Autumn on Lake Audobon

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

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Op-Ed: Doubling Down by Doubling Up on Reston Metro Station Density, RestonNow, September 15, 2015

The following is a partial re-post of an op-ed by Terry Maynard published in RestonNow.  

. . . Fairfax County is running out of ways to generate taxes to cover its expenses as job growth and development falter. At this point, so close to another local election, they are neither ready to increase our taxes nor cut well-liked programs (other than parks and libraries, of course).

They have to add more taxable property — residential and commercial — to drive up revenues. And Reston and Tysons are the places they intend to do it.

The County’s Zoning Staff is preparing to allow increased Reston density in two ways.

In Reston alone, the County staff is planning to increase (or eliminate) the maximum allowable population per acre in the Reston Planned Residential Community (PRC) — a zoning category. . . .

The Zoning Staff is also proposing a near doubling of the allowable density in all TSAs to a base density of FAR 5.0 with bonuses up to FAR 5.5, and affordable and market housing not counting against the maximum. Yet the Reston Master Plan just approved by the Board of Supervisors in June calls for the highest base density to be between FAR 3.0-4.0 in the two land units either side of the Town Center Metrorail station, each with a potential bonus of FAR 0.5, which is where density should be most intense. Both the Wiehle and Herndon-Monroe TSAs have much lower base densities with the same FAR 0.5 bonus opportunity.

Yet, while we were not told about the proposed changes, the Zoning Staff was busy writing a letter to developers, attorneys, and other businesses for their comment. Here is a key passage:
Staff is seeking your input on this proposal prior to authorization of this amendment for public hearings. Please feel free to forward this draft to any other interested parties. In order to meet scheduling deadlines, your comments are requested no later than September 4, 2015 . . .
The bottom line is that the proposed changes will allow substantially more density around Reston’s Metrorail stations than the currently approved Comprehensive Plan if they are approved by the Board of Supervisors.  . . .

This is what “planning and zoning” in our once special “planned community” of Reston has come to. We’re just another set of sub-divisions along a Metro line from the County’s perspective, despite all the soothing words from our leaders’ mouths.

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