Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Friday, May 13, 2011

Notes on the Reston P&Z Committee Meeting, April 18, 2011


Members Present:  Bruce, Cerny, Cupina, Donohue, Eckhardt, Hill, Kennedy, Murphy, Romeo, Traylor, Weber, and Wynands

Members Absent: Muhammed, Straits, Vanell, Walker, and Weissburg

Agenda Item:  Fairway Apartments (near North Shore Dr. north of Temporary Rd.)—Owner JGB Company’s presentation of a revised redevelopment plan.  New plan includes 804 units, a reduction of about 130 units from the previous proposal.  The 342 existing rental units on the site would be demolished.  This is the fifth revision of the Fairways redevelopment proposal.  Density of the overall development is decreased from 50 units per acre in the previous proposal to 43 units per acre.

The meeting began at 7:32 pm.

John Schlichting and Alex San Andres represented JGB.  Also representing JGB were Bob Lawrence of Reed Smith and Matt Koirtyohann of Urban Engineering.
The plan eliminates the high-rise building included in the previous proposal.  The new plan includes two 5-story buildings (both on the west side of the development), one 4-story building (on the east side), and 131 three-story townhouses.  The 5-story building would provide underground parking.  Structured parking would adjoin the other two buildings.

Multifamily rental units:  673.
“For sale” townhouse units:  131.
Workforce housing units:  80.
Affordable Dwelling Units:  7.

Members asked a number of questions which elicited the following information from JGB—

Amenities:  Two tot lots.  Additional amenities are under consideration.

Open space:  42% on east side; 36% on west side.  Open space excludes streets and paved surfaces.

Developer will aim to meet LEED silver standard for the buildings and LEED ND gold for the development as a whole.

Permeable paving surface would be used in outdoor parking areas, but not in the driving aisles.

The heights of buildings nearest to North Shore Drive have been reduced and more green space would be created.  Density would increase towards the southeast corner of the site.

Construction schedule:  No earlier than spring 2013, perhaps spring 2014.

Existing residents would receive relocation assistance.

Mr. Kennedy referred to language in the Fairfax County staff report recommending denial of the previous application which stated that any proposed redevelopment of the Fairways site should aim for the midpoint of the maximum allowable density on the site (between an minimum of 20 du/acre and 50 du/acre).  Mr. Kennedy questioned why JGB’s new proposal lowered the proposed density from the previous 50 du/acre to 43 du/acre only, when the midpoint would be about 35 du/acre (which would produce about 658 units, some 146 units less than the revised proposal). 

In response, Mr. Schlichting stated that Fairfax County staff is satisfied with the revised proposal.

Audience comments focused on traffic concerns, particularly at North Shore Dr. and Temporary Rd., and the loss of affordable housing.

Richard Newlon of the Reston Association’s Design review board (DRB) said DRB has serious reservations about the revised proposal.  He cited the “massiveness” of the structures and the “unReston-like” length and arrangement of some of the buildings.  One of the multifamily buildings would be shaped somewhat like a donut where the residential units would surround an interior parking structure.  That building’s length would exceed that of a typical block in downtown Washington.

Mr. Newlon said although the DRB liked the location of townhouses at the perimeter of the site near North Shore Dr., the height of the 3-story townhouses would be too high for the location and would not fit in with existing 2-story townhouses in the immediate area.  In general, the design of the townhouses would be inconsistent with nearby townhouses in a number of ways, including in the placement of three parallel rows of units, a site design found nowhere else in Reston.

In conclusion, Mr. Newlon said the developer needs to rethink the density of the site.  The “livability” of Reston would suffer if the proposed development goes forward as currently designed, he said.

Mr. Cerny then read a letter from Diane Blust of Sustainable Fairfax urging P&Z to recommend denial of the proposal on the grounds that it would reduce affordable housing in Reston and create too much density at an unsuitable location.

Mr. Hill then introduced a motion recommending approval of the proposal subject to any requirements and/or suggestions from Fairfax County staff.  Mr. Cupina seconded.

Mr. Cerny said he would oppose the motion on two grounds:

1.      The proposal would result in a reduction of 255 units of relatively affordable rental housing when recent U.S. Census data suggests that Reston is becoming increasingly unaffordable to working families and young persons.

2.      The revised proposal still results in too much density at an inappropriate location.  The proposed density would be appropriate along the Dulles corridor, or within or in proximity to the Reston Town Center or a village center.  Even though the maximum allowable density at the site is 50du/acre, the surrounding area developed at a significantly lower density. 

The motion passed:  10-1.  Kennedy abstained.     

Minutes of the March 2011 meeting:  Hill motioned for approval; Kennedy seconded.  The minutes were approved by unanimous vote. 

No other business was discussed.
The meeting adjourned at 9:38 pm. 
Next P&Z meeting:  May 16, 2011, 7:30 pm, North County Government Center.  

Notes by Stephen Cerny

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