Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Notes from the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, September 28, 2011

                                       28 Sept 2011
                                       R. Rogers

     Summary: Discussion focused on the open space section of the “checklist.” The Department of Planning & Zoning (DPZ) presented its proposal for a residential test, which drew a cool reaction from development community and mixed support from others.  DPZ said it realized the high residential figures—-higher than the 2020 proposal--were unrealistic.

     Attendance: Good—the “big nine” present. Several TF members including RCA’s John Bowman were also in attendance.

     Admin: During discussion of the recent Herndon meeting on the Herndon station, Greg Riegle noted that the Town Council seems intent on finalizing its plan by year end.

Open Space and Urban Design

     Discussion focused on the Steering Committee (SC) “checklist’ on these issues (see 21 Sept SC mtg on FC website for text). Heidi Merkel, DPZ, said she did not think the TF report should lay out specific percentages for open space.  Instead, it should emphasize the type of open space that is wanted leaving some flexibility for implementation.  John Carter agreed that the Tyson plan approach of designating specific open space was not desirable but urged a hybrid approach designating some big public areas and encouraging smaller spaces.  Goudie urged that developers be expected to devote “up to” 20% for open space.  Most seemed to agree that all developers should have an obligation to support open space even it not on their properties.

     Kohann Williams urged that attention be paid to the issue of maintaining privately held public open space, citing maintenance problems at Lake Anne.  She also urged a “memorial garden” (John Carter is apparently on a committee to discuss this).

     The discussion touched on the problems of utilizing open space not within the TOD area for recreation such as ball fields.  Bill Penniman also mentioned making more effective use of open space outside the TOD areas such as RA properties and Lake Fairfax Park.  I suggested that this issue should be taken up as part of Phase II.

Alternative Test Scenario

     Heidi M put forth an alternative transportation test scenario that would call for more residential.  The DPZ proposal, which she specifically said DPZ did not endorse, calls for 4 sq ft of residential to each 1 sq ft of additional commercial. The gross sq. footage would be 13.8 non-residential and 55 mil of residential. Because the proposal is so unrealistic, she said DPZ was not proposing that it be submitted for testing by the FC departments like schools and parks.

     Heidi noted latter in the discussion that the Reston 2020 proposal did not call for as much residential as this and, in fact, was closer to the GMU numbers.

     There was considerable discussion about what this might mean in terms of people.  Depending on the square footage assigned to residents and workers the projections ranged from 8 residents for each two new workers to “a little bit more labor force than jobs.”

     The development community was either cool or opposed to the test scenario. Otteni, for example said that to get this much residential you would have to give developers some financial incentive and that the proposal did not try to assess the broader impact of more residents. Looney wondered why we would “waste” one of out test scenarios on this.  Goudie again asserted that too much residential would ruin TC as a regional hub.  (Comment:  Why does Mr. Goudie continue to insist that Reston Town Center is a “regional hub”?  That is supposed to be the role of Tysons in its new plan. TMaynard)

     John Carter, John Boyd, Paul Thomas and Joe Stowers to one degree or another spoke in favor of testing this  as a “data point”. Bill Penniman raised the possibility of a more balanced test as well, using less residential.

     Heidi M said based on the discussion she will revise the proposal and submit it for discussion at the next SC meeting.


     The last SC meeting focused on transportation.  Heidi M said are no specific notes available. The discussion will be used by the staff as a guideline in drafting the TF report. (Comment:  I was informally told that the development community steadily watered down the Vision Com points in the “checklist.”)

     Re North Town Center:  I raised the rather low figure in the 9/7 DPZ map for “7%” institutional in North Town Center.  Heidi said “institutional” includes civic facilities such as the police station, library, municipal building, housing office and INOVA Access center.  She agreed that 7% sound very low and will go back to check this (NTC is now 50% county owned).

     Next: The next SC mtg will probably be 11 Oct at 7PM at Lake Anne (check details).

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