Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Notes from the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, December 20, 2010, Terry Maynard

Patty Nicoson, Task Force and Steering Committee Chair, stated at the outset of this initial meeting of the Steering Committee (SC) that the meeting would try to understand how FC conducts the planning process, and treats planning & zoning.  Thereafter, the meeting was turned over to Mark Looney who provided a two-hour walk-through of the planning and zoning effort (2006-2009) for "Central Springfield," the area around Springfield Mall.

Looney literally did a page-by-page review of the planning and zoning documents (hundreds of pages) to show what was done, the implication—and state purpose--being that this approach and these documents might be useful for plan language in Reston.  Looney stressed over and over how many reviews the long-suffering landowner/developers had to go through in the processes of the county--a constant theme.  When Looney was done, Heidi noted that the Springfield example "helps understand how planning and zoning can be addressed . . ., "but she discouraged the SC from aspiring to this level of detail. 

Comment:  I do not think the Springfield example is applicable to Reston’s three TOD areas.  It covers only an 80-acre site (vice ~800 in RTC, ~400 in Wiehle, & ~200 in H-M, excluding west of Monroe).  The land is owned by 5 property owners working together to save a badly failing shopping center.  They presented a re-development proposal that shaped the concurrent development of planning and zoning language around a single re-development concept.  We generally have many property owners (depending on TOD area), they are not cooperating yet, there is no property consolidation, nor is there a re-development plan in any of the Reston TODs.  The Springfield area is not a TOD area--Huntington is a half-mile from the nearest point in the scheme.  

The SC barely addressed infrastructure in the Springfield re-planning, and did so in a way that was limited using generally non-binding language.  

The transportation plan was developed after the zoning application was filed, but before project approval.  Comment:  This is a bad idea.  We need an integrated transportation plan as part of the revised County CP with specific funding sources identified (a problem Tysons is still wrestling with 6 months after the new CP was developed).  As Reston 2020 has noted in the title of its implementation paper, “Planning without implementation is empty.”  The transportation plan did recognize the need for an internal circulator and a circulator link to "main" Springfield across I-95, but nothing else I discerned (e.g.--more bus service to Metro 1/2 mile away to the east).  The owners agreed to contribute (i.e.-“voluntary”) $4.31/SF for non-residential space and $863/DU—about $0.72/SF under Reston planning assumptions of 1,200GSF per DU--with an inflation adjustment to a special road fund internal to the development.  There was a process to make sure those roads were built.  They also agreed to fund the operating cost ($210K/yr. for increased bus service (linking to main Springfield) for up to five years, after which it would be FC's responsibility.  They did not agree to fund any capital costs associated with the new bus services. 

Open space-like issues were covered as follows:  The owners would provide $1.6MM to improve an OFFSITE park and $1MM to put artificial turf on nearby Lee HS' football field.  That's it; no discussion of on-site open space to serve residents, employees, or visitors.  

Comment:  Patty Nicoson seems to have caved to developer interests to use this forum to take vision function from Vision Committee.  It still leaves a confused picture to be sorted out--what then is the Vision committee's function?

The next meeting of the SC will be on January 4, 7PM, at RCC-Lake Anne, in lieu of a Task Force meeting.

Present were:  Patty, Heidi, Paul Thomas, Bill Penniman, Robert Goudie, Kohann Williams, John Carter, Mark Looney, and Van Foster, plus some developer hangers-on, plus Reston 2020 reps John Lovaas & myself in the audience.

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