Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Notes on the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, April 6, 2011, Dick Rogers

UPDATE:  The "X-factor" paper Dick Rogers discusses in his notes is now publicly available.  The link is attached to the bottom of these notes.  
                                       6 April 2011
                                       R. Rogers

     Summary:  The meeting involved an extended discussion of jobs/housing balance. Although there was a consensus for a non-binding advisory ratio, the exact number was not set pending more data from the staff.

     Attendance: 11 out of 12 present.  Also attending: Judy Pew and Richard Kennedy, who have made themselves de facto Committee members.

     Chairman Patti Nicoson noted she attended the formal dedication of the Wiehle parking area. Also that MWAA would be voting on the underground station issue today. Noted that phase 1 is 37% complete.

     Wiehle Avenue Station Area:

     Van Foster had made new viewgraphs on the Wiehle station which were discussed (see county website).  They show that much of new development, particularly outside the ¼ mile, would be residential. The Wiehle sub com recommendations were generally well received although Robert Goudie kept alive his “more residences” issue.

     Later in the meeting, the Chair tried to raise the issue of approving the Wiehle sub com report. But the argument was made that this cannot be done until the Town Center (TC) balance is established since TC will be bigger and denser. Also it was noted that mix of uses cannot be firmly established until density and FARs are laid out.

     Jobs/Housing Balance

     Heidi Merkel, DPZ Staff, said her goal was to establish a consensus on jobs housing balance as a tool to help determine the mix of uses in the TOD areas. (See county website for two approaches to the job/housing issue—option A by the staff and B by Goudie. Among other things the staff makes the point that the TC balance should be established first).

     There was much wheel spinning about whether a Reston-wide balance (said by DPZ to be 3 jobs per household) or a transit corridor balance was needed.

     There also was much discussion about whether a firm fixed ratio should be established to provide binding, firm guidance or whether there should be a community wide “aspirational planning goal”.  The consensus was moving toward soft, non-binding goals. Mark Looney, for one, said hard goals would throttle responding to the demand he sees for office space in Fairfax County (see last week’s meeting notes), He also thought it might mean that to accommodate TC, more residential would be needed at Wiehle and HM, which he does not favor.

     John Carter wisely questioned over reliance on numbers and argued that a 3 to 1 balance was too high given the infrastructure problems in the area.

     Eventually the group decided not to take a firm position until the DPZ next week can come up with clearer data on what the current Reston wide jobs to housing balance is.

     The “X” Factor

     Mark Looney had done a paper on why an “x” factor for increased development was needed.  (The staff hopes to put this on the DPZ website.  See link below.) Mark said that overall planning numbers are based on a “fear factor” of “what will this look like if everything is built.”  But he argued that it was unlikely that everything will be built on a 20 year period so there should be more flexibility so the developers can go ahead with projects.

     Comment: I have a hard time understanding how this combines with the word “plan.”  It implies a not very firm plan.

     Next: The next meeting will be on Thursday evening 14 April. Double check time; place TBD.

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