Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Take Action NOW to Stop Density Increase!

Supervisor Hudgins IGNORES Requests to Complete Community Engagement on Reston Zoning Density Increase
 
Speak Up! Let ALL Fairfax County Supervisors Know That You Oppose the Zoning Ordinance Amendment 

The zoning approval process to raise density from 13 to 15 persons per acre in the Reston Planned Residential Community (PRC) District is continuing. The proposed zoning amendment will be presented to the County Board of Supervisors on December 4, 2018 as the initial step for approval early in 2019.
 
Both CPR and Reston Association have asked Supervisor Hudgins to complete community engagement, including providing information and responses to items raised in small group meetings.  

The County has not completed its submissions, leaving some 23 open issues. 

You can make a difference! PLEASE TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTION:
Write to all the County Supervisors and tell them:
  • Increased density in Reston without needed infrastructure is wrong.
  • The community deserves information and dialogue promised by County officials before a zoning amendment increasing density moves forward.
  • Please vote against advertising the Zoning Ordinance Amendment before the completion of the exchange of information with our community.

Fairfax County Supervisors Contact Information:
chairman@fairfaxcounty.gov
braddock@fairfaxcounty.gov
dranesville@fairfaxcounty.gov
hntrmill@fairfaxcounty.gov
leedist@fairfaxcounty.gov
mason@fairfaxcounty.gov
mtvernon@fairfaxcounty.gov
provdist@fairfaxcounty.gov
springfield@fairfaxcounty.gov
sully@fairfaxcounty.gov


More information is available on the CPR website:  https://plannedreston.wordpress.com/

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Coalition for a Planned Reston Objections to PRC Zoning Ordinance Plans

From:  Coalition for a Planned Reston 
To:huntermill@fairfaxcounty.gov
Cc:chairman@fairfaxcounty.gov,mason@fairfaxcounty.gov,braddock@fairfaxcounty.gov,dranesville@fairfaxcounty.gov,leedist@fairfaxcounty.gov,mtvernon@fairfaxcounty.gov,provdist@fairfaxcounty.gov,springfield@fairfaxcounty.gov,sully@fairfaxcounty.gov,clerktotheBOS@fairfaxcounty.gov,achamp@reston.org,lbutler@reston.org,fred.selden@fairfaxcounty.gov,leslie.johnson@fairfaxcounty.gov,robert.stalzer@fairfaxcounty.gov,catherine.belgin@fairfaxcounty.gov,JohnCarter@fairfaxcounty.gov,Barbara.Byron@fairfaxcounty.gov,Tom.Biesiadny@fairfaxcounty.gov,Gregg.Steverson@fairfaxcounty.gov,David.Bowden@fairfaxcounty.gov,suzianne.battista@fairfaxcounty.gov,kevin.sneed@fcps.edu,BoardOfDirectors@reston.org
 

Nov 29 at 6:40 PM


Dear Supervisor Hudgins:

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.  For the reasons explained below, we strongly urge you to withdraw your request immediately and to complete the community dialogue to which you committed.

This past summer your staff, County officials and representatives from the Reston Association (RA) and CPR met in four working groups to examine significant issues arising from the Revised Reston Master Plan, which, according to County officials, triggered the proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendment. In the course of those meetings, County officials and the community representatives agreed that additional data was needed in a number of key areas before further face-to-face discussions should be held and conclusions could be reached.  There was universal agreement, well documented in the videos of the small group meetings and follow-up communications by CPR and RA, that each side would research and produce the requested information before any further action to move forward with the Zoning Ordinance Amendment.  The RA/CPR team quickly provided all that was requested of them.  Sadly, the County side has not.  

Please refer to the list of twenty-three (23) specific areas where we have been waiting for responses from County officials (attached).  We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our County employees and understand how heavy workloads and competing responsibilities can sometimes delay progress in specific areas.  However, this cannot justify failing to conduct the needed research and consultations to which you and the County have committed. In light of this, it is premature and inappropriate to move forward as you have requested.  

Over the past three months we have repeatedly stated our readiness to meet in the working groups again when the County has completed its work.   We continue to stand ready to do that.   If there is a need or desire to move forward quickly on the part of the County, perhaps developing the required information can be given a higher priority by County officials.   

Madame Supervisor, the issues before us are too important to be pushed forward without completing the community engagement that is the hallmark of the Reston community.  Your constituents urge you, in the spirit of transparent and responsive government, to withdraw your request until the collaborative review has been completed. 

Sincerely,

Coalition for a Planned Reston



Specific Areas Awaiting Responses from Fairfax County Officials


The follow are specific areas for which CPR is waiting for the County to provide information or analysis.   This listing does not include a number of more general discussion points, which are important in their own right, but not listed here. 

1.  Provide status of County plans to finally build an indoor athletic center in Reston (Hunter Mill is the only district without one.  Other districts have had athletic centers for decades.
2.  Provide status on exactly where the additional outdoor athletic fields required in the Master Plan will be located.
3.  Remove from planning documentation and maps the unauthorized and unneeded "Road from Nowhere" that would mar and deface Reston's open space. 
4.  Share information on the safety, cost, and benefit of "turfing" and lighting fields.  In an interim response on this topic the County speaks of "upgrading Reston Association properties" to partially meet the County's requirements.  However, no proposal to or discussion with RA has taken place.  
5.  Provide information on the status of the "Commission to Assess Reston's Athletic Fields."   We are unaware of the existence of any such commission. 
6.  Provide an update on the County's plans for Reston Town Center North, including the required 10 acres of open space.  
7.  Schedule the County's own proposal to bring "all parties" together to work on land management issues.   
8. Clarify specifically which areas of “One Reston” (i.e., including PRC, TSAs and Town Center) are considered "urban" for planning purposes, as the designation impacts the level of services provided. 
9.  Explain the frequent exemptions given to developers when their proposals are not in conformance with the Master Plan.  This includes numerous cases where the County's own Planning and Zoning staff have found proposals to be deficient. 
10. Schedule the agreed upon meeting between County staff and the community to determine the geographic and demographic inputs to be used to determine the population of One Reston for the purpose of re-establishing a population limit for Reston as a whole.   
11.  Explain the dichotomy between the County's density proposals in the Village Centers and the Master Plan's call for any new development to be at an appropriate scale for the neighborhood under consideration. 
12.  Provide a statement on the County's plans to conform to Virginia law and review the Reston Master Plan Phase I in early 2019 and Phase II in 2020.
13.  Address the need for follow-on discussions concerning storm water management, police and fire coverage and related social services topics.
14. Submit written confirmation of the Population-based Countywide Service Level Standard for golf:  with a projected Reston population of over 115,200, Reston requires two 18-hole golf courses. (Please see page 22, 2017 Edition of the Policy Plan - Parks and Recreation.)
15. Provide a status update on changes to the proffer formula for private development and suggestions on how RA, CPR and the broader community can support County efforts.
16.  Provide data on the expected number of additional students entering the school system using current methodology.  Provide data on past reliability of this methodology.
17.  Report on student utilization of the Connector Bus since the adoption of student passes.
18. Resolve discrepancies between language regarding school capacity provided in the Comprehensive Plan and actual County practice.
19.  Develop a comprehensive Transportation Implementation and Monitoring Plan - to include all projects identified in the Reston Network Analysis (RNA) with their estimated prioritization, timeline, projected costs and funding sources.
20. Provide a chart and map of planned intersection improvements.
21. Provide a model of projected traffic impact of any increased density in the “One Reston” region on the non-TSA areas of Reston (like the PRC).
22. Institute the universal adoption of data that includes residents of Affordable Dwelling Units (ADU) and Work Force Housing (WFH) in all computations of population and density.    
23. Provide periodic updates and information on the provision of needed infrastructure along with development as is done in Tysons.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Fairfax Board to Reston: Screw you and your Master Plan!

In an announcement yesterday, Fairfax County stated that the Board of Supervisors plans to move forward with actions that will implement changes in Reston's Planned Residential Community (PRC) zoning ordinance that will allow the tripling of Reston's population.  The specific changes are:
  • Increase overall density in the PRC area from 13 to 15 people per acre.
  • Allow the number of dwelling units on individual high-density parcels to increase from 50 to 70 per acre.
None of this counts the planned increase in Reston transit station area (TSA) population from zero in 2010 to more than 90,000 resulting from a change in the zoning ordinance applicable there and a change in the "target" dwelling units from 29,000 to 44,000 without any interaction with the community in a 2015 amendment.

Democracy dies in darkness--and the arrogant, insensitive, disgusting Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is well on the way to making that happen.  It does not care what most Restonians think about preserving the values and goals established by its founder, Bob Simon, and encouraging organic growth, including the transit station areas, within that context.

It's just allowing more buildings, more residents, more commercial space in more places.  At the same time, it is not creating better roads, schools, parks, environment, and other necessities to accommodate those people.  Plans, yes; action, no.  Its only goal is more tax revenue without the necessary accompanying infrastructure investments.

Contrary to what the county says, there need be no fear that Reston will lose its broad PRC zoning because developers will choose alternative zoning categories.  That's a lie.

First, the only place that this could occur is where alternative zoning ordinances overlap with the PRC in the TSAs--basically Reston Town Center (including RTC North) and a portion of Reston Heights.

The two alternative ordinances are Planned Development Commercial (PDC) for commercial-centric high-density development and Planned Residential Mixed-Use (PRM) for residential focused high-density development supported by retail.  These ordinances, in revisions a couple of years ago, increased the allowable density from FAR 3.0 to FAR 5.0 with Board approval.  That means a 20-acre plot could have as many as 3,620 dwelling units (DUs)--some 7,500 people excluding affordable and bonus housing which don't count in the PRC zoning ordinance--using the county's planning factor for DU size.

Second, a change in zoning requires the approval of the Board of Supervisors; it is not a unilateral action by the developers.  The Board can say "no," but the current Board would almost certainly say "yes" as it continues bend over for the development community at the expense of Restonians, current and future.

In fact, the county's worry isn't a "patchwork" of zoning ordinances in Reston as its announcement states.  That too is a lie.  Its concern is the loss acreage covered by the PRC if developers shift to another zoning category in the TSAs, thus lowering the level of allowable development in the smaller PRC areas of Reston.  In short, it's trying to insure maximum development, not avoid some imagined bureaucratic complexity.

The county's announcement highlights that the master plan process "ended in 2015" and included a community task force that worked on the station areas (Phase 1 of the planning process).  That task force worked five years to create a reasonable Reston transit oriented development plan.  It culminated in a "Scenario G" in 2012 that constituted the task force's perspective on more residentially-focused station areas at a reasonable density.  The total number of households targeted was 27,538 dwelling units.  In 2014, the Board approved the plan with a target of 27,900 dwelling units in line with the task force's recommendation.  Then, in mid-2015, the Board suddenly changed this dwelling unit target from 27,900 to 44,000 without any discussion with the community That was the "end" of the planning process: A big screw you to Reston!

And who was behind this move?  Our supervisor, Cathy Hudgins, of course.  Her treacherous action, completely ignoring the will of Reston and her own specific commitment to have county staff answer a series of mutually agreed upon questions before proceeding, is unforgivable.  Her letter to RA and CPR (below) about her perfidious action tries to justify the unjustifiable.  We, as a community, need to step forward--and do so quickly--to show her that her dishonesty and treachery will not stand.





Friday, November 9, 2018

Follow-up CPR letter to FCPA re Response on Outstanding Open Space Issues, November 8, 2018

From:  Dennis Hays 
 
To:  David R. Bowden, Larry Butler, Andy Sigle, Sridhar Ganesan, Lynne Mulston

Cc:  Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, Goldie Harrison, Fred Selden, John Carter, Bill Bouie, Bruce Ramo, Terry Maynard, John Mooney, Tammi Petrine, Linda Ramo, DAVID ROGUS, Leslie Johnson

Nov 8 at 3:45 PM


Dear David:  I trust all is well your way.  Larry Butler was kind enough to forward your message to me.  My apologies if I didn't provide you with the e-mail addresses of the members of the CPR/RA Parks, Open Space and Athletic Fields Working Group.  I've included those members in the "To" line above to facilitate all future correspondence on these matters.  

We are most appreciative of the work and dedication of you and your colleagues.  Your efforts to maintain and improve our park system contribute greatly to making Fairfax County one of the most desirable places to live in the nation.  

For convenience sake in assessing your message, I have included (below) a copy of the minutes of our July 18th meeting.  As you know, at that time we (CPR/RA) agreed to provide you information and support in four areas.  This was done in my messages of August 21st and September 12th.   Also at that time, you and your colleagues agreed to provide information on six specific areas and on one proposal to better educate us and the community on your ideas and plans.
   
The areas the County committed to address are:

1.  Information on safety, cost, and benefit of "turfing" and lighting fields;
2.  Status of development projects as they pertain to athletic fields, open space and parks;
3.  Information on the status of the Hunter Mill Indoor Athletic Facility;
4. Status on the commission assessing Reston's athletic fields;
5. An explanation for and removal of the "Road from Nowhere";
6. Information on plans for Town Center North open space; and
7. Status of the County's proposal to have an "all hands" (FCPA, FCPS, NVPA, RA & community groups) meeting to review and propose plans in keeping with the Reston Master Plan.

We understand your responses only address those areas directly pertinent to the Parks Authority - covering somewhat numbers 1 and 2.  We eagerly await hearing from the other County agencies that will be responding to questions 3, 4, 5, 6 and proposal 7.   

With respect to issue 1: 

--  As you are aware, Reston needs additional athletic fields to adequately serve our EXISTING population.  First priority should be given to this before addressing future needs.  Athletic fields to accommodate TSA population growth must be in addition to what is needed NOW to make us whole.  Is there a plan in place to do this?  If not, shouldn't there be?

--  You note the "2232" application "is funded, in part, by Reston TSA proffer money received to date".  This is good news indeed as in July you stated no actual money had yet been received by the County.  Please inform us of the amount received and your plans to allocate it. 

-- You correctly note "turfing" and lighting fields is controversial and the County is participating in an EPA study to develop an authoritative position on the use of crumb rubber.  Will the County wait until this study is completed before installing artificial turf?   Or are other fillers being considered?  

--  Artificial turfed fields are expensive and must be completely replaced on a regular basis.  Has the County worked out a long term financing scheme to properly maintain the fields?  

--  Turfing is only one part of what is needed to address "peak hour" demand when school aged children need fields.  Is there quantifiable data on the additional playing time for youth sports made available by turfing?

-- You mention upgrading "selected Reston Association properties".  We are unaware of any formal agreement, or even discussion, to do this.  This reference should be removed until such time as there is a formal agreement.  

With respect to issue 2:

First off, thank you and your team for the comprehensive readout on Reston Development Park Proffers approved by the Board of Supervisors.  Great job!  It is very informative and useful.     

-- We note, however, that none of the 45 proffers listed provide an additional athletic field or significant open space.  

--  It appears the list doesn't include proposals which have not yet been approved by the Supervisors, such as those you mention in your cover letter (Isaac Newton, Reston Crescent, etc.)  What is the status of these negotiations?

-- Thank you for the map identifying the location of proffered pocket and urban parks in the TSA.  However, there was universal agreement at our meeting that it will get progressively more difficult to obtain land for athletic fields as time goes on.  Is there a companion map that identifies locations for possible full sized athletic fields? 

Thank you again David, for this information and all you do.   As you see, more remains to be addressed on items 1 & 2 but this is a helpful start.  We hope your colleagues will now respond and address the other issues.    

It has been over three months since the small groups met.  We have been waiting patiently for the promised information needed to make a follow on meeting productive.  We hope the information promised in all four small groups will be provided in the near future so that we can schedule such meetings. 

In the meantime, I urge we proceed with proposal # 7.  This was the County's idea after all!  It is our belief that many answers, including a way forward, could come from getting everyone together as you propose.  

Best regards, Dennis   
 
Dennis K. Hays
CPR/RA Parks, Open Space & Athletic Fields
Discussion Leader



MINUTES FROM JULY 18, 2018 MEETING ON PARKS, OPEN SPACE and ATHLETIC FIELDS


From: Dennis Hays
To: Supervisor Cathy Hudgins  
Cc: Goldie Harrison ; Fred Selden ; Leslie Johnson ; John Carter ; Lynne Mulston ; Andy Sigle ; Sridhar Ganesan ; Larry Butler ; Kelsey Steffen ; Connie Hartke
Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2018 6:10 PM
Subject: Parks, Recreation, Open Space, & Athletic Facilities Meeting of July 18

Dear Supervisor Hudgins:

         Thank you again for working with the CPR/RA coalition to help develop a better public understanding of the issues involved in the proposed Reston PRC amendments.  We appreciate your dedication and hard work on behalf of Reston and your making available to us the County officials most responsible for working on these issues.  We also wish to thank Goldie Harrison of your staff for her tireless efforts to pull everyone together at the same time and place!

        On July 18th, the Parks, Recreation, Open Space, & Athletic Facilities group met.  We began the meeting by looking for high-level areas where we had common ground and common goals, conforming to the Reston Master Plan.  This proved very successful and we had unanimous agreement that:


Parks, open space, athletic facilities are essential to the health, wealth and well-being of a community.  Open space has direct physical and mental health benefits, is environmentally key to having a safe and productive landscape and brings direct and indirect economic rewards;    

A fundamental characteristic of Reston has been a commitment to preserve natural areas and integrate open space throughout the community;  

Development will be phased with infrastructure;

High quality open space will be required; and

Public participation in planning and zoning will continue to be the community's foundation. 

We then set a framework for all subsequent discussion.  That is, all projects and proposals would be measured against four standards:

WHAT:  What project has been identified - athletic field, pocket park, open space, etc., including dimensions of each;

WHERE: Where exactly in Reston will the project be located.

HOW:  How will the project be funded; and 

WHEN: When will the project be open to the public.   

It was noted that if all four of these questions could be answered in specific, concrete terms, then we have an actual project.  If three questions are answered, then we have a proposal.  If only two or fewer questions are answered, then any proposal is still in the "wishful thinking" stage.   

County representatives then gave an overview of their plans and proposals.  We should note we are aware of the bureaucratic, financial, legal, and other hurdles that must be overcome to bring in a new project and we are cognizant of the often frustrating amount of time involved in shepherding a successful project to its conclusion.  We appreciate the hard work, dedication and good intentions of our County officials. 

The participants then discussed specific issues.  

First was an update on how the Park Authority plans to meet the Comprehensive Plan's call for at least twelve additional full sized playing fields in Reston, at least three of which are to be in Reston's TSA zone.  The County officials stated they expected to meet this goal by upgrading existing fields with artificial turf and lights to extend playable hours and to acquire additional land as part of the proffers developers will give.  CPR/RA reps expressed some skepticism as to whether this all would actually meet the Plan's intent, especially as it is not possible, according to the County, to exactly identify where new individual parcels of land will be at this time.  The CPR/RA reps requested the County provide as much information as possible in the form of What/Where/How/When and the County agreed to do this.  The math involved in computing the additional value of turfed fields raised questions and the County also agreed to provide information on this.  A CPR/RA rep and later a questioner from the audience noted the Reston Association's Environmental Advisory Committee is not in favor of crumb rubber synthetic turfed fields due to health concerns and another filler would be needed if this activity goes forward.  RA seeks to be a leader in the County in implementing safer non-grass fields.  The County said funds had already been approved to commission an engineering analysis of the Baron Cameron Park playing fields.    

With respect to obtaining additional land from developers, the community reps expressed strong support for the County taking a very firm line to obtain required land in Reston's TSA (at least 3 full fields) and in Reston's PRC (at least an additional 9 full fields or equivalent) in their negotiations with developers  The County representatives expressed appreciation for this support.

The next issue concerned Reston's missing indoor recreation facility.  All parties agreed that Hunter Mill is the only district in the County that doesn't have such a facility.  The County reps noted they had recently finished a study on athletic facility usage County-wide and needed to assess the impact of a new facility against other facilities, such as the Reston Community Center.  This line of thought was unconvincing to the community, as the new facility has been long promised and is much needed.   Again, the community reps requested a What/Where/How/When analysis of steps toward building the facility.  

One of - perhaps the - defining features of Reston is the connectivity of our pathways, particularly the non at-grade road crossings that allow pedestrians and bicyclists to travel from one end of Reston to the other in a safe, efficient manner.  The CPR/RA reps asked why major new developments along major roads weren't required to put in non at-grade crossings.  The development at Wiehle, for example, should have safe crossings of Wiehle and Sunset Hills built in.  Such crossings would also help alleviate traffic backups as the lengthy "walk" signals would be unneeded.  The County first made the case that separating pedestrians and cars was a bad thing, as pedestrians tended to slow traffic down.   This argument was rejected out of hand, with the observation that Reston has had two pedestrian fatalities in as many weeks along exactly these roads.  Next the County stated that ADA (American Disabilities Act) considerations made tunnels and overpasses unworkable.  This too was refuted, with an observation that other communities, such as Miami Beach, have inexpensive, all weather lifts for just the purpose of facilitating full usage of safe crossings.   Although no consensus was reached, the County asked the community to identify specific crossings that might have the right topographical conditions to support not at grade crossings.  

Conversation then turned to the "Road From Nowhere" - the infamous middle of the night, unannounced addition of a road that impinges on the Hidden Creek Golf Course, the W&OD trail, or most likely both.  The community strongly urged the County to remove this road from all maps and consideration as there was no justification for it and the community was never advised of its inclusion in the fine print of a map.  The County rep stated this was a "conceptual road" that only might come into play if the expected redevelopment of Isaac Newton Square required it.   It was also possible the developer would have other options or might scale back development.  As for removing it, this would require an amendment to the Comp Plan.  Community reps again stressed the road could not be built without destroying needed recreational space and the County has never been able - or willing - to explain who put it there, for what reason and why the community wasn't informed of its presence.   The community reps encouraged the County to remove it as it is unjustified and will be a continuing irritant until it's gone.  

This discussion led to the issue of the golf course.  The Community expressed its great thanks and appreciation for the strong position Supervisor Hudgins and the County took to help preserve Reston's National Golf Course.  The CPR/RA rep noted the Comp Plan identifies two open spaces specifically identified as golf courses and asked if the community can count on the County to provide the same level of support in defending both full (18 hole) golf courses as we have seen in defending the first one.  The County rep stated it is very clear in the Comp Plan that there are two golf courses in Reston.   This affirmation was very well received by all parties.  

In the course of the discussions, the County reps explained some of the bureaucratic challenges they face and the often lengthy time needed to ensure all proper authorizations and approvals are obtained for a given project.  They also explained there is a difference between commitments and actual physical possession of a resource or funds.  For example, the County reps speak of $10 million dollars in proffer money to obtain and support recreational facilities.  However, there actually is no "money in the bank" at the moment, as these commitments are only exercised when a project reaches a certain level of completion. 

The CPR/RA reps expressed some frustration with the vagueness of the answers given by the County.  Although the complexity of the development process is understood and appreciated, Reston has been around for a long time and some examples of recent successful projects should be possible to cite.      

In conclusion, the CPR/RA reps again thanked the County representatives for their candor and willingness to help educate the public.  This meeting was informative and productive.  Moving forward, the County agreed to provide:

--  Information on the proposed turfing and lighting of existing playing fields in Reston, including how to mitigate safety concerns that have led Montgomery County to restrict new turfing, factors that led to a belief that significant increased playing time will result from these additions and a breakdown on the cost of upgrades and what designated funding source has been identified for each field;  
 
--  Information on the status of current development projects as they pertain to the delivery of open space, parks, "urban parks", athletic facilities, pocket parks, etc. to the community.  This information should come in the What/Where/How/When format.  As part of this, please provide a map showing all current, proposed and aspirational open space, parks, urban parks, pocket parks, etc. including park dimensions, amenities, on site parking, etc.;   
 
-- Information on the status of the Hunter Mill indoor athletic facility, including proposed location, amenities, funding source, dedicated parking, etc.;
 
-- Information on the status of the commission's work assessing Reston's playing fields;
 
-- An explanation of the origin of the Road from Nowhere and why it keeps coming up in County documents such as the "Reston Traffic Analysis: Final Report" of March 28th, 2018.  Provide procedures to have road removed from all maps and any future consideration; and
 
-- Information on how the development of Reston Town Center North will address open space and additional parkland.  .        

Earlier, in a letter from the Planning Director, the County proposed having a joint meeting of representatives from FCPA, FCPS, the Northern Virginia Park Authority, the Reston Association and any other entity with an interest in or control over land that could become additional park or open space.  We believe this would be most helpful. 


The community representatives agreed to provide:

--  A template to list all the required information about park and open space, etc associated with upcoming development;
 
-- A list of possible locations for pedestrian tunnels and overpasses associated with new construction;
 
-- Public support for County efforts to obtain needed land in Reston from developers; and
 
-- An open mind and appreciation for the difficulties County officials have in addressing all these issues.   


The group will reconvene when both sides have had a chance to assess the additional information obtained from the other. 


Sincerely, Dennis

Dennis K. Hays

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Further Review of RNAG Report on Reston Roads, John Mooney

Fairfax County is using the results of the Reston Network Analysis Group (RNAG) final analysis of traffic demand and improvements for the next three decades to guide its planning of Reston roadway improvements.  In the following paper, John Mooney, RA Board of Directors, takes a look at some of the shortcomings in that analysis.  

Saturday, September 15, 2018

What if HQ2 comes to Reston?


At last week’s DC Economic Club luncheon, Jeff Bezos stated that Amazon will announce the location of its second corporate headquarters—“HQ2”—by the end of the year.  The Washington metropolitan area figures prominently in Amazon’s consideration with nine sites identified as finalists.  One of the possible locations indicates it is likely to be located at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) near Dulles airport in the bulls-eye of the US internet.    

Regrettably, Fairfax County leaders are not planning realistically or inclusively to provide the infrastructure needed to support the promise of 50,000 new jobs dangled by Jeff Bezos resulting in an estimated 130,000 person population gain, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG).  Moreover, MWCOG expects Amazon’s arrival in the DC area to generate an additional population growth of 260,000 people region-wide in households with employees directly supporting Amazon. 

Reston and the CIT are at the epicenter of Fairfax’s development planning to support Bezos’ expected move.  They are along Metro’s Silver Line and bordered by generally low-intensity commercial development that is already being profitably redeveloped into a high-density residential-centric mixed-use urban environment. 

The county’s comprehensive plan for our masterpiece Bob Simon “planned” community—modified without meaningful resident knowledge, much less input, in recent years—is to triple Reston’s roughly 60,000 population and add about 40,000 jobs over four decades.  This is the kind of growth that Amazon will require.  This includes well over 90,000 new residents and the new jobs in its three Silver Line Metro stations and adding more than 20,000 residents to its redeveloped suburban village centers, changing them from neighborhood shopping sites into high-density mixed-use mini-urban centers.   Routinely awarded "bonus" density and development waivers are likely to drive that population growth up at least another ten percent.

Using FCPS' forecast methodology, that potential 180,000 or so population means more than 5,000 new students added to the 20,000 kids already in Reston’s overcrowded schools according to Fairfax schools.  More broadly, MWCOG estimates total added students from all Amazon-related employment at 87,000--a much higher per household student ratio than Fairfax County anticipates (0.2 vs. 0.087 students per household).  The county’s plan:  Add one elementary school and shift some boundaries.  Using the county’s forecasting methods, Reston’s citizen groups calculate that three new elementary schools and one each middle and high school will be required.   MWCOG's forecast would require a doubling of that number.

Open spaces—parks, athletic fields, woods, and lakes—are a cornerstone of Reston’s history and its planning principles.  More than 1,350 of Reston's total 10,000 acres is HOA open space while the county provides only about 110 acres of parkland in Reston.   Yet the county’s Reston plan calls for only about 12 new ballfields requiring less than 50 acres, about one-quarter the acreage mandated by its own urban parkland acreage standards.  There would be virtually no other public open spaces of consequence, maybe some small linear and pocket parks, playgrounds, and—yes—sidewalks. 

The county’s transportation plan for Reston is equally ludicrous.  In general, it hypothesizes without meaningful evidence, using a flawed methodology, and relying on unreliable self-monitoring that traffic will magically diminish as new bicycle and pedestrian facilities and high-density housing are added.   Its few substantial road improvement proposals—critically needed crossovers of the Dulles Corridor—are literally decades away and unfunded, and moving farther into the future despite a special added tax on Reston station area properties.  Finally, the Reston plan explicitly proposes no additions to public transit—none!

Nonetheless, the County is in no financial position to carry out even these insufficient plans as the delays and omissions in its transportation planning highlight.  It has insufficient reserves to buy land for schools, parks, or any other public facility, much less build them.  Moreover, it almost certainly has made generous secret tax concessions to Amazon to attract it here.  It could use its “AAA” bonding power, but the investment would be in the billions of dollars over time, put its bond rating at risk, and require substantial additional property taxes on all county residents while limiting the availability of bonds for other county needs.   And there is little land available in Reston for almost any of the needed infrastructure investments at any price. 

Moreover, as analysis of numerous research studies has pointed out, the cost of adding infrastructure to support residential development consistently exceeds the new tax revenue generated.  The result, of course, will be a sharp diminution in Restonians’ quality of life with similar, but lesser, lifestyle erosion county-wide.   

And, when it suits Jeff Bezos, Amazon will move on to “HQ3”—just as Exxon returned to Texas a four years ago—leaving behind the wreckage of the once-uplifting planned community of Reston.