43°Overcast

‘Road from Nowhere’ to Remain in Reston’s Master Plan

The “road from nowhere” is a household term among Restonians who are abreast of the day-to-day happenings in local development and land use. The conceptual road, which runs from the Isaac Newton Square property to American Dream Way, cuts straight through an open space resource that local grassroots groups are trying to protect from development: Hidden Creek Country Club.

There are no plans on the books to build the road. But the presence of the line in Reston’s Comprehensive Plan has some scratching there heads: Where did this road come from? And what does it mean for the golf course?

County officials say the road is entirely conceptual in nature, but could possibly be needed to improve connectivity if planned redevelopment happens in the Isaac Newtown Square area. The road could also relieve congestion at the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue by serving as an alternative route to Sunset Hills Road, according to Robin Geiger of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

Geiger stressed the road has not been designed and if it is — whether through private development or through a public project — the community will have multiple opportunities to provide their feedback. The county will also work through the potential impacts to the golf course or environmentally-sensitive land in the area.

No development applications have been submitted for the Isaac Newton property to date. In May 2016, however, an application to develop a nearby three-acre site at 11480 Sunset Hills Road into an apartment building was indefinitely deferred.

But grassroots groups like Rescue Reston, which actively led efforts to stop the redevelopment of Reston National Golf Course and pledge to do the same for Hidden Creek Country Club, want the planned road connection removed from the comprehensive plan’s map. Its presence suggests the disruption of the golf course, which is one of two in Reston that the plan intends to protect.

In February, then-Reston Association CEO Cate Fulkerson requested that the county remove the line from the Reston Master Plan. Similar requests from community members surfaced again in recent workgroup sessions with county officials this month.

But county staff have remained reluctant to remove the road, noting that the conceptual road shows the intention of connecting the grid of streets with American Dream Way.

As with any new roadway design, the county will work to minimize negative impacts on existing uses and the environment. In staff’s view, the planned road being shown as part of the conceptual street network does not negatively affect the viability of the Hidden Creek Golf Course,” Geiger said.

Despite assurances, some concerns remain, especially as Wheelock Communities engages with community stakeholders to determine the future of the golf course. No redevelopment plans have been formally proposed yet.

Photo via Google Earth

35 Comments

Early Discussions on the Future of Hidden Creek Country Club Begin

Redevelopment options for Hidden Creek Country Club (Handout via Reston Association)

In early discussions about the future of Hidden Creek Country Club, members of the Reston Association’s Board of Directors and community advocates stood firm against the redevelopment of the golf course as its new owner, Wheelock Communities, contemplates future redevelopment options.

Since purchasing the golf course in October last year, Wheelock has held three work group sessions with community groups and nearby residents to discuss plans for the site. At its last meeting, the real estate developer of master planned communities pitched four options, including a no-build alternative. Discussions are preliminary.

Concerns about future redevelopment intensified when Wheelock Street Capital, an affiliated company, purchased Charter Oak Apartments in partnership with local investment firm Canandaigua & Pratt Holdings in February. The apartment is next to the golf course.

At an RA board meeting Thursday night, members reiterated that Reston is a two-golf course community. Reston’s Master Plan emphasizes the importance of preserving Reston’s golf courses for private recreational use and an RA resolution commits to ensuring Reston is a golf course community and opposes any attempts to create a roadway between American Dream Way and Isaac Newtown Square through the property.

Sherri Hebert, an RA board member, said Wheelock has pitched ways redevelopment could improve public accessibility through additional walking paths and make it more environmentally friendly. Hebert said the club is already “a community diamond” and that the future of golf is strong.

“They’ve even used Bob Simon and his vision to take about this is to be envisioned as something different, which I personally find insulting,” Hebert said.

The discussion harkens back to Rescue Reston’s defense of Reston National Golf Course, which was threatened by development plans several years. Connie Hartke, president of Rescue Reston, a grassroots group formed in 2012 in response to threats against the golf course, said the group is prepared to step up opposition against future development plans.

“This is not the time to concede an inch of open space,” Hartke said, noting that more planned development is on the horizon.

RA’s board plans to discuss the issue with representatives from Wheelock at a board operations committee meeting in September and a later board meeting that month as well. RA board president Andy Sigle described Thursday’s discussion as preliminary.

Sridhar Ganesan, an RA board member, said Wheelock has stated the cost of making improvements to the golf course raises questions about the future viability of the site. Ganesan said he hopes to see an analysis by Wheelock to determine how that conclusion was reached.

Wheelock issued the following statement late Friday afternoon:

When Wheelock Communities purchased Hidden Creek Country Club in October
2017, we immediately recognized the special character of Reston and the need to
include the community in exploring all the possibilities for the future of the golf
course. With that idea and Bob Simon’s Founding Principles of Reston in mind, Wheelock
engaged the community by establishing a Focus Group to gain the perspective
from a broad-based group of approximately 20 Reston residents. The Focus
Group, which has not yet concluded its work, began without preconceived
notions about the future of the property.

This story was updated on Monday (July 30) to include Wheelock’s response.

Handout via Reston Association

46 Comments

Rescue Reston Vows to Protect Hidden Creek Golf Course from Development

Rescue Reston, a grassroots organization that successfully helped prevent the redevelopment of Reston National Golf Course several years ago, is vowing to defend Hidden Creek Country Club after it changed ownership in late October.

In response to overwhelming requests from citizens for advice and support, the group has pledged to defend recreational open space at Hidden Creek Country Club by amending its mission statement.

Community advocates have long feared both Hidden Creek and Reston National Golf Course will transform into residential development as Reston expands.

“Rescue Reston and its supporters are standing between the green space and the developers who want to reduce, repurpose or eliminate green space for yet even more housing. There is precious little green recreational space in Reston to support the greatly increasing density that is already planned for all of Reston,” the group wrote in the statement.

Wheelock Communities purchased the club earlier this week from its previous owner, Fore Golf Partners, which will continue to manage the club.

In an October email announcing $300,000 in upgrades to the club, Wheelock, which owns properties in Texas and across the East Coast has listed several potential options for development, including additional public amenities, environmental benefits and new housing choices.

8 Comments

Friday Morning Notes

Golf Fundraiser Pays Legal Fees in Open Space Fight — Rescue Reston’s recent event at Reston National Golf Course raised money to go toward paying off the $153,000 in legal fees the group has incurred fighting its battle to protect the course from development. [Connection Newspapers]

County Celebrates High-Rise Construction Safety — “The cranes in Reston and Tysons are the most dramatic sign that parts of our county are changing into a more urban environment. Before these new high-rise buildings are built, years of planning go into making sure they are safe for the occupants and the community.” [Fairfax County]

Firefighters Support Breast Cancer Awareness — In an effort to heighten awareness in the fight against breast cancer, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department employees have been authorized to wear FRD-issued pink T-shirts while on duty from Oct. 9-23. The shirts are worn as a symbol of support and recognition for all those who have been touched by breast cancer. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Preparedness Event Slated for Saturday — The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management is partnering with numerous county agencies and other partners, such as the American Red Cross, to host a Preparedness Awareness Weekend (PAW) event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Providence Community Center (3001 Vaden Drive, Fairfax). [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

Digital-Media Company Moves Into New Town Center Home — Intermarkets, a Reston-based digital-media company whose portfolio includes The Drudge Report and The Political Insider, is now headquartered on the 11th floor of Reston Town Center’s One Freedom Square. [Virginia Business]

0 Comments

Letter: Rescue Reston Begins Fifth Year With Golf Fundraiser

This letter was submitted by Reston resident John Pinkman, a member of the Rescue Reston board of directors. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.

On Monday, Oct. 2, Rescue Reston will hold its third annual golf fundraiser on the course that Northwestern Mutual would like to turn into thousands of housing units. All fundraisers are directed toward the legal defense. Will NWM stay in town and make a commitment to our community, as did Mobil? I don’t think so; if there were a door, you would hear NWM slam on their way out! See ya!

Through my work with Rescue Reston, I have criticized myself for the inability to create a sense of loss throughout the community that we would experience if we lost the open space the golf course provides. I was hard on myself — until I learned how few Restonians voted in the Reston Association Board elections. Way less than 10 percent, I’m told.

I understand apathy; I expect it. However, Reston was not built on apathy. Thousands of people have worked hard to create the community we thrive in today. It costs more to live here because of the discipline of the way we choose to live. As a result, we have succeeded. The manner in which we built this town has yielded consistent national recognition. It’s a special place.

When I was young, I lived in Houston. They exuded pride in having no zoning regulations. The out-of-control pace of development stretched the city’s boundaries in Texas-size growth. That is, until the housing bust plummeted values and the recent rains came. You could build a million dollar home and see a 7-Eleven store spring up on one side and an oil rig on the other. I don’t remember even a neighborhood in Houston, let alone a sense of community.

When I first saw Reston in the late ’60s, I instantly felt a sense of community. When I returned in 1978, I walked into the Reston Festival at Lake Anne and instantly decided — this is home. There is not a day I walk through the plaza without recalling that celebration of Reston in ’78.

We have lived here for 40 years, 25 in a home on the golf course. We have worked so hard to buy our home and invest in Reston as we raised our three kids and now seven grandkids. As have thousands of others, we have contributed to our neighborhood and community. The beat goes on; our children and their spouses are all teachers making an impact.

Let me be clear; our family is far from unusual. Other families also have a long legacy and have done much to make Reston what it is. Why do 90 percent of people who live here care so little about its future as to ignore their right to choose the leaders who guide that future? Are they too busy? Got to get the kids to soccer? “All I care about is driving on these nice roads, seeing the trees and kicking back. I’ll let someone else take care of the future.” Apathy.

No doubt everyone has a reason, specifically valid to himself or herself, for focusing inward of their own four walls. Busy for sure, but apathetic about the very nature of how we evolve and unaware of how we have to fight to preserve the very concept of Reston, only arousing when the threat of uncomfortable or inconvenient change rustles the bushes close to home.

For decades, Reston has fought the internal view of North and South Reston. Honestly, I have never understood that concept. Even before the Wiehle Avenue bridge was built, we developed as one community — many neighborhoods but one community. We took pride in the big “Reston” billboard on Route 7. Perhaps I feel that way because of the years I’ve spent in recreation and teaching players. We would use all of the parks, pools and fields.

But in the process of trying to preserve our open space, I have been amazed to hear comments like “that’s a South Reston problem,” “I don’t play golf,” or “I live in North Reston — don’t care.” Any problem that affects a neighborhood in some way impacts the entire community. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but we must direct our efforts to understand the effect on the whole.

We must be united in facing the big issues, regardless of the immediate neighborhood where we live. Six thousand housing units and the multiples of people residing on 167 acres of what is currently open space would have a domino effect on the entire area. It changes how we move, how we educate, the value of a RESTON property. It changes our patience too.

There are before us now many issues that require the energy of our leaders and their followers. We need to remember that the best way to achieve solutions to the challenges we face is for more people to become involved in the process. I am committed to the Steven Covey quote, “begin with the end in mind.” That’s how we became Reston. That’s how we shall deliver this town to our children who love to return and raise their own children.

If you have read this far it’s only right that I ask you to help support Rescue Reston’s Golf Tournament on Oct 2. Play golf that day. If you don’t play golf — seriously — everyone knows someone who does! Call them; ask them to play. Stay up on Northwestern Mutual’s continual assault to destroy those 167 acres at RescueReston.org/golf.

14 Comments

Rescue Reston Again Urges Golf Course Owners to Honor Its Status as Open Space

Rescue Reston is continuing its effort to ensure any future action at Reston National Golf Course maintains its status as nearly 170 acres of open space.

The grassroots organization has been working for more than five years to preserve the golf course. Its efforts to block a sale of the property for residential development resulted in a temporary victory in 2016. However, the property’s owners continue to show interest in what they view as “by-right residential development” on the site.

In a letter emailed today to representatives of property owners Northwestern Mutual and investment advisory firm ARA Newmark, as well as delivered by hand to RN Golf Management LLC, Rescue Reston urges them to remember the desires of the community.

Rumor has it that you are encouraging speculative development of the Reston National Golf Course property, including that, through litigation, one might be able to build upwards of 4,000 units on this land.

Northwestern Mutual and ARA Newmark personnel responsible for this should be ashamed to be willing to put Fairfax County taxpayers through years of litigation to defend the very definite land use designation of Open Space at the property located at 11875 Sunrise Valley Drive and 2018 Soapstone Drive, Reston, Virginia.

We direct your attention to your PR statement regarding strengthening local communities at northwesternmutual.com/about-us/what-we-believe. If Northwestern Mutual, the majority partner of RN Golf Management LLC, which is the owner of the property at Reston National Golf Course, truly believes its own statement, then NWM must stop.

Reston is a Planned Residential Community.  You can read the short version of what that means at http://bit.ly/PRC-Districts.

We request that NWM consider a tax efficient strategy which will preserve the golf course as open space involving the donation of the land to the Reston Association or a conservation group, or the creation of a perpetual conservation easement. Andrea Reese, Sr. Land Conservation Specialist at the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust stands ready to explore this option with you. She can be reached at 703-354-5093.

Rescue Reston’s correspondence also refers back to a letter it penned in May reminding ARA Newmark of the group’s commitment to defending the property and of the property’s approved zoning uses and land use limitations.

Earlier this year, ARA Landmark sent out information indicating that by-right residential development would soon be available at the golf course. The price was designated as “TBD by Market.” A report by real-estate news website GlobeSt.com estimated its selling price might be more than $25 million — and that a developer could make up to $200 million from the property.

In April, Fairfax County Superintendent Cathy Hudgins reminded constituents that any attempt to redevelop the property would require a lengthy list of rulings, including “an amendment to the Reston Master Plan which is part of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, as well as obtaining both Development Plan Amendment approval and Planned Residential Community Plan approval from the Board of Supervisors.”

6 Comments

Residents Rally in Defense of Open Space at Reston Golf Course

More than 100 turned out for a planned rally at the Reston National Golf Course Sunday against the development of the 166 acres which has long been kept as natural open space.

The group, which calls itself “Rescue Reston,” says the acreage is “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program Golf,” and that its designation as open space dates back to Reston founder Bob Simon’s vision for the community.

“We’re going to send a message to the majority owner of the golf course — Northwestern Mutual — and potential bidders that Reston will not stop defending the 166 acres across Sunrise Valley Drive from the Northwestern Mutual offices,” said Connie Hartke, president of Rescue Reston. “Restonians have the power when the zoning is already on our side.”

“[Our] message to speculators regarding the sale of Reston National Golf Course is: buy a golf course if you wish, but know that recreational open space is all you will have,” Hartke continued.

News of this latest potential sale and development of Reston National Golf Course emerged earlier this year when ARA Newmark began distributing information that implies the acreage is “coming soon” for interested parties. The memorandum indicates it was prepared “solely for the use of prospective buyers of the real property commonly known as Reston National Golf Course.”

Rescue Reston members have been consulting with attorneys in preparation of fighting any potential rezoning, sale or development of the property, the organization’s website states.

29 Comments

Hudgins: Process for Potential Golf Course Redevelopment ‘Must Be Followed’

Reston National Golf Course has been advertised for potential redevelopment, but a lot would need to happen for that to take place, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is reminding constituents.

In a statement to media Monday morning, Hudgins said an interpretation of the property’s status made by Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning is “clear and concise.”

“According to the interpretation, the process is clear and concise and must be followed in order for development other than a golf course or open space to be considered for the property,” Hudgins said.

The interpretation of the golf course property by Fairfax County Planning and Zoning reads:

“Based on the previous approvals, the redevelopment of the property from a golf course to residential uses would first require an amendment to the Reston Master Plan which is part of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, as well as obtaining both Development Plan Amendment approval and Planned Residential Community Plan approval from the Board of Supervisors.”

According to Hudgins’ office, the supervisor made the statement Monday in response to the recent advertisement of the property by developer ARA Newmark as well as a recent article on real-estate news site GlobeSt, which quoted specific rumored sale prices and development values for the property. Hudgins believes the characterization of the property as a “by-right, mixed-use development opportunity” could be misleading to some residents, who may believe its redevelopment to be “a done deal,” her office stated.

Activist group Rescue Reston, which fought against a previous attempt to redevelop the property, has stated it will “mobilize [its] allies and supporters as necessary to oppose any attempt to amend the Comprehensive Plan that would threaten our open space.”

40 Comments

Friday Morning Notes

Morning Notes - Winter

Report: Golf Course Could Sell for $25-$35M — Real-estate news website GlobeSt.com reported earlier this week that it hears anyone who buys Reston National Golf Course for that price and gets approval for development might be looking at a $200 million windfall. [GlobeSt.com]

Mobile DMV Service Coming to Reston — DMV 2 Go, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ mobile service, will soon visit Reston. DMV 2 Go is a handicapped-accessible full-service office that provides all DMV transactions. The mobile DMV will be at the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 3-6. [Virginia DMV]

Independent Panel to Study Metro’s Woes — Former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood will take charge of a panel to examine Metro’s governance and long-term financial needs. Meanwhile, Metro’s general manager says the system needs major work to fix its “unsustainable cost model.” [Washington Post]

South Lakes Lacrosse Team Kicks Off 2017 — The Seahawks’ boys lacrosse team won its conference and advanced to the state tournament last year. They started the 2017 season with a 16-3 win over Fairfax last week, and though they dropped their second contest to Stone Ridge, they still have big dreams. [South Lakes Athletics]

46 Comments

Thursday Morning Notes

Morning Notes - Lake Fairfax Park

Is It Going to Snow This Weekend or Not? — A few snowflakes are possible this weekend, but forecasts seem to indicate a growing chance that a storm previously predicted to hit us will miss the area. [Capital Weather Gang]

RA Focusing on Future of Golf Courses — In the latest “Reston Today” dispatch, Reston Association land-use attorney John McBride breaks down what’s going on with potential threats to Reston National Golf Course and Hidden Creek Country Club. [Reston Association/YouTube]

Seuss To Be Celebrated at Library — Children ages 4 and up are invited to Reston Regional Libary on Monday at 4:30 p.m. for a celebration of the works of Dr. Seuss. Steve Somers will present the stories at the event, co-sponsored by Friends of Reston Regional Library. [Reston Regional Library]

Reston Company Named to CNBC ‘Upstart’ List — Reston-based Cloudistics gives its customers “all the simplicity, elasticity and consumption characteristics of the public cloud, with the predictability of performance, cost and data governance that a private cloud offers.” Its work has been honored by recognition on CNBC’s list of 25 startups that are breaking industry barriers. [CNBC]

4 Comments

Firm Lists Reston National Golf Course as ‘Coming Soon’ for Developers

Reston National Golf Course

An investment advisory firm has listed Reston National Golf Course as a property “coming soon” for developers, which has angered a local advocacy group.

Rescue Reston was formed in 2012 to oppose efforts to redevelop the golf course’s open space into a residential area, and it was successful. However, it now appears the group has a new fight on its hands.

ARA Newmark has recently distributed information announcing that “168 acres of by-right residential development” would soon be available at the golf course. In an emailed statement to media, Rescue Reston says the advertisement’s use of the term “by-right” is “highly misleading.”

“The Development Plans filed with Fairfax County for the Golf Course and the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan clearly designate the land as open space to be used as a golf course. Any residential development plan would require a review by County Planning Commission staff, a public hearing before the County Planning Commission, a public hearing before the County Board of Supervisors, and ultimately an amendment to the County Comprehensive Plan.”

Rescue Reston president Connie Hartke says her group believes the ownership of the golf course, RN Golf Management, is putting out feelers to potential developers.

“After consulting with our attorney, we suspect this is the first round to determine what the market will bear. A call for bids, if you will,” she said. “RN Golf let it be known in this letter of March 4, 2016 that they intend to pursue ‘available redevelopment options’ to develop Reston’s permanent open space. This is why we have remained vigilant and are able to react so quickly to this news.”

The Reston National site is listed on ARA Newmark’s website, with a price designated as “TBD by Market.”

Hartke said Rescue Reston plans to “mobilize [its] allies and supporters as necessary to oppose any attempt to amend the Comprehensive Plan that would threaten our open space.”

33 Comments

Monday: Rescue Reston’s Second Annual Golf Classic

Golfers at Reston NationalThere is still time to register to take part in Rescue Reston’s second annual Golf Classic fundraiser.

The event, which will raise money for Rescue Reston’s legal bills in the battle to protect Reston National Golf Course from development, is Monday at Reston National.

Rescue Reston was formed in 2012 in response to the golf course owners’ Board of Zoning Appeals case to render the 166-acre golf course as a candidate for residential redevelopment.

The BZA ruled in 2015  that the owner could redevelop without getting a comprehensive amendment, which could ease the path to redevelopment of the land. Rescue Reston, RA and Fairfax County all filed appeals, and the decision was later vacated by a Circuit Court judge.

If you want to play Monday, Rescue Reston says sign up by Saturday.

Fees (greens fee, carts, range balls, dinner and drink ticket):

  • Individual Player $85
  • Foursome $340

Here’s the schedule:

1 p.m. Check-in and Warm Up
2 p.m. Shotgun Start (Format Captain’s Choice)
5 – 7 p.m. Dinner-Awards-Prizes
Raffle ticket drawings 6 p.m.

There is also a free nature walk around and through the course from 3-5 p.m. The walk will be led by resident Bill Burton and Walker Nature Center Naturalist Idalina Walker. To reserve your spot call 703-476-9689 x5 or email [email protected].

Dinner will be provided by Glory Days Grill.  For non-golfers, a dinner donation of $10 will be accepted at the entrance by check, cash or credit card.

For more information, visit Rescue Reston’s website.

2 Comments

Rescue Reston: ‘This is a Very Positive Moment’ in Fight for Golf Course

Reston National Golf Course in WinterAdvocacy group Rescue Reston says the decision by the owners of Reston National Golf Course not to pursue an appeal in the land use rights case concerning the course is a “very positive moment” in the battle to keep the course as open and recreational space.

However, advocates for open space must also remain vigilant, the group said.

Attorneys for RN Golf Management announced on Friday it would not appeal December’s Fairfax County Circuit Court decision that granted the motion for summary judgment filed by Fairfax County.

The December summary judgment means the golf course owner does not have “by right” development rights and must go through a rezoning process if it wants to develop the 166-acre course.

Said Rescue Reston in a statement:

While RN Golf has stated they do not intend to take the case to the Virginia Supreme Court, they are keeping their options open to “pursue additional development options in the future.”

Rescue Reston views this action as a very positive moment in the fight to save the 166 acres of open, recreational space that is integral to Reston’s vision as a Planned Residential Community. We are incredibly grateful for the actions of Reston residents, Rescue Reston members, Reston Association and Fairfax County and in awe of how the community stood together during this arduous process.

The golf course saga goes back to 2012, when RN Golf asked the county whether
the course could be considered zoned residential. The Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning Staff said no, the land is open and recreational space and a change would require rezoning.

In January 2015, the county Board of Zoning Appeals held a lengthy hearing, in which it heard from the owners’ attorneys as well as Reston Association attorneys a representatives and members of advocacy group Rescue Reston.

In April, the BZA returned its ruling that said the owners could redevelop without getting a comprehensive amendment, which could ease the path to redevelopment of the land.

Rescue Reston, RA and Fairfax County all filed appeals of that ruling in Fairfax County Circuit Court, and in November. Circuit Court Judge Michael Devine then granted the motion for summary judgment and vacated the Board of Zoning Appeals decision from earlier in 2015.

Added Rescue Reston: “The collaboration between attorneys for our local Fairfax County government, Reston Association and this grassroots organization, Rescue Reston was key to receiving this outcome. RN Golf’s attorneys could find no legal argument upon which to base a Supreme Court Appeal. “

However, Rescue Reston says they must remain vigilant in “monitoring and continuing to protect this valuable Reston amenity.”

“Any land owner can go through the standard Fairfax County process (which includes public hearings) to request a change of their land use designation,” said Rescue Reston. “The bar is higher for a PRC district, and our Board of Supervisors clarified their standing on our permanent open space when they added stronger wording to the Reston Master Plan regarding both Reston golf courses.

“Yes, Reston is unique and special, even in its zoning, yet it can be challenged.”

0 Comments

Reston National Owners Won’t Pursue Appeal with VA Supreme Court

Golfers at tourney at Reston National/Credit: Jay SzlamowiczThe owners of Reston National Golf Course have decided not to pursue the appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court in regards to the December lower court ruling on the 166-acre course’s land use designation.

This week marked the 90-day deadline for owner RN Golf Management to decide whether to continue with the appeal of the 2015 ruling that said RN Golf would have to file a formal plan with Fairfax County in order to pursue redevelopment of the course.

“While RN Golf may choose to pursue available redevelopment options in the future, and thus thus letter is not intended to waive any and all rights it may have to do so, I am writing to let you know RN Golf has decided not to continue with its appeal in these cases,” Scott Helsel, an attorney representing RN Golf, wrote in a letter Friday to the clerk of the Virginia Supreme Court. “Accordingly, RN Golf will not be filing a petition for appeal.”

RN Golf said in December it would appeal the ruling that it needs a zoning change in order to redevelop the public golf course as anything but open or recreational space.

The letter caps more than a year of legal filings on the continuing quest to get a definitive answer on the golf course’s zoning or future zoning, as well as continuing efforts in the fight for Reston’s open space.

The story goes back to 2012, when the owners asked the county whether the course could be considered zoned residential. The Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning Staff said no, the land is open and recreational space and a change would require rezoning.

In January 2015, the county Board of Zoning Appeals held a lengthy hearing, in which it heard from the owners’ attorneys as well as Reston Association attorneys a representatives and members of advocacy group Rescue Reston.

In April, the BZA returned its ruling that said the owners could redevelop without getting a comprehensive amendment, which could ease the path to redevelopment of the land.

Rescue Reston, RA and Fairfax County all filed appeals of that ruling in Fairfax County Circuit Court, and in November. Circuit Court Judge Michael Devine then granted the motion for summary judgment and vacated the Board of Zoning Appeals decision from earlier in 2015.

Photo: Reston National Golf Course/file photo

 

12 Comments

Golf Course Square May be Planning its Own Reston National Case

Reston National Golf CourseAs the battle for open space in Reston heads towards the Virginia Supreme Court, a group of homeowners whose properties overlook Reston National Golf Course may be preparing for a lawsuit of their own.

The attorneys for the owners of RN Golf, the owner of Reston National Golf Course, have filed a notice that they plan to appeal the Fairfax County Circuit Court decision from last year that granted the motion for summary judgment and vacated the Board of Zoning Appeals decision that said the golf course owners could redevelop without getting a comprehensive plan amendment, which could ease the path to redevelopment of the public course.

RN Golf, a subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Insurance, has until this week to to appeal the latest court order, says Rescue Reston, the citizens advocacy group that is fighting to maintain the golf course as permanent, open space in Reston.

Meanwhile, residents of Golf Course Square appeared at last week’s RA Board of Directors’ meeting to ask the board for its assistance in taking filmed depositions of some of the cluster’s original homeowners.

“Since 2012, our cluster has been discussing legal action we can take separate and apart from the zoning case [heading for] the Virginia Supreme Court,” said Golf Course Square resident Wilfred Hearn. “Our case is broader. The open space [is protected by] covenants and deeds. We have discussed our legal rights with an attorney.”

Hearn said the clusters has located four witnesses who either worked for Reston developer Gulf Reston (in the 1960s and 70s) or bought a house from Gulf Reston.

“The witnesses said the original developer intended the golf course would be permanent and sold houses around the golf course on that basis,” Hearn told the RA Board. “Prospective buyers were told the golf course would always be permanent and bought houses on basis that the golf course would be permanent. These witnesses have direct knowledge of the events between 1964 and ’68 in our cluster, including the building the buying and selling of our homes that surround the golf course.”

Hearn says the cluster leadership wants to petition the circuit court to for an order to take the depositions of the witnesses “to perpetuate their testimony for later use in court.”

“If we don’t take it now, we risk losing testimony,” she said. “The witnesses are in their 70s and 80s. We have no idea when the case will be filed. It might be too late.”

Golf Course Square is requesting RA pay for the depositions. Hearn did not say how much the depositions will cost. RA noted their request but had no immediate answer.

The Reston National case has been in the news since 2012, when the owners asked the county whether the course could be considered zoned residential. The Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning Staff said no, the land is open and recreational space and a change would require rezoning.

After many delays by RN Golf, the county Board of Zoning Appeals held a lengthy hearing in January 2015. In April 2015, the BZA returned its ruling that said the owners could redevelop without getting a comprehensive amendment, which could ease the path to redevelopment of the land.

Rescue Reston, RA and Fairfax County all filed appeals of that ruling in Fairfax County Circuit Court, and in November. Circuit Court Judge Michael Devine then granted the motion for summary judgment and vacated the Board of Zoning Appeals decision from earlier in 2015.

That decision means golf course owners RN Golf Management would have to file a formal plan with Fairfax County in order to pursue redevelopment of the course. No formal plans have been filed.

If the case is accepted for review by the higher court it likely will not be heard until at least fall of 2016.

14 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list