Reston Panorama--Urban and Open Space

Reston Panorama--Urban and Open Space

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

FCFCA resolution notes cuts in books and shelving in renovated public library branches, calls for sustaining book space.

Below is a resolution passed by the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations (FCFCA) calling for the sustaining of book shelf space in newly renovated public libraries.  The resolution notes that shelving has been dramatically cut in County-approved plans for the renovation of the Tysons-Pimmit Hills Regional Library and the ongoing renovations of Woodrow Wilson Branch Libary.  With the renovation of Reston Regional Library now in the early planning stages, it is important to ensure that future Reston-area residents have access to at least as many books as they have historically. 


Thursday, November 12, 2015

RPZ and DRB plan to hear key development/redevelopment proposals next week.

The following is an e-mail from RA's Larry Butler to key community groups about the agenda of the RPZ and DRB next week. 

From: Larry Butler <>
Date: Thursday, November 12, 2015
Subject: Upcoming Meetings
To:  (Deleted)

Greetings everyone.  I wanted to let you know about two meetings next week of importance to the community.  On Monday November 16 at 7:30 at Supervisor Hudgins’ office conference room at the North County Government Center the Planning and Zoning Committee will be meeting.  Included on their agenda are the Reston Town Center Rail Station, North Entrance Update, Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment proposal (informational), and the Sekas Homes application for 11690 Sunrise Valley Drive off Roland Clarke Place to rezone from industrial to the PDH-12 District (residential) in order to construct 37 urban-style single family attached dwelling units with associated parking and recreational amenities.

On Tuesday November 17 at 7 pm in the RA conference center the Full Design Review Board meeting will include a Tall Oaks Village Center redevelopment informational presentation (likely same as P&Z), 1760 Reston Parkway final development plan (23-story tower), an informational presentation on a parking garage at Reston International Center, and changes to the architectural plans and landscaping for the former United Christian Parish Church at 2222 Colt’s Neck Road that has been approved for redevelopment into 55+ housing, and is now seeking changes to provide some assisted living units as well.

These are important meetings and please let your committee members know.

Larry T. Butler
Senior Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources
Reston Association
12001 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20191
Direct: 703-435-6501
Live, Work, Play and Get Involved

Several dozen neighbors express concern over Saint Johns Woods' redevelopment despite last minute notice of community meeting.

The following is the text of an e-mail Dannielle LaRosa, North Point RA Board member, sent to her constituents concerning the Hunter Mill District-sponsored community meeting held on Tuesday regarding Bozzuto's planned redevelopment of St. Johns Woods (SJW).  Few members of the SJW neighborhood heard about the meeting until mid-afternoon on November 10 when Ms. LaRosa sent a "reminder" e-mail to the community (see next to last paragraph).   We understand only a very few people received the earlier invitation from Supervisor Hudgin's office. 

Dear Neighbors,

Thank you to those of you who attended last night’s St John’s Wood Neighborhood meeting.  The purpose of this email is to provide you with a summary of last night’s meeting, inform you of the next steps in the development process for this property, and let you know how you can stay informed and participate in the review process/let your voice be heard.

Before we proceed, I’d like for you to bookmark the following link to RA’s Development & Future of Reston page which will provide you with information about all current redevelopment projects underway in our community, including St. John’s Wood.
Purpose of the November 10th Meeting
Last night's meeting was sponsored by the Office of Fairfax County Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Catherine M. Hudgins. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the residents in the Clusters and Condominiums surrounding the St. John’s Wood Apartments of Bozzuto’s redevelopment proposal. 

Summary of November 10th Meeting
Bozzuto presented its current plan to redevelop the nine-building, 262-unit garden apartment property into a complex with two five-story buildings containing 512 apartments and 46 town homes.   The slides shown at last night’s meeting have been posted to RA’s website and can be located at

The plan includes an additional traffic entrance/exit from the community: an exit on Center Harbor has been added to the current one at North Village Road. Twelve percent of the units would be set aside for affordable housing.  The town homes are currently planned to be located along Center Harbor Road with the two five-story buildings to be located along the north end of the property (the property abutting other residential properties).   Thanks to earlier input provided by the Association’s Design Review Board in 2014 during informational meetings, the number of buildings has been reduced to from three to two and the number of apartments has been reduced from 625 to 512.   Further, the current plan includes an additional acre of wooded area.  Bozzuto also provided results of a traffic study it recently conducted showing that Buzzuto believes the increased traffic from the property would be minimal.

These plans have been submitted to the Fairfax County Department of Planning & Zoning and comments from the county are expected to be received from the developer within the month.  The next steps include additional reviews by both the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee (which advises the Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner and Supervisor) and the Reston Association Design Review Board.  All of these meetings are open to the public and comments are welcome.  The developer and Supervisor Hudgins’ office will coordinate additional community meetings.  Reston Association’s Advisory Committees will also review these plans to provide comment to the P&Z Committee and the DRB, as well as County review staff.  The developers expect that the planning phase will take approximately two years and construction another two years.
Concerns voiced by the approximately forty residents in attendance:

  • New Entrance/Exit Located On Center Harbor.  Residents stated that there will be an increase in accidents and traffic congestion since this new exit lies opposite the entrance/exit of the Hampton Pointe Condominiums and a few hundred feet from the intersection of Reston Parkway/Center Harbor.  It was suggested that a better entry point into the property would be on Reston Parkway, across from Great Owl Circle. 
  • Aldrin Elementary School, Traffic and Impact to the School Population - Shane Wolfe, the principal of Aldrin Elementary School, voiced concerns that the traffic is already a concern with keeping our kids safe as they walk to and from school.  The increase in traffic from this property will make a hard situation even worse.  Several residents concurred.  Separately, it was noted that the proposed redevelopment will have an impact school staffing. 
  • Flip the Property Layout - It was suggested that the developer flip the property layout so that the town homes are located near existing homes and the apartment buildings are located along Center Harbor.    Currently, the current homeowners will be impacted by a view of a five story apartment building and the sounds/lights at night coming from the traffic exiting and entering the apartment garage. 
  • Mature Trees - there will be a loss of large, mature trees that are in the middle of the property.  There was much discussion as to the long term impact this would have to the property and to Reston. 
  • Proffers - End of the day, there will be more residents but few funds available from the county to support the infrastructure (roads, schools).  The developers are required to pay Fairfax County a certain dollar amount per residential unit for schools, parks and other infrastructure.  Additional “proffers” include items such as tree preservation, bike parking, public art and Green Building standards. The proffers are to be used for public infrastructure: roads, schools, etc.  Problem is, these funds may not stay in Reston and could be used in another part of the county.

What can I do/where do I direct comments?
As soon as I hear of information regarding community or Planning & Zoning or Design Review Board meetings, I will forward it to you.  It is always helpful to attend these meetings.  You can check the agendas and attend the Planning and Zoning Committee meetings_( and the Full Design Review Board meetings (  which are typical the third Monday and Tuesday of each month, respectively.  The Full DRB does not meet in December.
How were residents invited to last night’s meeting?
The county scheduled the meeting in late October and was responsible for inviting residents.  The county sent a letter to Cluster and Condominium Presidents and some of their management companies in the neighboring area through a direct mail letter.  This letter asked the cluster and condominium presidents’ to notify their residents.    The current residents of St. John’s Wood were not invited to this meeting.  The property manager is hosting a separate meeting for its residents.

Let me know of any questions or concerns you may have.  Again, as soon as I hear of information, I will make sure that it is sent to you.

Dannielle LaRosa
Treasurer & North Point District Representative
Reston Association Board of Directors

Sunday, November 8, 2015

More reasons why Fairfax County shouldn't be using a public-private partnership for TCN

Reston 20/20 has long opposed the use of public-private partnerships (PPP) for development of public infrastructure.  We publicly opposed the PPP between Fairfax County and Comstock that gave Comstock substantial financial benefits and extra density at Wiehle station all for the rat maize-like, traffic-clogged, dangerous parking garage Metro riders must use.  We now worry that the PPP between the County and some as yet unpicked developer for Town Center North will have nothing to do with Reston's planning principles or the specific needs of the community there for, among other things, a sizable regional library, a significantly larger homeless shelter, a regional recreation center, and any public park space beyond the "town green" (more like a dog park) in its midst.  

Our opposition is based on the well-established curtain of secrecy that hangs over these deals.  Indeed, that secrecy is written into Virginia law to protect the guilty in both government and the private sector.  Right now, we view as dim the Reston community's chances of seeing either the draft concept plan or the final plan for community comment and amendment as needed to meet community needs before the County moves forward issuing the RFP and selecting a developer.  The three public meetings held so far on TCN's future have seen little added specification on the County's development intent and virtually no change in any specifics despite significant community input that has been met by the usual soothing words from County staff and Supervisor Hudgins.  Despite the appearance of responsiveness to community needs, the County appears determined to proceed on its own way.

And, of course, the County and RA are working their own side deal that is unlikely to have anything to do with Restonians.  And this deal is being worked in secret--the only way the RA Board seems to know how to act.  In fact, so far as we could observe, no RA Board members even bothered to attend the last community meeting on TCN, probably because none of them  care about either County plans or Reston community concerns.  

So what's a possible RA side deal all about?  It seems that RA and, more specifically, its Design Review Board (DRB) have a covenant going back to the 1960s on some of the land in TCN that would preclude or at least delay any re-development of some of the County's portion of TCN.  So the County needs RA to vacate that covenant before it can proceed, an action the RA Board can take on its own (no referendum required).  We know that there have been secret meetings between RA leaders and Supervisor Hudgins as well as attorneys for both sides, and we can think of no other reason for those meetings to occur.  

Based on recent experience, we suspect that RA is seeking to include all new residential properties built in TCN in Reston Association, generating an ever larger stream of revenues to spend.  Given the absence of Board members from the latest community meeting on TCN, we very seriously doubt they are pursuing the goals of the community which have to do with the quality of the public facilities--the new Reston Regional Library, a new Embry Rucker Homeless Shelter, a promised FCPA Regional Recreation Center, and a real, maybe even "signature," community park worth talking about--that are planned for the area, including the Reston Master Plan.  As usual, we expect RA to look out for itself, not for our community in these negotiations. 

More broadly, PPPs have demonstrably created huge holes in public budgets despite their supposed intent to eliminate additional public costs.  The latest example of this comes from Tidewater Virginia and is reported by the Washington Post.  Here is the lede:
 NORFOLK — The private proposal to build a new underwater tunnel in this congested port city was originally billed as a way for Virginia to get a crucial piece of infrastructure without having to put in a single dollar of state money.
Instead, Virginia officials have agreed to spend slightly more than $580 million on the project, more than twice the investment from the companies behind the deal. With no competition, the companies won the right to collect billions of dollars in tolls over 58 years.
The state also agreed that the companies — Swedish construction giant Skanska and Sydney-based finance group Macquarie — are entitled to large government payouts if Virginia builds or expands other bridges or tunnels nearby, making fixing other traffic woes more costly for generations to come.
Click here for the rest of this story of a massive public giveaway with a huge public expense--all in the name of a public-private partnership.  

While larger than what is planned for TCN, we expect that the results here will be similar in impact, if different in scale.  We could easily see less than satisfactory public facilities as well as higher County taxes and RA dues in our future from this PPP.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fairfax County Public Library fails in hiring new Director, plans no immediate action

In an action worthy of the WMATA Board's horrendously inept year-long search for a new General Manager, the Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees failed to find and hire a new Library Director to replace the outgoing Sam Clay as the message from the LBOT Chairman below indicates.  

Worse is the fact that the Board does not intend to find one promptly.  That could well leave Clay in charge of the library.  Over the last decade, he has led the destruction and demoralization of the county's library system.  Some low lights over the last decade:
  • The library's budget has been cut by more than 22% over the decade.
  • Library spending as a share of the County budget has been cut by 30% and now is less than three-quarters of one percent of County spending.   
  • Library staffing per capita has decreased by more than 23%--and open positions are not being filled.
  • The county's book collection has been cut by more than a half-million, that's more than 20%, despite continuing growth in the County's population.
  • As a result, use of the FCPL system has shrunk over decade as measured by virtually every indicator tracked by the library.
  • The county's library system ranks 15th of 19 public library systems in the metropolitan DC area according to the Library Journal. 
So much for attracting families and employers to Fairfax County and its "knowledge corridor."  Sam Clay has been a disaster for the County's libraries and their future.  His continued "leadership" of FCPL will only assure the continuing strangulation of our public libraries.  

Clay, the LBOT,  and the Board of Supervisors have driven our public libraries into such a budget and management hole that no qualified candidate apparently wants to take on the job of leading it.

To prevent further destruction of a vital county asset, Clay must go.

From: Charles Fegan []
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2015 3:32 PM
To:;; Miriam Smolen; 'Michael Donovan'; 'Donald Heinrichs'; Suzanne Levy; Willard Jasper; D Ewing; 'Priscille Dando';
Cc: Molchany, Dave; Clay III, Edwin S.; White, Nhu-An; Rowe, Sherry R.
Subject: Library Director
Dear Members,

I would like to take a moment to thank you for your time in participating in the recruitment preparation and interview process in search for our Library Director. As you are aware we had a thorough process in place to identify the right candidate not only for our library system, but also for our staff, customers and community. While we identified and interviewed several viable candidates during the process, some elected to withdraw. An offer was made to the selected candidate, but unfortunately, the offer was declined.

Today, Karrie and I met with Deputy County Executive Dave Molchany, and the HR staff and it was determined not to immediately proceed with launching a new recruitment search for the Library Director; however, we would like to reassess the current situation and work on the next step after the New Year.

Again, thank you for your continued support. I look forward to our further collaboration.    


RNGC: Court Grants Summary Judgment Motion; Win for Preservation of Open Space

November 6, 2015--Reston, VA--The Fairfax County Circuit Court today granted the motion for summary judgment filed by Fairfax County. As a result of this decision, RN Golf, the owner of the golf course, would have to file a formal plan with the county in order to pursue any proposed redevelopment of the golf course. RN Golf had based its case on a letter from the county zoning administrator which the court in effect found was merely an advisory opinion and was not appealable. In light of its ruling, the court vacated the decision of the Board of Zoning Appeals from earlier this year and dismissed other motions of the various parties as moot.

Connie Hartke, President of Rescue Reston, a group comprised of citizen volunteers who oppose any re-development of the golf course said “We are pleased with the court’s ruling which requires that RN Golf must go through a formal plan process before it can re-develop the golf course. However, while we have won this round, the fight is not over and RN Golf still has other options available to it including appealing today’s ruling or attempting to amend the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan. We must remain prepared to continue the fight so long as RN Golf remains committed to its attempts to destroy our community’s valuable open space.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Use of Metrorail declines despite addition of Silver Line due to reliability, safety.

From Washington CityPaper's CitizenDesk:

Metro: On-Time Rail Performance, Customer Satisfaction Continue to Drop

Screen shot 2015-11-02 at 3.01.01 PM
Metrorail on-time performance, quarter three
People who ride Metro are increasingly dissatisfied as on-time rail performance dropped on all six lines between July and September, according to the agency's latest Vital Signs report.
The drops coincide "with railcar shortages, speed restrictions, and service reductions following a fire to prevent bunching," the report [PDF] states. Rail customer satisfaction fell from 73 percent in quarter two to 67 percent in quarter three, "attributable almost entirely to the reliability of the service."
The bad news continues:
  • "The minimum car requirement was only met 10 out of 64 weekdays this quarter. Average weekday service was run with a shortage of about 50 cars."
  • "Reliability was below target each month in Q3/2015, and 25 percent worse than the same quarter last year due to an increase in propulsion problems on railcars."
  • "By the end of September over 50 cars were indefinitely 'parked' due to a lack of parts, an issue that continued into Q4/2015."
 Clear here to read the rest.