Reston Citizens Association
PO Box 2851
Reston VA 20195
June 22, 2010
Hon. Catherine Hudgins
North County Government Center
12000 Bowman Towne Drive
Reston VA 20190
Re: JBG Proposed Re-Development of Fairways Apartments
Dear Supervisor Hudgins:
I am writing to you today on behalf of the Reston Citizens Association (RCA) to ask you to oppose the proposal by the JBG Companies to redevelop the Fairways Apartments on North Shore Drive.
The JBG proposal is scheduled for hearing by the Fairfax County Planning Commission in July. It calls for tearing down the 347 recently refurbished, affordable apartment homes comprising the Fairway Apartments community across North Shore Drive from the Lake Anne Elementary School and replacing them with 941 high-end condominiums.
While the proposal has undergone some design modifications thanks to the persistent efforts of the Reston Design Review Board, the result can be compared to rearranging deck chairs on the proverbial Titanic. Moving the pieces around a bit, adding some taller buildings and a few trees and bushes does not alter the substance of a large, overly intense development in a medium-density location where it is obviously out of place. After a struggle with the developer, the DRB finally moved them from a position of refusing to include any affordable units to agreeing to the current County minimum standard of 12%, a net loss of about 225 affordable dwelling units for Reston.
This project, as designed, would deliver a shock to a stable residential neighborhood that is vital to the diversity of this area. This stable neighborhood is consistent with Robert Simon’s founding principle of assuring a variety of housing to serve all income levels to provide “the heterogeneity that spells a lively and varied community.” Regrettably, this project would augment the trend of the last decade of wiping out affordable housing in Reston. This trend should be halted and indeed reversed if we are to remain true to our founding principles.
Furthermore, if this project is adopted, we can only assume that affordable apartments and townhouses throughout Reston will similarly be marked for destruction in the not-too-distant future. Thus, the residents of The Sycamores, Chestnut Grove Square, Parkcrest Apartments, Southgate Apartments, Hunters Square, and Winterthur Apartments, for example, will suffer similar fates, unless you act now to avoid setting this bad precedent.
In addition to replacing affordable homes with exclusive, high-income types, this project violates not only Reston’s founding principles as embodied in our PRC Zoning Ordinance that remains in effect today, but also the planning principles near adoption by the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force, and the County’s existing land-use policies. Let me point out a few principles/policies with which the JBG proposal sharply conflicts:
--Protect well established, stable residential neighborhoods.—The proposal would result in high-rise development with three times the existing development level and a very different character.
--Concentrate major new high density development near transit stations—Transit-Oriented Development.—Fairways is not near a transit station. It is 0.95 miles from the Reston Parkway transit station at its closest point and 1.2 miles at its farthest.
--Assure that necessary infrastructure is in place to meet the needs of new development.—There will be NO off-site improvements to infrastructure, and little if any for North Shore Drive, which was designed for the development that exists there, not a three-fold increase.
-- Encourage pedestrian connected and oriented high density communities.—Fairway is 0.6 miles from the nearest walk-to destination, and more than a mile from other potential walk-to destinations. This is vehicle-oriented, not pedestrian-oriented development.
Given the inappropriateness of this proposal to the site, the violence it does both to Reston founding principles and more current land-use planning policies, and the loss of over 220 affordable homes it would cause, we strongly encourage you to act on behalf of important principles and the community to forcefully oppose the proposed Fairways redevelopment.
Marion B. Stillson
President, Reston Citizens Association
Cc Ms. Sharon Bulova, Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Mr. Frank de la Fe, Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner
Ms. Kathleen McKee, President, Reston Association