Autumn on Lake Audobon

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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Several dozen neighbors express concern over Saint Johns Woods' redevelopment despite last minute notice of community meeting.

The following is the text of an e-mail Dannielle LaRosa, North Point RA Board member, sent to her constituents concerning the Hunter Mill District-sponsored community meeting held on Tuesday regarding Bozzuto's planned redevelopment of St. Johns Woods (SJW).  Few members of the SJW neighborhood heard about the meeting until mid-afternoon on November 10 when Ms. LaRosa sent a "reminder" e-mail to the community (see next to last paragraph).   We understand only a very few people received the earlier invitation from Supervisor Hudgin's office. 


Dear Neighbors,


Thank you to those of you who attended last night’s St John’s Wood Neighborhood meeting.  The purpose of this email is to provide you with a summary of last night’s meeting, inform you of the next steps in the development process for this property, and let you know how you can stay informed and participate in the review process/let your voice be heard.

Before we proceed, I’d like for you to bookmark the following link to RA’s Development & Future of Reston page which will provide you with information about all current redevelopment projects underway in our community, including St. John’s Wood. 
http://www.reston.org/DevelopmentFutureofReston/DevelopmentFutureOverview/tabid/833/Default.aspx
 
 
Purpose of the November 10th Meeting
Last night's meeting was sponsored by the Office of Fairfax County Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Catherine M. Hudgins. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the residents in the Clusters and Condominiums surrounding the St. John’s Wood Apartments of Bozzuto’s redevelopment proposal. 

Summary of November 10th Meeting
Bozzuto presented its current plan to redevelop the nine-building, 262-unit garden apartment property into a complex with two five-story buildings containing 512 apartments and 46 town homes.   The slides shown at last night’s meeting have been posted to RA’s website and can be located at http://www.reston.org/Portals/3/2015%20DEVELOPMENT/st%20John%202015%20presentation.PDF

The plan includes an additional traffic entrance/exit from the community: an exit on Center Harbor has been added to the current one at North Village Road. Twelve percent of the units would be set aside for affordable housing.  The town homes are currently planned to be located along Center Harbor Road with the two five-story buildings to be located along the north end of the property (the property abutting other residential properties).   Thanks to earlier input provided by the Association’s Design Review Board in 2014 during informational meetings, the number of buildings has been reduced to from three to two and the number of apartments has been reduced from 625 to 512.   Further, the current plan includes an additional acre of wooded area.  Bozzuto also provided results of a traffic study it recently conducted showing that Buzzuto believes the increased traffic from the property would be minimal.

These plans have been submitted to the Fairfax County Department of Planning & Zoning and comments from the county are expected to be received from the developer within the month.  The next steps include additional reviews by both the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee (which advises the Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner and Supervisor) and the Reston Association Design Review Board.  All of these meetings are open to the public and comments are welcome.  The developer and Supervisor Hudgins’ office will coordinate additional community meetings.  Reston Association’s Advisory Committees will also review these plans to provide comment to the P&Z Committee and the DRB, as well as County review staff.  The developers expect that the planning phase will take approximately two years and construction another two years.
 
Concerns voiced by the approximately forty residents in attendance:

  • New Entrance/Exit Located On Center Harbor.  Residents stated that there will be an increase in accidents and traffic congestion since this new exit lies opposite the entrance/exit of the Hampton Pointe Condominiums and a few hundred feet from the intersection of Reston Parkway/Center Harbor.  It was suggested that a better entry point into the property would be on Reston Parkway, across from Great Owl Circle. 
  • Aldrin Elementary School, Traffic and Impact to the School Population - Shane Wolfe, the principal of Aldrin Elementary School, voiced concerns that the traffic is already a concern with keeping our kids safe as they walk to and from school.  The increase in traffic from this property will make a hard situation even worse.  Several residents concurred.  Separately, it was noted that the proposed redevelopment will have an impact school staffing. 
  • Flip the Property Layout - It was suggested that the developer flip the property layout so that the town homes are located near existing homes and the apartment buildings are located along Center Harbor.    Currently, the current homeowners will be impacted by a view of a five story apartment building and the sounds/lights at night coming from the traffic exiting and entering the apartment garage. 
  • Mature Trees - there will be a loss of large, mature trees that are in the middle of the property.  There was much discussion as to the long term impact this would have to the property and to Reston. 
  • Proffers - End of the day, there will be more residents but few funds available from the county to support the infrastructure (roads, schools).  The developers are required to pay Fairfax County a certain dollar amount per residential unit for schools, parks and other infrastructure.  Additional “proffers” include items such as tree preservation, bike parking, public art and Green Building standards. The proffers are to be used for public infrastructure: roads, schools, etc.  Problem is, these funds may not stay in Reston and could be used in another part of the county.

What can I do/where do I direct comments?
As soon as I hear of information regarding community or Planning & Zoning or Design Review Board meetings, I will forward it to you.  It is always helpful to attend these meetings.  You can check the agendas and attend the Planning and Zoning Committee meetings_(https://sites.google.com/a/korchy.com/reston-planning-zoning-committee/meetings/agendas) and the Full Design Review Board meetings (http://www.reston.org/AboutRestonAssociation/Governance/CommitteesDRB/DesignReviewBoard/tabid/799/Default.aspx)  which are typical the third Monday and Tuesday of each month, respectively.  The Full DRB does not meet in December.
 
 
How were residents invited to last night’s meeting?
The county scheduled the meeting in late October and was responsible for inviting residents.  The county sent a letter to Cluster and Condominium Presidents and some of their management companies in the neighboring area through a direct mail letter.  This letter asked the cluster and condominium presidents’ to notify their residents.    The current residents of St. John’s Wood were not invited to this meeting.  The property manager is hosting a separate meeting for its residents.

Let me know of any questions or concerns you may have.  Again, as soon as I hear of information, I will make sure that it is sent to you.

Dannielle LaRosa
Treasurer & North Point District Representative
Reston Association Board of Directors

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