Town Center in Winter

Town Center in Winter

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The County Needs “Practice” in Telling the Truth


As a result of the County’s unwillingness to consider Reston plan amendments proposed by the community, Restonians are facing the end of their planned community, a community that has balanced people and nature to maximize quality of life for more than a half century. 

County staff stated in a letter dated March 28, 2018:  “(I)t has long been the county's practice not to amend these new plans within the first five years of their adoption. . . Staff continues to support this practice and cannot support changes to land use, density or intensity recommendations in the Reston Master Plan for the Transit Station Areas until after 2019 and for Reston's neighborhoods and village centers until after 2020.”  These are precisely the areas of the plan that most need change now to preserve Reston as a planned and livable community.  

Despite its alleged “practice,” the County has amended Reston’s plan at much shorter intervals when it suits the County’s tax revenue purposes.  Specifically, the County increased Reston’s transit station area (TSA) development plan potential density in less than a two-year window.  Here’s what we mean:

  • In the version of the Reston plan approved February 11, 2014, “The target development level established for the three TSAs is approximately 28,000 new and existing residential units and approximately 30 million square feet of new and existing office uses.”  This is generally in line with the “Scenario G” recommendation of the Reston Master Plan Task Force that Supervisor Hudgins likes to point to as representing community involvement.  
Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, Amendment 2013-05, Adopted February 11, 2014, p. 7.

  • In the version of the Reston plan approved June 2, 2015, ostensibly approving Phase 2 of the Reston plan concerning Reston’s non-TSA suburban areas, the following change was made:  “The target development level established for the three TSAs is approximately 44,000 new and existing residential units and approximately 30 million square feet of new and existing office uses.”  County staff’s argument was that it maintains the jobs to households balance at about 2.5 to 1.   It does not explain why this is meaningful, much less desirable.   It’s equally unclear why, if a change were required, the jobs potential couldn’t be decreased—instead of increased— to meet the County’s desired ratio.  
Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, ST09-III-UP1(B), Adopted June 2, 2015, p. 22.

 And, NO, the county did not work with the community in changing these critical density elements of the Reston plan.  There was no transparency in this process and it is not the only change made on Phase 1 transit station areas when the County was nominally looking only at changes in the suburban (PRC) areas of Reston.   In fact, the County is so opaque on this matter that you cannot find these two earlier editions of Reston’s Master Plan on the County’s website.  Some of us have retained hardcopies, however.

The County made this major density change within sixteen months of the earlier change.  So much for the “practice” of a five year wait!  Does this fact make the change invalid???

So the notion that it is County “practice” not to change the Comprehensive Plan at less than five year intervals is a falsehood.  It is only a self-serving “practice” used by the County when it does not want to consider Restonians’ concerns about land use, density, or intensity that has been foisted upon it by the Board of Supervisors and County staff without community participation.   

As a result, we face a hurtling County scheme to increase Reston’s allowable density in the PRC zoning ordinance from 13 to 16 persons per acre and continuing support for generally unconstrained redevelopment in key areas of the Reston Master Plan.  This unconstrained redevelopment potential includes the station areas, the village centers, and other “hot spots” (such as Saint Johns Wood) the County has identified without community consultation for high-density, high-rise multi-family redevelopment.

As a next step toward trying to stop this onslaught, please attend CPR’s community meeting on April 23, 2018, 7PM, at RA’s conference center, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, VA 20191.  CPR will update the community on recent developments in the County’s zoning initiative, lay out its ideas for community action, and seek your assistance in stepping up community protest.  Your involvement is vital to the survival of the Reston we know and want as a planned community.