Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Friday, February 25, 2011

"A Letter to Planners of Reston's New Construction," Reston Patch, February 25, 2011, Mark Moody

Can you keep Wiehle traffic and the environment in mind as you move forward, please?

Dear planners and engineers of the Wiehle Avenue Metro stop and surrounding area,

I wanted to let you know that Wiehle Avenue is a beautiful drive.  The winding road rises and falls along the natural landscape of north Reston.  Drivers are taken on a journey along this scenic avenue that calms and soothes their nerves as they travel along its relaxing bends and curves.

Who am I kidding?  Wiehle is indeed a very beautiful road.  But for those of us who use it daily, the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills can be a congested area of frustrated drivers and idling vehicles. . . .
 For the rest of Mr. Moody's letter, click here

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Note on the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, February 23, 2011, Dick Rogers

                                          R. Rogers
                                        24 Feb 2011


Summary: This was the most extensive, spirited and knowledgeable discussion of issues in the “checklist” so far. Although developer-resident differences in perspective were evident, the discussion was not adversarial.

     Attendance: All present! Also attending DPZ’s Fred Selden and Goldie Harrison.

     P Nicoson introduced a facilitator from the Perspective Group who apparently will be called on to help the process along.  She just observed. (How will this work?).

     Comment: The attendance and the tepid discussion of the SC role Tuesday night at the TF re-enforces the message that the SC will be the locus of decision making on the future of the TOD areas.

     Public comments: Dick Rogers picked up on the previous weeks mention by Judy Pew to point out that the checklist discussion of South Town Center was deficient and did not even reflect the TC sub-coms language that this area would be different from TC. Heidi Merkel and Patty Nicoson said they had been discussing this very issue and implied that new language would be forthcoming.

     Checklist: Heidi noted changes in version 4 of the checklist, particularly deletion of the sub-committee’s points in favor of retaining the “staff summary of the sub-committee guidance.” (Comment: This process subtlety lets the DPZ staff pick the issues to go into the plan.)

     In response to my question, Heidi said the deletion of much material from “checklist # 4” on open space and recreation was because they intend to have an FC Parks person in to discuss this issue at a future meeting.

     Substance: The bulk of the meeting was a  discussion of a few points in the “form” section of the checklist.

     Sunrise Valley as ”grand green boulevard”: This picked up from the discussion last week.  Most concluded that this was a good idea but that there should be differences in approach in various areas. Robert Goudie said he viewed it as a waste of county money to make any improvements in Sunrise Valley Drive near Polo Fields and South Wiehle.  He said that who knows, in 20-50 years these areas within the ½ mile TOD boundary may be re-developed.  Heidi Merkel put an end to the discussion, noting that the terms of reference for the station areas specifically ended at Sunrise Valley Drive.

     Building heights: The staff raised the issue of whether the plan should include height limitations.  John Carter used the opening to question the heights being suggested, particularly for Town Center, saying the increases were “gigantic.”  There was vigorous discussion of restrictions with developers saying the “market” should be the determinant.  The consensus, however, seemed to be that height should be put in the report but used as an incentive for getting other things (design, open space etc).

     Parking and garages:  The height discussion led Fred Selden to point out that height (and by implication density) had important implications for parking.  He cited the case of a 12 story parking garage somewhere in the county. He was concerned that this could lead to large massive garages.

     John Carter vigorously questioned whether there should be any garages on pedestrian routes to Metrorail.

     Peter Otteni later questioned wording on p 6 in the checklist saying that garages should be below grade.  He noted that in Fairfax County there would be only limited money and design opportunities for this (and certainly not in D-4 owned by his employer, he noted). There seemed to be a consensus that underground garages should be encouraged but that they should not be required  in all TOD areas (The p 6 wording also talks of garages being lined with retail or located in the center of blocks but this was mostly skipped over.)

     Goudie noted that the Town Center report said that parking requirements should be relaxed in part to deal with this problem.

     The County staff promised to provide more information on parking practices and requirements as well as sidewalk widths.

     Next: The SC will meet Wednesday, 8AM, 2 March and Tuesday, 7PM, 8 March, locations to be determined.  Among things to be discussed is a presentation to the Task Force on 15 March.

Notes on the RTF Meeting, February 22, 2011, Terry Maynard

Notes on the
Reston Task Force Meeting
February 22, 2011

Public Comment

Marion Stillson, President, RCA, endorsed the Vision and Planning Principles statement prepared by the Vision Committee on behalf of RCA.  She thanked the Steering Committee for its contributions as well.  (See the text of her comments here.)

Rob Whitfield asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of Dave Edwards, long-time Restonian and major contributor to Reston planning.   Chairman Patty Nicoson noted that there would be a memorial service for Dave at the Universalist Unitarian Church on March 12th.

Administrative Items

Patty Nicoson--
  • Noted she had attended a Metrorail meeting looking at some new ideas, but they were costly and there few dollars available.
  • Attended the Jan. 31 Herndon planning meeting to discuss development around the Herndon-Monroe station.  Developers discussed the matter in the morning and the Town Council spent the afternoon discussing potential development.  In general, they leaned toward the FAR 4.5 option (vice 2.5) although they considerably narrowed the area for that level of development0.  They expressed concern about a triple left-hand turn into area parking and a number of bad intersections.
Heidi Merkel, DPZ staff, followed up noting that DPZ had met with the Herndon planning staff and chairs of the RTF Herndon-Monroe committee.  She noted that Herndon’s and the RTF’s timeframes were roughly the same for concluding their efforts.  She had no information on Herndon’s view of the station name.

Mike Cooper, RTF member, whose company also has interests in Herndon, noted that Herndon is taking a longer term view for its planning, in part because the area of interest already has a number of 4-5 story buildings. 

Heidi also noted that DPZ is developing an approach for Phase II (Village Centers and Residential Areas) of the RTF.  Staff had met with Supr. Hudgins for her inputs, and she thought the staff would have a preliminary schedule ready for the March 15th RTF meeting.

Patty Nicoson provided feedback from the Dulles Construction Committee of MWAA’s discussion of air rights over the Dulles Corridor.   An engineering analysis suggested that it was technically feasible to build needed foundations either now or in the future, and that there was insufficient economic return to justify that move now.  (See the analyses and recommendation here.)  It was also noted by MWAA’s legal counsel that MWAA does not have the authority to do work that does serve an “airport purpose,” and would need to seek federal legislative relief to correct that deficiency.  Committee members asked for a revenue perspective from developers on future air rights development.  The Task Force agreed to have the Chairman send MWAA a letter expressing their continuing interest in obtaining air rights for development over the Dulles corridor.

According to Patty, the schedule for Phase II of the Metro line will probably slip, although they have not officially acknowledged that slippage yet.  MWAA is looking at three alternatives for the station at Dulles airport.  She noted that Phase I of the Metro line has been 30% completed.
Patty noted that the Perspectives Group will help facilitate future discussions of the Task Force as it discusses needed decisions regarding Phase I (the TOD areas).
Heidi Merkel gave a presentation on the role of the Steering Committee.  She began by noting that the Task Force’s role was to guide the staff (DPZ) in the drafting of new Comprehensive Plan language.  She walked through its objectives, the use of checklist, etc.  (This is her presentation.)  Task Force member Dick Kennedy urged the Steering Committee to check back in with the Task Force regularly on its activities. 

Patty also summarized the work of the Steering Committee over the last two months.  (See Reston 2020 notes on these meetings on the blog.)

Bob Simon noted that the Village Centers (VCs) were receiving short shrift in the Vision and Planning Principles (V&PP) statement because the task force effort was divided into two parts.   He expressed concern that the V&PP statement mis-stated the importance of greater density in the VCs.   In response to a question from Peter Otteni, Task Force member, about how the Task Force could deal with the VC issue, John Carter (Co-Chair, Vision Committee) noted that it would be addressed in their report.  Heidi also noted that it was being given some consideration in the Steering Committee.  Patty noted that there was a door open to return to the planning principles based on the results of Phase II of the Task Force. 

Dick Kennedy noted that Gerry Volloy’s piece on governance sent to the Task Force was important.  He said he was not sure where it fits, but it needs to be addressed.  It has implications for open space, trails, etc.  He expects addressing the issue will be difficult because of the number of stakeholders, the legal ramifications, etc.  Patty noted the Steering Committee will address implementation mechanics.

Kohann Williams, co-chair of the Vision Committee, provided the backdrop for the V&PP statement, noting that they reached consensus on what was before the Task Force that evening.  She noted the intent to discuss the draft in detail tonight and vote on it at the March 15th meeting. 

Robert Goudie raised the concern that the brief statement about residential areas may not be sufficiently strong to meet Restonians needs to protect neighborhoods from encroaching growth.  There was a brief discussion of both protecting the rights of neighborhoods to decide their own futures so long as they did not affect the rights, values, and quality of life of their neighbors. 

John Carter, co-chair of the Vision Committee, followed up by noting the Vision Committee’s plans to wrap up its report. 

There being no additional discussion, Chairman Nicoscon adjourned the meeting about 20 minutes early.  The next meeting of the Task Force will be on March 15. 

"Air rights weighed near future Reston Metro station," Fairfax County news in brief, Washington Post, February 24, 2011

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board of directors is evaluating whether to install foundations around the planned Reston Parkway Metrorail station that would later allow the authority to sell development rights above the station and the Dulles Toll Road.

Steve Smith, of the airports authority's Office of Engineering, told the board last week that the Reston market likely will not be ready to absorb the density needed to facilitate "air rights" development anytime soon. Air rights above the new rail stations would essentially involve constructing buildings on platforms above the future rail stations and toll road. . . .

Click here for the rest of this WaPo article. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

RCA Comment to RTF Endorsing Proposed Reston Vision and Planning Principles Statement, Feb. 22, 2011

Thank you, Chairman Nicoson and members of the Reston Task Force.

As President of the Reston Citizens Association, I am pleased to announce RCA’s endorsement of the Vision and Planning Principles statement prepared by the Vision Sub-Committee.  While there may still be a few points we could quibble with and others will share their own views of the statement this evening, I want to take a few moments this evening to explain why RCA supports this important statement.  

At its core, the new Vision and Planning Principles statement balances the needs, directions, and goals of all of Reston’s diverse stakeholders—landowners, businesses, employees, residents, and visitors, current and future.  It is also broadly consistent with the nine Planning Principles proposed to the Task Force by our own Reston 2020 Committee a year ago. 
  • It promotes the continuation of core Reston values, including protecting the environment, providing abundant public open space and natural areas, pursuing architectural excellence, and sustaining residential diversity.
  • The statement calls for advancing Reston’s economic growth, an essential ingredient of its success.
  • It addresses Reston’s endemic transportation problem through smarter land use, infrastructure development, and public transit strategies.
  • And it highlights the importance of continuing community participation in shaping and monitoring Reston planning and zoning in the future of Reston.  RCA’s Reston 2020 Committee plans to be a part of that long-term effort. 
RCA deeply appreciates the work of the Task Force Steering Sub-Committee and—most importantly—the work of the Vision Sub-Committee in bringing these diverse and sometimes conflicting ideas into clear and concise focus.  

We hope that tonight’s discussion may lead to a few constructive additions to this vision statement, but we are anxious that some changes may detract from its elegant balance and comprehensiveness.

Marion Stillson
President, Reston Citizens Association


Letter to Reston Patch, "Comstock's Plans Not Consistent With Reston," Terry Maynard, Feb. 23, 2011

Note:  The Reston Patch has published two articles about the planned "Reston Station" development at the Wiehle Metro stop in recent days.  See this and this.  The following letter is a counterpoint to those articles. 

Many faults with station development at Wiehle.

It is important for readers to know that Reston’s three major civic groups—RA, ARCH, and RCA—as well as other Dulles Corridor groups, all opposed approval of Comstock's Reston Station conceptual development proposal in a variety of forums, including testimony to the Fairfax County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

The County staff denied Comstock’s initial proposal and had a number of criticism of the proposal approved by the supervisors.  The bottom line is that the county approved this development proposal because it had no alternatives and no time, having guaranteed the construction of a parking garage by the opening of the Wiehle Metro Station in 2013.

The result is that Restonians will be stuck for decades with an ugly, congestion-producing, pedestrian and environmentally unfriendly block of high rise buildings inconsistent with some basic principles of transit-oriented development (TOD).   Here are a few lowlights:
  • There is absolutely nothing architecturally excellent, even redeeming, about Comstock’s proposal. It reminds most Restonians of the worst of Crystal City development in its overwhelming mass and cubism.  I have called it “Fort Comstock” because of its fortress-like high-walled periphery, including the five stories of above ground parking.
  • Unlike the rest of Reston, it has virtually no usable public open space. It's plaza is about the same size as Reston's Lake Anne Plaza (Washington Plaza)and Lake Anne development is about one-tenth as dense.  Moreover, Comstock will allow traffic (none at Lake Anne) on the plaza, and it will virtually never see sunlight due to the overwhelming buildings around.
  • The design offers no opportunity for street-facing retail business activity, a cornerstone of making TOD areas attractive walkable areas.  Instead, it’s limited retail focuses inward on the small plaza/traffic loop. 
  • Block I (next to the Metro station) will be a congestion magnet, despite what Comstock's Parker says about it. It will add 5,000-plus parking spaces (2,300 for Metro underground, the rest above ground for its employees and residents) to an area that receives failing traffic grades even AFTER the marginal improvements Comstock has agreed to install.
In its March 19, 2010, report, the county staff criticized the proposal along the same lines, adding the following:

“Although the applicant [Comstock] has worked with Staff to resolve many of the issues originally identified with the application, a number of significant concerns remain which staff believes must be resolved prior to the approval of the application." (editor's note: Comstock has since addressed and improved many of these issues)
  • The need for stronger/more specific restrictions on vehicular access to the public plaza, as well as a clear definition of where access can and will be restricted during special events. The primary focal point of this development is intended to be the central plaza located in Block 1. However, without adequate restrictions on vehicular access in this area, its appeal as a gathering spot and recreational opportunity for the public is greatly diminished, if not destroyed.
  • Green Buildings: Although the Applicant's commitments concerning Green Buildings are somewhat improved, as discussed in the analysis there are three remaining issues which must be revised before staff can find this application in compliance with the Policy Plan and consistent with commitments received from other developers. (Need to omit the reference to a specific edition of LEED which could become obsolete; need to provide for an independent USGBC review; and need to release the green building escrow into a County fund, rather than back into the project.)
  • The need to revise the proposed TDM commitments as recommended by Staff to provide for effective penalties in the event that the development fails to achieve the TDM targets.
“In addition to these critical concerns, a number of points have been raised which staff believes would be highly desirable for the applicant to address; these include: 
  • Provision of additional definition within the Design Guidelines; especially as they pertain to temporary treatments along the plaza and walkways during the initial phases of development.
  • Provision of additional commitments to/definition of methods to address the concerns raised by the shadow study.
  • Provision of additional public open space and recreational amenities.
  • Need to revise the noise attenuation proffer to ensure that proposed attenuation measures and phasing will be adequate and that no residential development will occur in areas which exceed 75dBa Ldn as recommended by the Comprehensive Plan.
  • Offset of demand for public parks and recreational facilities through a Fair Share contribution and/or provision of in-kind public improvements.
  • Inclusions of a commitment to provide additional WFH (workforce housing) units above the minimum 12% in recognition of the County’s TOD goals and the unique opportunity provided by this high density mixed-used project.”
In short, Comstock’s development proposal did not measure up to county standards, much less Reston standards, but county officials approved it anyway.

It is not a development we can be proud of. 

Terry Maynard
(Terry Maynard is on the board of the Reston Citizens Association)

RTF Steering Committee Checklist, V4, for Meeting This Evening, Feb. 23, 2011

Update:  Here is a link to this evening's Steering Committee agenda.  Please note that the checklist discussion will focus on the mix of uses and relative intensities in the three TOD areas--a hot topic throughout the course of the RTF.  

Note:  This "checklist" is being used by the RTF Steering Committee to sort through the coordination of the various TOD area reports and prepare succinct language for the Task Force to approve as staff guidance in preparing the new Reston Master Plan.  It evolves with each Steering Committee meeting in both substance and form.  It is important to keep an eye on what's being included (and not being included) to help assure that the interests of Reston citizens are well represented.

In an e-mail to Restonians forwarding this version of the checklist, the County staff noted the following changes:

The basic content of Version 4 has not changed from the previous version; however, Version 4 does include the following alterations:
  1. Removed the static "Sub-Committee Statement" section to streamline the document.
  2. Included a map of the Phase 1 Study Area.
  3. Enhanced Staff comments and questions by providing context to the questions/comments.
  4. Refined Staff comments and questions to pertain only to issues needed addressing by Task Force.

Reston TF Steering Comm Checklist 02-23-2011 Version4                                                              

Monday, February 21, 2011

Reston's 2010 Official Census Population is 58,404 in 25,522 Households

The first table provided by Census 2010 on Reston CDP breaks down its total population by race and ethnicity.  It shows that Reston's population is 58,404 in 25,522 households.  Here's the table:
QT-PL - Reston CDP, Virginia: Race, Hispanic or Latino, Age, and Housing Occupancy:  2010
2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File
Subject Total 18 years and over
Number Percent Number Percent
  Total population 58,404 100.0 46,226 100.0
  One race 56,034 95.9 44,880 97.1
    White 40,959 70.1 33,782 73.1
    Black or African American 5,654 9.7 4,061 8.8
    American Indian and Alaska Native 183 0.3 128 0.3
    Asian 6,382 10.9 4,931 10.7
    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 26 0.0 23 0.0
    Some Other Race 2,830 4.8 1,955 4.2
  Two or More Races 2,370 4.1 1,346 2.9
  Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 7,479 12.8 5,184 11.2
  Not Hispanic or Latino 50,925 87.2 41,042 88.8
    One race 49,073 84.0 40,013 86.6
      White 36,952 63.3 30,963 67.0
      Black or African American 5,467 9.4 3,932 8.5
      American Indian and Alaska Native 99 0.2 69 0.1
      Asian 6,328 10.8 4,903 10.6
      Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 22 0.0 21 0.0
      Some Other Race 205 0.4 125 0.3
    Two or More Races 1,852 3.2 1,029 2.2
  Total housing units 26,787 100.0
  Occupied housing units 25,522 95.3
  Vacant housing units 1,265 4.7
(X) Not applicable
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census.
2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File, Tables P1, P2, P3, P4, H1.

Tonight's P&Z Meeting CANCELED!

Sent: Mon, Feb 21, 2011 8:46 am

JBG has canceled tonight's presentation. They will appear at our April meeting. No meeting tonight.
Arthur S. Hill
Vice Chairman
Reston Planning & Zoning Committee

Including Dulles Corridor in RA Deed and Covenants, Letter by Gerry Volloy, February 20, 2011

RCIG Vision--Gerry Volloy                                                            

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dulles Corridor Air Rights--Analysis and Recommendations, February 2011

The Reston Task Force has received two brief papers concerning the practicability of building foundations to develop air rights over the Dulles Corridor.  The bottom line from these two papers is that it is not economically reasonable to build them now and future construction over an already built Metrorail line will require 150' long spans that cost about 30% more than the 60' spans that could be constructed now. 

Analysis & Recommendation for Air Rights Over the Dulles Corridor,  Final Paper, February 2011                                                                   
Feasibility Study--Technical Report on Air Rights Development over the Dulles Corridor, Appendices A and B                                                                   

Agenda: Reston Task Force Meeting, February 22, 2011

February 22, 2011
Task Force Meeting
South Lakes High School, 11400 South Lakes Drive, Reston

DRAFT Agenda 

7:00 p.m.         Public Comment Period 

7:15 p.m.         Administrative Items – Patty Nicoson, Task Force Chair

7:30 p.m.         Update re: Steering Committee Work

7:45 p.m.         Vision Committee Presentation re: Vision and Planning Principles
John Anderson Carter and Kohann Williams, Co-chairs
                        Task Force Review of Reston community-wide Vision statement and Planning Principles (vote to be taken at next full Task Force meeting)
Patty Nicoson, Task Force Chair 

9:15 p.m.         Upcoming full Task Force meetings
·        Next meeting:  Tuesday March 15 (3 weeks)

9:25 p.m.         Adjourn – Patty Nicoson

Remembering Dave Edwards, Reston Patch, February 18, 2011, by John Lovaas

Reston resident had longtime impact on the community.

The year after receiving his master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, Dave Edwards moved to Reston.  That was 1967.  He involved himself in his community and making it a better place from the beginning.

Edwards, who died on Thursday of cancer at age 73,  played in key role in that shaping Reston in its earliest formative years and was back playing a vital role recently as Reston enters a period of urban expansion.

Edwards made his living working for Fairfax County, first as a county planner where his work included developing the county’s first comprehensive plan for the Upper Potomac Planning District, including Reston.  Subsequently, he worked as Executive Director of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.  His work included bringing to Reston dozens of businesses that made this their home.

Meanwhile, he helped to organize and energize the new Reston Citizens Association, created in 1967 to protect the Robert Simon’s founding vision following his firing by Gulf Oil Corporation.   Edwards served on the RCA Board from 1968 to 1972, service that included chairing RCA’s Planning and Zoning Committee.

In this capacity, he worked to develop the agreements with Fairfax County establishing the P & Z as the recognized voice of the community in reviewing proposed new development.  Previously, development proposals went directly to the county staff and elected officials with very limited community input.  In those years, P & Z was a highly professional group that developers took seriously and whose recommendations were usually accepted by the county.  It is hard to overstate the importance of this function and its impact over the last 40-plus years.  Edwards was a principal architect of this key institution.

In the early 1970s, Dave joined the Ad Hoc Committee to plan and design the Reston Community Center.  This committee later became the new center’s first Board of Governors.  As a member of the Ad Hoc Committee, it was Edwards who conceived the financing mechanism for the center, the creation of Small Tax District No. 5.

The Reston Community Center was established in 1979 and has expanded to Lake Anne. It serves thousands of Reston citizens of all income levels with a wide array of cultural, recreational and educational programs.   We can, and should, thank Dave Edwards for his crucial role in shaping both its physical plant and the inclusive philosophy which still governs it today.

Over the years, Edwards played scores of other roles serving Reston with no thought of personal reward.  As a volunteer for Reston Association, he provided input into the planning for South Lakes High School;  served on the Reston Metro Access Group (RMAG); served on the RA Election Committee, 2004-2010; and, served as member and vice chair of the RA's Transportation Committee.  He was selected as RCA's 2010 Citizen of the Year.

Most recently, Edwards  was an active participant in preparing a new master plan for Reston, a plan to guide development for a generation and to convert Reston from a suburban to urban community.  He was a dynamic force within the citizens Reston 2020 group providing skilled, experienced input focused on assuring that Reston’s future development is up to his high standards for excellence in design and quality of life.

Edwards is survived by his beloved wife of 43 years, Abbie Edwards; son Bob Edwards of Smithfield, VA; son Brian Edwards of Waynesboro, VA; son Marc Edwards of Philadelphia, PA; daughter Julie Edwards of Charlotte, NC; eight grandchildren; and one great grandson.

A memorial service will be held March 12 at 2 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Notes on the RTF Vision Committee Meeting, Feb. 16, 2011, Terry Maynard

Summary:  The Vision Committee spent its meeting session reviewing and editing, line-by-line, the Reston 2020-edited version of the Goudie-Nicoson Vision and Planning Principles (V&PP) statement.  The changes tightened and clarified the draft language and re-ordered some points, but did not materially affect the substance of the Reston 2020-edited draft.  The Committee will present the revised V&PP statement at the Reston Task Force meeting on Tuesday.  Given the time devoted to the statement, other agenda items were postponed.

Present:  John Bowman, Judith Pew, Van Foster, Milton Matthews, Art Murphy, Bob Simon, Fred Costello, Patty Nicoson, Bill Penniman, and co-chairs John Carter and Kohann Williams.  I may have overlooked others attending.  Heidi Merkel provided staff support.  Others there included RTF members Dick Kennedy and Nick Bauer.

The Draft V&PP Statement Review


Led by Kohann Williams, the discussion began by looking at the Reston 2020-edited version of the Nicoson-Goudie draft V&PP statement.  Several editorial changes were made.  For example, the sentence, “The community’s greatest densities will be at the three Metro station areas, which will be Reston’s livable urban centers” was shortened by deleting the last phrase (beginning with “which…”) The order was changed by moving the first bullet in the draft re protecting natural areas and the environment and developing cultural and other opportunities to the last bullet.

Planning Principles:

The first sentence of Principle #1 was shortened to state “The rail corridor will be transformed.”  The remaining portion of that sentence was created as a separate sentence.  (In general, the Committee tried to shorten the topical sentences of the planning principles without changing their meaning.)

One of the most extended discussions focused on the nature of Village Centers (VCs) as described in Principle #2 regarding the mix of Reston development.  Bob Simon vigorously and repeatedly pursued language concerning the VCs that would highlight them as community gathering places with a vibrant central plaza.  He only partially succeeded with this addition to the bullet on VCs:  “The village centers are important community gathering places.”  Heidi Merkel highlighted that the details of the VCs will be developed in Phase II of the RTF effort, so it was difficult to put more explicit language in this statement.  

(Comment:  I think that Bob Simon has an important concept in mind and he is most definitely right that the current VCs do not come close to his vision for these places.  Moreover, if we expect the V&PP to drive the work of the various other RTF committees, I do not understand why we should wait to define the essential character of VCs later.  While I do not necessarily share Simon’s vision of VCs, I think the committee took a “quick kick” on this topic to more through the review process.)

The next substantive discussion concerned Principle #6 on infrastructure, specifically the Reston 2020 phraseology that infrastructure improvement should be “concurrent” vice “phased” with development.  Several noted Virginia legal decisions that may preclude this kind of requirement, including input to the Committee from Goldie Harrison on Supervisor Hudgins’ staff.  In the end, the Committee retained the word “phased."

The last substantive discussion concerned Principle #9 regarding sustainability and green technology.  There was an extensive discussion of how this should be phrased, and Nick Bauer and Judith Pew broke off briefly to draft language for the Committee’s consideration.  The resulting paragraph added language to protect Reston’s tree canopy and dropped draft language to protect wildlife corridors and earn environmental stewardship awards.  (CommentI did not sense a significant weakening of the protection phraseology in the re-drafted principle, but we will have to wait to see the final language.)

The discussion on the planning principles closed with a re-ordering of the principles, beginning with moving the urban design excellence principle (#9 as drafted) and the environmental sustainability principle (#10) to the first two principles respectively.  As I captured the dialogue, the following other changes were made:
  • The infrastructure phasing principle (#6) became the third principle.
  • The Reston mix principle (#2) became the fourth principle.
  • The transformation of the rail corridor (#1) became the fifth principle. 
  • The others appeared to follow in their current order.
This thorough review lasted passed 9PM and the Committee was informed by the RCC staff that it needed to wrap-up its discussions.  The Committee decided to postpone its agenda, which had included finalizing its report and reviewing a draft presentation to the Task Force, to meetings on March 2nd and March 9th.  It will present its report on the revised V&PP statement at next week’s Task Force meeting. The meeting adjourned about 9:20PM.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Notes on the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, Feb. 16, 2011, Dick Rogers

Summary:  Issues were raised about the relationship of the Steering Com to the TF. In addition, there was wrestling about who will revise the planning principles based on the Goudie-Nicoson and Reston 2020 input.  These issues will be discussed at next week’s TF meeting. Some more limited progress was made on the “character” and ”form” of the stations in the “checklist”.

     Attendance: All members present except Otteni and JBG Rep (Nick Bauer monitored by phone). A couple of Task Force members, two major property owners and Goldie Harrison from Supervisor Hudgins’ office were also present.

     Public comments: Terry Maynard read the Reston 2020 view of the Steering Committee process and submitted the 2020 suggested revisions of the Goudie-Nicosen planning principles (available on 2020 blog and county web site).

     Doug Pew criticized the Steering committee abrogation of the role of the Task Force (TF), saying “that to all appearance, this has become the super committee.”

     Dick Rogers lamented that much of the material to be considered today was not on the website as of yesterday afternoon and there were not enough copies for everyone at the meeting.

     Judith Pew noted that the new shortened draft Planning Principles failed to say anything that protected Reston’s tree canopy, a defining feature of the community.

     Admin: Patty Nicoson reported on a MWAA meeting that discussed air rights. Sums like $34 and $64 million were apparently cited for pilings, depending on the distance between them. There will be further MWAA discussion on this issue.

     Planning Principles: The Reston 2020 revised version of the Goudie-Nicoson shortened Vision and Planning Principles (V&PP) statement was generally well received. John Carter and Kohann Williams suggested that the Vision Committee at tonight’s meeting review the suggestions and submit a version for TF review next week.

     Robert Goudie objected to this and said he would produce a new version “by noon” today for the Steering Committee to submit to the TF.  The Vision Committee reps in turn objected to this and again said they would consider the V&PP tonight.

     Goudie raised a number of substantive objections to the 2020 draft, among them:  
     --goes too far in “protecting” natural areas, particularly in point 9.
     --the word “balance” re jobs and housing could be read to mean 50/50.

     Several members objected to the wording that Reston should not be “burdened” by requirements generated by TOD development. Looney, for example, said this could be read as forbidding any children in the TOD area from attending existing Reston schools.  One raised the issue of residential communities wanting to sell themselves to developers.

(Comment: It was unclear how the process will actually evolve, but apparently something will be submitted to the TF for discussion next week.)
     Process: Heidi Merkel again acknowledged that the Steering committee’s (SC’s)role in the process has not always been clear. She again stressed that SC work will be submitted to the TF for approval. The “checklist” will provide guidance to the staff for drawing up plan language.  Heidi then held out the possibility that the TF will write a report that will accompany the staff plan.

     Checklist Substance
     Wiehle: More discussion about whether Wiehle is a community, a neighborhood, an area etc.

     Town Center: Discussion triggered by Judy Pew about whether the south side of TC needs separate treatment. Goudie insisted that TC is all one area.

     Herndon Monroe: Goudie objected to the characterization of HM as “a transit oriented employment center” saying that while there are constraints (presumably the garage) over 20 years there may be opportunity to increase the residential component of a mixed use community.

     Sunrise Valley as a ‘Grand Green blvd”: Two big landowners (Brookfield and Vornado) questioned what this might entail. They were concerned this might encroach on their land and or restrict the ability to construct residential directly along the south side.  The staff will try to clarify. John Carter suggested some pictures might help a lot in providing an actual “vision” here. (This was the first time property owners have come in to directly address the SC).

     Next: There was some discussion on whether there should even be a TF meeting on February 22, since the Vision Committee apparently will not have its report complete.  Eventually it was decided to keep the TF meeting alive to discuss the shortened V&PP, to provide a report on what the SC is doing, and to hear a report on VC activity.
The Steering Committee will also meet next week apparently on Wednesday evening.