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.
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.
Reston's officials want to raise its residents-per-acre limit. Many residents don't. What say you?https://t.co/tBD5L6YYr2.
— The Kojo Nnamdi Show (@kojoshow) November 15, 2017
As you were enjoying your summer, probably including a family vacation, our County leaders were — and are — planning to increase the allowable density in Reston’s transit station areas (TSAs) again through amendments to the zoning ordinance.
The reason: Fairfax County is running out of ways to generate taxes to cover its expenses as job growth and development falter. At this point, so close to another local election, they are neither ready to increase our taxes nor cut well-liked programs (other than parks and libraries, of course).
They have to add more taxable property — residential and commercial — to drive up revenues. And Reston and Tysons are the places they intend to do it.
The County’s Zoning Staff is preparing to allow increased Reston density in two ways.
In Reston alone, the County staff is planning to increase (or eliminate) the maximum allowable population per acre in the Reston Planned Residential Community (PRC) — a zoning category.
According to the Fairfax County’s demographer’s count, Reston now has a population of less than 62,000, about 10 people per acre. Reston’s current limit is 13 persons per acre for a total population of about 81,000 according to a county briefing. Using absolutely absurd “household population factor” values (ostensibly the typical number of people in a household by type of household), the zoning staff has put Reston’s population at more than 73,000 people or 11.7 people per acre (10 percent available capacity).
We are, in fact, more than 30 percent short of that capacity. Yet, if the “cap” is increased or deleted, it creates more “flexibility” for developers, which as the next paragraph will show, is the goal. (more…)