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Reston Association Continues Opposition to Proposed Zoning Changes

Updated at 5:00 p.m. — Corrects the spelling of Laurie Dodd’s name and the time of the Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 23.

Reston Association’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to continue its opposition to a proposed zoning amendment, which would increase Reston’s population density, at last night’s meeting.

The proposal would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons up to 15.

After an executive session to consult with the land use counsel, Vice President Sridhar Ganesan said that the current density at 12.46 people per acre is a “very inaccurate population estimate.”

“A lot of slack is built into the current density,” Ganesan said. “I believe the director of the Planning and Zoning Commission told us –some of the members on the board — they are trying to recalculate the population estimate in Reston, and they don’t have an accurate estimate just yet.”

Given the wiggle room in the current density and the outrage from many community members, Ganesan said the PRC density level should not increase.

Several community groups, including the Coalition for a Planned Reston and Reston 2020, are fighting the move, arguing that the proposed amendment is rushed through and under-explained.

County planning officials have argued that the change is needed to put into action Reston’s Master Plan, which allows for future growth over the next 40 years.

President Andy Sigle said that the homeowners’ association is still working through “reams” of data and information in support of the zoning proposal from a series of emails on Dec. 11 from Fairfax County.

“We have a concern that the wrong number on this PRC density will overwhelm the infrastructure prescribed in the Reston Master Plan, so it’s important that we get the right number,” Sigle said at the meeting.

The board also approved setting up a work session for RA’s board prior to the Planning Commission’s Jan. 10 workshop on the amendment.

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors clashed over community input on the proposed zoning changes at their Dec. 4 meeting, before authorizing public hearings on the proposal.

Hudgins said at the Dec. 4 meeting that locals have had plenty of opportunities to get the desired information. “Yes, there are some questions that people have,” Hudgins said. “Those questions have been answered before or are not relevant to this.”

Meanwhile, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust and Braddock District Supervisor John Cook argued for more community input.

Residents expressed frustration and disapproval to RA’s board last night (Dec. 13), pointing to a lack of community input to the county’s board and insufficient infrastructure to support increased density in Reston.

Laurie Dodd, a resident for the last 23 years, criticized Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins for asking to schedule hearings on the zoning proposal without following through on promised community engagement.

“It is disturbing to me to see other supervisors in Fairfax County speak up about the right of residents to be heard more than our own supervisors had done,” Dodd said.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing about the zoning proposal at 7 p.m. on Jan. 23, followed by the Board of Supervisors’ public hearing at 4:30 p.m. on March 5.

The Planning Commission must say “yea” or “nay” to the proposal by March 15, according to county rules.

Secretary John Mooney urged Restonians to stay informed and engaged. “Please attend the county meetings,” he said.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

This story has been updated

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Proposed Zoning Changes Spark Local Backlash

As Reston is projected to continue growing at a dramatic pace, Fairfax County is moving forward with a proposed zoning amendment to allow for greater density. But a group of Reston citizens are protesting the move, saying the proposed amendment is rushed through and under-explained.

The zoning amendment would increase the maximum population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district from 13 persons to 15. Dwelling units per acre would increase from 50 units to 70 near Metro stations.

The Board of Supervisors is anticipated to authorize public hearings on the zoning changes at its upcoming Tuesday (Dec. 4) meeting. Public comment will not be heard at the meeting.

A group of citizens calling themselves the Coalition for a Planned Reston wrote a letter to Supervisor Cathy Hudgins saying that approval of the zoning amendment would be premature.

“The Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) is deeply concerned and dismayed by the announcement that you have requested County staff to move forward with the proposed PRC Zoning Ordinance Amendment,” the CPR wrote in the letter. “We strongly urge you to withdraw your request immediately and to complete the community dialogue to which you committed.”

The letter included a list of 23 areas where the groups say Fairfax County officials have supplied inadequate information. Among the criticisms of the zoning amendment are exemptions given to developers with proposals that do not conform with the Reston Master Plan.

Some of the topics of the letter involve the minutiae of zoning amendments but others — like what the CPR calls a lack of clarity over the expected number of students the added density would have on the school systems — could shape Reston for years to come.

This isn’t the first letter from the CPR over the issue. The group had previously sent a letter on Aug. 1 urging Hudgins to suspend action on the amendment. The Reston Association has also expressed concern about the impact of the zoning amendment.

Photo via Fairfax County

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Fairfax County Begins Moving Forward Proposed Reston Zoning Changes

Fairfax County is expected to move forward with proposed zoning changes for Reston that would increase the population density.

After 17 months of public engagement, the county’s Board of Supervisors is anticipated to authorize public hearings on the zoning changes for early next year at its Dec. 4 meeting, the county announced Monday (Nov. 19). The meeting will not be an opportunity for public input, the statement said.

The proposal would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons up to 15. The current density is roughly 12.46 people per acre.

“This 13-persons per acre limit has remained unchanged for several decades and does not accommodate the future residential growth anticipated in the Reston PRC near the future Silver Line Metrorail stations,” the statement said.

The proposal would also up the limit of 50 dwelling units per acre to 70 in the transit station areas planned for mixed-use development. This would mainly affect the Reston Town Center Transit Station Area, according to the statement.

County officials began small workgroup sessions hosted by the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots organization and Reston Association in July to discuss the controversial plan.

County planning officials have argued that the Reston PRC zoning change is needed to put into action Reston’s Master Plan, which allows for future growth over the next 40 years, especially around the Silver Line Metrorail stations.

Last September, Reston 20/20, Reclaim Reston and the Reston Citizens Association encouraged Restonians to fight the County’s proposal, which then had the bump on the people per acre in the PRC District from 13 to 16.

Coalition for a Planned Reston sent a letter Aug. 1 to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins to urge her to continue suspending further action on the zoning amendment while discussions were ongoing between the Reston community and Fairfax County staff.

Reston Association sent two letters last year to Hudgins. The first one expressed opposition to the amendment as currently proposed, and the second letter included a list of actions that should be undertaken before the amendment is considered any further by the county.

“Many believe that such increases would create an unsustainable burden on Reston’s infrastructure,” the Reston Association said in an April 11 statement. “Simply, we want to ensure adequate infrastructure to account for the increased growth, including, but not limited to, adequate schools, roads, parks, athletic fields, and natural areas, while protecting the Reston vision.”

Photo via Fairfax County 

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Longterm Planning in Reston Comes Under Focus in Last PRC Workgroup Meeting

At the last workgroup meeting on a controversial zoning amendment, county officials stressed that population density increases proposed in Reston’s comprehensive plan are broad targets that will be gradually implemented over the next 30 years.

The meeting, held Tuesday night, was the last in a series of discussions on the county’s proposal to increase Reston’s population density from 13 to 16 people per acre in the community’s Planned Residential Community district.

Representatives from the Coalition for a Planned Reston and Reston Association said that while they were not opposed to development, the cumulative impact of increased development without the infrastructure to manage it was a major concern.

Tammi Petrine, co-chair of Reston 2020, said increasing the density cap only invites more developers to push harder for development — a trend that she said is already clearly evident in the streak of major mixed-use projects approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Fred Selden, director of the Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning, said the community has multiple opportunities between when a development plan is proposed and passed to voice their concerns, suggest alternatives and raise critical issues.

“The community, quite frankly, has to give its judgment,” Selden said.

But others felt that concerns raised by community members have little sway in the overall planning process.

Selden said his office would be open to discussing possible changes to Reston’s comprehensive plan if pressing needs arose. In Tysons, the plan was updated seven years after its passage when the planned grid of streets did not align with what was actually being built.

But Selden also noted that major changes to planned land use intensities are rarely incorporated within five years of a plan’s passage. Late last year, CPR and RA suggested altering Reston’s master plan to make specific changes. He repeatedly stressed that Reston’s plan envisions possible future growth, which may or may not be realized given economic and market constraints.

Redevelopment of Reston’s village centers was also a hot topic during Tuesday’s discussion. Selden stressed that the plan already leaves the door open for high-density redevelopment potential — an element of the plan that was supported by some residents during earlier planning discussions.

“We could have said that there’s no redevelopment potential in the village centers,” Selden said. “But that’s not what we heard from the community.”

Others like John Mooney, a member on RA’s Board of Directors,  said planning processes focus on the impacts of development in Transit Station Areas without considering the impact on development in all of Reston.

He said traffic studies have not considered the impact of traffic in Transit Station Areas on the rest of Reston.

“I see no evidence, although I’m awaiting further information,” Mooney said.

Photo via YouTube

(This story was updated on Wednesday at 6:27 a.m. to clarify a quote by John Mooney.)

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In PRC Meeting with County, Reston Representatives Push for Specifics on Future Athletic Fields

Piqued by a plan to increase Reston’s population density in select areas, residents pressed county officials to identify specific athletic field options and open space commitments at a work session this week.

During the meeting, the 10-member panel, which included representatives from Reston Association, the Coalition for a Planned Reston and three county officials, discussed how the county plans to ensure future development in and around Reston’s future urban core will incorporate athletic fields and open, community spaces.

While citizen members lauded the county’s efforts to work with developers, some noted that county plans lacked specific assurances on how and when broad commitments would come to reality.

The meeting is the second in a series of work sessions on topics of concern raised by local residents and community organizations as the county mulls a plan to increase Reston’s population density in its Planned Residential Community district planned from 13 to 16 people per acre.

County officials said planning processes are in place to ensure athletic fields and open space requirements are met. Generally, once major developments are built and occupied overtime and needs are generated through pressure created by development, specific requirements for athletic fields will kick in. 

However, they remained mum about the location of future athletic fields, noting that negotiations with developers are ongoing and that, once property owners learn a land is being considered for an athletic field, the property’s price is often hiked considerably. 

Asked by a member to point to possible locations for fields, Fred Selden, the director of the county’s planning and zoning department, said, “Right now, we can’t.” 

In Reston, one athletic field is required for each Transit Station Area and nine are required outside the TSA areas. Upgrades to existing fields may also be considered. Thus far, the developers have committed $10.3 million to go toward athletic fields in the greater Reston area.

So far, funds have remained untouched.

Others called on county officials to aggressively push developers of major mixed-use proposals — like the 36-acre Reston Crescent project — to identify specific plans for athletic fields.

“Those are the examples where the community feels we were being passed by in some way, shape or form,” said Larry Butler, RA’s Acting CEO.

Dennis Hays, president of the Reston Citizens Association, said he was concerned no immediate plans were on the table.

“Everything that we keep talking about is down the road,” Hays, who led the meeting, said.

Andrea Dorlester, manager of the county’s park planning branch, said the county has been aggressive in pushing developers to identify plans for nearly two years. When working with Brookfield, the developer of the Reston Crescent, county staff said they rejected a proposal by the developer to include a small athletic field suitable for children up to the age of eight.

Now, the plan, which is barreling towards final approval later this month, includes a proposal for the developer to purchase seven acres outside the property and convey it to the Fairfax County Park Authority.

Part of the challenge in securing athletic fields is that Reston’s master plan does not mandate the creation of athletic fields in Reston’s planned downtown core, officials said.

As additional development waits in the pipeline, others worry that challenge may already be difficult to overcome. One question, they say, hovers: As land becomes limited in the area, where will the future athletic fields go?

File photo

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PRC Amendment Workgroup Sessions Begin This Week

Fairfax County officials begin small workgroup sessions with representatives this week to discuss a controversial plan to increase Reston’s population density in areas targeted for growth.

The sessions are hosted by the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots organization and Reston Association. Staff from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning and Fairfax County Public Schools will be on hand to discuss questions.

The plan would increase density in Reston’s Planned Residential Community areas from 13 to 16 persons per acre. CPR and RA have opposed the plan, as proposed, amid concerns about the overall impact on infrastructure.

The schedule for the meetings is below. All workgroup meetings start at 6 p.m.

  • July 17 – Transportation – 12005 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston – Terrace Level (Live stream is not available. Recording will be uploaded).
  • July 18 – Parks and Open Space – 12005 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston – Terrace Level

  • July 24, 2018 – Schools/Public Facilities – 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston – Conference Center

  • July 30 – Planning and Zoning -12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston – Conference Center

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Coalition Opposing Population Density Increase Requests Additional Community Forums

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. 

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Hidden Creek Country Club Sold; ‘New Housing Choices’ Listed as Possible for Future

Hidden Creek Country Club, one of Reston’s two golf courses, is now under new ownership.

According to an email sent by the country club to its members Tuesday, real-estate developer Wheelock Communities purchased the club earlier this week from its previous owner, Fore Golf Partners. According to the email, signed by Fore Golf CEO Charlie Staples:

Wheelock owns properties along the East Coast and in Texas that range from private golf clubs to large master-planned communities, to luxury waterfront condominiums and urban mixed-use projects. They look forward to becoming part of the highly respected Reston community.

Fore Golf will continue to manage the club for the new owner, according to the email, and club memberships will be unaffected by the change in ownership.

In the email, it is announced that Wheelock plans to invest more than $300,000 in upgrades to the club. This is to include upgrades to the club’s dining and events facilities, the lobby, and the locker rooms. A new fleet of golf carts is also expected to arrive in December.

More “potential changes” are listed, though:

Over the next few years, Wheelock will be working in partnership with the club members and the Reston community to explore potential changes to the property that could provide the Reston community with additional public amenities, environmental benefits and new housing choices.

It has long been feared by community advocates including Rescue Reston that both Hidden Creek and Reston National Golf Course will become the sites of residential development as Reston expands. A specific question about Hidden Creek’s future came up during Monday’s community meeting about potential changes to Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) district. Fred Selden, director of Fairfax County’s Department of Planning & Zoning, said any developer that wishes to build residential units upon Reston’s golf courses would have hurdles to overcome.

“One of the things that the plan that was adopted in 2015 did was explicitly call the golf courses as planned for golf courses and to remain as golf courses,” Selden said. “I can only speak to what kind of development can occur. It’s planned for a golf course. If somebody wants to develop it in some other fashion, they have two options: They have to prove that they have some kind of property rights to build, or they have to come in and request a change to the Comprehensive Plan.”

The new ownership team is offering Hidden Creek members the chance to meet them for the first time next week.

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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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Restonians Line Up To Speak Out Against Density Cap Increase Proposal

Several hundred Restonians packed South Lakes High School on Monday night to hear explanations from county staff about a proposal to increase the community’s density cap — and several dozen took the opportunity to make their voices heard.

Nearly two hours of sometimes fiery public comment was part of the meeting (video), where representatives of Fairfax County’s departments of planning and zoning, parks, transportation and more addressed questions about the proposal to increase the overall limit on people per acre in Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) District from 13 to as much as 16.

John Mooney, of Reclaim Reston, estimated more than 900 people attended the meeting. The nearly 650 seats in the SLHS cafeteria were filled, and the room’s perimeter was lined with standing attendees. A few dozen residents watched the meeting from an “overflow room” in a nearby lecture hall. Many in attendance were wearing yellow shirts to show their unity, and some of those people purchased those shirts from a Reclaim Reston vendor table set up at the school’s front door ahead of the event.

A major point of contention brought up by several of the speakers is the appearance that the county is forgetting about those who currently live in Reston as they work to appease developers, Metro and others outside the community who would benefit from increased growth. Residents spoke of diminished quality of life and increased problems with issues such as increased traffic and lost green space if the community builds out to the 16 people-per-acre level at the high end of the proposal for the PRC district.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said hearing comments from some residents that they don’t want to see any more people move to Reston and that they want to halt development altogether “chills” her.

“I feel concerned to say that Bob Simon was a developer and Bob Simon developed the plan that [the county is] implementing,” said Hudgins, who was interrupted numerous times during her remarks by murmuring and shouts from the crowd. “I really, really want to think about what kind of Reston we are, and I’ve been here 48 years. It was a place that said, ‘Hello, you’re welcome, please come.'”

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. Citizen activists warn that the combined effect of these changes could see the population of Reston tripled by 2050.

An increase to the density cap would not guarantee any development; rather, staff said, it would ensure the opportunity that future development requested can be considered.

Referencing a speaker who said she had recently moved to Reston, Hudgins asked the crowd if people such as her should only be allowed to move in when someone else moves out.

“If it’s a yes to that, that means that no growth comes to Reston ever again,” Hudgins said, which was met with applause by many in attendance. “I can tell you, if that’s what you believe, it is not Bob Simon’s dream that you’re talking about.”

Both Hudgins and county staff said it is important to remember that there are viewpoints within the community that were not being represented by the attendees of the meeting. Fred Selden, director of the county’s Department of Planning & Zoning, referenced changes to Reston’s Master Plan that was updated by Fairfax County in 2014 and 2015 to guide redevelopment in Transit Station Areas, Town Center and village centers — the driving force for why the density cap limit is deemed necessary by the county. The process to make those changes happen included public hearings and Restonians were on the task force, Selden said.

One speaker asked Selden what would need to be done to open the Master Plan up to be re-evaluated and amended once again to limit density. Selden said is eligible for review in 2020, following a five-year implementation process. He said if residents hope to get anything changed prior to that, they would need to petition the Board of Supervisors.

A resident asked why there is a pressing need to increase the cap above 13 when the current density of Reston’s PRC is only about 11.9. William Mayland of the county’s DPZ said there are three applications already in process that, if approved, would increase the density in Reston’s PRC over the current cap of 13 people-per-acre. Those applications are:

Numerous residents who spoke said for this reason and others, they get the implication that the proposed cap increase is developer-driven. Selden said there are property owners — including not just homeowners, but business owners — are represented in the county’s planning process.

“People like to think that it’s only homeowners,” he said. “Reston was always viewed as a community that has people and business. Employment is important in Reston, and employers are important in Reston.”

Selden said he was upset by personal attacks lobbed toward him, other staff members and Hudgins during the public meeting.

“Somebody said that, somehow, our motives are being driven by bribes or some other type of endorsement,” he said, a statement which drew the crowd to catcall with the word greed. “That is different from what people might perceive as greedy — that was a personal attack on the staff, and quite frankly, I take exception to that.”

Hudgins said that comments made during the meeting will be taken into account as the process moves forward, including that there are major infrastructure challenges and concerns about affordable housing that must be addressed as the community grows.

Areas that would be marked for possible major residential development if the plan is approved include all of Reston’s village centers. Selden said it is important to note that the village centers have always been marked for high density, and that Bob Simon viewed them as places where people could live and gather — not just as shopping plazas.

“One of the things that we heard loud and clear when we were updating the plan … [is that] the village centers lacked a sense of cohesion,” he said. “[Simon] desperately wanted, going forward, to have the opportunity to look at these village centers differently, because most of them, quite frankly, are just shopping centers. He wanted and he thought that they could be something better.”

The collective opinion of the hundreds of yellow-clad Restonians in attendance was not swayed by the county’s presentation.

“This is vague — there is not nearly enough detail [about] funding, how planning would occur and the like,” said resident Steve Dodd. “It strikes me as a very crude tool if what you want to do is increase the density around the Metro stations.”

Cathy Belgin, of the county DPZ’s Zoning Administration Division, said staff hopes to present its proposal to the Board of Supervisors by early January, followed public hearings in front of the county planning commission and the BoS between late January and early March.

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Monday Morning Notes

Meeting on PRC Zoning Ordinance Amendment Tonight — The latest community meeting on a proposed zoning ordinance amendment that would increase the density cap in Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) district is tonight at 7 p.m. at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive). [Fairfax County]

Review: ‘Aida’ is ‘an Explosion of Color and Sound’ — According to a reviewer, the new Reston Community Players show features “action and comedy elements, along with the flashy set and costume design, [that] will keep young and old enthralled to the end.” [DC Metro Theater Arts]

Crash Shuts Down Reston Roadway — A collision at Fairfax County Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive affected traffic this morning. The road was reopened as of about 8:20 a.m., according to the Fairfax County Police Department. [FCPD/Twitter]

Stream Restoration In Progress — In its latest “Reston Today” video dispatch, Reston Association shares information about a restoration project currently underway at Brown’s Chapel Park and Vantage Hill. [Reston Association/YouTube]

Reston Solar Firm Plans Large Farm — SolUnesco (1818 Library St.) has proposed a 400-acre, 60-megawatt solar farm along in Orange County. [(Charlottesville) Daily Progress]

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Op-Ed: Will Reston’s Village Centers Have Double Residential Density of Ballston?

This 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.

The County, via its proposed zoning density increases, and developers are already planning for Reston’s Village Centers to become nearly two to three times as densely populated as Arlington County’s major Ballston Transit Station Area (TSA).

The result is astounding given that Ballston is rightly a high-density mixed-use transit-oriented development area served by two Metro lines while Reston’s Village Centers are nowhere near Metro.  Moreover, the recent year-long Reston transportation development effort (RNAG) revealed that Fairfax County explicitly doesn’t plan to enhance local bus transit to serve the Village Centers or our TSAs.

Fairfax County data and US Census 2010 data for Ballston show that, with the exception of Lake Anne Village Center, where a redevelopment plan is already in place, the number of dwelling units (homes) per acre will potentially be at least twice as dense as in Ballston. Moreover, because Fairfax County anticipates a fraction more people in each household, the potential number of residents per acre runs better than two and one-half times that experienced in Ballston.   

At the risk of repeating ourselves, Reston’s Village Centers are intended to be neighborhood-serving gathering places. They are not meant to be transit station areas without the “transit.” According to US Census data, Ballston is the most populous area in Arlington County and the fourth most densely populated (people per acre). The notion that TSA residential densities should be applied in Reston’s Village Centers is preposterous and contradicts everything that the Reston Master Plan says about their development.

The current Reston Master Plan calls for the following in any Village Center redevelopment: “Enhance Village Centers as vibrant neighborhood gathering places; advance excellence in site design and architecture; strengthen connectivity and mobility; [and] protect and respect the surrounding residential neighborhoods.”

Any notion that residential density in excess of 100 people per acre is consistent with these objectives is ludicrous.  

If you don’t want your neighborhood Village Center to be blown up and replaced with one or more 12- to 14-story high-rise apartments or condos, please come to the community meeting on the Reston PRC zoning ordinance on Monday at South Lakes High School. Bring your friends and your children for a major civics lesson on local government. Learn, question, and challenge what you hear. It is our Reston and we must act to protect it by showing our revulsion with this absurd zoning ordinance proposal.  

Terry Maynard, Co-Chair

Reston 20/20 Committee

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Shuttle Buses, TV Broadcast To Be Offered for Reston Density Cap Meeting Monday

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

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PRC Zoning Ordinance Amendment Meeting Rescheduled for Oct. 23 at SLHS Cafeteria

(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.

Hudgins’ office said contingency plans are being considered if attendance exceeds the cafeteria’s capability, but declined to go into detail about what those plans would entail. A representative from the office said the lunch room is the largest available facility that can safely accommodate such a meeting.

The SLHS activities office also said there may be issues with parking for the meeting, as space is limited due to a renovation project at the school. Hudgins’ office said it is looking into alternative arrangements for that situation as well.

At a community meeting prior to the Sept. 25 meeting, members of Reston activism groups Reston Citizens Association, Reston 20/20 and Reclaim Reston encouraged residents to spread the word and rally attendance. Dennis Hays, president of the Reston Citizens Association, said those efforts helped spark the large crowd Sept. 25 and he expects the number to grow again before Oct. 23.

“We appreciate the Supervisor and her staff working to reschedule this meeting, but I think this location may be too small too,” Hays told Reston Now. “Interest in this issue continues to build.”

After three community meetings on the subject in May, which were met with growing opposition from residents, the Reston Association Board of Directors requested the fourth meeting be scheduled. At their meeting Sept. 28, directors expressed their opinions on the proposed zoning amendment, assuring members they will continue to challenge unfettered growth.

“We appreciate that Supervisor Hudgins has rescheduled this meeting,” Sherri Hebert, RA Board president, told Reston Now. “Restonians are very concerned about the proposed ordinance amendment so I expect a large turnout. Let’s hope the SLHS cafeteria is big enough.”

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Note: Information About Rescheduled Zoning Ordinance Meeting is Forthcoming

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.

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