Autumn on Lake Audobon

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

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Reston National Golf Course BZA Appeal Materials

UPDATE:  We have added the Rescue Reston attorney's April 1, 2015, follow-up letter to this compendium.  It's conclusion, provided below provides an excellent overview for rejecting Northwestern Mutual's application.  To simplify posting, we have not added links to the exhibits in the earlier Rescue Reston attorney's letter, but they are available by clicking on this link to their original letter to the BZA

We have also posted a link to the County Zoning Administrator's April 7 follow-up letter to its April 1 letter as the second bullet link in this series. 

The several parties striving to retain Reston National Golf Course in its current use as opposed to Northwestern Mutual's attorneys perverse interpretation of its current zoning to allow redevelopment as a 166 acres of medium density residential development have submitted their materials to the County.  These materials include:
  •  A letter from the County Zoning Administrator provides a 20-page memorandum supporting her determination that RNGC needed to be preserved as open space and that nothing in the County's planning and zoning suggests that it could be come a residential development.  She concludes:
Staff has provided substantial evidence, including staff reports, Planning Commission public hearing meeting minutes, Board hearing legal notices, and Board hearing meeting  minutes to support the conclusion that the development plans found in the County Archive  files are in fact the development plans that were reviewed and approved by the Board in  1971 for rezoning applications RZ C-135, RZ C-203, and RZ C-281. These approved  development plans show the appeal property clearly designated as a golf course and/or  open space, only, as distinguished from the surrounding properties that have residential designations including low, medium, or high density designations, as is required for residential development approvals in the PRC District. . . The appellant has not
provided any evidence that demonstrates that the approved development plans are not valid.
Staff has also clearly demonstrated that the appeal property is designated on the Reston Master Plan's Land Use Plan map as "Open Space," and on the Reston Master Plan's Community Facilities Plan map as "Major Open Space, Parks, Golf Course, Nature Center." This designation has remained consistent since first approved in conjunction with the original rezonings on the property in 1971, as discussed above. . . .
Staff has also demonstrated through legal precedent and analysis of the Zoning Ordinance text in effect at the time of the rezoning approvals that neither incomplete or  vague compliance letters nor mistakes on subdivision plat density tabulation charts can  override zoning approvals and impart a use designation that was not granted by the  Board. 
  •  A letter from RA by its attorney, John McBride, that takes note of the incompleteness of Country records (in particular, missing files from the County and the Reston Museum), but notes the relevant law (including the Krisnavethin decision posted here) and refutes arguments by Reston National (Northwestern Mutual's stalking horse subsidiary), concluding:  "Should the County's on-site zoning files have been more complete? Absolutely. Can the fact that they were not complete be used to amend or change a Development Plan that the Board legislatively approved? Absolutely not. Only the Board of Supervisors can do that, after due notice and public hearings."  The six-page letter has 15 pages of supporting documentation.
For the reasons stated above, those set forth in Rescue Reston's January 5, 2015, submission, and those argued by Rescue Reston and the County  Zoning staff, Ms. Belgin's June 20, 2012, determination should be affirmed  by the BZA. The golf course property has always been intended to be used  and approved for golf course and open space uses, not residential uses.
This is borne out by the development plans; the Reston Master Plan and the County's Comprehensive Plan; legal advertisements, zoning applications and statements of justification for C-135, C-203 and C-281; zoning  compliance letters for the golf course property; and other documents. It was also borne out in the letters, emails and testimony before the BZA on
January 21, 2015, of members of the Reston community, including many among the 5,900 supporters of Rescue Reston, who voiced their opinions and concerns regarding the protection of their property rights and the values of their homes, as well as the importance and integrity of the Reston Master Plan and its intended impact upon development in Reston.
Before residential use can be authorized on the golf course property, it is clear that amendments by the Board of Supervisors to the Comprehensive Plan and to the approved development plans, along with the approval of a new PRC plan, are required. Therefore, RN Golf's Appeal Application A 2012-HM-020 should denied by the BZA.
And, oh yeah, Northwestern Mutual's attorneys, Frank McDermott and Mark Looney, have provided their own appeal to the BZA to reverse the Zoning Administrator's decision to keep RNGC as open space.  Here's their summary claim:
. . . Yet all conclusions drawn by the Opposition (Comment:  the Zoning Administrator) flow from the assumption that the Alleged Development Plans are "approved".
Also flowing from that underlying assumption are several confused, conflicting arguments posited, variously, by the Opposition. . . Thus, the Catch 22, the mousetrap offered by the Opposition.
We would submit that trying to confuse the issue (as McDermott and Looney go to great lengths to do in their 9-page memo) is not a rational argument for a decision to reverse the Zoning Administrator's determination (or anything else), but rather an attempt to hide the weakness of one's own case.

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