Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Letter: An Advice to ‘Density Deniers’, Robert E. Simon, Reston Connection, February 24, 2010

To the Editor:

Once again, I find it necessary to counter misleading characterizations in your Opinion column [“No Plan for Quality, Character of Affordability,” Reston Connection, Feb. 17-23, 2010]. This problem is embodied in the following quote: “On the one side we have the maximalists (Bob Simon and the developer interests) who chant density, density, density. The other side is no more growth or no-change absolutists.”

That I have repeatedly and consistently advocated completing Reston in accordance with the 1963 adopted Master Plan is relevant to this discussion, but more importantly will be my attempt, once again, to put this nonsense about developers and density to bed. Developers develop to meet market demand, to build what people want to buy or rent. Some people dream of owning a house on several acres in a neighborhood that is zoned for a minimum lot size of two acres. Other people like to live in a high rise apartment building for the pleasure of having close-in neighbors to relate to. There are developers to satisfy these extremes and everything in between. Zoning provides potential customers with a good idea of what their environment will be if they become buyers. Before signing up, a buyer should familiarize himself with the zoning provisions for any areas that he feels need be compatible with his personal comfort zone, being prepared to see such areas developed to the fullest extent permitted under the existing zoning provisions. It is bad manners, to say the least, for a resident to lobby to prevent development that a developer has “by right” to develop.

We are being told that developers (evil, of course,—aren’t they all?) are planning to increase density on the periphery of Lake Anne Village Center and on the site of the Fairway Apartments. The demagogues are stirring up neighbors to oppose these outrages. Suggestion for demagogues and neighbors: Why don’t you study the current county planning documents. You will find that for both projects, the densities proposed are those provided for in the current planning documents that date back to 1963. The reason that higher-than-average-for-the-whole-community densities were prescribed for village centers and for Town Center was because such densities define the character of these centers. It was assumed that there would be demand for housing in these centers from people who find community in urban living. That Lake Anne Village Center and Town Center have become models for planners and developers throughout Europe and Asia as well as the USA should be sufficient to persuade the density deniers to subside.

Bob Simon
Reston Founder

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