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by Dave Emke — April 19, 2017 at 4:00 pm 26 Comments

Speaking to representatives for developer Bozzuto during an informational session Tuesday night, the vice chair of Reston’s Design Review Board expressed deep concern about the future of the community.

It’s imperative as we get new developments that they respect the Reston quality, and not allow us to become simply another suburban development,” Richard Newlon said. “Internal overdevelopment will destroy Reston.”

Newlon, who has served on the DRB for 18 years, said roughly 10 percent of the 134 clusters in Reston are owned by developers such as Bozzuto, JBG and Lerner. He said the St. Johns Wood project is a “precedent-producing application.”

One of my concerns is if all of those 13 or so clusters do the same thing, Reston as Reston exists today is gone,” he said. “Reston as we know it would cease to exist.”

Bozzuto’s redevelopment proposal features 481 multifamily units within two buildings on the 14.3-acre North Point property, where there are currently 250 multifamily units in nine buildings.

Members of Reclaim Reston also spoke during the session, presenting similar information to what they did at a Monday night session with the Planning & Zoning Committee. Members of the DRB agreed with much of what the affected parties shared, including about the apparent lack of context-sensitive design within the proposal.

Contextualism is a term that suggests an architecture that responds to its surroundings by respecting what’s already there, and I think we have a problem here because I don’t think that’s happening,” Newlon said. “I think you guys [Bozzuto] are going to really have to look at the design and do what you can, both from a massing standpoint and, as we get to it, an architectural standpoint.”

DRB member Neal Roseberry said the potential of having such an imposing development go up in a residential neighborhood is frightening.

“How do you insert this relatively high-density anomaly into an existing setting, an existing neighborhood that doesn’t have anything like this at all, and [the development] obviously scares people?” he said. “It’s literally scary to think of this thing landing in that neighborhood up there.”

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

“You have approved a plan [in July], we came back with a revised plan. You had very specific comments about the revised plan, which we feel we have addressed very well based on what you gave us, and now we’re back two steps backward,” Winterhalter said. “And so I don’t know what we make of that going forward in terms of the comments we just received.”

Newlon said the plan that was approved in July was a different plan that the board felt was “going in the right direction.”

“This is a whole new project, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “It’s doing, in my mind, all the things we were hoping wouldn’t happen.”

Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has a community meeting on the proposal slated for next Tuesday at Langston Hughes Middle School. The proposal is set to go before the Planning & Zoning Committee and the Design Review Board again next month, on May 15 and 16. A Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the project remains scheduled for May 25.

Screencap via Reston Association YouTube channel; rendering via Bozzuto/KTGY

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 Eve Thompson — March 28, 2017 at 10:15 am 15 Comments

Spring is in the air and people are thinking about all the ways they want to spruce up the outside of their homes. It’s exciting. But in Reston, it may not be fast.

If you are part of Reston Association, that plan is going to have to be approved, and it takes time. Here is a primer on the RA Design Review Board application process.

First, this is not something you need to dread. The DRB application procedures are very easy to follow. It just takes a little bit of time. But you will have help along the way: the Covenants Advisors are one of Reston homeowners’ greatest resources that nobody knows about. They are here to help make the design review process the easiest part of your renovation project.

DRB Application Procedures

The Reston Association website has all the phone numbers and forms you need. Here is a recap of the DRB application procedures.

1. Contact RA to find out who your Covenants Advisor is. They’ll meet with you and advise you on your project and everything you’ll need for your application.

2. Submit your application. The application can be found on the RA website. The application includes the following:

  •  A detailed written description of the proposed exterior modification or addition
  • Scale drawings
  • A site plan showing the size and location of project
  • Photographs of the existing condition
  • A brochure, detail sheet or catalog photo of materials
  • Estimated project completion date
  • Signatures of at least three different property owners adjacent to or within view of your alteration or improvement. If your property is located within a Cluster Association, at least one of the signatures must be that of a Cluster Officer.

3. Bring in or mail your application to the Reston Association.

4. Property Visit. RA staff and/or members of the DRB may visit and possibly photograph your property for reference.

5. Attend the DRB review panel meeting. While not all projects go in front of the full DRB review panel, if your project does require it, you should plan on attending the meeting. Your Covenants Advisor can you let you know when it’s on the agenda.

Those are the basic steps. If your application is rejected, you can appeal the decision. Or you can revise the plans to meet RA Design Covenants and Guidelines and resubmit your application. However, if you work with your Covenants Advisor and follow the RA guidelines, your project should be approved and you are on your way!

What do you have planned? Let me know.

by Dave Emke — March 23, 2017 at 1:15 pm 3 Comments

DRB meeting - March 21, 2017The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been granted permission to continue work on expanding the parking lot at its Poplar Grove Drive facility.

The decision to re-approve the church’s expired permit through July was given by the Design Review Board during their Tuesday meeting. The permit had originally been granted by DRB in 2014, with work to be completed by February 2016.

Both then and now, residents of neighboring Birchfield Woods Cluster have expressed their displeasure with the project, with concerns including potential decreases of property value, impact to wildlife, and the loss of a “buffer zone” between the church and the community. DRB members heard their statements during Tuesday’s meeting.

“We did go through all of those topics originally, and it’s always a balance when you’re trying to make decisions about this,” said DRB chair John Kauppila. “On any application, there’s always some challenges that we have to work through and try to find compromise, and it’s tough.”

The church had originally applied to add 51 spaces to the property. During the approval process in 2014, that number was whittled down to 39. The number of trees to be removed was also changed, and the church is being required to plant replacement trees and shrubs. Church representatives said a landscape bond is being held by Fairfax County, and it will not be released until an inspection of that work has been completed.

The project was delayed during the Fairfax County permitting process, church representatives said, which resulted in the permit expiring. Birchfield Woods residents also said they would like to see the church punished for conducting work on the project in December 2016, after the original permit had expired. That work was halted after residents filed a complaint with RA staff.

Nick Georgas, DRB’s landscape architect member, said the delay was punishment in itself.

I think their penalty is having to demobilize the site for a significant time, at cost to the developer and the church,” he said. “I think they’ve been penalized through that effort [for] lack of paying attention to the permits.”

Chip Boyd, Birchfield Woods Cluster president, remains concerned that a traffic study has not been completed on the entrance to the community and church — a single entrance from Lake Newport Road.

“We have a lot of issues with cars not following traffic patterns there,” he said. “If we’re adding 39 more cars that are going to be involved in that situation, I didn’t see as part of this a traffic review study.”

Any such study would be under the purview of Fairfax County, Kauppila said.

by Dave Emke — March 21, 2017 at 11:30 am 2 Comments

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints parking lot

At its meeting tonight, the Design Review Board will consider the renewal of a permit to expand the parking lot at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (1515 Poplar Grove Drive).

The church, located near the intersection of Fairfax County Parkway and Lake Newport Road, was given permission by DRB in 2014 to expand the lot. The work was not completed immediately afterward, however, which has resulted in the expiration of the church’s permit.

Church of Jesus Christ LDS/Google MapsResidents of Birchfield Woods Cluster on Poplar Grove Drive have continued to express their opposition to the project, which would add 39 parking spaces to the southern end of church property. Residents are concerned about, among other issues, an increase in noise and a loss of trees that create a “buffer zone” between the church and the community. That will have an adverse effect on their property values, they say.

“The only way into and out of the Cluster is via the entrance off of Lake Newport Road, [and] that entrance is the first impression potential buyers receive of our community,” said Marcelo Borda, vice president of the cluster association, in a letter shared with Reston Now. “The planned parking lot expansion proposed by the Church directly, negatively impacts that first impression.”

Other agenda items for tonight’s DRB meeting include site grading for the Glade Drive sidewalk project, the site lighting and landscape plan for the IntegraCare facility at 2222 Colts Neck Road, and a tear-down project on Ring Road.

The DRB meeting will begin tonight at 7 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

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