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