Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Monday, September 17, 2012

E-Mail: Problems and Concerns, Joe Stowers, September 12, 2012

The following is the text of an e-mail Joe Stowers, Reston resident and one of its original planners, sent to Supervisor Hudgins.  It is published here with the author's consent.

    I'm writing for two reasons.  First to express my serious disappointment with the Board of Supervisors' decision yesterday to approve the Whealan PRC Plan for the 23-story office building.  I think most of the well-informed people in the community are convinced that this decision will long be seen as one of the worst planning and development decisions that has been made during your service as our Supervisor, because of the magnitude of the negative impact that it will have.

    My second reason is perhaps a more serious problem.  I am really distressed by what I heard during your explanation of why you moved to have this PRC Plan approved.  It demonstrated serious differences between your understanding of how planning and development should move forward and the direction that the most informed non-elected community leaders, such as many members of the Master Plan Task Force and its various participants have been moving over the last couple of years and more.

    Your statement showed that you are out of touch with what has been happening.  It has some of us worried that we have failed to communicate with you and may have been wasting our time and perhaps much of the County's Planning and Zoning and Transportation staff work in supporting the Task Force's efforts over the last couple of years.

    The best example of this is your view of how development should take place in Town Center.

    We all know that Town Center is a large area such as you described.  But for almost 10 years, beginning with Walter Alcorn's leadership of the Planning Commission's work in defining the County's policy on TOD through the current Task Force's work on scenarios being used for impact evaluation, we have been focusing more and more attention on the need to concentrate office development within 1/4 mile or less of the station areas because of the fact that people do not walk very far to jobs from rail stations.  One of the consequences of this has been the need for us to focus attention on promoting residential development in North Town Center and other areas beyond 1/4 mile and more from the stations in order to create a target balance of office and residential uses in the TOD areas.

    Incidentally, you completely misunderstood what I wrote and what I was trying to say about development  in the Spectrum area.  I was definitely not expressing support for increasing its density.  I was urging that building heights imposed by the County in the 1980s be increased to accommodate later-approved FARs without causing the ugly urban design of boxy rows of buildings that have been approved for that area as shown on the staff's slides of building heights presented at yesterday's hearing.

    At this point I have no specific recommendations for how to address the two main problems raised above.  We had a lot of discussion about this right after the hearing but came to no productive conclusions.

    Please let me know if I can be of any help in relation to these issues.

            Joe Stowers

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome and encouraged as long as they are relevant, constructive, and decent.