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.
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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]
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Photo by Fatimah Waseem
The Coalition for a Planned Reston, a community organization that includes Reclaim Reston, Reston 20/20 and the Reston Citizens Association, will gather community feedback about the proposal and discuss specific changes to scale back Reston’s master plan in an effort limit the scale of development in the planned community.
The proposal, which will go before the county’s Board of Supervisors, would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community district from 13 persons up to 16.
The zoning change could also open up Reston’s village centers to increased 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.
Reston Association staff opposed the changes. In a letter, In the letter, the RA staff also asks county supervisors to hold off on any further consideration of the PRC density cap increase until RA staff and county staff together can examine the Reston Master Plan portion of the county’s Comprehensive Plan.
Meanwhile, the coalition will pitch amendments to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins before Christmas. Overall, the coalition is seeking to constrain density growth and ensure infrastructure keeps up to pace with development.
CPR hopes to maintain the intensity of opposition to the proposal, which eclipsed in late October during a 900-person public community meeting in Reston where an overwhelming majority of attendees opposed the proposal.
“We are anxious to present what we believe are reasonable Reston plan amendments to Supervisor Hudgins rather than just denoting a list of topic areas where changes could be made,” said Terry Maynard, co-chair of the Reston 20/20 Committee. “We are hopeful that the community will buy in to these proposals and possibly suggest some modifications and additions.”
Changes under consideration include reinstating a population cap throughout Reston which existed in the community’s 1989 plan; placing a cap on high-density, high-rise residential development, which the coalition stated is unlimited in the current plan; and phasing development with supporting infrastructure similar to the Tysons plan.
On a broader level, the coalition seeks to ensure county policies and standards that govern schools, parks and transportation are realistically in line with Reston’s growth potential.
CPR will also use the meeting platform to discuss other controversial zoning matters, including the “densification of Saint Johns Woods” and the addition of a road through Hidden Creek Country Club.
“The last minute inclusion by the Planning Commission of developer language allowing Bozzuto to re-develop St. Johns Woods at triple its current density is a perfect example of community exclusion in the development process,” said Reclaim Reston member Bruce Ramo.
The meeting will be held on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Reston Association Conference Center.
A zoning change to allow for more development and accommodate population growth was discussed during The Kojo Nnamdi show Wednesday — a conversation that painted the ongoing issue as a microcosm of a perennial debate on how to manage development, growth and public infrastructure.
Leslie Johnson, zoning administrator for Fairfax County, said the zoning change, which would increase the population density per acre from 13 to 16, along with a host of other changes that implement the Reston Master Plan, a planning document that lays out the vision for the area, said Fairfax County officials are working hard to ensure development matches the pace of public infrastructure.
She also noted the county is aware of the need to preserve already stable residential neighborhoods that surround areas along the Metro that are targeted for growth.
“We can’t stop development waiting for the roads to be built,” Johnson said, adding that the county recently developed a funding plan for road infrastructure and developers are helping in tandem.
Johnson noted that the zoning change was consistent with master plans adopted in 2014 and 2015. She also said she was encouraged by vehement opposition that surfaced in two community meetings earlier this year.
“It’s a good sign that people are engaged because we get criticized for not engaging enough. I think peoples’ voices need to be heard,” she said.
Nimbyism is not the rallying point for people opposed to the zoning change, according to some residents.
Terry Maynard, co-chair of Reston 20/20, a citizen activist group that is against the proposal, said many people are opposed to the scope of development, not development itself.
Absent adequate public infrastructure for current residents, allowing more population density in pockets in Reston damages residents’ quality of life. He also noted projections about population increases as a result of the zoning change do not account for growth from affordable housing units and bonus density allowed for some developments.
“The Reston Master plan is very weak in defining infrastructure needs for the community in sharp contrast for a similarly-prepared plan for the Tysons area,” he said.
The cart-before-the-house argument has been echoed in community meetings.
But, to some extent, the zoning change is an exercise in how open communities are to change, especially as the county is in “a state of transition” in anticipation of Metro, which the county has been preparing for for the last 20 years, Johnson said.
Amendments to the zoning change are expected. The county is leaving the board with the flexibility to determine what population density between 13 and 16 per acre is most feasible, she said. Johnson also said the county was open to changing the maximum number of residential units allowed per acre.
A round of public hearings are expected to begin early next year.
Virginia, unlike Maryland, is a conditional zoning state, which means it lacks the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, a mechanism that attempts to manage growth by ensuring adequate roads, schools and public facilities are in place as development occurs. APFO laws vary by state and county.
A complete recording of the show is available online.
Reston Association staff posted a copy of a letter sent to Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins officially opposing the county’s proposed increase in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) District Residential Density Zoning Ordinance Amendment, following last week’s community meeting.
The amendment would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Reston PRC from 13 persons up to 16.
The zoning change 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 letter comes in response to spirited opposition from several hundred people who attended a public meeting on Monday, Oct. 23 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. A video of the meeting is available to watch on RA’s YouTube channel.
The letter thanks Sup. Hudgins and the other board members for providing detailed information and holding the community meeting, which RA staff said were “crucial in order to reach an informed decision regarding whether or not to support the amendment, proposed by County staff.”
“The Community Meeting held at South Lakes High School on October 23, 2017, with well over 900 in attendance, was informative. Based on both the County staff panel discussion and the community comment, the Reston Association Board of Directors opposes the County Staff’s proposed PRC District Residential Density Zoning Ordinance Amendment,” the letter reads.
In the letter, the RA staff also asks county supervisors to hold off on any further consideration of the PRC density cap increase until RA staff and county staff together can examine the Reston Master Plan portion of the county’s Comprehensive Plan: (more…)