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by Karen Goff February 10, 2015 at 9:00 am 53 Comments

Lake Anne PlazaThe RELAC air-conditioning system will stay in place for 343 Lake Anne-area homes after a resident referendum to remove the deed ordering it failed to pass.

The referendum needed a two-thirds majority of voters to remove the Reston deed item mandating the lake water-cooled system in the homes.

The final tally was 156 votes for no revocation and 118 votes to remove the deed item, Reston Association Board President Ken Knueven said at a special board meeting on Monday. Nearly 80 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, he added.

A similar referendum also failed in 2008.

The homeowners in Coleson, Waterview, Wainwright, Washington Plaza, Hickory and Governour’s Square clusters are bound by the Reston deed to use the system. RELAC was touted as revolutionary in the mid-1960s, but has been met with frustration at its inefficiency by many users in recent years.

Some users have complained it is expensive, mold producing and cannot cool the top floors of some of the townhomes. Several homeowners have used a medical exemption to allowed to install, at their own expense, an additional air conditioning system.

Last summer, more than 100 homeowners signed a petition asking RA for the referendum.

John Hunter, who lives in Washington Plaza Cluster, was one of the leaders in the quest to get the referendum.

“We are not giving up,” he told the board on Monday. He also asked for information on how each cluster voted.

“This could be helpful to RELAC,” he said of the company that operates the system, adding the company is sometimes unaware of the issues.

Robert Gerstein of Wainwright Cluster resident said he does not like the concept of revisiting the RELAC issue.

“The folks were very, very diligent about getting the referendum done,” he said. “What [Hunter] seemed to imply was they were going to again canvas each of the clusters an try to have another referendum. I hope you folks consider this is an intrusion on all of us. Let’s get this over with.”

The board heard repeatedly from both sides at meetings over the last several months. Some in favor of RELAC called it an “aesthetic catastrophe” to change the system. They also praised RELAC for being very quiet and were also concerned that rates would rise among remaining customers.

Rising rates were also a concern of RELAC opponents, who said their rates had skyrocketed in recent years. Opponents also said they wanted a choice, and also pointed out that new HVAC units were much quieter than they were in the mid-1960s, when RELAC was first developed.

Homeowners who have been granted the medical exemption have said they have spent $4,000-6,000 on new HVAC systems — which must be disconnected when they sell the home.

by Karen Goff February 9, 2015 at 9:30 am 5 Comments

Tetra Building in Reston/Courtesy of Tetra Reston Association will hold a special Board of Directors meeting on Monday, Feb. 9 to discuss the future of the Lake Anne-area cooling systems and the former Reston Visitors Center.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. at RA Headquarters, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr., and will include a public comment period.

On the agenda:

1. RELAC – The results of the recent RELAC referendum. The 343 Lake Anne households bound by the RA deed to use RELAC, a lake water-cooled air conditioning system, held a referendum by mail in January. The referendum came to be after 110 RELAC customers signed a petition asking for it last summer.

The RELAC system was touted as state-of-the-art and exceptionally quiet when it was installed in the new Reston homes in the mid-1960s. In recent years, though, many customers complain it is inefficient and mold producing, as well as growing more expensive to use. However, som customers have spoken up that they are pleased with the system and do not want change.

If the referendum passes, users would be permitted to change to other air conditioning systems if they desire.

A similar referendum failed in 2008.

2. Tetra Purchase — The board will discuss the draft of the Tetra Property Purchase Referendum question/fact sheet and related draft letter of intent to purchase the property.

RA announced two weeks ago it would attempt the purchase the Tetra building, which is the former Reston Visitors Center set on Lake Newport. The 3,200-square-foot building is surrounded by other RA property and amenities, and board members said it could be used for a variety of purposes.

The building is currently being assessed so RA does not yet have a purchase price offer. The association could only buy the building if a member referendum approved it. RA has a quick referendum schedule planned, with public hearings beginning the end of February and the referendum taking place in April and May.

3. Master Plan — There will also be an update from RA Land Use Counsel on Reston Master Plan Phase 2 Comprehensive Plan Amendments.

by RestonNow.com January 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm 13 Comments

Waterview Cluster/file photoThis is an Op-Ed by Waterview Cluster resident Dick Kennedy. Something on your mind? Write to us at [email protected] We reserve the right to edit submissions.

If Covenant 15 is revoked RELAC costs will go up and soon RELAC will end. Then…

1. Where do you put your new outside AC unit? Where will your neighbors put their unit ? Our communities were not architecturally designed to have outside AC units. We have no good options.

2. Despite advances all AC units make noise that is compounded when they are all running.

3. Be ready to spend about $5,000 to $10,000 or more to buy and install an outside unit.

4. The new [RELAC] owners have already improved service, many users say. They have a plan to reduce rates.

Why not give them a chance?

The RELAC referendum has been brought to us legitimately by the “Free from 15” group. Much has been said about real issues on whether to keep the covenant requirement. There are pros and cons on most issues, some argued fairly and many exaggerated out of context.

RELAC costs are high but the system is quiet. A few owners say they don’t get good service but most say they are happy and service is improving. There are questions about how to maintain the individual systems and whether it has been done. There are claims about RELAC infrastructure failing. But the same happens to water, sewer and gas infrastructure. Repairs must be made from time to time.

The term “monopoly” is used with a derogatory slant. But we have monopolies for electricity and gas and RELAC. All are supervised by the State Corporation Commission [SCC] which regulates public utilities, balancing the needs of users and the utility.

Some argue RELAC adversely affects home sales, but most units sell very quickly and prices are going up to pre-recession levels. So there is much to carefully consider. Clearly, owners’ financial interest is at stake on both sides —  including those who are already off the system and don’t want to return the RELAC system when they sell.

Freedom has been much celebrated by those who want to be free to get off RELAC. But please remember you will not be free to use RELAC for long if the covenant is removed.

Please VOTE.

by RestonNow.com January 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm 16 Comments

Hickory ClusterThis is an Op-Ed by Hickory Cluster resident Blake Travis. Something on your mind? Share your thoughts by sending a letter to [email protected]. Reston Now reserves the right to edit submissions.

In the next few days, 343 homeowners in Reston will receive a ballot to vote on whether to revoke Covenant 15 (Section VI.2(b)(15)) of the Reston Association Deed, which states that:

 In any residential Cluster in which central air-conditioning service is available to the Lot line, no individual air-conditioning units of any type shall be permitted. This covenant may only be amended or revoked by at least a two-thirds vote of the Category A Members of all residential Clusters on the service.

This covenant prevents homeowners in several Reston clusters from installing an individual air conditioning unit (unless they have a medical exemption) to cool their home. Instead, they are bound to the nearly 50-year old air-conditioning system operated by Reston RELAC (Reston Lake Anne Air Conditioning Corporation).

This system has had many well-publicized problems over the years and regularly increased rates, leading to growing base of dissatisfied customers who would prefer to have other options for cooling their homes.

There are a number of arguments that have been presented for why Covenant 15 should remain in the RA Deed. Two of the leading arguments I’ve heard are that Reston RELAC will have to raise rates if they lose customers (something RELAC claimed in a recent letter to customers) and that individual air conditioning units are loud and unsightly and will detract from our community. I do not believe these arguments carry much weight, for a number of reasons.

(more…)

by RestonNow.com January 5, 2015 at 11:00 am 28 Comments

Lake Anne PlazaThis is an Op-Ed by Connie Hartke of the Reston Citizens Association. Something on your mind that you want to share with the community? Email Reston Now at [email protected]. Reston Now reserves the right to edit submissions.

As we turn the calendar to a new year, some of our Reston neighbors will be facing an important vote in January that affects their summertime comfort.

Covenant 15 of the Reston Association Deed requires 343 households to use the 50+ year old Reston Lake Anne Air-Conditioning Corporation cooling system (RELAC), unless they receive an annual medical exemption — a nightmare when the unit goes up for resale.

These 343 households will have the opportunity to revoke (or not) Covenant 15 by a referendum vote. A yes vote will allow choice without ending RELAC. This system works adequately for many, but not all.

The Reston Citizens Association (RCA) supports revoking Covenant 15 (commonly called RELAC). Sridhar Ganesan, President of RCA stated: “While clearly many people around Lake Anne still like and want RELAC because it seems to serve their purposes, it is also clear that a number of people have not been happy with the system, the costs and other burdens that they feel it imposes on them. RELAC is a system as old as the Lake Anne community. Not only would the investment in that system have been fully paid for, today’s technologies have surely far surpassed RELAC’s. Many of us on the RCA Board as well as members sympathize and feel that after all these decades of using and paying for the operation of that system, those that would like to opt out of RELAC and pursue other alternatives should have the Choice to do so.”

None of us on the current RCA board live where RELAC is mandated, but we listen to Restonians who do and who live on the sunny side of Lake Anne. (more…)

by Karen Goff November 25, 2014 at 11:00 am 6 Comments

Lake Anne PlazaReston Association has changed the way the January’s referendum for RELAC users will work.

The RA Board voted last week to authorize a referendum for the 343 users of the RELAC air-conditioning system. It the referendum passes, it would give homeowners a choice in how they want to cool their homes.

The Lake Anne-area homeowners on RELAC are bound by the Reston deed to use the lakewater-cooled system, which was touted as revolutionary and quiet in the mid-1960s, but has been met with frustration by some users at its inefficiency in recent years.

RA said at first that two-thirds of the homeowners would need to vote in favor of referendum — which would release the owners from the deed, giving them the option to add, at their own expense, a different air conditioning system.

But upon further review, RA said on Tuesday that the referendum will pass with two-thirds of voters, not homeowners.

From RA:

The quorum for this referendum is at least 10 percent of the 343 members (in the Lake Anne area) eligible to vote. This is in compliance with Article VI, Section VI.2 (b) (15) as viewed in the light of Article I, Section I.2 (a) of the Reston Deed.

It was previously reported that two-thirds of all 343 members was required for the referendum to pass. However, after consulting with legal counsel, the association has determined that under the current Reston Deed, as amended, the required number of votes for the referendum to pass is two-thirds of only those members who cast ballots in the referendum. Votes must be received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 30.

Currently, the Reston Deed states that “In any residential cluster in which central air conditioning service is available to the lot line, no individual air-conditioning units of any type shall be permitted.” The recently board-approved ballot question will ask members whether that section of the deed should be revoked.

Last summer, 110 homeowners signed a petition asking RA for the referendum. RA last held a RELAC referendum in 2008. It was defeated 130-100.

by Karen Goff November 21, 2014 at 11:00 am 18 Comments

1602 WainwrightThe Reston Association Board voted on Thursday to authorize a referendum for the 343 users of the RELAC air-conditioning system.

The 343 Lake Anne-area homeowners are bound by the Reston deed to use the lakewater-cooled system which was touted as revolutionary in the mid-1960s, but has been met with frustration at its inefficiency in recent years.

Some users have complained it is expensive, mold producing and cannot cool the top floors of some of the townhomes. Several homeowners have used a medical exemption to allowed to install, at their own expense, an additional air conditioning system.

Last summer, 110 homeowners signed a petition asking RA for the referendum.

The RA board approved the referendum for January. The question to be asked:

Air-Conditioning Units. In any residential Cluster in which central air-conditioning service is available to the Lot line, no individual air-conditioning units of any type shall be permitted. This covenant may only be amended or revoked by at least a two-thirds vote of the Category A Members of all residential Clusters on the service.

At the public hearing portion of Thursday’s regular board meeting, several RELAC users spoke in favor of keeping the system, one calling it an “aesthetic catastrophe” to change the system. Others asked that the referendum be delayed until summer, so users would have more time to see how it is running under new management.

Vernon Wiley, who also lives on Wainwright said RELAC provides excellent cooling for his home.

“As far as I am concerned, there is nothing wrong with system and I would like to stick to the status quo. Allowing homeowners to get off RELAC may raise rates. In the worst case, RELAC may no longer be possible, and collapse. If this happens, it will force other homeowners to seek other systems, which may cost thousands of dollars.”

Blake Travis of Maple Ridge disagrees.

“Those of us in favor of referendum are not trying to kill RELAC, but we want a choice,” he said. “It is a faulty system.”

Travis said he does not think the only alternative is a “loud air conditioning unit.”

“Units today are extremely quiet,” he said. “Street traffic is louder than what you will hear from an air conditioner.”

RA last held a RELAC referendum in 2008. It was defeated 130-100.

In other RA Board news:

The Board voted that the 2015 assessment rate will be $642. It also established a reduced rate of 50 percent for property owners qualifying for Fairfax County real estate tax relief.

The Board authorized $30,000 to hire an urban planning consultant as Reston and $30,000 to conduct a parks and recreation survey that will be useful for the next budget planning round for 2016-17. The money is available in the budget, RA directors said.

Photo: Townhomes on Wainwright are on the RELAC system

by Karen Goff September 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm 0

Lake AnneThe 343 Lake Anne homes that are bound by the Reston deed to use RELAC, the aging air-conditioning system, will get another chance at a member referendum early next year.

The Reston Association Board voted at its Thursday meeting to accept the petition of RELAC users who say they want a referendum on the issue and go forward with a referendum on the matter.

RELAC users are bound by the Reston deed to use the system, which was deemed as state-of-the-art and extra quiet when installed in the mid-1960s. RELAC uses water from Lake Anne to cool the air. However, these days it is viewed by many current users as outdated and inefficient.

The referendum would need two-thirds of RELAC townhouse users to vote in favor in order to pass. A 2008 referendum was defeated 130-100.

The petition was signed by 121 residents, many of whom have been working on getting a release from RELAC since last winter.

Current RELAC users are allowed to petition for a medical exemption (for example, if they have bad allergies). The medical exemption was the subject of its own debate among RA’s Board and RELAC users earlier this year.

Homeowners who have been granted the exemption say they have spent $4,000-6,000 on new HVAC systems — which must be disconnected when they sell the home.

The RA Board says it will formulate the referendum question this week. There will be a public hearing on Oct. 6, and the RA Board will have additional public hearings during their meetings on Oct. 23 and Nov. 20.

Ballots will be mailed in early January, with a Jan. 30 voting deadline.

Photo: Lake Anne/File photo

by Karen Goff September 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm 4 Comments

Lake AnneThe 343 Lake Anne homes that are bound by the Reston deed to use RELAC, the aging air-conditioning system, may be closer to getting released from the mandate.

The Reston Association Board will make a decision this week on accepting the petition of RELAC users and going forward with a referendum on the issue.

The referendum would need two-thirds of RELAC townhouse users to vote in favor in order to pass.

The petition was signed by 121 residents, many of whom have been working on getting a release from RELAC since last winter.

RELAC — which stands for Reston Lake Anne Air Conditioning Corporation — was put in place in some of Reston’s first homes when they were built in the mid-1960s. The system uses Lake Anne water to provide cooling. Touted as state-of-the-art and quiet when it was installed, many homeowners have been complaining for years about its expense and inefficiency.

“Our goal is to make it so people have a choice,” John Hunter, the Washington Plaza Cluster resident who spearheaded the petition effort, said last winter. “If they are happy with RELAC, great. If not happy, then they can get off of it.”

Hunter, who has lived in his home about four years, said he has used the medical exemption to get off of RELAC. He said the system could not reach the third floor of his townhome, where it was routinely 80 degrees in summer. He said he installed an electric heat pump at a cost of more than $6,000, but has heard of others paying as little at $4,000 for a new HVAC. He will still have to put the RELAC ductwork back in place when he sells the house, he said.

Hunter previously said rates vary greatly from home to home. His bill, before he installed the heat pump, was $1,500 for the season. He said homeowners are paying more than 50 percent than they did a few years ago.

If the RA Board goes forward, it will formulate the referendum question early next month. There would be a public hearing on Oct. 6, and the RA Board would have public hearings during their meetings on Oct. 23 and Nov. 20.

Ballots would be mailed in early January, with a Jan. 30 voting deadline.

by Karen Goff June 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm 0

Lake AnneReston Association on Thursday voted unanimously to amend the Use and Maintenance Standards Resolution 15 regarding air-conditioning service in Lake Anne neighborhoods that use RELAC.

The amendment allows for Lake Anne residents to apply for a medical exemption to the covenant that requires their property to use the lake water-cooled system. Click here to read the resolution.

About 300 homes are bound by deed to use the RELAC system. Residents of some of the homes that use RELAC users say the system, which was touted as quiet and state-of-the-art in the 1960s, is inefficient and produces mold. Many have added supplementary air conditioning systems to their homes, but the medical exemption for that home expires if the home is sold.

RA has allowed for medical exemptions in the past and had been discussing modifications to that policy since last year.

The board added new language about what constitutes a disability. One of the main changes includes adding a form that must be signed by a physician in order to get a temporary exemption. RA did soften the language on the form at the request of residents.

Meanwhile, the Fairfax County Planning Commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing Wednesday night on the transformation of Reston Town Center’s surface parking lot to a mixed-use development.

That hearing was deferred until June 25.

Developer Boston Properties’ plans for the surface lot at Reston Town Center include two high-rise residential buildings as well as a park with a yoga area, public art and picnic areas. The 6.35-acre site, called Block 4, is currently a 251-space surface parking lot, the only remaining surface lot at Reston Town Center. The lot is currently zoned for up for 250,000 square feet of office space.

According to the county planning staff report, which recommends approval of the project, the 250,000 square feet of office density represents the last remaining non-residential density available under the proffered maximum 3.465 million square feet of non-residential development approved within Reston’s urban core.

Boston Properties is seeking to move the office development to Block 5, where the current FedEx/Kinkos and Ann Taylor are now located, with additional office space above.

The plan calls for turning the three-story retail/office building, part of One Fountain Square, into a 17-story building with 276,788 square feet of office space and 7,800 square feet of ground-floor retail. The building would also have four levels of underground parking.

by Karen Goff June 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm 31 Comments

Block 4 Residential Towers/Credit: Fairfax County The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday night on the transformation of Reston Town Center’s surface parking lot to a mixed-use development.

Developer Boston Properties’ plans for the surface lot at Reston Town Center include two high-rise residential buildings as well as a park with a yoga area, public art and picnic areas. The 6.35-acre site, called Block 4, is currently a 251-space surface parking lot, the only remaining surface lot at Reston Town Center. The lot is currently zoned for up for 250,000 square feet of office space.

According to the county planning staff report, which recommends approval of the project, the 250,000 square feet of office density represents the last remaining non-residential density available under the proffered maximum 3.465 million square feet of non-residential development approved within Reston’s urban core.

The meeting is at the Fairfax County Government Center, 8:15 p.m. To sign up to speak, visit the Planning Commission website.

Boston Properties is seeking to move the office development to Block 5, where the current FedEx/Kinkos and Ann Taylor are now located, with additional office space above.

The plan calls for turning the three-story retail/office building, part of One Fountain Square, into a 17-story building with 276,788 square feet of office space and 7,800 square feet of ground-floor retail. The building would also have four levels of underground parking.

Block 4 and 5 development will flow into other approved high-density development nearby.

The Spectrum, a low-rise strip mall located just across New Dominion Parkway, has been approved for redevelopment into 774,879 square feet of non-residential use and 1,422 multifamily residential units in seven new residential buildings. The new area will feature a hotel, and Harris Teeter is the only retailer expected to remain under the current plan.

Additionally, part of the Spectrum will wrap around the planned 23-story office tower at Bowman Towne Drive and Reston Parkway. That building, which will contain retail and 18 stories of offices, was approved by the supervisors in 2012.

On Thursday, the Reston Association Board of Directors will hold a special meeting to discuss who can get an exemption from RELAC, the lake water-fueled air conditioning system that about 300 homes near Lake Anne are required to use.

Homes that have a RELAC system are bound by deed to use it unless owners can show a reason for a medical exemption. The RA board has been discussing changes to the RELAC policy since last year. It was slated to be revisited by February.

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by Karen Goff May 21, 2014 at 9:28 am 15 Comments

Lake Anne PlazaThe Reston Association Board of Directors has called a special meeting for June 12 to revisit who can get an exemption from using RELAC.

RELAC is the much-maligned cooling system powered by lake water and used by about 300 homes in the Lake Anne area. When it was installed in the mid-1960s, it was touted as quiet and environmentally friendly.

But as time went on, the system was found by many customers to be inefficient and mold producing. Furthermore, prices have risen rapidly the last few years, users say.

Homes that have a RELAC system are bound by deed to use it unless owners can show a reason for a medical exemption.

The RA board has been discussing changes to the RELAC policy since last year. It was slated to be revisited by February.

The issue: who should be able to obtain an exemption? Should a person have to prove a medical issue, and should that issue be called a handicap? What documentation must they show? And should that exemption be updated annually or should it be in place, as it currently is now, as long as the homeowner is in the home?

Those ideas were not received well by many RELAC users, who attended the December RA meeting expressing privacy concerns and taking issue with being designated handicapped. That terminology is put in place because fair housing laws state that accommodations must be made for someone with a handicap, said RA attorney Ken Chadwick.

The RELAC issue has led some Lake Anne-area residents to organize a referendum to free them from RELAC. Washington Plaza Cluster resident John Hunter began the process over the winter.

A previous referendum, in 2005, was defeated 130-100.

“Our goal is to make it so people have a choice,” Hunter says. “If they are happy with RELAC, great. If not happy, then they can get off of it.”

Hunter, who has lived in his home about four years, used the medical exemption to get off of RELAC. He said the system could not reach the third floor of his townhome, where it was routinely 80 degrees in summer. He said he installed an electric heat pump at a cost of more than $6,000. He will still have to put the RELAC coil back in place when he sells the house, he said.

To get a change in the covenants, interested RELAC users would have to petition the RA Board of Directors. The board would then pay for a referendum of all RELAC customers. The vote would have to be a two-thirds majority in order for the board to consider the change.

by Karen Goff February 20, 2014 at 4:30 pm 12 Comments

Lake Anne Plaza

A group of Reston residents who are customers of RELAC, the air conditioning system that is powered by recirculated water  from Lake Anne, are organizing to start a referendum process that would give them more freedom of choice in the matter.

About 300 Lake Anne-area homes are on the RELAC (Reston Lake Anne Air Conditioning Corporation)  system, which has been in place since the mid-1960s.

Reston Association has been discussing an amendment to the Reston covenants declaring that a person who is asking for an exemption from using the aging air conditioning system must show a doctor’s order advising of the “handicap,” information about the handicap (such as medical records), and that order must be updated annually. That rule tightens up the current exemption, in which a medical reason is good for as long as the homeowner lives in the house.

Currently, the RA covenant binds RELAC homes to using the system. Washington Plaza Cluster resident John Hunter says the time may be right for a referendum to alter the covenant.

A previous referendum, in 2008, was defeated 130-100.

“We’ve decided to get the process going again,” said Hunter. “Our goal is to make it so people have a choice. If they are happy with RELAC, great. If not happy, then they can get off of it.”

(more…)

by Karen Goff January 16, 2014 at 10:45 am 5 Comments

Lake Anne

The Reston Association Board of Directors is not likely to discuss amending the rules of its RELAC air conditioning system this month as it needs more time to discuss potential changes and their place under federal fair housing laws, board members said.

Last month, the board introduced an amendment to the Reston covenants declaring that a person who is asking for an exemption from using the aging air conditioning system must show a doctor’s order advising of the “handicap,” information about the handicap (such as medical records), and that order must be updated annually. That rule tightens up the current exemption, in which a medical reason is good for as long as the homeowner lives in the house.

That idea was not received well by many RELAC users, who attended the December RA meeting expressing privacy concerns and taking issue with being designated handicapped. That terminology is put in place because fair housing laws state that accommodations must be made for someone with a handicap, said RA attorney Ken Chadwick.

RELAC (Reston Lake Anne Air Conditioning Corporation)  has been the cooling system for about 300 Lake Anne-area homes since the mid-1960s. The system is powered by recirculated lake water from Lake Anne. Touted as state-of-the-art when it was built, nearly 50 years later it is oft-criticized by users for being inefficient and mold-producing.

Eve Thompson, the RA Lake Anne/Tall Oaks Director, says she has recommended to the board that a medical professional be able to certify why the homeowner needs to opt-out, but that more invasive requirements be nixed.

“Let a doctor certify why someone is requesting a change,” she said. “But that should be without additional medical information and I have recommended they not have to recertify.”

Thompson also is wary of another item in the amendment — that residents must  provide a written statement from a HVAC technician familiar with RELAC saying the system is working and that inadequacies come from the water system and not the equipment .

“I’m suggesting we don’t want to be in the mindset of requiring members to have their systems evaluated by RELAC,” she said. “There are no certified RELAC specialists. We should get that item out of the amendment altogether. It is too slippery a slope. RELAC has a vested interest in keeping everyone on the system; a homeowner has the opposite interest. We have no way to objectively measure whether the system is working.”

To that end, the time may be right to discuss RELAC’s big-picture future, Thompson added. RELAC’s use is bound by the RA covenants, and a covenant is very hard to change. But if after 45 years the system isn’t working as performed, it is time to talk.

RA president Ken Knueven pointed out in a recent post on Reston Now that Lake Anne residents voted to keep the system in a 2005 referendum.

Thompson says RELAC’s future is a separate issue and not related to the current medical exemption debate.

“We should at least be facilitating a discussion about RELAC’s sustainability,” she said.

by RestonNow.com January 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm 5 Comments

Lake Anne Plaza

By Ken Knueven, Reston Association

Living on Lake Anne is all it is advertised to be; it is beautiful, serene and a reminder of what has made Reston special for 50 years.  And, as I sit on my deck and admire the snow-covered banks, I am thankful that sense of peace and tranquility lasts throughout the seasons.

Of course, as close as Lake Anne is to my version of Utopia, I do understand it comes with a few challenges.  And yes, RELAC is one of those challenges.

The Reston Association Board of Directors is currently reviewing changes to the Use & Maintenance Standards Resolution 15; Air-Conditioning Units/RELAC HVAC System and is still accepting public comment on these issues.  Amendments have been made to constitute what establishes a member has “worked with RELAC” to correct/address problems with the system.

As well, new language has been added to clarify the term and conditions under which temporary exemptions from the covenant are to be granted.  These changes are not designed to make it more difficult to be removed from the system, but instead are intended to decrease the ambiguity associated with how one does get an exemption.

While RELAC has its detractors and critics, the community did have a chance to remove it as the cooling system for Lake Anne through a referendum a few years ago.  The community spoke, however, and chose to keep RELAC.  Those who own and operate the system need to ensure it is efficient for all who use it.  And, those who use the system need to discuss coming together and possibly resurrecting the community committee which existed years ago to look at the sustainability and viability of the system.

In the meantime; as with all RA board activities, the board needs your input on the rules allowing for temporary exemptions to use alternate methods of air-conditioning when needed for medical reasons.  The public comment period is open and we look forward to hearing from you.  You can email [email protected]  or attend an RA board meeting.  Board agendas will be available on www.reston.org prior to the meetings.

Ken Knueven is a Lake Anne resident and the president of  Reston Association.

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