by Fatimah Waseem January 22, 2018 at 1:30 pm 7 Comments

A section giving guidance on how to control the impact of traffic-related noise in Reston’s Transit Station Areas was accidentally deleted from Reston’s Comprehensive Plan. At a meeting tomorrow, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider a plan to reinstate the language.

The county’s Planning Commission unanimously approved adding the language back in November. The update is merely editorial, as the language previously passed through the public hearing process and was adopted by the board.

“We couldn’t just say ‘oops’ and put it back… into the plan without going through the whole process again,” said Planning Commissioner Frank de la Fe.

Generally, the plan discourages new residential development in areas with projected highway noise exposure above 75 decibels.

But in Reston Station Areas near highways and Metrorail, new residential development could be appropriate if noise impacts go beyond 75 decibels, so long as specific noise mitigation methods are in effect.

The language requires a noise study during the development review process, as well as after the development is completed in order to evaluate the effectiveness of noise mitigation procedures. If noise impacts are above 75 DBA, disclosure statements detailing potential noise impacts are necessary.

Graphic via handout

by Fatimah Waseem January 9, 2018 at 11:30 am 12 Comments

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.

by Fatimah Waseem November 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm 32 Comments

Fairfax County’s Planning Commission passed a measure that opens up more than 18 million square feet of vacant office space in the county to potential redevelopment this week.

But a move by at-large commissioner Tim Sargeant to carve a special exemption for Reston failed. Sargeant sought to exempt Reston from the measure, which creates a process to convert empty office buildings for other uses like residences and schools, because of Reston’s unique position as a planned community.

He said Reston underwent an extensive community planning process two years ago for Reston’s Transit Station Areas that attempts to strike a delicate balance between residential and office uses in the dense community. Reston Association also supported the exemption.

Others said approving the change could open up Reston to more residential units, a move that is not in concert with the master plan, which already envisions significant residential uses, according Marianne Gardner, director of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning’s planning division. Additionally, parts of Reston’s TSAs contain large swaths of land planned and developed for office use, she said.

Frank de le Fe, representative of the Hunter Mill district and the commission’s vice chairman, also voted to exempt Reston from the change.

However, Braddock-commissioner Ellen Hurley said carving a special exemption for one part of the county was not tenable. She also noted that adequate protections were already in place to pull back the change if needed. The area’s supervisor can request to pull back the change at any time, she said.

Commissioner John Ulfelder, the representative of the Dranesville District, also said creating a special exemption for one area of the county created “a slippery slope” and raised potential legal questions about zoning exemptions.

“If we do it here, why don’t we do it somewhere else,” Ulfelder said.

The overall land use policy change bypasses a county requirement for site-specific comprehensive plan amendment if an applicant seeks to change the use of a property. All other steps part of the land use approval process, including public hearings, will still apply. The county’s Board of Supervisors will review the proposal on Dec. 5.

In Reston, the Reston-Herndon Suburban Center has a vacancy rate of more than 70 percent, according to county data.

by Fatimah Waseem October 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm 13 Comments

During its meeting Thursday, the Reston Association Board of Directors will consider what they heard during Monday’s county meeting on a proposed zoning ordinance amendment for Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) District and discuss its options.

According to the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, the Board will hear a presentation from land-use attorney John McBride and Larry Butler, RA’s senior director of parks, recreation and community resources. The Board will be asked to consider the following motion:

Move to direct RA staff, in coordination with Land Use Counsel, to work with Fairfax County staff, including testifying at Fairfax County’s public hearings, to amend the proposed Comprehensive Plan Guidelines for Building Repurposing to only allow for the conversion of office to residential uses in buildings located within one half mile of the Reston Metro Stations.

The plan from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning would bump the overall limit of people per acre from 13 to as much as 16. The current density rests at 11.9 people per acre. Changes would not apply to Transit Station Areas (TSA), which are located along the central east-wise spine of Reston.

The zoning change could also open up Reston’s village centers to possible major residential development. The proposal allows the Board of Supervisors to approve developments above 50 residential units per acre within the district’s TSAs — so long as the projects comply with the area’s master plan that guides development.

The planned discussion follows a spirited public meeting Monday where hundreds of residents voiced strong opposition to the proposal.

In addition, the Board will discuss several budget items during the meeting.

Directors will consider approving nearly $295,000 in improvements to North Hills Tennis Court (1325 North Village Road). Changes include resurfacing clay courts, adding bathroom access and replacing lighting, fencing and a water fountain. Residents voiced support for the upgrades at a community input session in mid-October. The Board says putting the projects back into the budget will not impact the 2018 Repair & Replacement Reserve Fund (RRRF) appropriation or the annual assessment rate.

The Board will consider a move to add $104,000 to remove trees from Butler Pond. The project is necessary in order to comply with a state law that prohibits woody vegetation on dams to prevent dam failure, according to the board’s agenda packet. The project would increase the annual assessment for next year by 49 cents.

Additionally, the Board will vote on a move to fund $60,000 for a business process audit, which would increase the annual assessment rate by $2.85.

The Board will also hold a public hearing on the budget during the meeting.

At its Thursday meeing, the Board will also consider the appointments of members to the Hook Road Working Group. The Hook Road Recreation Area is slated for comprehensive upgrades as part of a pilot project that aims to improve facilities at once instead of completing upgrades over time and as needed. The working group is tasked with making a proposal to the Board on the project’s scope by early next year.

A meeting on the project is planned for Thursday, Nov. 2, at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.). Two other meetings took place this month.

The names of individuals under consideration have not been made available.

Other issues on the agenda for the Thursday’s meeting include:

  • The appointment of Charlie Hoffman to the Design Review Board as a lay member, to fill a vacant seat through March 2019. Hoffman also serves on the covenants committee.
  • The appointment of Mike Martin to the elections committee through October 2020.

The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The meeting will also be streamed on Reston Association’s YouTube channel.


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