The meetings are intended to encourage dialogue between county staff and other organizations as the county mulls a controversial plan to increase Reston’s population density in Reston’s Planned Residential Community district from 13 to 16 people per acre.
The working sessions will cover planned future growth and its impact on transportation, schools and public facilities, parks, recreation and open space and overall planning.
CPR, which includes residents from the Reston Citizens Association, Reclaim Reston and Reston 20/20, hopes talks will allow the organization to “further clarify the modifications to the Reston Master Plan proposed by CPR and [RA]” said Lynne Mulston, a spokesperson for CPR.
Ultimately, CPR hopes changes to the Master Plan will eliminate the need or perceived need to boost the density cap.
In March, many suggestions pitched by both organizations were rebuffed by county staff, who argued that proposed changes to Reston’s PRC simply implemented the Master Plan, which was formed with community and stakeholder input.
Most recently, CPR and RA met with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and county staff to resume discussions on May 14.
The working sessions’ statement of purpose, proposed by Fred Selden, Fairfax County Director of Planning and Zoning is as follows:
The purpose of these small group meetings is to continue the dialogue between Fairfax County staff and representatives of both Reston Association (RA) and Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) regarding the proposed changes to the PRC zoning district. Each small group will consist of representatives from County staff, RA, CPR and other Reston stakeholders. They will discuss future growth and its implications or impact on public facilities and infrastructure that serves Reston.
The schedule of meetings has not been finalized. CPR and RA are reaching out to subject matter experts to participate in the sessions.
County staff rejected any changes that affect land use, density or intensity recommendations in Reston Master Plan until after 2019, responding to requests by Reston Association’s Board of Directors and the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) to the planning document.
The county’s written response comes as officials prepare to push forward plans to increase Reston’s population density from 13 persons per acre to 16 in Reston’s Planned Residential Community.
Plans were staunchly opposed by residents in community meetings, while supporters contend the increase is necessary to implement Reston’s Master Plan, which posits major growth potential for the planned community.
Fred Selden, the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning director, wrote that the county is only open to considering clarifications, correcting oversights or editorial tweaks — emphasizing that the plan was the result of a six-year study, recommendations from a 50-member task force, and a significant public engagement period.
“Recognizing the time, energy and community commitment that go into our multi-year land use studies, it has long been the county’s practice not to amend these new plans within the first five years of their adoption,” Selden wrote.
In a point-by-point outline responding to RA’s November 2017 letter and CPR’s February letter, Selden said the county is monitoring plan implementation, including the pace of development and public facilities, schools, parks and road.
The growth of development and resulting infrastructure needs and strains has been cited as a central concern for CPR and RA’s board. County staff reiterated their willingness to work with community groups and stakeholders to address concerns.
Noting that the plan already contains controls to manage development, staff said they will work to develop a phasing plan that will tie future development with specific infrastructure and public facility needs.
The letter also noted the county’s willingness to amend a portion of the plan that allows 50 or more dwelling units per acre, resulting in “unlimited development.” The county is also willing to more explicitly state that redevelopment is recommended in non-residential, mixed-use areas in village centers, not stable residential neighborhoods.
Staff also committed to monitoring the implementation of the Reston Plan and providing a progress report for Reston similar to one performed for Tyson. Staff noted they were open to seeing an overall maximum population, but did not indicate if they agreed with CPR’s recommendation of 120,000.
Other recommendations were flatly rejected, including CPR’s request to require 20 percent of all future dwelling units to be affordable, other requests to reduce the density of dwelling units, and a request to delete language that allows redevelopment of St. Johns Woods.
An attempt to remove the road connection between American Dream Way and Isaac Newton Square — a mapped road across Hidden Creek County Club — was also not favored by staff. The option for the road is necessary to reduce congestion at the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue, county staff said.
The complete letter is below:
Reston Community Leader, Civil Rights Advocate Remembered — “The letters and cards that Rev. Frederick Lowry’s family received after his death kept circling back to the same sentiments: how kind he was, how much he cared, his sense of humor,” writes Angela Woolsey. Lowry died due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease on Dec. 25. He was well-known for his 14-year tenure as director of the Community Ministry of Fairfax. [Fairfax County Times]
Ten Things You Should Know about Olympic Speedskater Maame Biney — The Reston native is headed to the Olympics. The 17-year-old speedskater is the first black woman to land on a spot on the U.S. Olympic speedskating team. [NBC4]
County Hosts Community Meeting on Plans to Convert Empty Office Buildings into Other Uses — The county is holding a meeting today at 6 p.m. in the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway) to discuss a comprehensive plan amendment that would allow empty office buildings to be converted for other uses. An attempt to carve a special exemption for Reston when the first phase of the amendment was introduced failed last year. [Fairfax County Government]
Build a Birdhouse Tomorrow at Walker Nature Center — Children between the ages of 7 and 12 can get their hands busy tomorrow from 11 a.m. to noon at the center. Attendees will practice basic woodworking skills by constructing a birdhouse. Tickets are $7 for Reston members and $9 for all others. [Reston Association]
Photo by Fatimah Waseem
In order to serve on the committee, members must be residents of Reston and over 18 years old. The 15-member body has five regular positions and three associate positions that are expiring this year
Regular members have three year terms while associate members serve one-year terms that begin in January. Meetings are held the third Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). The position is a volunteer-based only.
Applications are being accepted online. The deadline is Dec. 16.
The committee does not have any statutory authority; however, it is seen by local government authorities as a source of advise on land use matters. The future scope of the committee is likely to shift from initial residential development to considerations of redevelopment activities, especially the development of commercial and industrial space, according to the committee’s website
Some residents of nearby Oakton who live near the Girl Scouts of the National Capital Region’s Camp Crowell are gearing up for the latest in an ongoing fight with the county.
For several months, the residents have been protesting the Girl Scouts’ plans to build a 6,000-square-foot storage facility on the wooded site of the camp, which thousands of Northern Virginia Girl Scouts use as a camp and retreat center.
The case goes before the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals on Nov. 20.
“The Board of Zoning Appeals will be deciding if the ‘Resource Center’ will be allowed to be built on the campground,” the group Stop Industrial Oakton writes in its latest blog post. “It has all the characteristics of a commercial warehousing operation and has been located in an industrial/commercial district for over 25 years.”
The scouts are seeking a special-exception amendment from Fairfax County. Since the 1980s, the council has been leasing a Merrifield storage facility at a cost of about $50,000 annually. But that lease is not being renewed as that location is about to be redeveloped as part of the big Merrifield transformation.
Girl Scout leaders say they examined other comparable rental sites, but decided it would be more cost-effective to spend $600,000 and build a permanent resource center in Oakton. The facility will mainly house camping equipment and other supplies.
Camp Crowell is located near Stuart Mill, Justin Knoll and Vale roads. The site also is close to Difficult Run Stream Valley Park and Gabrielson Gardens Park, both part of the Fairfax County Park Authority.
The 67.7-acre camp has some development, including a paved road, two lodges, picnic and cooking shelters, latrines, parking facilities and campsites with shelters.
The building would be located at the site’s northern end, near the Justin Knoll Road entrance. There are about 10 homes on Justin Knoll, each on two-acre lots, The Washington Post reports.
The scouts say they have already made concessions to the neighbors, including painting the structure dark brown to blend in with the woods, having a reduced number of parking spots and limiting access from scout leaders (who would pick up equipment elsewhere).
Still, neighbors have a long list of concerns. Among them:
- Green space will be lost: a large area cleared; 4000 sq. ft. of paved parking; 6000 sq. ft. and 27 ft. high steel construction; and cannot be replaced by planting a screen.
- Justin Knoll is a residential cul-de-sac, a small road without sidewalks and cannot withstand the ebb and flow of commercial traffic which is more suited to a minor arterial road. The residential character will be lost.
- The commercial nature of this activity will detract from the neighborhood and negatively impact the tax base.
- Protecting the residential integrity of this neighborhood is important for all the residential neighborhoods in Oakton and countywide.
- There are warehouse properties available for sale for comparable money proposed for this project in the same locations that would serve the Council’s purposes.
- It is not reasonable to burden a community simply because it makes financial and logistical sense for someone else.
Oakton resident Trish Strat is a longtime Girl Scout member and leader who is now working with Stop Industrial Oakton to keep Camp Crowell a camp and not a warehouse district.
“My fight is for the girls,” she said. “It is wrong to put such a structure at their camp. When you drive through the windy roads of Oakton and you get to the camp, you will see this massive building that does not need to be there. We need to save the forest so the girls can feel they have arrived someplace special and not at Safeway.”
(Rendering of proposed Girl Scouts storage facility courtesy of Stop Industrialized Oakton)