Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts for Task Force, Robert E. Simon, March 9, 2010

The following is the text of an e-mail sent to the Reston Task Force via Patty Nicoson by Bob Simon. It is commenting, in particular, on two principles laid out in the Reston 2020's proposed Planning Principles--achieving Gold LEED standard and reserving at least 25% open space in future development--that is serving as the baseline document for the task force's consideration of Reston's guiding principles. The e-mail was sent to Ms. Nicoson hours before the County staff announced at the task force meeting on March 9 that the Reston 2020 proposal would serve as the task force baseline.

Subj: Thoughts for Task Force

Thoughts for Task Force

Too many well meaning Restonians are favoring mandates for future development without having expertise essential to making such recommendations.

One example of this is the recommended mandate for all buildings to be built to a Leeds Gold standard. I do not have the knowledge to understand the implications of Leeds. What I did find was that to achieve Leeds Gold in Reston's recently completed Nature House it had been necessary to provide five heat pumps, whereas, in a building of this size, one would be more than sufficient. No question, these heat pumps would conserve more energy than one would, but the resulting savings would never be sufficient to mitigate the capital costs of installing the pumps and their zoning systems plus the energy expended to produce all the equipment. I don't criticize Nature House, a non-profit operation using Leeds as a symbol. But profitability is an essential concomitant of development. Developers are held to higher standards in our community than elsewhere, standards that contribute to the excellence of our community. It would be counterproductive to disregard economic realities.

Another example is the recommended mandate that there be 25% open space, that natural areas be incorporated throughout the area of new development. I am familiar with New York City as well as Washington, DC. I have no idea as to what percentage of open space is included in either of these cities. What I do know is that each takes justifiable pride in their parks, their water fronts and their major avenues although natural areas constitute but a tiny percentage of their total open spaces. Restonians also take justifiable pride in their parks and their water fronts; their natural areas are preponderant as contrasted to those of NYC and DC. It makes no sense to disregard community wide open space so as to dilute density in the areas where density is needed ----to support retail centers and to reduce car traffic by favoring pedestrians.

To conclude ( for now only ): I remain fixated on the value of planning now for two or three air-rights projects to provide lively connections between North and South Reston while absorbing some of the population increases.

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