Autumn on Lake Audobon

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

Notes on the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, May 25, 2011

                                       27 May 2011
                                       R. Rogers
    
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING: 25 May 2011

     Summary: Although the meeting was supposed to focus on a “flexible planning formula” virtually all of it was devoted to discussion of a DPZ map outlining suggested development for the entire Reston TOD area. Many questions were raised about the map, and it reopened old but never answered questions about overall population density and jobs-household balance.  As a result, DPZ will provide more data at the next SC meeting.

     Attendance: 9 out of 12 present.  Also several TF members and Fred Selden, who has become a regular.

Announcements: Chairman Patty Nicoson briefly noted the turbulence about Metrorail Phase 2, but said it was “unimaginable” that it would not go to Dulles.

     She noted activity on the Tyson’s front. This triggered comments, particularly by Mark Looney about the confusion created by the fact that the county had not tested the proposed grid against traffic needs; this was now leading to questions about what should be required. He said this was producing questions by “first re-developers” about what was required of them re the grid, and talk of condemnation of property for a grid of those not developing sooner (note implications for Reston implementation).

     A new report by Herndon consultants was briefly noted. It reduces the TOD area but sticks with a FAR of 4.5, which is viewed as needed to promote development of a kiss and ride.

DPZ Conceptual Land Use Map
     Virtually the entire meeting was taken up with discussion of a DPZ “conceptual land use draft” map of the Reston TOD areas (not yet accessible on county website). The map introduced categories called “transit station mixed use” (immediately adjacent to the stations) and “residential mixed use” outside them.

     It triggered much discussion about what was actually meant by the categories. For example, staff said that the “residential mixed use” areas would be “primarily” residential.  There was discussion about whether the map related to new development or existing uses as well (much of which is office in the “residential mixed use” areas).

     John Carter noted that too much was being implied in too simple map.

     The map then triggered a renewed discussion about the  20 year time frame being used by DPZ.  Many SC members think this too short and some of the sub coms based their recommendations on longer periods.  Fred Selden noted that although FC had gotten the State to give Tyson’s planning a 40 year horizon, DPZ had not asked this for Reston.  He also noted you cannot reasonably predict public infrastructure over a 40 year period.

     This then triggered discussion about the uncertainties implied by using the GMU 2030 “high” forecast plus 20% as a basis for planning.   The duo of John Cater and Robert Goudie said the TF should be planning for what it wants, not what GMU forecasts.

     Eventually it was decided that DPZ at the next meeting should come back with considerable data to show the existing and proposed density and residential-commercial balance in each TOD area, comparing the GMU projections with the possibilities laid out by each of the sub coms.

Comment: Fred Selden during the discussion made several comments indicative of DPZ uneasiness with the density and balance recommended by the TF sub coms.  He noted that under present zoning, there is too much commercial and it needs to be balanced by more residential.  He also said that the TF needs to look at transportation options in view of the likelihood of more congestion.  Again more residential may be needed, he thought, accompanied by parking restrictions in new development (which he noted developers generally do not favor). The DPZ “‘draft map” also implied much more residential than the sub coms, particularly TC, had projected)

“Flexible Planning”
     Although the meeting was supposed to focus on this and a DPZ handout had a proposed a sample flexible framework for H-2 on the south side of Wiehle station, there was virtually no discussion of this.

     However, two visitors, TF member Fred Costello and lawyer Andrew Painter from Walsh Colluci did raise this in the public comments period.

     Costello urged that the TF not lose local control of density to DPZ and a remote county process. He said that right now what is emerging is “half a plan” since it does not include traffic infrastructure.
   
     Painter re “flexible planning” said:
     --FARs in a plan provide predictability.
     --a “performance based” flexible option needs to be tied to specific FAR increases.

Next
     SC meetings at AM 1 June and PM 7 June and a TF mtg to review SC work on 14 June (see FC website for details.)
    

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