Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Monday, March 11, 2019

Thank you, Reston!

To all the wonderful Restonians and other neighbors in our broader Fairfax community, we want to extend our deepest appreciation for your support over the past two years against the proposed zoning amendment that would have increased the density cap in our Planned Residential Community (PRC) area.  Your many letters and phone calls to members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission, your participation in the community meetings held in Reston, including the pivotal October 2017 public meeting at South Lakes High School, and your attendance at the February meeting of the Fairfax County Planning Commission were absolutely critical in demonstrating to our elected officials the community’s resolve in opposing the density increase.

We also applaud the unfailing support of our partners in this fight, Reston Association and the RA Board, which have been unanimous in their support. RA staffers put in days of work to research the details of proposals and zoning regulations and to speak at public hearings in defense of our planned community.

Other key partners include Rescue Reston and its North Course Committee, established to protect Reston’s two 18-hole golf courses. Their vigilance and experience were invaluable in broadening community awareness and monitoring the ongoing effort to redevelop the Hidden Creek Golf Course. And Rescue Reston has worked diligently to protect both golf courses as an ecological, zero-density counter-balance to increased development, particularly in terms of preserving our all-important tree canopy, wildlife habitats, and flood plains—protection validated by Supervisor Hudgins in her statement withdrawing the zoning amendment.

The proposed zoning amendment was indefinitely deferred at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, a positive outcome that would never have happened without the extensive involvement of everyone. However, the battle is far from over. The Planning Commission has recommended that the Board establish a new task force to review the Reston Master Plan, a task force that would include members of the Reston community as well as local business representatives. We will all need to follow this development carefully and to participate fully in all community meetings convened to review and discuss possible changes.

With your continued support and involvement, together we can help shepherd a good plan for the future of Reston and ensure a healthy and functioning planned community for our children, our grandchildren and our planet.Thank you again!

With gratitude, Coalition for a Planned Reston

(Reston Citizens Association, Reston 20/20, Reclaim Reston)

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

VIDEO: Board of Supervisors discusses, approves motion to defer indefinitely an increase in the Reston PRC zoning ordinance amendment


BREAKING NEWS: Board of Supervisors agrees to defer Reston PRC zoning amendment indefinitely


At 12:02 PM, March 5, 2019, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved unanimously a motion by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins to postpone indefinitely consideration of her proposal to increase the authorized density in Reston’s PRC zoned areas from 13 to 15 people per acre.  

The Board’s vote ends a 22-month saga (starting May 3, 2017) in which the Supervisor Hudgins, county staff, and Reston organizations worked to understand the implications of the proposed amendment for Reston and reasons for its alleged necessity.  Throughout the time frame, it became increasingly obvious that the people of Reston, all directly affected by the proposed amendment, broadly opposed adoption of the zoning amendment.   This opposition peaked at a community meeting arranged by Supervisor Hudgins in October 2017 at South Lakes High School attended by more than 900 Restonians.  More than 100 people stood to comment in opposition to the proposal.

Follow-up small group discussions in 2018 between community representatives and county staff failed to close the gaps in justifying the zoning proposal.   In fact, county staff failed to answer questions laid out by community representatives until a week before Supervisor Hudgins was scheduled to propose the advertisement of the zoning amendment proposal.   The answers were pro forma and failed to add significant information to that which was already known.  Nonetheless, and despite her commitment to the contrary in the absence of substantive responses to the community’s concerns, Supervisor Hudgins moved forward with her proposal to advertise the PRC zoning ordinance amendment proposal—the first legislative step in approving  zoning ordinance amendment—on December 4, 2018.

Thereafter, with the widespread participation of Restonians, community representatives from the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) and Reston Association (RA) pressed hard to inform the community, the Planning Commission, and members of the Board of Supervisors of the issues with the proposed zoning amendment.  Hundreds of Restonians wearing yellow shirts showed up at the Planning Commission hearing and more than a dozen testified in opposition to the proposed amendment.  In its decision, the Planning Commission recommended against adoption of the zoning ordinance amendment and called for a revamped Reston Master Plan tied concurrently to a new zoning ordinance approval. 

As a result, Supervisor Hudgins decided to request that the Board of Supervisors defer indefinitely its consideration of the PRC zoning ordinance amendment.   Her motion to do so was passed unanimously by the Board on March 5, 2019.

It is not clear when the county will follow through on the Planning Commission’s recommendations, but it is not likely to occur until next year when a new Board of Supervisors is in place. 

We commend--and thank--all Restonians who participated in any way in stopping this ill-considered zoning amendment.  It was absolutely essential to the preservation of Reston as a planned community.   While we have achieved a major victory in sustaining the vision laid out by Reston’s founder, Robert E. Simon, our reward will be to have to tackle the planning and zoning issue once again after the decade of effort that got us here. We will continue to keep the community advised of the planning and zoning issues in Reston as they arise.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Be there when the Board votes on the Reston PRC cap!

UPDATE:  On March 5, the Board of Supervisors voted today to postpone indefinitely consideration of the Reston PRC density cap zoning ordinance amendment.  THERE WILL BE NO HEARING!

On March 5, the Board of Supervisors will vote on the zoning amendment to increase the density cap in the Reston residential areas.

1. Let them know you oppose the density increase and urge them to adopt the recommendations of the Planning Commission.

2. Plan to attend the Board of Supervisors hearing. Based on the current agenda it still  looks like our issue will come up no sooner than 5:30pm.
yellow balloon(Yellow shirts will be available for sale for $10 in the parking lot; we’ll have a yellow smiley balloon by a light pole to help you spot the place!)

3. IMPORTANT:  If the timing of the density issue on the public hearing agenda changes, CPR will send out an email alert. It is imperative that we have many folks in the audience to convey our message. 

4. If you have not done so already, please write to the Board of Supervisors (BOS@fairfaxcounty.gov). Tell them you oppose the density increase for the Reston Planned Residential Community (PRC), and support a review of the Reston Master Plan for the Village Centers and Reston Town Center North.

Letting the Supervisors know the opinions of the Reston community is critical, and your willingness to participate in the process is vital for this final vote!

Thank you!

Coalition for a Planned Reston

Friday, March 1, 2019

"The 'hurrier' Fairfax County goes, the 'behinder' it gets," Letter to the Editor, Fairfax Times, March 1, 2019

The hurrier Fairfax County goes, the behinder it gets.

A comment by a “guest” in a recent RestonNow article on the Planning Commission hearing on the PRC zoning issue that, “We can't slow down development AND we can't speed up providing the associated infrastructure,” was stunning and highly accurate.  It reminded me of the White Rabbit’s comment in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

And, yes, that’s what happening across areas of growth in Fairfax County, not just Reston.   It describes the poor decision making of the County Board that keeps approving residential development while being unwilling to provide the necessary supporting infrastructure from sidewalks to schools.  The result, of course, is the declining quality of life throughout our county, especially in faster growing communities like Reston. 

County officials, including the Planning Commission, attribute this behavior to Virginia’s nefarious state Supreme Court “Dillon Rule” decision.  In brief, the Dillon Rule assumes all local governments are corrupt and, therefore, prevents them from making any decisions not explicitly permitted by the state legislature.  Development moratoriums and stiff proffers are, according to Fairfax County officials, not among those authorities.  

So we are stuck with a county government—planning staff, Planning Commission, and Board of Supervisors--that believes it must approve virtually all development proposals presented to it with no promise of timely commensurate infrastructure availability.  Otherwise, they risk the wrath of a developer law suit, they say.  And to say that Fairfax County is law suit risk averse is a massive understatement.

The result is, as we are seeing in Reston, growth continues unabated while the supporting infrastructure is deferred…and delayed…and postponed because of a lack of funding or the means to acquire it.  Indeed, the state legislature—under great developer pressure and even greater financial contributions—has taken steps in recent years to restrict further what local governments can do to generate proffers and other infrastructure commitments from developers. 

This occurs, as I pointed out in a previous RestonNow op-ed, because residential development requires more community services (schools, rec centers, libraries, parks, etc.) to sustain a given quality of life than commercial development.  Both require streets, water and sewage, public safety, and other services, but residents require more.  

In fact, multiple studies, including a “meta-analysis” of more than one hundred community studies, have shown the cost of community services for residential development almost universally exceeds the tax revenues (property, sales, etc.) that development generates.  Normally, that tax revenue deficit is between 10%-20%.  On the other hand, tax revenues generated on commercial and agricultural development, on average, more than doubles the cost of services they require.   Nonetheless, senior county staff has denied to me personally that this will be true in Reston—and presumably the remainder of the county—without any explanation.   They say, “Trust us.”  Right!

There is only one possible outcome from this county self-deception:  The quality of life in Reston and other rapidly growing residential communities in Fairfax County will continue to decline as the demand for resources to support needed infrastructure for residents increasingly distances the supply.   We are already seeing minimum two-decade lead times for key infrastructure development (such as the Soapstone overpass) as our needed schools, streets, libraries, recreation centers, etc., remain unfunded.  In Reston’s case, we face the worst-case scenario in which we may even lose existing referendum-approved bond funding for a new library in the face of county bungling in getting it built. 

In short:  The hurrier we go, the behinder we get. 

The next step in the battle to bring some reason to the growth-infrastructure balance in Reston is to oppose the pending Reston PRC (our suburban areas plus parts of Town Center) zoning ordinance amendment that would increase allowable residential density from 81,000 to 94,000 people—not counting affordable housing and related “bonus” market units that could raise that number to 113,000 people or more—doubling all of Reston’s current population.  That’s on top of the plan potential for 91,000 residents in the PRM-zoned areas covering most of Reston’s Metro station areas.  This call for allowing additional density comes at a time when the county puts Reston’s 2018 population at a mere 63,774.  What’s the rush?

We all need to take two actions:
  • Write the Board of Supervisors (clerktothebos@fairfaxcounty.gov) and express your concern over the proposed increase in the Reston PRC allowable density.  Writing to Supervisor Hudgins will not help:  She is the principal advocate for the density increase.
  •  Attend the March 5, 2019, Board of Supervisors hearing on the proposed PRC zoning amendment that begins at 4:30PM in the government center auditorium.   And wear your YELLOW shirt supporting Reston if you have one.  (You may buy one from Reclaim Reston at the government center before the hearing if you wish.)  Note:  This will probably be a long meeting with other hearings on the agenda as well.
We need everyone to help in bringing some coherence into our Reston development process, and maybe set an example for good development management in the rest of the county.  After all, we are one of the world’s premier planned communities.   Let’s not lose that community prominence because of county incompetence.

Terry Maynard
Reston







Thursday, February 28, 2019

Board of Supervisors Package for Its Hearing on the Proposed PRC Zoning Ordinance Amendment, March 5, 2019

The package below has been assembled by the County planning staff for the Board of Supervisors as background prior to its hearing on the proposed PRC zoning ordinance amendment that would increase Reston's overall density and, specifically, the density in the Village Centers.  It includes background on the proposal, the Planning Commission's verbatim discussion of the proposal and its recommendations to the Board, the planning staff's original staff report and more.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

CPR Comment on Planning Commission Recommendations to the Board of Supervisors to Reject the Proposed PRC Zoning Amendment and Proposal to Establish a Task Force with Appropriate Reston Resident Participation, February 14, 2019


Coalition for a Planned Reston
A voluntary group of residents from the Reston Citizens Association,
Reclaim Reston, and Reston 20/20


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 14, 2019

The Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) appreciates the thoroughness and thoughtfulness with which the Fairfax County Planning Commission has dealt with the proposal to raise the population cap of Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC.) 

CPR leadership is pleased with the Planning Commission’s determination that several of CPR's core positions are valid and in the best interest of the community. 

Specifically:

  • The Commission voted unanimously to recommend the Board of Supervisors reject the proposed density increase (and keep the cap at 13);
  • The Commission reaffirmed the need to link zoning to the Comprehensive Plan; and 
  • The Commission encouraged the formation of a Task Force to work on these issues with appropriate independent citizen participation.   

All of this has been accomplished by the involvement and action of thousands of Restonians and Reston well-wishers who have written letters, made phone calls, attended meetings, spoken to officials and helped CPR raise awareness in the community.   This was the decisive factor in achieving this result.    

While we are pleased with the Planning Commission's considered decisions, we note that this is not the end of attempts to diminish the uniqueness of Reston.  The matter now goes to the Board of Supervisors who have the final say.  While we believe the Supervisors should accept the Commissioners' recommendations, they have no obligation to do so.  The proposal on the density increase is on the calendar for Supervisors' meeting of March 5th.   We thus will continue to work to inform all the Supervisors about this issue and the destructive impact it would have if passed.   

Further, if the proposal to create a new Task Force is approved, a great deal of work will need to be done to ensure citizens' voices are heard and that the guiding principles of Reston are not pushed aside for short-term, self-interested gain.

CPR wishes to thank everyone who pitched in to preserve a functioning planned Reston. Please stay alert and informed.  Your continued passion is needed.

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Media Contact: Lynne Mulston, Coalition for a Planned Reston (703-662-1687)