20/20 committee, who has been an outspoken detractor of the tax. “To insist on these assumptions is an outright falsehood, and FCDOT and [the Board of Supervisors] know it.”

Reston resident Tammi Petrine also addressed the board with similar concerns about forcing residents to pay for needed infrastructure. In addition, John McBride, land-use attorney representing Reston Association, addressed the board to share the RA Board of Directors’ stance against the residential tax.

Representing the Reston Network Analysis Advisory Group, chairman Andy Sigle said the “alternative funding sources” beyond the in-kind developer contributions were necessary.

“Following much discussion and additional community input, a majority of the advisory group voted to endorse staff’s recommendation,” Sigle said. “While the vote was not unanimous in regard to the specific road fund and service district contribution rates, the advisory group was in agreement regarding the general structure of the funding plan.”

Maggie Parker of developer Comstock Partners, who was also a part of RNAAG, said the group’s meetings were “informative, inclusive and impactful.”

“This funding plan is burdensome; however, after dozens of meetings, revision of scope and countless financial models, it is what it is,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s an investment in our community and the citizens who live and work here.”

In addition to the grid, private funds are slated to be used for upgrades to intersections. Public funds — from local, state, regional and federal sources — totaling $1.2 billion are to be used for roadway improvements including the construction of a bridge over the Dulles Toll Road at Soapstone Drive and a Town Center Parkway underpass of the Toll Road.

Two supervisors abstained from the vote. Supervisor Pat Herrity (Springfield District) said he continues to have concerns about the overall cost of the project, and Supervisor Linda Smyth (Providence District) said she could not support the plan when she has continually opposed a similar tax in Tysons.

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) said she understands taxes are unpopular, but she believes the impact is outweighed by the benefits.

“I think the relative point is that the majority of [the plan] is being paid for by public dollars and by developers,” she said. “It is a difficult ask, but we think it is an important ask. As Reston continues to grow, we have congestion — very bad congestion — and these infrastructure improvements need to get started.”

by RestonNow.com — February 23, 2017 at 1:30 pm 7 Comments

StoneTurn Community Forum - Terry MaynardThis is an op/ed submitted by Terry Maynard, co-chair of the Reston 20/20 committee. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins led off her newsletter this month with a two-page article on “misinformation” concerning the proposed Reston Tax Service District (TSD) for homeowners and businesses along the Dulles Corridor, the so-called Reston transit station areas. So far as we know, no one has provided misinformation on the road tax, including Reston 20/20.

What Reston 20/20 has done — and will continue to do — is highlight the vast quantity of vital information about the proposed Reston road tax that neither Supervisor Hudgins nor FCDOT have been willing to acknowledge because, of course, it undermines the validity of having such a tax. Let’s take a quick look.

First, the foundation argument for a Reston road tax is that there is a $350 million gap over the 40-year period of planned station area expansion — less than $9 million per year — in road funding that can absolutely only be filled by another singular tax on Restonians. Supervisor Hudgins doesn’t even mention the “funding gap” in her missive, almost certainly because she knows there isn’t one. The “funding gap” was created by FCDOT to justify creating an added County tax revenue stream (at the Board of Supervisors’ direction) solely on Restonians.

The so-called “funding gap” is the result of a series of FCDOT assumptions about transportation funding that are a fantasy, plain and simple. [This was addressed in an earlier op/ed.]

That’s all not mentioned, much less explained, in Supervisor Hudgins’ letter. And some things mentioned there are less than “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Some example, her letter states, “To accommodate traffic pattern changes, reduce congestion, move traffic efficiently, and provide convenient connections to transit stations, multi-modal transportation improvements were proposed.” That statement alone is loaded with fallacies.

  • Well, yes, multi-modal improvements were proposed in the revised Reston master plan, but the ongoing County transportation proposal addresses only street improvements. Nary a word about more buses, better bike access, improved pedestrian movements, etc. In fact, to the contrary, FCDOT Chief Biesiadny has stated on multiple occasions that no added bus service is required, just a re-jiggering of current routes. Yet, the plan calls for 76,000 new residents and 41,000 new jobs; a total potential of 211,000 people living and working in Reston’s station areas. But no new bus service is needed? Preposterous! And you know that the proposed Reston station area tax will be increased to finance that obviously needed new bus service.
  • And, no, the planned street improvements will neither “reduce congestion” nor “move traffic efficiently.” To the contrary, by County policy intent, the goal is to increase congestion by lowering the acceptable level of service for traffic under the County’s new “urban standard.” Yes, you can expect to wait at least an extra half-minute or more at every already gridlocked intersection in Reston’s station areas as this “urban standard” is implemented.

In fact, proceeds from the County’s Reston road tax proposal will be primarily used (87 percent) to finance the construction of the so-called “grid of streets.” This grid is not being built to “reduce congestion” or “move traffic efficiently”; it being built to improve the profitability of the development of the adjoining properties. In fact, the specific grid streets to be financed by Restonians road tax are primarily those streets at the east and west periphery of the station areas, areas that could not be profitably developed without a public tax subsidy. From your pocket to developer profits.

Moreover, the fact that these streets will be built and the areas developed will mean more, not less congestion, in the station areas. For what it’s worth, not even the developers in Tysons are having the “grid of streets” subsidized by taxes on residents; they will be building all of them there out of their own pockets. Yet somehow Supervisor Hudgins and FCDOT don’t mention any of this. No need to fully inform Restonians, they must think.

And two bits of seeming relative good news in Supervisor Hudgins’ commentary are less than they appear.

  • First, there is the seemingly low impact of the $.021/$100 valuation impact of the proposed TSD tax on station area homeowners’ tax bill, for example, $105 per year on a half-million dollar property. Sounds OK, but it fails to acknowledge: The tax is based on 2016 dollars and will triple over 40 years at three percent inflation, totally ignores any property appreciation above inflation, fails to mention that the Board can raise the tax rate at any time — as it has already done on a similar tax in Tysons, and assumes construction costs will not exceed inflation. So, no, it will cost much more than Supervisor Hudgins’ letter says.
  • Second, Supervisor Hudgins states that there is a new “sunset” provision in the proposed tax without specifying the details. The implication is that the road tax would be used only for construction, not the indefinite maintenance of the streets and intersections. That’s a positive change, but — like the tax rate and adding needed bus service — can be undone by the Board with a simple vote anytime in the future.

So “cui bono?” Who benefits?  By our estimate based on an analysis of Boston Properties’ annual report, developers in Reston’s station areas stand to earn $45 billion over the next four decades in 2016 dollars, roughly double that in future dollars, from fulfilling the Reston master plan. And, as stated above, the County stands to receive $11 billion in property tax revenues at current tax rates in 2016 dollars over the same period.

And station area residents? They get a larger property tax bill every year and increased congestion.

What could be wrong with that?

As the late radio commentator Paul Harvey (for those of you old enough to recall) would say, “And now you know the rest of the story.” So you can accept Supervisor Hudgins’ Tetra-esque one-sided sales promotion or you can consider the proposed Reston road tax in the context of this more complete picture. If you believe, as we do, that the TSD road tax is little more than a fraud, please do any or all of the following:

  • Join the more than 200 others who have signed Reston 20/20’s petition to stop the Reston TSD tax which we will submit to Chairman Bulova and the Board of Supervisors before the upcoming public hearing on the Reston road tax proposal.
  • Share with Supervisor Hudgins your concerns about the proposed Reston road tax by any means you choose — email, telephone, letter, social media, whatever.
  • Take the time to attend and even testify at the public hearing at the Government Center on Feb. 28.

There is no good reason that Reston station area homeowners, current or future, should subsidize developer profits or bolster County coffers for basic public infrastructure requirements. Next they will be taxed for schools, parks and more. Tell Supervisor Hudgins and the Board of Supervisors you oppose this misguided and ill-conceived Reston TSD road tax proposal.

Terry Maynard, Co-Chair

Reston 20/20 Committee

by Dave Emke — February 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm 13 Comments

Proposed Fairfax County FY2018 budget

Residents of the Hunter Mill District will have their chance on March 4 to weigh in on the proposed Fairfax County FY2018 budget.

County Executive Edward Long presented the $4.1 billion proposal to the county Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday meeting. Each supervisor is holding local meetings to get community input on its details.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will hold her summit Saturday, March 4 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Frying Pan Farm Park visitor center (2739 West Ox Road, Herndon). In addition to the budget presentation and a speaker, the event will also include a “build-a-budget” workshop that Hudgins said would help residents understand what has to be done with the funds available.

In her response to Long’s proposal to the board Tuesday, Hudgins said the state has made it difficult for Fairfax County to “control [its] own destiny.”

“It is troubling when we have to return our value to the state in the way that we do,” Hudgins said. “When you think about that, it is daunting to have our citizens look to us and think that we actually do control it, and we don’t.”

Hudgins said a lack of diversity of revenue for the county, caused by an “inability to break through the stronghold that is in the general assembly,” is forcing some residents to be priced out.

The cost of living here, it does increase, and many of those seniors that I talked with at a senior group [Monday] are saying, ‘I have to move if I want to stay in a place that is affordable for me,'” she said. “We are going to have a lot of discussion from people on that conversation.”

Following their community meetings, supervisors plan to present their changes to the executive’s recommendations on April 25. The budget is scheduled to be adopted May 2.

Hudgins will be joined at the March 4 budget session by Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco. Residents interested in attending are asked to RSVP to [email protected].

Chart via Fairfax County FY2018 budget presentation

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