Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Notes on the Reston Task Force Meeting, April 26, 2011, Dick Rogers

                                      R. ROGERS
                                      28 April 2011


Summary: The TF was briefed on the recent work of the Steering Com including the DPZ proposal that “flexible” density parameters be incorporated in the plan.  Although some questioning comments were raised there was no basic dissent. The DPZ will begin to develop some wording to show how this concept might be applied to the plan.

     Admin Items: Patty Nicosen reviewed recent developments relating to the MWAA decision on the airport station.  No new details emerged.

     Attendance: Fair to good.  Notably missing were Robert Goudie and Mark Looney.  Heidi Merkel could not attend because of a family emergency and Fred Selden took her role.

     Public Comments: Jobs-housing: John Hanley read the 2020 comments on job/housing balance. Tammi Petrine reinforced this by noting that environmental concerns encouraged actions that mean less automobile dependency. There was no direct response, but later in the meeting a TF member asked how the jobs-housing balance might be addressed.  TF Chair Nicoson said that the discussion in the Steering Committee indicated that no hard target should be adopted and noted that TOD development planned tentatively would pull the ratio down from 3 to 1 to 2.2 or 2.4 to 1

     Fred Selden noted regarding the balance that the geographic area under consideration needs to be clarified.  Are we talking about the TOD areas or Reston as a whole? Fred Costello urged TF members to look at his paper, which was available at the back table.

     Other issues: Dick Rogers noted the casual nature of the first TF vote including confusion among some TF members on what they were voting on. He urged clarification of procedures before the next vote.

A “Flexible Standard
     The DPZ staff briefed the TF on Steering Committee work so far on mix of uses and intensity.  No new ground broken.

     Fred Selden then outlined the DPZ proposal that there be flexible standards for density that would be determined latter when individual zoning proposals where submitted; some might require plan amendment at that time(see report on 19 April Steering Committee meeting and talking points that presumably will be on the DPZ web site). He noted that this might involve flexible FARS; he said FARS are not necessarily the “best measure” in evolving Reston conditions.

     Fred noted a couple of particular issues that concerned DPZ:
  • In this market underground parking is not encouraged.
  • There is a dilemma in determining the right density for infill development on established properties as opposed to new development on tear down properties.
  • Some specific properties are problematic. At Wiehle, the Vornado property south of the station needs to be redeveloped in a way that will promote bus and kiss and ride access. How? Small properties on the North side near COMSTOCK probably should be residential.  How to get this?
  • He hoped in a flexible environment, you would have to justify a higher density”based on what you were willing to do” apparently regarding infrastructure.
 Questions by TF members focused on a couple of issues:
  • How to justify all the planning effort we are doing if the results are to be up in the air
  • Is the GMU vision of 2030 + 20% adequate?.  Should we not be planning for 50-100 years?
  • How do you get all to cooperate on key issues like a grid of streets?. Or will the first to the table get the best deal?
  • How would key infrastructure be obtained under this approach?
 John Carter made several points:
  • Under this approach we need to strengthen the principles and the character of each station area.
  • We need to set FAR ranges so that developers will not build further away from the station first.
  • A strong evaluation and implementation program will be needed
  • Overall the numbers for new development that are being suggested are too high; in particular, the job numbers need to come down.
      Fred Selden said the next step will be for the staff to develop some draft exemplary language that might show how the concept will work in the plan.

     The next TF meeting may be in three weeks.  It was left up in the air.

     Steering Committee will meet at some point next week but Patty N said she could not make the staff proposed Wednesday morning meeting at RA.  Keep tuned!

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