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Reston Association to Discuss Zoning Proposal, Single-Use Plastic Project Plan

Tonight is the Planning Commission’s meeting on contentious proposed zoning changes that would increase the population density in Reston. Tomorrow night, the Reston Association is set to discuss that proposal.

The proposal would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons up to 15.

Back in December, RA’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to continue its opposition to the proposed zoning amendment.

The upcoming RA meeting will consider approval of the Litter Working Group’s pilot project to reduce single-use plastic waste with the merchants at Lake Anne Plaza.

Dubbed “The Last Straw,” the proposed project is meant to test and evaluate a target group in order to make a plan for the Reston community.

The homeowners’ association also will receive a briefing from Tom Biesiadny, the director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. FCDOT is currently seeking input on changes to Fairfax Connector service.

The public meeting tomorrow (Jan. 24) is set to start at 6:30 p.m. at RA’s headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

The draft agenda for the meeting is available online.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Letter: Business, County Interests Push Density Despite Community Calls for Balanced Growth

This letter was submitted by Terry Maynard, who resides in Reston. 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.

As a Restonian who has worked hard on Reston planning and zoning for more than a decade, I was stunned by the letter mentioned in a recent Reston Now article. It was signed by 17 people — many of whom are associated with the leadership of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce (GRCOC) — to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

One of the most stunning claims in the letter was that “Reston’s Comprehensive Plan was the product of a five-year planning process involving the full community.” The fact of the matter is that the Reston community was marginalized throughout this timeframe, and its contributions were opposed by developers and ignored by the county.

No community representative, then or now, has opposed reasonable residential and commercial development in the transit station areas. They have objected and continue to object to the excessive development proposed by private and county land use interests.

Only six of the two dozen primary members of the RTF studying Phase 1 for the transit station areas were Reston residents who represented the interests of Reston residents. They included representatives from three community organizations — Reston Association, Reston Citizens Association and Alliance of Reston Clusters and Homeowners — and three independent “at large” residents.

The Task Force recommended 27,932 dwelling units — homes for about 59,000 people — in the station areas based on a study of multiple density and mix scenarios — a development level community representatives could live with. That was set at 27,900 when the Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved the Phase 1 plan in early 2014 — a number Reston community representatives could live with.

Then that Phase 1 planned station area dwelling unit number was raised by more than half to 44,000 dwelling units — 92,000 people — in mid-2015 by the BOS in the process of approving the Phase 2 plan without any community involvement or even foreknowledge. Yet the county insists it only revises plans every five years.

Community involvement in Reston planning was even more limited during Phase 2 for Reston’s suburban areas.  It included only four county-led and controlled community meetings and an open house. It was agreed that residential areas should remain “stable,” but the redevelopment of Reston’s village centers drew controversy. Draft county language to require a comprehensive plan amendment to redevelop village centers was dropped from the Board-approved mid-2015 Reston Master Plan because it would make the redevelopment approval process more cumbersome. This effectively shut off public comment on critical changes and eases development.

No meaningful commitment was made in the Reston Master Plan to provide needed infrastructure on a timely basis, despite the GRCOC letter saying, “The Plan requires that infrastructure be ‘phased’ with development.” In fact, that is illegal in Virginia and the RMP planning principles say it “should occur with development.” Language about specific infrastructures–transportation, schools, parks, etc., is vague and the proposals are inadequate.

Moreover, no meaningful funding has been committed to building any of the so-called “planned” infrastructure elements, which are all generally inadequate against even county policy standards, excluding the library where a $10 million bond funding may disappear in 2022.

Now the county is proposing to amend the Reston Planned Residential Community (PRC) zoning ordinance to increase allowable community-wide population density from 13 to 15 people per acre in suburban Reston and increase the allowable density on a single PRC property designated “high density” from 50 to 70 dwelling units per acre, including the village centers and several so-called “hot spots.” In its staff report on the proposed zoning density change, the county calculates roughly a quadrupling of planned housing in the village center areas from less than 1,500 to 5,800.

It also identifies three suburban residential “hot spots”– Saint Johns Wood, Charter Oaks and Fairway — for high-density redevelopment that would more than double the number of dwelling units to 1,863 residences.

The bottom line is that Restonians have had — and continue to have — limited access to the planning and zoning process throughout and their contributions and concerns have almost universally been ignored.

The cumulative effect of the new zoning in the station areas and the prospect of increasing the Reston PRC zoning density would be to allow Reston’s population to triple from its current 63,000 people to more than 180,000. At the same time, there is little or no assurance of the arrival any time soon of needed infrastructure that would maintain Restonians’ quality of life as a model planned community.

Now it is imperative that Restonians rise up and stop the county’s ill-considered PRC density increase proposal driven by Supervisor Hudgins. Attend the Planning Commission hearing on the PRC amendment at 7 p.m. on Jan. 23 in the Fairfax County Government Center wearing a yellow shirt. The presence of hundreds of Restonians will be as great a message to the Planning Commission as the testimony of Reston’s representatives and residents.

— Terry Maynard

File photo

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Tuesday Morning Notes

FCPS opening two hours late today — Fairfax County Public Schools will open two hours late today due to the “very cold weather.” [Tysons Reporter]

Networking night — Tall Oaks Assisted Living is hosting a networking tonight from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Registration will close at noon today. [Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce]

DARPA’s subsidiary scores satellite Bus development — The Herndon-based subsidiary of Airbus Group recently received a contract to develop a satellite bus intended for a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency demonstration program. [ExecutiveBiz]

Response to PRC letters to the editor — A Reston resident writing for Greater Greater Washington argues that “it’s not a lack of coordination or communication from the county that leaves people wondering what will happen. It’s the simple fact that no matter what the PRC limits are, the county can’t zone its way to a specific vision of the future. It would be disingenuous for it to say that it could.” His article responds to two letters to the editor published on Reston Now. [Greater Greater Washington]

Winter Restaurant Week extended — Slated to end on Sunday (Jan. 20), Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) decided to push the end date. Diners now have until Sunday (Jan. 27) to enjoy the prix fixe meals at several Reston restaurants participating in the event. [RAMW]

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Friday Morning Notes

RA urges members to attend PRC meeting — In the latest Reston Today video, Reston Association’s Board President Andy Sigle urges RA members who are concerned about population density to attend a Jan. 23 meeting related to the county’s proposed amendment to the Planned Residential Community zoning ordinance. [YouTube]

Dense fog alert — This morning the National Weather Service issued a dense fog advisory until noon today for portions of the region, including Fairfax County. Drivers are encouraged to slow down, use their headlights and leave plenty of distance ahead of you. [National Weather Service]

“Superior Donuts” opens tonight — Reston Community Players’ production opens tonight at RCC Hunters Woods at 8 p.m. Tickets are $28. [Reston Community Center]

Ed-tech merger — Herndon-based Real Time Cases merged with Delray Beach, Fla.-based Elearis. The Herndon startup’s ideo-based business case studies paired up with the technology platform from Elearis for a new Herndon-based firm. [Washington Business Journal]

Photo via Marjorie Copson

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Herndon House Concert Set to Challenge Zoning Citation Next Week

A Herndon house concert series that features independent artists is set to challenge a zoning violation at the Board of Zoning Appeals next week.

Chris Devine, the host of The Crib, received a violation notice taped to his front door from the Town of Herndon for a concert on Nov. 17 in his home, the Herndon Connection reported last week.

Dated Dec. 13, the citation says that 44 people were observed entering the home between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. for a Gina Venier and Lexie Hayden concert.

“[This] activity constitutes an Indoor Entertainment use and is not a permitted use on the subject property pursuant to the Town of Herndon Zoning Ordination,” the citation said. It gave Devine 15 days to resolve the violation to avoid incurring fines.

Instead, Devine decided to appeal the violation.

“We firmly believe The Crib house concert does not meet that definition, and further believe the citation arose from a lack of understanding of the house concert concept,” The Crib’s blog says.

At the public comment period during the Town Council public session last night (Jan. 15), Devine said that he met with town staff after receiving the citation.

“In that meeting, I learned that the town had very little understanding of that activity, which is house concerts, and as a result were very vague on how my activity tripped the wire as a commercial use,” he said.

Devine slammed Town of Herndon’s leadership, saying that he was denied access to basic information about the situation after he tried to ask follow-up questions after the meeting.

A Herndon town attorney told Mayor Lisa Merkel that the appeal never goes to the Town Council. Instead, it goes to the Board of Zoning Appeals and then to the circuit court.

“There is a role in the Town Council in looking at our code if there were a change to be made in the future,” Merkel said.

As Devine tackles the appeals process, a GoFundMe page created on Dec. 20 is helping to cover the fines.

The campaign says the following:

It will take a while to work through the appeals process — possibly as long as three months — and we don’t know at this point what the outcome will be.

During this time we have five fantastic artists already scheduled to perform and we will incur fines for each event we choose to hold, but we want to continue with the events in order to keep our commitments to both the artists and our guests who have made advance donations.

During normal times, each house show we hold costs The Crib between $100-$200; we do this because we have a passion for connecting incredible artists with deserving and appreciative guests.

But we can’t absorb the fines on top of the costs we already incur as part of our mission to the arts and the community.

Our fundraising goal will allow us to pay the fines over the next several months ($200 for the first event and $500 per subsequent event). We are also seeking a small amount to cover any legal fees we may incur during the appeals process.

Any residual funds will be used to create an even better experience for artists and audiences and/or donated to our non-profit partner, The Warrior Music Foundation.

The campaign has already hit its fundraising goal of $3,200. In 26 days, 32 people donated $3,335.

Since launching in 2015, The Crib has hosted nearly 50 house shows with 28 different artists, according to its website.

Each show lets the artist perform two 45-minute sets of original music. Seating is on a first-come basis with a capacity of roughly 40 people. Attendees are encouraged to make a donation in advance — all of the donations go to the artist.

A public hearing notice indicates that the Board of Zoning Appeals will take up the matter next Thursday (Jan. 24) at 7:30 p.m. at 765 Lynn Street.

Photo via The Crib/Facebook

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Letter: Why You Should Care About the Reston Zoning Cap

This letter was submitted by Bruce Ramo, a member of community groups Reclaim Reston and Coalition for a Planned Reston. 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.

It’s a lot to ask of everyone in Reston to understand the minutiae of land use law. We have families and jobs and other responsibilities. And, after all, we chose to live in a planned community with loads of covenants and design guidelines. We can leave it to the “experts.” Except we can’t.

Like it or not Restonians have little say over how our community is being developed, and the elected official who should be watching out for us, our county supervisor, has retreated to a defensive posture. She frequently tells us “we just don’t understand” and has suggested that Reston, perhaps the most progressive community in Virginia, opposes the proposed increase in the density cap out of fear of “the other” sharing our neighborhoods. This is simply untrue. The community group Coalition for a Planned Reston proposed an increase in the required affordable housing levels for Reston–our supervisor did not support us.

So what’s the big deal about increasing the density cap, from 13 to 15 persons per acre, in the primarily residential areas of Reston called the Planned Residential Community district? The supervisor and county staff tells us that the increase is necessary to implement 2015 changes to the Reston Master Plan. Those changes allow significantly increased density in the Village Centers and other “hot spots” throughout established neighborhoods of Reston, far from the Metro stations.  We are also scolded about speaking up now because, as the story goes, the public had lots of opportunities back in 2014-15 to comment on changes to these portions of the Reston Master Plan changes called “Phase 2.” (Phase 1 involved only the transit station areas.)

Our supervisor and county staff frequently repeat the myth of significant community involvement in Reston Master Plan Phase 2.  However, the county disbanded the citizen “task force” set up for community review before the Phase 2 review. There simply was little in-depth public review of the changes that are the driver for increasing the density cap.

Why should you care? Because if the zoning density cap is lifted, the ability of the community to push back on significant high-density development in our established residential neighborhoods effectively will be eliminated. Sure, each of us can watch out for individual development applications, but the force of overall community oversight based on a reasonable density cap will have been taken from us forever.  

We have invested our financial resources, identities and emotional loyalty to Reston as a planned community. The density increase is an existential threat to those investments.

Take action to protect your hometown. Help maintain the current density cap and the modicum of control it provides over those who would rob us of a community grounded in diversity, environmental stewardship and quality of life.

Attend the Jan. 23 meeting of the Planning Commission at the Fairfax County Government Center at 7 p.m. (and wear your yellow shirts!)

Write to our County officials: Supervisor Hudgins: [email protected]; other Fairfax County Supervisors:  [email protected]; and the Fairfax County Planning Commission: [email protected].

File photo

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Planning Commission to Tackle Controversial Zoning Proposal

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a workshop tonight on a proposed zoning amendment opposed by several local groups.

The proposal would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons up to 15.

While county planning officials say the change is needed to put into action Reston’s Master Plan, which allows for future growth over the next 40 years, critics argue it is rushed through and under-explained. Several opponents reaffirmed since the New Year why they think the proposal should get axed.

Reston Association’s Board of Directors, which opposes the proposal, held their own workshop last week on Jan. 2 where the board considered various options to try and prevent the county from passing the amendment. The homeowners’ association does not have legal jurisdiction in the matter, yet the board voted to send a letter to tell the county that RA membership, which includes 21,000 residential units, need a prominent voice in the decision.

Less than a week later on Tuesday (Jan. 8) RA President Andy Sigle, on behalf of the Board of Directors, sent a letter to the Fairfax County Planning Commission, reiterating RA’s opposition to the proposed PRC zoning amendment. The letter outlined initiatives the association could take to potentially stop the adoption of the amendment and strongly urged the commission to ask the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to not approve the amendment.

“As we have often stated, our primary basis for our opposition stems from the repeated failure of Fairfax County’s staff to provide a thorough and convincing explanation of the need for the proposed ordinance amendment at this time,” Sigle wrote in the letter.

RA’s position is that any potential change to the density cap must be done concurrently with the next upcoming review of the Reston Master Plan. Sigle said the Reston Association “has no choice but to vigorously pursue any and all options available to us to inform and engage its members, including, but not limited to, a ballot initiative adjunct to its upcoming elections as well as a strong and substantial social media campaign about the proposed PRC zoning amendment.”

Reston 2020 wrote in a post on Monday (Jan. 7) that Reston would get crowded if the proposal is approved. “At the same time, the county has not funded plans to meet Reston’s transportation, school, park and other needs associated with this growth, even as required by its own county policies,” the post says, adding that the “massive unplanned imbalance between growth and infrastructure will be a dramatic loss of quality of life in Reston.”

Also on the same day, Coalition for a Planned Reston encouraged locals to write to the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission and also to wear yellow clothing to the upcoming Planning Commission public hearing scheduled for Jan. 23.

Dennis K. Hays, the president of the Reston Citizens Association, outlined 10 reasons to leave the cap alone in a letter to the editor posted on Reston Now last week. (Letters to the editor do not reflect the opinions of Reston Now.)

Amid the many concerned voices, the proposal has still found supporters.

On Jan. 2, 17 people, including Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Ingrao and Reston Master Plan Study Task Force Chair Patricia Nicoson, sent a six-page letter to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins supporting the Reston PRC District Residential Density Zoning Ordinance Amendment.

They wrote the following in the letter:

The intent of this letter is not to prejudge or determine what if any changes may be appropriate to address specific issues discussed in the extensive community meetings the county pursued in recent months. But we think it [is] important that there be greater understanding and appreciation for what is actually contained in the Comprehensive Plan and the rationales that underlie those decisions. We all appreciate that growth is not universally accepted and is not without challenge, but the decision to embrace very significant growth, with an accompanying process and plan for necessary infrastructure development, was incorporated into the Reston Comprehensive Plan as the result of an extensive and participatory community process that had the widespread support of community representatives intimately engaged in that process…

Reducing or disincentivizing residential growth is at odds with the comprehensive vision the Task Force so powerfully (and almost unanimously) endorsed. These issues were exhaustively discussed throughout an arduous, inclusive, five-year Task Force and Village Center process; revisiting and endlessly debating these issues will create uncertainty about the Plan’s stability and risks halting needed development or creating uneven or disjointed results, which we don’t think is in Reston’s interests. There will be numerous opportunities for community input as this process evolves over the next several decades, and individual projects will be subject to multiple approvals and community input before they can proceed. For all these reasons, we support County Staff’s pending administrative recommendations, which we think are broadly consistent with implementation of the vision adopted in the Comprehensive Plan.

The letter included eight points “that are sometimes missing from the ongoing dialogue about staff’s proposals,” arguing that adding significant new residential development is central to the Task Force recommendations and essential to ensure balanced growth. The letter also said that build-out — along with “phased-in infrastructure” — of the plan will take decades and that the community’s ability to participate throughout that process is protected.

Hudgins has supported moving forward the zoning proposal’s consideration. Meanwhile, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust and Braddock District Supervisor John Cook have expressed frustration about the process.

The Planning Commission workshop takes place tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Board Auditorium of the Government Center at 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax, Va. The workshop will be for the commissioners’ questions and discussion only and will not be an opportunity for public input.

People can watch it remotely via online streaming.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ public hearing is set for March 5. The Planning Commission must say “yea” or “nay” to the proposal by March 15, according to county rules.

File photo

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Reston Association Continues Opposition to Proposed Zoning Changes

Updated at 5:00 p.m. — Corrects the spelling of Laurie Dodd’s name and the time of the Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 23.

Reston Association’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to continue its opposition to a proposed zoning amendment, which would increase Reston’s population density, at last night’s meeting.

The proposal would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons up to 15.

After an executive session to consult with the land use counsel, Vice President Sridhar Ganesan said that the current density at 12.46 people per acre is a “very inaccurate population estimate.”

“A lot of slack is built into the current density,” Ganesan said. “I believe the director of the Planning and Zoning Commission told us –some of the members on the board — they are trying to recalculate the population estimate in Reston, and they don’t have an accurate estimate just yet.”

Given the wiggle room in the current density and the outrage from many community members, Ganesan said the PRC density level should not increase.

Several community groups, including the Coalition for a Planned Reston and Reston 2020, are fighting the move, arguing that the proposed amendment is rushed through and under-explained.

County planning officials have argued that the change is needed to put into action Reston’s Master Plan, which allows for future growth over the next 40 years.

President Andy Sigle said that the homeowners’ association is still working through “reams” of data and information in support of the zoning proposal from a series of emails on Dec. 11 from Fairfax County.

“We have a concern that the wrong number on this PRC density will overwhelm the infrastructure prescribed in the Reston Master Plan, so it’s important that we get the right number,” Sigle said at the meeting.

The board also approved setting up a work session for RA’s board prior to the Planning Commission’s Jan. 10 workshop on the amendment.

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors clashed over community input on the proposed zoning changes at their Dec. 4 meeting, before authorizing public hearings on the proposal.

Hudgins said at the Dec. 4 meeting that locals have had plenty of opportunities to get the desired information. “Yes, there are some questions that people have,” Hudgins said. “Those questions have been answered before or are not relevant to this.”

Meanwhile, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust and Braddock District Supervisor John Cook argued for more community input.

Residents expressed frustration and disapproval to RA’s board last night (Dec. 13), pointing to a lack of community input to the county’s board and insufficient infrastructure to support increased density in Reston.

Laurie Dodd, a resident for the last 23 years, criticized Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins for asking to schedule hearings on the zoning proposal without following through on promised community engagement.

“It is disturbing to me to see other supervisors in Fairfax County speak up about the right of residents to be heard more than our own supervisors had done,” Dodd said.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing about the zoning proposal at 7 p.m. on Jan. 23, followed by the Board of Supervisors’ public hearing at 4:30 p.m. on March 5.

The Planning Commission must say “yea” or “nay” to the proposal by March 15, according to county rules.

Secretary John Mooney urged Restonians to stay informed and engaged. “Please attend the county meetings,” he said.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

This story has been updated

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Reston Association Set to Oppose PRC Zoning Amendment Tomorrow

Reston Association is set this week to take up contentious proposed zoning changes that would increase the population density in Reston.

This upcoming meeting will focus a motion to oppose the zoning proposal and also consider approving $22,500 from its cash reserves to increase next year’s staff training budget at the public meeting tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. at RA’s headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

The proposal would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons up to 15. The current density is roughly 12.46 people per acre.

County planning officials have argued that the change is needed to put into action Reston’s Master Plan, which allows for future growth over the next 40 years.

Several community groups, including the Coalition for a Planned Reston and Reston 2020, are fighting the move. They argue that the proposed amendment is rushed through and under-explained.

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors clashed over community input on the proposed zoning changes at their Dec. 4 meeting, before authorizing public hearings on the proposal for 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 and 4:30 p.m. on March 5.

On the heels of adopting the 2019 operating and capital budgets for next year, RA’s Board of Directors will also consider whether or not to use $22,500 from the operating reserve funds for 2018 to expand the 2019 fiscal year budget for staff training and development.

The homeowners’ association also will consider revisions to the third draft of the election schedule and receive the treasurer’s report. RA is also set to approve Sharon Canner as the chair of the 55+ Advisory Committee and Nancy Malesic as a member of the Environmental Advisory Committee.

The draft agenda for the meeting is available online.

Photo via Reston Association/Reston Today

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Board of Supervisors Clash Over Community Input for Proposed Zoning Changes

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors disagreed about community input on contentious proposed zoning changes, before authorizing public hearings early next year on the changes at their meeting today.

The proposal, which would increase the population density in Reston, has sparked a backlash from community groups, including the Reston Association, Coalition for a Planned Reston and Reston 2020.

County planning officials have argued that the change is needed to put into action Reston’s Master Plan, which allows for future growth over the next 40 years.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust vented frustration at the Dec. 4 meeting that Reston residents have not heard back from the county regarding the public hearings for the zoning proposal.

In response to Foust’s concerns, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said that locals have had plenty of opportunities to get the desired information.

County officials began small workgroup sessions hosted by the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots organization, and the Reston Association in July to discuss the controversial plan.

“Yes, there are some questions that people have,” Hudgins said. “Those questions have been answered before or are not relevant to this.”

Hudgins stressed that consideration of the proposed zoning changes is moving forward because of the work, including 13 follow up meetings since May and regular meetings with the Reston Association, already done.

Hudgins praised the “noble” staff for answering community questions.

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook said that verbal responses from staff to locals are not enough, adding that the community would benefit from written questions and answers available online.

“I don’t think it’s enough to have oral questions,” Cook said. “Not everyone can get to public meetings.”

Cook added that community input must have limits. “It’s fair to have a cut off date for questions,” he said.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has 100 days from the referral — the staff report published Dec. 4 — to take action on the zoning proposal. The Board of Supervisors authorized public hearings on the zoning changes for 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 and at 4:30 p.m. on March 5.

“The clock starts today,” Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay said.

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Board of Supervisors to Take Up Controversial Proposals, Development Plans Tomorrow

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors is expected to authorize public hearings on two controversial proposals and consider several developments at its Tuesday (Dec. 4) meeting.

The board is anticipated to authorize public hearings on proposed zoning changes that would increase the population density. The hearings would take place at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 and at 4:30 p.m. on March 5.

The zoning amendment would increase the maximum population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district from 13 persons to 15. Dwelling units per acre would increase from 50 units to 70 near Metro stations.

The Coalition for a Planned Reston, Reston 2020 and the Reston Association have raised concerns with the proposal, expressing worries about the exemptions given to developers with proposals that do not conform to the Reston Master Plan and a lack of infrastructure to support an increased density.

The board is also expected to authorize a public hearing at 4 p.m. on Jan. 22 to consider adding chinchillas, hedgehogs and hermit crabs to the county’s list of commonly accepted pets.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission scrutinized health and safety concerns for the three animals at its public hearing last Thursday (Nov. 29).

For developments, the following are expected:

  • a decision on Woodfield Acquisitions’ redevelopment of Roland Clarke Place that would add a 308-unit residential complex just south of the Dulles Toll Road
  • a public hearing on changes to previously approved development conditions for the Tall Oaks Village Center townhome project by Stanley Martin
  • a public hearing on the Midline, a mixed-use project near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station

The board will also consider endorsing non-regulatory guidelines for developments in Reston Transit Station Areas and will receive a presentation on the annual financial report for the 2018 fiscal year, along with an update on the Economic Success Strategic Plan.

Reston-based Appian Corp. may receive approval from the board for a $4 million grant from the Commonwealth for an expansion.

The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.

Photo via Fairfax County Government/Facebook

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Proposed Zoning Changes Spark Local Backlash

As Reston is projected to continue growing at a dramatic pace, Fairfax County is moving forward with a proposed zoning amendment to allow for greater density. But a group of Reston citizens are protesting the move, saying the proposed amendment is rushed through and under-explained.

The zoning amendment would increase the maximum population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district from 13 persons to 15. Dwelling units per acre would increase from 50 units to 70 near Metro stations.

The Board of Supervisors is anticipated to authorize public hearings on the zoning changes at its upcoming Tuesday (Dec. 4) meeting. Public comment will not be heard at the meeting.

A group of citizens calling themselves the Coalition for a Planned Reston wrote a letter to Supervisor Cathy Hudgins saying that approval of the zoning amendment would be premature.

“The Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) is deeply concerned and dismayed by the announcement that you have requested County staff to move forward with the proposed PRC Zoning Ordinance Amendment,” the CPR wrote in the letter. “We strongly urge you to withdraw your request immediately and to complete the community dialogue to which you committed.”

The letter included a list of 23 areas where the groups say Fairfax County officials have supplied inadequate information. Among the criticisms of the zoning amendment are exemptions given to developers with proposals that do not conform with the Reston Master Plan.

Some of the topics of the letter involve the minutiae of zoning amendments but others — like what the CPR calls a lack of clarity over the expected number of students the added density would have on the school systems — could shape Reston for years to come.

This isn’t the first letter from the CPR over the issue. The group had previously sent a letter on Aug. 1 urging Hudgins to suspend action on the amendment. The Reston Association has also expressed concern about the impact of the zoning amendment.

Photo via Fairfax County

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Fairfax County Begins Moving Forward Proposed Reston Zoning Changes

Fairfax County is expected to move forward with proposed zoning changes for Reston that would increase the population density.

After 17 months of public engagement, the county’s Board of Supervisors is anticipated to authorize public hearings on the zoning changes for early next year at its Dec. 4 meeting, the county announced Monday (Nov. 19). The meeting will not be an opportunity for public input, the statement said.

The proposal would increase the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons up to 15. The current density is roughly 12.46 people per acre.

“This 13-persons per acre limit has remained unchanged for several decades and does not accommodate the future residential growth anticipated in the Reston PRC near the future Silver Line Metrorail stations,” the statement said.

The proposal would also up the limit of 50 dwelling units per acre to 70 in the transit station areas planned for mixed-use development. This would mainly affect the Reston Town Center Transit Station Area, according to the statement.

County officials began small workgroup sessions hosted by the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots organization and Reston Association in July to discuss the controversial plan.

County planning officials have argued that the Reston PRC zoning change is needed to put into action Reston’s Master Plan, which allows for future growth over the next 40 years, especially around the Silver Line Metrorail stations.

Last September, Reston 20/20, Reclaim Reston and the Reston Citizens Association encouraged Restonians to fight the County’s proposal, which then had the bump on the people per acre in the PRC District from 13 to 16.

Coalition for a Planned Reston sent a letter Aug. 1 to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins to urge her to continue suspending further action on the zoning amendment while discussions were ongoing between the Reston community and Fairfax County staff.

Reston Association sent two letters last year to Hudgins. The first one expressed opposition to the amendment as currently proposed, and the second letter included a list of actions that should be undertaken before the amendment is considered any further by the county.

“Many believe that such increases would create an unsustainable burden on Reston’s infrastructure,” the Reston Association said in an April 11 statement. “Simply, we want to ensure adequate infrastructure to account for the increased growth, including, but not limited to, adequate schools, roads, parks, athletic fields, and natural areas, while protecting the Reston vision.”

Photo via Fairfax County 

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Design Guidelines for Reston’s Transit Station Area Move Forward

The Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization and the Reston Urban Design Advisory Group are seeking feedback on draft guidelines for the urban design and streetscape details for new development in Reston’s Transit Station Areas.

During a community meeting on September 24 at 6 p.m. in the Reston Community Center, local officials will seek input from the public. Written comments can also be submitted to [email protected].

The design guidelines are formulated to support the implementation of the Reston Comprehensive Plan, which was last amended in 2014. They will apply to all properties located within the boundaries of Reston’s three TSAs and help applicants and designers proposing to develop in TSAs by providing specific goals. Precise standards will not be prescribed, according to a county statement.

Following the first community meeting, additional meetings will be held with the Reston Association’s Design Review Board, Reston Planning & Zoning Committee and the Reston Town Center Association in September.

The comprehensive plans aim to establish a sense of place for TSAs while respecting surrounding neighborhoods, aims to improve connectivity and foster walkability and seeks to design sustainable environments.

Draft guidelines are available online. Printed packets are also available for view in the following locations:

  • Hunter Mill District Office (North County Government Center) – 1801 Cameron Glen Drive, Reston, VA 20190
  • Reston Association Member Services – 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20191
  • Public Art Reston – 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20191
  • Reston Library – 11925 Bowman Towne Drive, Reston, VA 20190
  • Herndon Municipal Offices – 777 Lynn Street, Herndon, VA 20170
  • Herndon Library – 768 Center Street, Herndon, VA 20170

Map via Fairfax County Government

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Town of Herndon Explores Ways to Regulate Airbnb-Style Rentals

In an effort to break its silence on regulating short-term rentals through websites like Airbnb, Town of Herndon officials are contemplating ways to regulate the growing market, which often pits homeowners seeking to make a profit against neighbors seeking to control noise and maintain safety.

The town’s planning commission is considering a zoning ordinance change that would allow residents to rent out their entire home for up to 90 days per year, so long as occupants are limited to six adults and parking is available. In return, residents must buy a $200 permit, which is active for two years, and undergo a property inspection. No restrictions on renting a room or portion of the property are imposed so long as the operator lives in the residence.

Efforts to regulate the burgeoning industry were set into motion last year when the state’s General Assembly approved legislation allowing localities to regulate short-term rentals. Just last week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved its own set of regulations. After feedback from the public, the board made its regulations more restrictive by scaling back its definition of short-term rentals from a maximum of 90 days to 60 days.

Preliminary conversations about ways to oversee short-term rentals have begun at Reston Association. However, no formal plans or guidelines have been introduced yet.

The Town of Herndon’s proposal was modeled after Fairfax County’s plan, David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator told Reston Now. Yesterday’s public hearing on the proposal will continue during the planning commission’s September meeting. Changes may be proposed based on feedback from the public, he said.

“Nothing has been on the books. We’re trying to do regulations appropriately so that people who are doing short-term rentals can get their permits,” Stromberg said. “And if there are problems, we can do enforcement if necessary.”

It’s unclear how much revenue permits could generate for the town. Other area jurisdictions like Arlington County limited short-term rentals to 180 days while Alexandria has no limit.

Photo via Airbnb

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