Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Notes on the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, May 4, 2011

Update:  Here is a link to the DPZ's "Flexible Planning Framework" presentation at this meeting of the Steering Committee.  

                                       4 May 2011
                                       R. Rogers
    
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING: 4 May 2011

     Summary: DPZ somewhat expanded on its concept of a “flexible planning framework.”  Again it was obvious that one effect would be to reign in some of the more ambitious FAR proposals.  No firm date was set for the next SC meeting pending DPZ preparation of explanatory map and language.

     Attendance: Good—nine out of 12. Patty N was absent with Kohann Williams sitting in for her.  Richard Kennedy from TF and Reston PZ com was there as was Judy Pew, another regular TF observer.

Flexible Framework

     The bulk of the meeting was devoted to Heidi Merkel and Fred Selden somewhat expanding on the DPZ proposal for the adoption of a “flexible planning framework.”  Hopefully the DPZ talking points will go on the country website. 


     Heidi said “land use categories” might be employed to apply to different sub units.  For example, close into the stations might be a “mixed use category” and further out a “residential mixed use category.” It was noted that in Bailey’s Crossroads up to 9 categories were applied. It was also possible that sub-unit boundaries could be changed.

     Heidi used Herndon Monroe as an example.  The vacant A-2 area might fall into one category while the built up Sprint property another.  She thought a flexible framework would be of particular use at Wiehle because of the many small properties.
 
     Re FAR ranges, Heidi noted that DPZ would start with the sub-com recommendations but she noted that FAR maximums suggested (5 in the case of TC) “would go well beyond existing development projections.”  She noted that in the case of COMSTOCK a 2.5 FAR allowed for a dense urban type development.  Robert Goudie translated this as meaning that the proposed TC FARs would exceed even the GMU 2050 forecast level. He said that although there could be a 5 FAR for Boston Property, would mean there would have to be trade-offs elsewhere.  Heidi agreed, saying that a 5 FAR might still be viable “in certain spaces.”

     Greg Riegle had earlier noted that the Route 28 committee of which he is a member had adopted something of a “flexible framework.Base FARs were 3 close to the station and 2.5 further out; this could be revisited on a case by case basis.

     Target levels: Fred Selden intervened to say that although the “planning level” might be the GMU 2030 forecast level plus 20%, DPZ would not expect all of this to be built. It would use the 2030 level alone as the “target level” for infrastructure issues (parks, schools etc) since the expectation is that the extra 20% would not be used. This would also be the “target” level submitted for transportation testing.

     SC members questioned the use of the 2030 baseline, saying this inhibited longer term planning such as the sub coms had done. Bill Penniman suggested that the plan use a “2035” level (perhaps the GMU high 2030 forecast). Heidi noted that a further complication with GMU is that DPZ wants to encourage more residential development than they foresee. DPZ as a result, would not use the implied GMU jobs-housing ratio.

     John Carter offered that he thought the proposal made a degree of sense.  However, he again noted that overall the numbers being suggested were far too high.  They would take away development from Tyson’s Corner among other things.  He also noted that planning seemed to count on the private sector for various infrastructure improvements that might not be forthcoming.  He noted that 7 failing intersections and high vacancy rates currently in the corridor meant that more moderate targets should be set.

     Comment: Overall the SC members did not object to the “flexible framework” concept.  However, the questioning suggested that the emphasis would be on expanding the “flexible” side to allow maximum--preferably office--development.

     Next: No firm date was set for the next SC mtg.  Heidi suggested Tuesday evening 24 May at which point the DPZ staff would have some sample maps and language to further explain the flexible planning concept. 

     Throughout the meeting various members expressed frustration with the slow pace of RMPTF process.  Heidi indicated would discuss an earlier SC mtg with the chair.

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