Reston Spring

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Notes on the Steering Committee Meeting, March 8, 2011, Terry Maynard

Notes on the
RTF Steering Committee Meeting
March 8, 2011

Present:  Patty Nicoson (Chair), Heidi Merkel (DPZ Staff), Fred Selden (Chief, DPZ Staff), Bill Penniman, Kohann Williams, Greg Riegle, Robert Goudie, Peter Otteni, Paul Thomas, and John Carter.  About 10 observers were present, including Task Force members Mike Corrigan and Judith Pew and a representative from the Town of Herndon Planning Staff.

Public Comment: 
·         Terry Maynard noted that, at the direction of Reston 2020, he had prepared a graphic analysis of the totality of what had been proposed by the committees and a comparison with other work, including GMU forecasts, DPZ’s Scenario A, and the Tysons plan for 2030 that he would be forwarding to the Task Force the following day.  Two committee co-chairs highlighted that their plans addressed longer timeframe and one argued incorrectly that the Reston 2020 values were looking at absorption.  (They present the committee guidance values.)
·         Doug Pew highlighted that the “grid of streets” as presented by some sub-committees did not fully meet the definition of that concept (parallel and perpendicular intersecting routes) and, therefore, would not likely achieve the desired shift to non-vehicular transportation.  Robert Goudie highlighted that, in Metro South, for example, they tried to achieve a reasonable grid, but respect other goals (large open space) and minimal use of developable land.

Draft Air Rights Memorandum:  Chairman Nicoson opened the evening by sharing a draft memorandum to the MWAA Chairman of the Board urging MWAA to approve the construction of foundations in the Dulles corridor for future air rights development, a task the RTF directed at its last meeting.   There was more discussion than had been anticipated.  Peter Otteni questioned why the RTF should be pushing for air rights now noting (1) it is highly likely that this would slow down the construction of Phase II, and (2) less importantly, the difference between the estimated $34 million to build the foundations now and the $64 million estimate for later construction was inconsequential in the multi-billion dollar scheme of the effort.  Bill Penniman countered if it weren’t less likely that a future effort would be rejected and Paul Thomas thought a later effort would at least be even more delayed.   Patty Nicoson will present the draft to the full task force at its meeting on March 15, possibly with some changes.

(Comment:   Besides the reasons Otteni noted for not pushing this matter now, it is noteworthy that his employer, Boston Properties, owns the property just north of the Reston Town Center Metro station along the corridor.  The acquisition and development of air rights adjoining or over the Metro station there would almost certainly diminish the value of Boston Properties’ land.)

Station “Character” Discussion:   The SC spent the bulk of its time fine tuning the wording about “character” of the three station areas using its “checklist,” Version 6 (p. 3) in this case.  The most extensive discussion concerned how much (& even whether) there should be residential space in the Reston West (Herndon-Monroe) TOD area.  Greg Riegle, co-chair of the H-M sub-committee, noted that some committee members didn’t think the area north of Sunrise Valley Drive was suitable for residential use.   The conversation took a more general tone about the TOD areas having a 1:1 balance in office and residential space with Robert Goudie noting that RTC as a “regional center” has a different paradigm than the other two stations.  It ended when Kohann Williams noted that it was not the SC’s job to over-ride the recommendations of the several sub-committees.   In the end, the phrase “supporting multi-family residential and retail” was replaced by “mixed-use.”

Throughout this discussion and a briefer ensuing discussion on the RTC station area, there was tremendous concern expressed about the degree of flexibility developers should have in achieving the desired residential-office mix.   Greg Riegle said it would be almost impossible to make every property meet the mix, in part because some are very small.  Bill Penniman noted the Wiehle committee’s approach to have meeting mix goals on a “land bay” level, and not necessarily contiguous properties.  This allowed flexibility while enabling a coherent land bay purpose.  Some of the discussion focused on the issue of “trading of mixes” between developers to achieve land bay or area goals and both the problems and opportunities that presented.  The issue was not resolved, but it is clear that the SC appreciates the problem of achieving mix goals on a reasonable basis.

Noise Standards Issue:   A committee member raised the question of how noise standards reduce the flexibility of putting residential units next to the Dulles corridor since noise level requirements are more stringent for residential than office development.   Fred Selden noted that there are both ordinances and policies in place that proscribed residential construction next to highway noise.

Presentation:  Heidi Merkel noted that she will be presenting the results of the SC’s deliberations on station “character” at next Tuesday’s Task Force meeting.  (Comment:  Given the difficulty of tracking changes that were proposed and approved in the course of the meeting discussion, it is not clear to this note taker exactly what will be presented.)

(Comment:  The SC’s work, using their “review checklist” is very incremental and difficult to follow in the course of a committee meeting, much less between meetings; yet the few words that are included in these updated checklists will have a powerful influence on the Task Force report and ultimately the new Plan.  It is important that Reston 2020 and others keep close track of what is written and what is changed to ensure it meets community needs.)

Next Meeting:  8 AM, March 23, 2011; place TBD.

Terry Maynard

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