We read with more than normal interest about the actions taken by RA’s Board of Directors last week regarding Town Center North, an area of about 95 acres according to the latest Reston Plan. The most interesting fact to come out of that largely secret meeting was that about ten acres of TCN land is covered by a restrictive covenant going back to 1974. Here is what a Board comment and resolution on the situation states:
. . . this restrictive covenant limits the use and development of this 10 acre portion of land to natural open space, none of this land was ever deeded to Reston Association or designated as Common Area of the Reston Association. This restrictive covenant presents a title defect which may impede or hinder the redevelopment anticipated in the Fairfax County/INOVA RFP.
As such, I (Ellen)…..
Board Motion: Move that our counsel be directed to assist Fairfax County and INOVA in working around this restrictive covenant but only in a manner which preserves and/or enhances natural open space within Reston.
If the RA Board were actually to garner the preservation of 10 acres of land in Town Center North (TCN) for open space purposes, that would vastly improve the current plan for a 3.5 acre “town green,” characterized as a “dog poop park” by one Reston commentator. It would also begin to approach Reston 20/20’s long time goal of a magnet central park in TCN comprising one-quarter of its area to, in part, offset the shortage of park and other open space in Reston Town Center and provide a magnet for workers, residents, and visitors.
Ten acres of open space would also approach the County’s own Urban Park Framework requirement for TCN, repeated in the new Reston Master Plan (1 acre of public park for every 10,000 employees, 1.5 acres of public park for every 1,000 residents). The 3.5 acre “town green” offered up in the new Reston Master Plan totally ignores these guidelines in an area that will need more than 11 acres of parks to meet FCPA guidelines, triple what is planned, much less offsetting shortage in the core of Reston Town Center.
Alas, we suspect that the BOS has been well aware of the “title defect” the RA Board identified and acted on a week ago. We anticipate that the BOS will strive to eliminate that portion of the zoning ordinance calling for 10 acres of open space in TCN (or at least reducing it to the 3.5 acres in the master plan and current draft agreement with INOVA) when it addresses zoning amendments in January 2016.
Now it is up to the RA Board to make sure that Restonians don’t lose access to the 10 acres of open space current zoning for TCN says it warrants—although the specific location may change to make a more coherent park setting--at the same time preserving RA’s claim that virtually all the area of TCN that the zoning ordinance says is covered by RA’s charter. RA should not, under any circumstances, give up precious open space there for the additional assessment fee revenues to which it is also entitled.