Reston Town Center Christmas Tree Lighting & Sing-Along with Reston Chorale

Reston Town Center Christmas Tree Lighting & Sing-Along with Reston Chorale
Photo by Modern Reston

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ARCH Lays Out Draft Principles for Re-planning Reston, Letter to the Editor, Fairfax Times, December 29, 2009


Planning future development in Reston no easy task


In response to efforts outlined for the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force, which was established by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins to do the important work of planning for Reston's future development and growth, the Alliance of Reston Clusters and Homeowners has proposed a number of draft principles to guide the work of the task force.

The draft principles, developed by the ARCH Issues Committee and Board of Directors, were derived from ARCH member input provided in the past year and are contained in an ARCH Issues Bulletin as follows:

ARCH acknowledges that increased commercial and residential development in the greater Reston area may be inevitable. But that development must be well planned and supported by all necessary infrastructure (public facilities and transportation - vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian), lest it degrade Reston's quality of life and its world-renowned special character. Fundamentally the task force should distinguish between how much additional commercial and residential development might be possible versus how much would be appropriate, define the latter as the limit, and then identify what infrastructure improvements need to be undertaken to support that level of development.

The task force should update the facilities and transportation exhibits to the Reston Master Plan (including adopting the unfunded recommendations of the Reston Metrorail Access Group [RMAG, April 2008 Study]). The Reston planning documents should then be amended to require that what have been identified as necessary infrastructure improvements to support specific new development must be put in place before or concurrently with that new development.

Reston's open space and recreational amenities are vital to Reston's quality of life. With increased growth comes demand for additional open space and, potentially, recreational amenities that must be identified and incorporated in the Reston planning documents. We accept that innovative solutions may be required (such as elevated parks or plazas).

In addition to open space and recreational amenities, Reston's world-renowned and unique character rests in part on its encouragement of environmentally sensitive development, public art and affordable housing for our teachers, nurses, police, firefighters, service industry and professional support staff, and others essential to the Reston work force. Accommodating these interests should remain important in defining the future growth of our community.

Reston's existing residential neighborhoods outside the RCIG (Reston Center for Industry and Government), Town Center, and Lake Anne (per its approved redevelopment plan) should essentially remain stable at their as-built densities.

The task force should promote innovative architectural designs for the Reston Metro stations - especially for the Reston Town Center station. These are critical gateways into this unique community and they should reflect that uniqueness.

Because the task force must deal with many issues in a short time, it must be efficient and focused. Nonetheless, it should provide for a suitable level of transparency and opportunity for broad community awareness and input.

During the next month, ARCH will coordinate the Issues Bulletin with its members, culminating with a meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Hunters Woods Reston Community Center to take further input and finalize the communiqué.

Gerald R. Volloy, President,

Alliance of Reston Clusters and Homeowners

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Column: Master Planning — Cautious Optimism? John Lovaas, Reston Connection, December 18, 2009

After vacationing with friends in Ireland, I seem to have a more positive outlook about events in Reston, the master planning exercise in particular. Maybe I was influenced by our time among people — even conservatives — who believe adequate health care for all is something a civilized society routinely provides. Or maybe it was just the Guinness and warmth of the Irish?

After reflecting on the well-attended kickoff of the Reston Master Plan/ Special Study and the Task Force named by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), I find myself cautiously optimistic. There actually may be a chance we will get a needed thorough update incorporating views of Reston residents, not just those of landowners/developers and county pols in it more for profit and property tax.

What could possibly give this consistent critic of Fairfax County processes and treatment of powerless Reston cause for even “cautious optimism” you might ask?

Click here for the rest of this column.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

RA Looks at Plans for Development Near Wiehle Station, Reston Observer, Dec. 11, 2009

By Leslie Perales
Observer Staff Writer


Reston Association's planning and zoning committee took a look at Comstock Partners' plans to build thousands of parking spaces and more than 1 million square feet of mixed-use development next to the Wiehle Avenue Metro station.

The committee originally looked at the plans in September but asked Comstock and its representatives to return in a few months with more detailed plans. The first time around the committee was most concerned with traffic flow in and out of the development and the concern remained at Tuesday night's meeting.

Comstock's plans call for nearly 4,700 total parking spaces between the garage for the Metro and the garages for the mixed-use buildings, which will include three office buildings, one hotel, one residential building and possible sixth building. The sixth building's use will be determined by the market in the future, according to developers.

For the rest of this article, please click here
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Map: Reston Master Plan Special Task Force Study Area

Reston Master Plan Special Study Area Map 9-11-09

News: Group Makes Noise for Sound Wall Protection, Fairfax Times, Dec. 8, 2009


Residents near Dulles Toll Road engage leaders in battle against train racket


By Kali Schumitz | Staff Writer

As construction of the Dulles Metrorail extension moves full steam ahead, residents along its path are concerned about what the sound of trains traveling down the tracks will mean for their quality of life.

A group representing homeowners groups in neighborhoods along the Dulles Toll Road and the Dulles Connector is working to get about 31 miles of new sound walls installed to mitigate both the existing car traffic noise from the highway and the anticipated noise from the coming transit line.

For the rest of the story, read here

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Letter: Careful Approach To Wiehle Station, Reston Connection, December 8, 2009

An open letter to Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill)

Dear Supervisor Hudgins:

I would like to submit some comments to you regarding the County/Comstock Wiehle Reston Station plan.

Careful inspection of the documents from Fairfax County Zoning Evaluation reveals that there is only one dedicated turning lane southbound along Wiehle Avenue into the station. There is only one dedicated turning lane eastbound along Sunset Hills Drive turning onto Comstock Metro Center Drive, a narrow driveway that also serves traffic to surrounding office buildings including the Kaiser medical building.

One does not have to be a traffic engineer to understand the implications of having limited entrances to the station during rush hour. Traffic will back up along Sunset Hills from the Comstock Metro Center Drive entrance. Traffic will back up southbound along Wiehle and westbound from Sunset Hills waiting to enter Reston Station Boulevard. The station traffic will produce gridlock in the area streets and will probably impact intersections on the other side of the Toll Road as well as along Sunrise Valley Drive.

At the current time, VDOT’s review of the Chapter 527 TIA resubmitted by Gorove/Slade Associates has not been posted on the Landtrack Web site. However, the previous 527 indicates serious problems with traffic at the station under the current plan from Comstock.

There is another issue of great importance and that is regarding the covenants and restrictions in place for the Reston Center for Industry and Government which are held by Reston Association as the second part of the Deed of Dedication of Reston which was granted by Fairfax County.

According to the lease agreement signed by Comstock Partners and Fairfax County, that lease agreement is null if the RCIG deed is not vacated by April 2010.

According to the deed it requires signatures of owners of 90 percent of the area of the RCIG to be amended, not the 66 2/3 percent stated by Patti Nicoson at the yearly ARCH board meeting.

I do not believe the RCIG can be vacated without a vote of the homeowners of the Reston Association. When individuals buy properties that come under the deed of Reston, they do not buy all the property rights. Certain of those rights are retained by Reston Association in order to administer the covenants and restrictions. Since Reston Association is none other than the collective body of homeowners, vacating the RCIG deed will require the release of those rights by a referendum of those homeowners.

When Robert Simon wrote the two deeds he wrote them so they could not be broken or dissolved. Those deeds are airtight. They cannot be unmade from without. Only a vote of the homeowners of Reston Association can unmake either deed since the rights to all properties governed by Reston Association reside with the homeowners.

I do not believe the homeowners will vote to vacate a deed that guarantees 50 percent open space next to their homes, especially along Sunrise Valley Drive. That open space provides grace and beauty to our community. The deed can and should be amended to allow residential units in the RCIG to allow for transit-oriented development. Reston Association must retain architectural and design control over all new development in the RCIG through the Architectural Review Board. All new residential properties will need to come under the Reston deed and be part of Reston Association and be subject to DRB review.

The legal mechanism to block nullification of the RCIG deed can be engaged by Reston Association or any single Reston homeowner in the Fairfax county courts.

My suggestion is that the part of the County/Comstock plan that pertains to the underground parking garage be separated from the rest of the station plan and be allowed to move ahead at the present time in order that it be complete when the Silver Line is operational. The residential/commercial part of the Comstock plan needs to be halted and evaluated by the Dulles Corridor Special Study Task Force with the other 20 APR nominations.

Kathy Kaplan
Reston

Master Plan Study Kicks Off, Reston Connection, December 8, 2009

Details on citizen advisory groups remain vague, but public participation is encouraged.

By Mike DiCicco

Just before the meeting that kicked off the Reston Master Plan Special Study on Tuesday, Dec. 1, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) said she thought county staff would work with the Reston Association to set up citizen advisory groups to help guide the review of the community’s plan, although it was not yet clear what role such groups would have. She said she recognized that input from residents would result in useful suggestions and better community buy-in on the resulting plan changes.

Most the members of the task force that will lead the project have been appointed, but at a meeting in October, the RA’s executive board had lobbied Hudgins for the creation of advisory groups to involve more citizens, many of whom attended the "land use college" that the supervisor staged over the prior couple of months. Hudgins said she would be amenable to the idea but wanted to make sure the project stayed on course to be completed by the end of 2011.

The task force also includes a number of community representatives, and public workshops will be conducted to gather input and keep the public informed.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Reston Task Force Prepares for Metrorail's Arrival, Fairfax Times, December 8, 2009

Group looking at best use for
land surrounding the Toll Road

by Holly Hobbs | Staff Writer

The promise of bringing Metrorail to Reston has raised questions about the best use for land surrounding the Toll Road, which currently allows for industrial growth.

A task force of local residents, business and community leaders will take on these questions, helping to create a new master plan for the area.

"I know this is of great interest to the community, but I'd like to emphasize that it is of great importance to the community," said Fairfax Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) at a community kickoff meeting Dec. 1 that drew about 100 residents.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

News: County Unveils Reston Master Plan Special Study, Reston Observer, Dec. 4, 2009

By Leslie Perales
Observer Staff Writer

Fairfax County officials presented plans for the Reston Master Plan Special Study to more than 100 area residents at South Lakes High School on Tuesday evening.

Heidi Merkel, a senior planner with the county's department of planning and zoning, said Reston is a unique area of Fairfax County because many of its residents also work in close proximity to their homes. She said in 2001 the county took a look at the master plan for Reston and made some changes but now that transportation plans have changed the 2001 changes need to be revisited.

The last time the master plan was reviewed, county officials were planning on a number of phases of transportation alternatives to take shape, starting with bus rapid transit by the end of the decade, Merkel said. Now that the phased transportation plan has skipped straight to the rail phase, many of the plans the county had on file are obsolete, she said.

For the rest of this article on the Task Force's purpose, plan, processes, and schedule, please read here: http://www.observernews.com/story08/news08/120409_restonmp.html

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Will Metro in Dulles Corridor Mean? Letter: Cathy Hudgins, Hunter Mill Supervisor, Reston Connection, November 25, 2003

Cathy Hudgins/Supervisor (Hunter Mill District)
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Most Hunter Mill District residents have heard that the new proposal for expanding Metro into the Dulles Corridor includes a two-phased approach with the first phase providing rail to Wiehle Avenue. Most have reacted positively, realizing that this means the funding for this project will be available sooner and that rail will thus reach Reston sooner. Others have reacted with concern and confusion. "Will this mean all of our neighbors to the west will be descending upon Wiehle Avenue en masse?" "Will the community be consulted or will giant high-rises start popping up near Wiehle Avenue?" As Hunter Mill District supervisor, I think it imperative that I respond to many of these questions.

To answer these questions, let's review where we have been with the Dulles Rail project. In 2001, the Board of Supervisors approved amendments to the Comprehensive Plan for transit-oriented development around the Wiehle Avenue and Reston Parkway station area. In April 2002, I hosted the Reston Charrette for local residents and landowners to discuss the community's wishes for land-use planning around the Wiehle Avenue and Reston Parkway stations. The report from this charrette is available online at www.novaregion.org/restoncharrette.htm and through my office. The final recommendations for the Wiehle Avenue station described the station area as a "Mixed-Use Village" and favored increasing bus service to both stations to mitigate the effects of incoming traffic on the Reston community. The community also recommended an underground parking structure beneath the "village."

By December 2002, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the Loudoun Board, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board had all approved rail to Dulles as the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). In early 2003, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (VDRPT) sought funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for a full 24-mile extension of rail from West Falls Church to Tysons and on to Dulles Airport into Loudoun at Route 772. In response, the FTA directed the Commonwealth to respond to questions about the project, specifically regarding funding the entire 24-mile extension. Frankly, the FTA response appeared to be a death knell to the Dulles Corridor Project.

Under the direction of VDPRT Director Karen Rae, the project team went back to the drawing board to respond to FTA's concerns. The new proposal to FTA brings rail into the corridor by stopping at Wiehle Avenue as an interim terminus-making specific a phased-approach that had always been part of the project. I believe this is our first and best assurance that the project will continue to Dulles Airport. However, this has exacerbated concerns over increased traffic.

Wiehle will not be a "Vienna-like" terminus with entry for all park-and-ride/kiss-and-ride Metro riders west of Reston. Instead, the Wiehle Station will develop according to the Comprehensive Plan and the report from the Reston Charrette. How will we prevent the surrounding areas of the station from becoming parking havens for desperate commuters? After all, if we build it they will come.
They will indeed come, but our plan requires that they come primarily by feeder buses and not by car. Additional commuter parking is planned at Routes 606 and 772 in Loudoun County and additional bus service is planned throughout the Dulles Corridor, to provide alternatives for commuters from the west. Structured parking for Wiehle Avenue is inevitable, but the board has requested that the structure be delayed until there is a Full Funding Agreement (FFA) for Phase III thus ensuring that rail will move past Wiehle.

What if Phase II is delayed far into the future or never built? The greatest advantage of the Phase I proposal is that, in order to bring rail into the corridor, the Airports Authority must grant the Dulles Airport Access Road right-of-way. The Airports Authority sees the benefits of rail service to the airport as justification for funding the entire project. Additionally, major infrastructure will be in place to begin the additions of the Reston Parkway and Herndon-Monroe stations, both within three miles of Wiehle Avenue.

There are never any certainties when working on major projects like Dulles Rail. Nonetheless, I intend to work to ensure that we heed both the spirit of the original plan and the wishes the community expressed at the charrette. At our last meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved letters to our federal and state delegations and the governor, urging that all language for funding Dulles Rail describe the entire 24-mile project. I made this motion to make certain that no one loses sight of the significance of Phase II.

Many have talked about the importance of serving Tysons Corner, but not enough emphasis has been given to the Dulles Corridor. The Dulles Corridor is home to over 60,000 jobs, 120,000 residents, and 17,000 current bus riders. The corridor alone justifies rail. It is critical to our economic success and our quality of life that we both reduce congestion and pollution and improve the transportation network. I intend to work with the community to see that it happens — and that we do right.