Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Did you know that the Reston Master Plan Phase 2 study--covering the rest of Reston--has started?

Neither did we until today when we put several pieces of information together from various County sources. 

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:
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.
April 2014?  The study has already been going on since last month apparently.  

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 public meeting on the Village Centers
  • A public meeting on all the other parts of the plan (including neighborhoods, possibly yours).
Then there will be the two opportunities for public input at the County level:
  • A Planning Commission hearing
  • The Board of Supervisors hearing.
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.  

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.

6 comments:

  1. I.happened to see most of the Hudgins program. Your summary of Phase 2 is right on--brief meeting or two, then county staff writes modified plan for increased density mixed use in.and around existing "village centers" & commercial centers. But before that, they talked about Phase 1. Hudgins allowed as to how 4 and 1/2 years and 200+ meetings were just right to get good community input. Furthermore, all.the community feedback on both process and final product were positive, right, posited Hudgins? Faheem and Patty looked a bit uncertain,, but said, Oh yes, all positive!! What was the Reston 2020 grade for the new Plan? Agree-everyone should come to UCP & speak up Saturday, June 7.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why do they hold the meeting on a Saturday evening when residents can be out of town for the weekend rather then a weekday evening when I assume more residents are around. Is this their plan intentially to avoid less participation from the residents of Reston?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please note that the meeting is in the MORNING, not the evening. Still, 8:30AM on Saturday is not a convenient time for most people.

      Delete
  3. Well..this isn't really new information. This was the same goals given to the community back in 2011. Sounds like they are pretty consistent. here is the link to the community meeting that talks about Phase II. They are way behind, but that's because phase I took so long. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/projects/reston/meetings_2011/meeting_11.16.2011_community.htm

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is there ever a good time for a meeting in Reston? Week day evenings are good, but they compete with school functions or cut into time families enjoy with their children after a long day of work. Plus, how many people like attending a 2 hour evening meeting after commuting an hour from work? Residents are required to wake up a little early for a Saturday morning meeting, but at least it doesn't happen in the middle of the day when it may otherwise conflict with Saturday family activities. I, for one, will stop my activities to come to an 11am meeting after I've begun my day. A Saturday evening meeting could be good for those who like to get their personal activities finished in the morning, but Saturday evenings are for friends and family as well, just like the person above said. Like I said, there is not great time for a 2-hour meeting in Reston. Plus, it's an open house that lasts for two hours...you don't have to get there at 8:30am. I'm not getting there until 9:30am at the earliest.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Reston Now article makes so much more sense now. I kept thinking, "but the task force hasn't been selected," as I read it. This is a disturbing development. I hope that the County isn't trying to limit public participation, but with the few facts we have, that is the impression given.

    ReplyDelete

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