Testimony to BOS Concerning the Reston Master Plan Special Study Phase 1, ST09-III-UP1(A)
Frederick A. Costello
January 28, 2014
I am Frederick Costello, an At-Large member of the Reston Master Plan Task Force for Phase 1. I have a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. For 37 years here in Fairfax, I have had my own business designing renewable energy systems, spacecraft, and rockets.
Terry Maynard and I are the only members of the Task Force who analyzed the plan on a quantitative basis and, over all four years, warned of its adverse implications.
DPZ’s amendment to the comprehensive plan is too ambiguous. (1) It allows over-development. (2) It provides target densities, not maximum densities. (3) Therefore, it does not allow a sound estimate of infrastructure needs.
Compare what various analysts have forecast. GMU gave DPZ low, intermediate, and high estimates of the demand for jobs and housing. DPZ took the GMU’s highest forecast and increased it 25% to form the proposed target densities. FCDOT used the amendment language directly, made many assumptions about the 63% of the area for which the plan offers no density specifications, and deduced that the development would be 50% greater than GMU’s highest demand. I also used the plan and deduced that the development could easily be more than 75% greater than GMU’s highest demand. The plan amendment is too ambiguous. It allows over-development. Look at how greatly different the intensities are (Figure 1). The proposed plan is so loose that we might find, for example, that all new construction will be high-rise commercial, with the residential sections being at best place-holding, five-story, wood-frame apartment buildings. The imbalance between residential and non-residential development also differs in the three analyses. Imbalance means more traffic. The plan says nothing about maintaining the jobs-household balance during the 20 years of development.
Please require DPZ to remedy the deficiencies by (1) specifying the maximum densities for 100% of the area; (2) specifying the fraction of the development that is to be residential in each area; (3) using these new specifications to calculate and report the maximum traffic and infrastructure needs; (4) including how the jobs/household balance is to be maintained during development, as was done in Arlington; and (5) performing a net-revenue analysis that includes the costs associated with the infrastructure and the housing of workers. If these two costs are added to your Tysons net-revenue analysis, a net loss to the County is predicted, so eventually Tysons will make a tax increase necessary.
Without these five changes, the amendment is so ambiguous that it does not provide adequate guidance for successful development.
Figure 1: Needed Floor Areas Are Inconsistent Exaggerations of GMU’s Forecast of the Highest Demand – Could Lead to Over-development.