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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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Monday Morning Notes

RTC West+ — JBG Smith plans major additions to RTC West, which, for now, is essentially an office park with a touch of retail. [Washington Business Journal]

Death ruled a drowning – An autopsy determined that Kevin Ruby’s cause of death was drowning, with the contributing cause of cardiovascular disease. Ruby drowned during a popular race on Lake Audubon in late May. [Fairfax County Police Department]

First PRC work session tomorrow — The first workgroup meeting regarding transportation as the county considers a plan to increase Reston’s population density is set for tomorrow at 12005 Sunrise Valley Drive. [Reston Today]

Twitter user @MrErrett

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Save the Date: Work Sessions Scheduled for PRC Proposal in July

Amid concerns about a proposal to increase Reston’s population density in the Planned Residential Community district, the county is kicking off a series of work sessions with stakeholders this month.

The meetings will address four areas of concern highlighted by Reston Association and the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots umbrella organization. The concerns were voiced and rebuffed in letters to the Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning earlier this year.

The schedule for the work sessions, which each focus on one subject area, is below. Each session will be held at 6 p.m.:

  • July 17 (Transportation): 12005 Sunrise Valley Drive
  • July 18 (Parks and Recreation): 12005 Sunrise Valley Drive
  • July 24 (Schools, Infrastructure, Fire and Rescue):  12001 Sunrise Valley Drive
  • July 30 (Planning):  12001 Sunrise Valley Drive
File photo
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Work Sessions Planned as County Mulls Increasing Density Cap in Reston

County officials will conduct small working sessions in the coming weeks with representatives from the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots umbrella organization, and Reston Association.

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.

File photo

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More Community Charrettes Suggested on Population Density Proposal

More community meetings about a controversial plan to increase Reston’s population density may be forthcoming.

In an April 23 letter to the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a community group opposing the increase, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins suggested holding more meetings to discuss issues related to the proposal, which would increase population density from 13 to 16 people per acre in Reston’s Planned Residential Community areas.

Hudgins pitched the idea of holding another group meeting with CPR, Reston Association and the county’s planning staff. Work sessions in small groups would follow based on topics like infrastructure implementation, transportation, schools and parks.

CPR and RA declined to meet on April 2 to discuss the county’s response to their concerns. County planning staff reiterated the need to pursue the proposal in order to effectively implement Reston’s master plan. Staff affirmed their commitment to ensuring infrastructure matches the pace of development, but did not accept a number of amendments suggested by both parties.

In her letter, Hudgins acknowledged the county’s response was “slow in coming.”

“But a commitment was made to respond and the planning staff did so in a detailed and thoughtful manner. It is unfortunate that CPR and RA declined to meet on April 2 and to discuss the staff’s response and to outline next steps and the process going forward,” she wrote.

Hudgins also noted that Reston’s master plan includes protections for existing residential communities and Reston’s golf course.

Most of the potential growth is slated for village centers, St. Johns Wood apartments, the retail area north of Baron Cameron avenue near Home Depot, Reston Town Center North, parts of Reston Town Center and other parcels in Reston’s Transit Station Areas.

“As was evident again this year at the Founder’s Day celebration, Reston is a special place that we all love and I am confident that we can all work together to resolve the issue of the maximum density allowed in the PRC zoned area and the concerns of the community regarding the Reston Master Plan,” Hudgins said.

CPR met on Monday to discuss the county’s response. In a statement, Bruce Ramo of CPR said the opposition group is disappointed with the county’s response.

It is evident that in the absence of leadership by the Supervisor, Restonians must step forward directly to convince the Board of Supervisors of the need for changes in the Master Plan,” Ramo wrote.

Dates regarding when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will officially introduce the legislative proposal have not yet been announced.

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Monday Morning Notes

Shooting on Sunday in Ashburn —  A Reston man was shot at early Sunday at a home on the 43500 block of Dunhill Court, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. [Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office]

Population density debate fires up — The Coalition for a Planned Reston will meet tonight to discuss a proposal by the county to increase the community’s population density. [Coalition for a Planned Reston]

Bookmark this, book lovers — Friends of the Reston Regional Library will host its semi-annual book sale from Thursday through Sunday. [Friends of the Reston Regional Library]

Alcohol enforcement update — Officers from the Reston Neighborhood Patrol Unit conducted business compliance checks late last week at 11 businesses. 10 passed. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo by Sarah Mccue

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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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County Responds to Requests by RA Board, Community Coalition to Change Reston Master Plan

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:

Department of Planning and Zoning Response to CPR, RA, Hudgins by Fatimah Waseem on Scribd

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County Schedule for Proposal to Increase Population Density in Reston Delayed

A zoning ordinance change to raise Reston’s population cap of 13 people per acre to 16 has been delayed.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors was expected to officially introduce the proposal, which would increase population density in Planned Residential Community districts, today.

New dates have not yet been announced. Earlier this year, representatives for community organizations, including Reston Association, suggested pushing forward the county’s schedule to allow more time to review the proposal.

Brian Worthy, a county spokesman, said Hunter Mills District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins continues to discuss “the proposed amendment with the community, and the county is continuing it work on it.”

County officials have said the zoning change implements updates to Reston’s Comprehensive Plan in 2014 and 2015 that calls for targeted, increased growth in Reston Town Center, the village centers and TSAs around the three Metro Stations. The proposal has drawn vehement opposition from residents at two standing-room-only community meetings.

File photo.

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South Lakes District Candidates Tackle Future Challenges in Election Forum

Tammi Petrine, a community advocate, challenged current director Julie Bitzer for her South Lakes District seat at a Reston Association candidate forum Tuesday night.

Critical decisions regarding public amenities took center stage at the forum, including whether or not to close Shadowood Pool – the most underutilized pool in Reston – and the Lake Thoreau Pool – which requires nearly $1 million in repairs.

Petrine said she would need to gather more information and conduct a stakeholder analysis by speaking with residents before reaching a final decision. She also stated the need to issue multiple bids for projects to ensure RA gets the best deal for services.

“The pools are an amenity that people in Reston expect. At the same time, we have to analyze carefully how they’re used and why or why not they’re not used,” Petrine said.

Bitzer said the board will have to decide whether or not to keep Lake Thoreau’s pool open next year, although she noted that residents she spoke with want to keep the pool open. She also plans to propose a measure to conduct a needs analysis of Reston’s pools.

As RA struggles to strike a balance between capital spending priorities like indoor tennis and soccer, Bitzer said the community should look into public-private partnerships like installing a tennis academy at Hidden Creek Country Club with special benefits for RA members.

In contrast, Petrine took a hard stance against funding indoor tennis for what she said was a “small demographic” and a mere “commercial activity,” especially because the community is “fighting for our lives with density” and aging infrastructure.

“An absolute no,” she said.

Frustrations on limited county resources, including the beleaguered call for a recreation center, for Reston were high at the forum. Petrine said she is “100 percent furious” that the Hunter Mill District is left out of the county.

Similar concerns arose in the candidates’ discussion around a controversial plan to increase Reston’s population density as major developments come in the pipeline.

“My gut reaction is: where is the infrastructure you promised me when you put in the Metro?” Bitzer questioned. She said she opposes the population density increase and was appalled about Reston’s lack of workforce housing.

Petrine, who has been instrumental in organizing the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots organization opposing the plans, said she has taken steps to fight back against the plans “in defense of our balanced community.” She encouraged community members to raise their voice in opposition, noting her experience in observing the intersection between RA and other stakeholders.

“The only thing that matters to our supervisor is mass agreement by citizens that this is not what we want in Reston,” she said.

Both candidates took similar stances on the need to utilize the Lake House. Bitzer suggested adding programming for aquatics and fishing education, similar to the Walker Nature Center.

“Not everything should cost you to use something you own,” she said.

They also posed similar ideas on how to ensure the board operates as an effective and respectful governing body.

Bitzer said holding “open houses” was a sign of respect. “It’s respectful of our community, not just board behavior,” she said.

Petrine is running on a slate with Travis Johnson, Sridhar Ganesan and John Bowman. When asked if it offered her an unfair advantage, she defended the move, which she said was logical given the candidates’ shared views, common goals and commitment to Reston’s core principles.

Bitzer, who described herself as self-funded candidate, said the issue of slate candidates is a fairly new development that has prompted questions by community members. Unlike the slate candidates who sent mailings to constituents, Bitzer said she could not afford major print distributions.

Instead, she will host a public listening session on March 13 at the Walker Nature House.

Click here to view video statements or read candidate statements. Profiles on Petrine and Bitzer are also on our website.

Photo by Reston Association

62 Comments

Wednesday Morning Notes

Growing pains — Proposals to increase population density have been met by fierce community opposition. A Burke resident fires back, arguing that Reston’s development isn’t finished yet. [Greater Greater Washington]

Forging a new fellowship — Lake Anne Fellowship House could soon be transformed into a new 240-unit apartment building for seniors in need of affordable housing. Plans, which also include 74 townhouses, will go before the Design Review Board on March 19[Reston Association]

Second phase of Loudoun Station begins — Reston-based Comstock is set to begin the $75 million development project as Metro service inches closer. [Washington Business Journal]

Wins in the first regional champion for girls indoor track —  With dominating performances in the sprints and relays, the South Lakes High School girls’ team won the 6A North Region D indoor track and field championship in mid-February. [SLHS]

Photo by Ruth Sievers

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Op-Ed: CPR Calls for Major Reston Master Plan Amendments to Manage Growth

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.

In a February 5, 2018 letter to Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR)–a partnership of the Reston Citizens Association, Reclaim Reston, and Reston 20/20–called on the Supervisor to consider a variety of amendments to the Reston plan and to defer the Board of Supervisors’ plan to officially authorize advertisement of the proposed zoning amendment on March 6.

Given county claims that it needs to move forward with the increased density proposed in the Reston PRC zoning ordinance from 13 to 16 persons per acre because the Reston plan calls for it, the CPR letter and its recommendations focus on managing Reston’s growth in a way that would eliminate the need to increase zoning density.

Among other features, CPR’s recommendations for managing growth call for:

  • A maximum population cap in all of Reston of 120,000 four decades from now at a time when its current population is about 62,000. This contrasts with the current plan’s language that would allow 160,000-180,000 people to live in Reston.
  • Limiting density throughout Reston–including the Metro station areas–to 60 dwelling units per acre (DU/A) and limiting redevelopment in the Village Centers to the mixed-use areas only at a “neighborhood-serving” 30 DU/A.
  • The elimination of special interest language permitting the massive–and inappropriate–redevelopment of the Saint Johns Wood apartment complex.
  • The removal of the road that appears on two Reston plan maps across the Hidden Creek Country Club, opening it to development and endangering its future as a major Reston open space.

A second key theme in CPR’s recommendations is to build in assurances that the supporting infrastructure–road and parks especially–keeps pace with development. This is particularly true of the county’s need to acquire space for parks, schools, and other key infrastructure elements. The failure of Reston’s infrastructure to keep pace with recent development so far, including the extremely long lead times for major capital projects, has been a great concern of many Restonians. Part of this includes assurances that proffers generated by development are used in Reston.

The CPR recommendations also focus on assuring that new development is accompanied by a strong commitment to affordable housing, generally calling for developers to provide an onsite allocation of 20 percent affordable housing for each new project.

As these proposals suggest, CPR is anxious to see Reston grow, but to do so in a manner consistent with its creation as a planned community with a grand vision and vibrant planning principles. We believe that Reston’s future ought to continue to be planned and managed, not merely left open to effectively unconstrained commercial development as the current plan allows.

We hope Supervisor Hudgins sees that our proposals are consistent with that legacy and, following up on a meeting of RA and CPR leaders this week, will defer official county action on the PRC zoning amendment proposal. Then we can work with her and county staff to enable Reston to remain one of the world’s great planned communities.

Terry Maynard
Co-Chair Reston 20/20 Committee Member
Coalition for a Planned Reston

60 Comments

Op-Ed: Are We Reston? Or Rosslyn?

Money Magazine has rated Reston as one of the best places to live in the country. Nothing new here. Reston has long been ranked among most desirable locations to live, work and play.  As the magazine notes, “Robert E. Simon mapped out a vision of a community that upheld open space, recreational facilities and aesthetic beauty.”  Further, Money explains, Reston “offers a woodsy atmosphere that includes expanses of parks, lakes, golf courses and bridle paths.”

Of course, Money’s brief report doesn’t capture all of Reston’s attractions, like the fact that we have always been a big hearted community that welcomes everyone, that we value development when it is appropriately supported by infrastructure and that preserving a quality of life for our children and grandchildren is more important than the passing obsessions of the day.

Perhaps more interesting than which communities are considered great places to live is to look at the sort of communities not on the list.  You will search in vain for a Ballston, a Tysons, or a Rosslyn – and yet these are the models for what our County officials want us to become.

A show of hands – does anyone think that advocates of massively increased density in Reston care about your family’s quality of life? Anyone?

Reston has been a planned community for over fifty years.  And for more than fifty years Reston has generally delivered on its promise of being a great place to live.  Ballston and Tysons have many attractions – I have friends who are quite happy in both places – but they aren’t Reston.  Nor do they want to be.  And that’s fine.  Let Tysons be Tysons – but let’s let Reston be Reston. 

If you care about keeping the “planned” in our planned community, support the efforts of the community groups working to make sure Reston is on Money’s lists in 2023, 2028 and beyond.  Please go to https://plannedreston.wordpress.com  from more information.  It’s your future.

Dennis Hays
President, Reston Citizens Association

(Editor’s note: If you wish to submit an op-ed, email [email protected])

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Dates Set for Fairfax County Hearings on Controversial Zoning Change

A plan to increase population density in Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) districts will head to the county’s Board of Supervisors in March.

County officials have set dates for upcoming hearings on the zoning ordinance amendment package, which drew fervent opposition during community meetings last year. The zoning change would increase the cap on the population per acre in the PRC from 13 to 16 people.

The amendment could also open up Reston’s village centers to increased major residential development. The proposal would allow the Board of Supervisors to approve developments above 50 residential units per acre within the district’s Transit Station Areas (TSAs) — so long as the projects comply with the area’s master plan that guides development.

The schedule for hearings is as follows:

  • Board of Supervisors Authorization Item on March 6: The board will officially introduce the zoning ordinance amendment to its agenda.
  • Planning Commission Public Hearing on April 5: The group will hear public testimony on the package. Verbal or written testimony will be taken. The applicant will be given the opportunity to respond to questions and issues raised by the commission and citizens. Registered associations have 10 minutes to speak, registered individuals have five minutes and unregistered individuals have three minutes.
  • Board of Supervisors Public Hearing on May 15: The board will hear testimony from the public. Individuals are given three minutes to speak while organizations have five minutes. The board suggests bringing 15 copies of any materials for distribution. Individuals may sign up online.

The hearings are expected to last for several hours. At a late October public meeting at Reston’s South Lakes High School, passionate residents spoke out for roughly two hours against the proposal. The auditorium’s 600+ seats were full, with a solid perimeter of standing audience members as well, plus an overflow room nearby was full of even more people, following along on video.

County officials have said the zoning change implements updates to Reston’s Comprehensive Plan in 2014 and 2015 that calls for targeted, increased growth in Reston Town Center, the village centers and TSAs around the three Metro Stations.

12 Comments

Tuesday Morning Notes

Reston-based Leidos Offering Bonuses to Find New IT Hires — The company, which is the largest IT services contractor for the federal government, is offering a $2,000 bonus for every referral that results in a new IT hire. The company posted a third-quarter operating income of $151 million in revenue, a 34 percent jump in sales. [Washington Business Journal]

Coalition for a Planned Reston Holds “One Reston” Community Meeting — The coalition mobilized Monday night in opposition to a zoning amendment that would increase Reston’s population density, among other changes. After a discussion with attendees during the open floor meeting, the group plans to submit 10 suggested changes to the legislative package before the county by Christmas in order to better manage infrastructure and development. According to Terry Maynard, President of Reston 20/20, said the meeting attracted more than 130 attendees. “A key theme throughout was the necessity of the entire Reston community working together as ‘One Reston’ to meet the challenges of shaping the Reston plan and assuring individual development proposals meet the expectations of the community,” Maynard said. [Coalition for a Planned Reston via Youtube]

Herndon Middle School Bike Shop to Give Away Bikes on Saturday — Bicycles refurbished by the after school program that meets on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, will be distribute to 10 children at the school. Recipients were provided by Cornerstones’ Neighborhood Resource Center in Herndon. Members of the club will provide and fit free helmets for recipients. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

 

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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