In her regular e-blast late this afternoon, Supervisor Hudgins noted in the last news item: "Phase 2 Reston Master Plan is the topic for this month's Channel 16 cable show, "Connecting with Supervisor Hudgins". This edition features County Planners Faheem Darab and Richard Lambert along with Phase 1 chairman Patty Nicoson. Check the website for broadcast times and the link for video on demand."
We scrambled through through several County webpages to the specific Channel 16 video, which is a 26-minute discussion led by Hudgins with Nicoson, Darab, and Lambert.
We also discovered that the DPZ website for the Reston Master Plan effort has been changed to address Phase 2. Phase 1 has been assigned to the digital dustbin of history.
Our first surprise in reading about Phase 2 was its goals:
April 2014? The study has already been going on since last month apparently.The primary goals for Phase II of the Study are create a new Reston land use map and to evaluate and provide Comprehensive Plan guidance for the following types of places within Reston: (1) Residential neighborhoods (2) Village Centers (3) Commercial area north of Baron Cameron Avenue (adjacent to Reston Town Center), (4) five Convenience centers, and (6) communities outside but on the periphery of Reston. These goals are to be accomplished within a timeline of a little over a year starting from April 2014.
More importantly, the Phase 1 task force was told repeatedly by County staff that Phase 2 would focus only on re-thinking the village centers with a view to seeing them redevelop as mixed-use development more in line with Simon's original vision rather than the strip malls they have become. Now it appears that the entire Reston community's future is open for re-examination, kind of a whole body exploratory surgery.
Even Supervisor Hudgins in the video mentioned above asks her discussants if the community should be fearful of Phase 2 which hits so close to home. Their obvious answer: No. (Lesson: Never ask a question you don't know the answer to.) They just want to apply County-wide policies to Reston, "tweaking" them as appropriate to the community Richard Lambert explains. That certainly sounds to us like the County is trying to eliminate more of the specialness of Reston, but we will wait to see. The "about" page on the RMP P2 effort provides slightly more information.
And, as explained in the latter half of the video, a whole new process will be applied to the second phase of the Reston planning process. Unlike the 25-person task force where people representing all points of view in the community sat through 200-plus meetings over 4-1/2 years, there will be just six opportunities (apparently no real "task force"--UPDATE: An e-mail this morning from DPZ confirms this: "Phase II has been structured such that a Task Force will not be employed.") for the public to learn and contribute to the re-planning of Reston. And it will all be over in a year.
Then, the County Planning staff drafts the new master plan. It is reviewed with the community in two public meetings:
- A two-hour Open House at 8:30AM on June 7, 2014, at the United Christian Parish, 11508 North Shore Drive, hosted by Supervisor Hudgins which will introduce Phase 2.
- A form on the Reston Master Plan website to submit suggestions, ideas, etc. No details yet on when this will be available. We suspect the Open House may provide some information. Here is a link to the generic County "Submission Form for Proposed Changes to the Comprehensive Plan or Work Program." We don't know if this is what will be used, but we expect this is your only opportunity to weigh in.
Then there will be the two opportunities for public input at the County level:
- A public meeting on the Village Centers
- A public meeting on all the other parts of the plan (including neighborhoods, possibly yours).
That's it. The fate of your, my, and everyone else's neighborhood will be decided without any discussion among the key stakeholders in the community, including the residents, the landowners, the retail sector that is the cornerstone of most of the P2 study area, the community organizations (starting with RA, RCA, & ARCH), or any other legitimate stakeholder in our community's future. Instead, the County staff, the Planning Commission, and the Board will take notes--and then do what they want.
- A Planning Commission hearing
- The Board of Supervisors hearing.
It's all part of the new "Fairfax Forward" approach to amending the County's Comprehensive Plan that guides our development and redevelopment. It is pretty much intended to further limit community participation in an already highly politicized development planning process for the sake of expediency. It's definitely NOT about developing a plan appropriate for Reston--or any other community in Fairfax County.
In the strongest possible way, we urge you to attend the June 7th Open House and express your concerns both about Reston and this disenfranchising planning process.