Autumn on Lake Audobon

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

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A 1990s Virginia Supreme Court opinion sets a precedent for the BZA NOT to overturn the County Zoning Administrator's decision on preserving Reston National Golf Course.

In a 1992 Reston land use case, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled a decision by a lower court "that a zoning modification could be made administratively and did not require approval by the county board of supervisors is reversed."  In this case, Fairfax County went to court to overturn a decision by its own Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) that would have permitted Mana Krisnathevin--owner of the land now developed as Sunrise Valley Convenience Center (includes a daycare center, dental offices, jeweler, dry cleaner, bank, and maybe other retail)--to alter the basic County development plan for the area.  In the end, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the County.  The core of the decision was that the proposed change was "a significant modification" to the Board of Supervisors-approved development plan that required the further approval of the Supervisors, and could not be changed by a BZA administrative decision. 

I think we can all agree that changing a golf course to a housing development is "a significant modification" to the current development plan.  It will likely be an important consideration in preventing the BZA from ruling in favor of Northwestern Mutual's appeal of the County Zoning Administrator's decision to preserve the golf course.  Nonetheless, the Supreme Court ruling does not, per se, preclude subsequent appeals by Northwester Mutual to state courts from altering a development plan.  

In short, we can expect a BZA decision not to allow redevelopment of RNGC to proceed through the state court system, almost certainly to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Our understanding is that both the attorneys for Reston Association and for Rescue Reston have included this case in the filings with the BZA as it considers the Northwestern Mutual appeal of the Zoning Administrator's decision, so there is nothing here that all the appropriate County officials don't know.  We believe, however, that the people of Reston also deserve to be kept well informed in a timely manner on this important ongoing legal matter without digging through legal documents on the County or the RA website where they may be found.  

For your information, below is the full 1992 opinion of the Virginia Supreme Court.  The first page or so provides an overview that may be sufficient for most readers.  



 

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