Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Monday, March 8, 2010

Letter to Fairfax and Reston Authorities Expresses Concern Over Comstock Wiehle Proposal, John & Fran Lovaas, March 5, 2010

March 5, 2010

TO: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (all)
Fairfax County Planning Commission (all)
Fairfax County Dept. of Planning and Zoning
Reston Planning and Zoning Committee (all members)

Subject: Comstock's Development Proposal for the Wiehle Avenue Metro Station Area

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The advent of rail in Reston will change the face of our community and likely affect its very character. The two planned rail stations, one at Wiehle Avenue and the other near but not at Reston Town Center, will bring intense new development to the very heart of the community. Unlike any other developments, what arises at these the sites will seriously alter Reston--for better or worse. Thus, it is vital that we get it right from the start at Wiehle Avenue.

The process is not off to a promising start. Since its first presentations going back six months or so, Comstock has refused to alter a seriously flawed proposal. They seem to believe that they have the county and ultimately our community over a major barrel with a sole source PPEA deal and tight timelines to meet a train coming down the track. The Reston community has no power to alter Comstock's plans. So, we must look to Fairfax County to act on our behalf and demand excellence in the plans for this site.

Excellent critiques and suggestions have been offered by Restonians Guy Rando, Dave Edwards, Terry Maynard and others. I ask that you adopt their suggestions to improve this flawed proposal. For example, fewer buildings on the site would open the main plaza up to sunlight. There also needs to be much more open space for the would-be residents--which could be accomplished in part by fewer, but taller buildings.

Air rights are encouraged by the comprehensive plan. Isn't this the ideal location to introduce them to open additional area for recreation and open space! Furthermore, air rights expansion could set up foundation for additional buildings, additional parking and a sorely needed pedestrian bridge.

The Comstock development is only the first development anticipated in the station area. Other property owners will be coming forward with proposals for other corners of the area of the intersection of the DTR and Wiehle Avenue. The stage is being set for complete gridlock and standstill, a traffic nightmare rivaling the worst in the country UNLESS the county steps up and prepares a transportation master plan for the area 1/2 mile around the intersection. There is time to do so. The question is: is there the will to do it right?

This is an opportunity to demonstrate the best of mixed use planning and the ballyhooed Transit Oriented Development. Shouldn't we be seeking to make this new station area a place where people want to be? This includes making a charming ambience and providing a range of attractive retail, and a first class hotel--landmark stuff. But, what is proposed is such a drab, car-filled plaza instead of a pedestrian haven that it is likely to be a place people avoid spending time. We do not like to think of Reston in those terms. The plaza needs to be reworked as do the plans for the retail and the over-apparent ugly garages.

In sum, we wholehearted agree with the analyses which indicate that this project has a way to go if it is not to be a major disappointment and do serious harm to the quality of life in our special place. Please tell us that we can count on you to turn this around, turn it into something we can all be proud of and not just shake our heads when we look at it.


John and Fran Lovaas
Reston, VA 20190

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