15 May 2013
Notes on the Reston Task Force Meeting, May 14, 2013
Summary: The meeting focused on reviewing the land use planning section of the master plan and discussing new text on the environment and parks. John Carter called for a more visionary approach on these issues that would make Reston a model and example.
Judy Pew read a note concerning the desirability of locating a rec center at North Town Center.
Dick Rogers mentioned 2020 activity re schools, noting the existence of an FCPS recommendation to DPZ on plan text, and the 2020 paper on Soapstone. He noted that RCA will be meeting soon on a major paper on the rec center issue, which has considerable planning implications.
An unidentified man representing a Reston housing association (?) praised the work of the RMPTF and DPZ in maintaining a sensible jobs-housing balance in Reston. He said he had treated this issue in a letter to the Washington Post.
The chair commented on Metro Silver line progress and noted that MWAA Board meets today to finalize the phase 2 contract. She said the bid was lower than expected and will significantly reduce financing costs. She also mentioned that a civic group had named her “Lady Fairfax” because of her volunteer contributions.
Land Use Review
Heidi Merkel initiated a general discussion of the DPZ plan draft released on Monday. The initial discussion, by a meeting that was well attended, was a review of DPZ comments and changes on the land use section discussed at the last meeting.
She noted in particular that language had been added that further degradation of transportation should be avoided and that certain areas within one half mile of the station, such as south of Sunrise Valley, were out of consideration for re-development.
The development community asked many questions on various issues. In response to Heidi’s mention that a section had been added on affordable housing (saying the higher the density the greater the proportion should be of affordable housing) Mark Looney asked how this might relate to non-residential development and particularly if re-development was simply “commercial replacement”. The answers was that this will be reviewed. Kohann Williams asked if DPZ was taking into account the fact that Reston already has a high proportion of the county’s affordable housing. Heidi agreed that Reston already has “a generous share” of such housing.
Parcel consolidation was discussed at length. Greg Trimmer (JBG) asked how this might relate to the bucket idea outside the ¼ mile limit. Mark Looney said that he could foresee cooperation by different owners but not necessarily consolidation.
The issue of LEED standards for new development triggered considerable discussion. Art Murphy led off by commenting that going through the LEED certification process is slow and expensive and that some developers were simply adopting the standards but avoiding the certification process. It was also noted that the standards were routinely changing as practices improve—what was LEED Gold is now LEED Silver. Some noted that smaller projects might have more difficulty than bigger projects in complying. Heidi spoke of having the DPZ “LEEDs” man come in to talk with the RMPTF,
John Carter offered sweeping comments that he thought the RMPTF on environmental issues should take a more visionary approach. He thought not enough was being asked on different environmental issues (sustainable green development, transportation and protecting the natural environment). He suggested the approach be “LEEDs neighborhoods” rather than just buildings. He said the RMPTF should “put Reston on the map” by taking a forward leaning approach and be a model community.
In this context the JBG rep suggested an article (?) “Designing Walkable Urban Neighborhoods.”
A more conservative view was expressed by Greg Riegle who said “we cannot be everything in the corridor” and “we cannot legislate sustainability.”
Mark Looney raised the issue of how some sweeping new storm water regulations (NFI) relate to the draft text. Heidi said DPZ is still studying this.
Heidi noted that the parks section incorporates material from the county wide policy plan that has been pending.
Art Murphy noted that in the Tysons context there is a conceptual park map that has been a challenge to deal with (and apparently legally challenged). Heidi noted that a map on p. 36 that identified “opportunity areas” (Comment: It is so vague and generalized as to be meaningless.)
A discussion ensued about the need to be more specific on park needs. Heidi noted that more specific ideas will be discussed in the TOD stations sections. Larry Butler of RA spoke up on the need to look at this more carefully. John Carter (not Bob Simon!) put in a pitch for more about plazas.
Dick Rogers raised the issue of Lake Fairfax Park, noting it could help meet the athletic fields need. Kohann Williams asked about better access to the park from Reston. Heidi responded “I don’t want to be bureaucratic but the park is not in the TOD areas.”
Heidi noted that in response to Andy Sigle’s request at the previous meeting to pay more attention to Wiehle station access issues, there will be a presentation at the 28 May meeting by FC/DOT staff. DPZ will post more information on the website. She invited comment on issues to be discussed.
On May 28 there will be additional plan text on public facilities and transportation for discussion. Draft sections on TOD station area recommendations will come up for the meeting, tentatively set for 11 June.