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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rail To Dulles: No Agreement on Phase II Cost Reduction Yet, Vienna Patch, June 30, 2011

Thirty-day deadline to cut costs looming, but no decision on the horizon.

Officials from Loudoun and Fairfax counties and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) started meeting in earnest June 1, and LaHood told them they had 30 days to come up with cost-cutting solutions to the estimated $3.5 billion price tag for Phase II.

Last week, business leaders from Loudoun and Fairfax voiced their dissatisfaction with the process in a press conference across the street from Reston's Wiehle Avenue station, which will be the end of the line of Phase 1 when it opens in late 2013.

Loudoun County Chairman Scott York said the 30-day deadline will likely be extended and that no decision was likely to come Thursday.

“I think that window is going to stretch a little bit,” York said about the July 1 deadline.

Click here for the rest of this timely article. 

Officials trimming Dulles Rail by $500m, Washington Examiner, June 29, 2011

Local officials responsible for building and funding the Metro Silver Line project to Washington Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County are under federal pressure to bring costs down to about$3 billion.-Andrew Harnik/Examiner File
Local officials responsible for building and funding the Metro Silver Line project to Washington Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County are under federal pressure to bring costs down to about$3 billion.-Andrew Harnik/Examiner File

Local officials responsible for building and funding the Metro Silver Line project to Washington Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County are under federal pressure to bring costs down to about $3 billion.
  That's still about $500 million more than the original $2.5 billion estimate, but about $500 million less than the $3.5 billion projection issued in April.

"Pretty much everyone agrees that the $2.5 billion was unrealistic," said Fairfax County Chairwoman Sharon Bulova, D-at large, who this week briefed her board on the status of the funding. "If we can reduce our estimate to about $3 billion or less, that'll be considered a success."

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fairfax proposes change in how Tysons Corner projects affect development cap, Washington Post, June 28, 2011

(COURTESY OF THE GEORGELAS GROUP) - A rendering of the Tysons West Metro station at the intersection of Spring Hill Road and Route 7.

Plans to redevelop Tysons Corner limit total office space in the community to 45 million square feet through 2030, an amount that could be exceeded by companies that have filed plans for new projects.

Now Fairfax County is proposing to only count projects against the cap when they are further down the pipeline, a change developers say could hinder financing.

One year ago, county officials adopted a proposal to redevelop Tysons, its auto-centric jobs district, into a walkable downtown designed around four new Metro stations.

The plan put no limits on new housing in Tysons, a place where 100,000 people work but only 17,000 live. However, it capped office development.

County planners say this limit would allow them to monitor an office building’s impact on traffic.

But the limit also prompted developers to quickly file their projects with the county before the doors close on new office construction. Eight projects have been submitted as rezoning applications that must be approved by the county Board of Supervisors. . . . .
Click here for the rest of this excellent article.

Good article on the state of play at Tysons.  The point is that many of the developers are "rushing to the Court House" to get in their zoning applications to maximize their "by-right" development potential through an irrevocable zoning decision.  Few intend to actually build the amount of office space for which they are applying over the 20-year timeframe of the Tysons plan.

The pushback by the County is an effort to forestall a trigger in the Tysons plan that says the County will raise the limit on office development when the allowable space (45MM GSF) has been "built and approved."  The logic of that phrase (which is logically built backwards) suggests that the buildings would have to be built.  Somehow, however, developers are looking at the phrase as saying "built OR approved" so they can press for a higher development ceiling.  I suspect some court will have to sort that out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

County seeks public-private partnerships to defray rail-related costs, Fairfax Times, June 28, 2011

Second phase of Dulles Metrorail extension to cost $3.5 billion

Fairfax County is being asked to consider soliciting public-private partnerships to pay for parking garages and even station construction to help reduce the costs of the Dulles Metrorail extension. . .

Bulova was asked to get feedback from the (Board of Supervisors) regarding the possible use of public-private partnerships. . .

Some supervisors said they have concerns about allowing for the additional density at the rail stations, which would likely be needed to make a partnership attractive to the private developers.

"It isn’t free,” said Supervisor Michael Frey (R-Sully), noting that new development will require additional county services. "There is huge cost to that, and we’re the ones that have to bear that." . . .
 Click here for the rest of the story.  

Encore Presentation: "End of Suburbia" documentary, Nature House, July 8, 2011, 7 PM

Sustainable Reston, in cooperation with Nature House,  11450 Glade Drive, Reston, is re-screening the documentary “End of Suburbia” on Friday, July 8 at 7 pm at Nature House  (film website: ).  

If you would like to attend, please call or email Nature House to reserve a seat because seating is limited:  Seating is limited, so please register by calling 703-476-9689 and pressing 5 or email naturecenter@reston.orgThe movie is free, but we do ask for a $5 tax deductible donation; proceeds will be split between Fairfax Coalition for Smarter Growth/Sustainable Reston and Friends of Reston.

This film presents a view of suburbia and its future that we don’t often see.  It provides a different frame of reference for the on-going work of the task force, one that questions the premise of continued growth.  You won’t agree with everything in the film, but it is food for thought.  And, of course, transit oriented development comes out looking quite nice!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

DRB Hears Latest Plan for Fairway Apartments, Reston Patch, June 22, 2011

Board defers decision on 804-unit campus off North Shore. 
By Karen Goff
Developer JBG Companies went before Reston Association's Design Review Board on Tuesday with new plans to redevelop the aging Fairway Apartments complex.

The two teams have been here before. For nearly two years, JBG has submitted five different plans to Reston and Fairfax County officials. The project has morphed from 951 units in four towers to 804 units on a campus of five-story buildings and townhouses. The 40-year-old neighborhood currently has 348 units in 18-three story buildings.

Tuesday's concept-only meeting with the DRB was significant because the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee in April approved the latest plan. That decision would hold weight when JBG next goes to the Fairfax Planning Commission in July.

After a lengthy discussion and perusal of a 48-page prospectus and traffic study, the DRB voted to defer a decision at the request of JBG. However, the DRB was leaning towards not approving the latest proposal. . . .

Click here for the rest of this article.

Letter: Dulles rail cost issue extends beyond over or under airport, Fairfax Times, June 24, 2011, Bob Chase, President, NVTA

Another entity was in the room at a June 1 meeting of federal, state, regional and local officials with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. It couldn’t speak for itself, but it’s very large and obvious.

Concerns surrounding the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project cost abound particularly with regards to the burden an underground Dulles station places on Dulles Toll Road users.

However, the “cost and who pays problem” extends beyond the airport station.

Consider the following:

The 2004 Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit Project Final Environmental Impact Statement and Section 4(f) Evaluation estimated the Phase 1 and 2 cost at $2.5 billion “by 2015 in year of expenditure,” and assumed the following distribution:
  • -Federal sources: 50 percent ($1.25 billion)
  • -Commonwealth of Virginia: 25 percent ($625 million)
  • -Fairfax County: 16.1 percent ($402.5 million)
  • -Loudoun County: 4.8 percent ($120 million)
  • -Airports Authority: 4.1 percent ($102.5 million)
Today, with an estimated $6.25 billion Phase 1 and 2 cost the distribution is as follows:
  • -Dulles Toll Road Users: 56.2 percent ($3.5125 billion)
  • -Fairfax County: 16.1 percent ($1.007 billion)
  • -Federal sources: 15.6 percent ($975 million)
  • -Loudoun County: 4.8 percent ($300 million)
  • -Airports Authority: 4.1 percent ($256.25 million)
  • -Commonwealth of Virginia: 3.2 percent ($200 million)
Construction of an aerial station at Dulles Airport reduces overall cost to $5.95 billion and the toll road users’ burden to 55.3 percent.

In short, the federal-state taxpayer share has been reduced from 75 percent to less than 20 percent and shifted to a relatively small group of Northern Virginia businesses, commercial property owners and residents most of whom are non-users of Dulles Rail.

An aerial Dulles Station reduces the overall cost, but doesn’t correct the funding inequities.
It’s time for federal, state and local officials that deemed Dulles Rail their top priority to address the “elephant” and create a more equitable, broadly-based funding strategy.

Bob Chase, President, Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reston’s Fairway Apartments project dodges negative vote, Fairfax TImes, June 24, 2011

Controversial Fairway Apartments proposal to go before county July 7

A sixth incarnation of a major redevelopment proposal for Reston’s Fairway Apartments was presented to the Reston Design and Review Board on Tuesday for a non-vote.

The complex's owners the JBG company have proposed redevelopment of the site since 2009. . .

. . . JBG will take its newly revamped proposal before the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning on July 7, and had originally requested a vote from Reston’s Design and Review Board on the proposal’s concept plan in hopes of scoring an additional approval before its meeting with the county next month.

However, at its Tuesday evening meeting, several Reston Design and Review Board members instead criticized design elements within JBG’s proposal. . . .
 Click here for this excellent article on the DRB Fairway Apartments discussion.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Business Leaders Outline to MWAA Cost-Saving Measures for Silver Line, Reston Patch, June 23, 2011

Here's the meat of the article:
 Among the suggestions:

* Eliminate the requirement that contractors implement a mandatory Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for Phase II. . .

* Approve the above-ground station at Dulles Airport. . .

* Reduce the scope of the Dulles Rail Yard, or find ways to  finance it separately or in conjunction with WMATA, saving $50 million to $100 million.
* Ask Fairfax and Loudoun Counties to assume responsibility for funding and construction of the parking structures, similar to the public-private partnership at the Wiehle Avenue station.
* Seek additional financial help from Virginia and the Federal Government, neither of which has any meaningful financial participation in Phase II.
Click here for the rest of the article.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Former postmaster to head airports authority, Fairfax TImes, June 22, 2011

Former postmaster general Jack Potter to take helm of organization

The former head of the U.S. Postal Service will soon take over the organization that runs Washington’s two airports and oversees the Dulles Metrorail extension and the Dulles Toll Road.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors officially named former postmaster general John “Jack” Potter as its new president and CEO. Potter takes the helm July 18. . . .
 Click here for the rest of this article.

Metro planners contemplate system's second generation, Greater Greater Washington, June 21, 2011

Separated Silver Line: This option would shave a few minutes off of trips from Downtown to Tysons Corner and Dulles, but it would not add much capacity to the system. Instead of a new Blue Line subway along M Street, that line would be given over to Silver Line trains. Blue and Orange Line trains would continue to share tracks in DC.
The Silver Line would also get its own tracks in much of Arlington. After Rosslyn, the line would run "express" along I-66, with East Falls Church as its first stop after Rosslyn. It would share tracks with the Orange Line along I-66 before diverging to head out along the Dulles Toll Road toward Tysons.

Click here for the full rundown of ideas on Metro's "second generation."

Pardon some cynicism here, but we can't even get the first generation of the Silver Line built right for a price we can afford.  How does WMATA--which isn't contributing one dime to the Silver Line construction--expect to build a separate Silver Line and many other upgrades??

U.S. DOT to Review MWAA’s Policies, Practices, Ashburn Patch, June 22, 2011

Action comes at request of Wolf, Latham as agency finishes audit of Metro extension. 

Starting next week, the U.S. Department of Transportation plans to analyze the “management policies and practices” of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority at the request of congressmen Frank R. Wolf (R-VA-10) and Tom Latham (R-IA-4).

The move comes as the agency wraps up an audit of the first phase of the Metro’s Silver Line project to Dulles Airport. MWAA was granted control over that project, but recent disagreements with participating jurisdictions about whether to place the rail stop at Dulles underground, what type of labor will be used and who will pay for cost overruns on phase 2 have led to much finger pointing.

DOT inspector general to investigate oversight of Dulles rail project, Washington Post, Dr. Gridlock, June 21, 2011

The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that his office will audit the authority that oversees two of the Washington area’s main airports and the project to extend Metrorail to Dulles International to Loudoun County.

Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel’s announcement that he will investigate the “management policies and processes” of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority comes in response to a request in February from Reps.Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) and Tom Latham (R-Iowa). The lawmakers requested the audit, they said, to “ensure that Dulles Rail is done well, done on time, and done on or under original cost estimates.”
Click here for the rest of this Dr. Gridlock article.  

Growth Expert: No. Va. Needs More ‘Small’ Housing, Alexandria Gazette, June 21, 2011

Fairfax and other localities must look to higher density, lower cost housing.

By Julie O'Donoghue
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A demand for more housing exists in Northern Virginia, it is just a different type of housing than people have traditionally sought for here, said two experts earlier in June.

"There really is enough big housing. What we need is more small housing. … We need different housing," said Stephen Fuller, an economist with the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. He spoke to members of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors about the state of the local economy and housing market this month.
 Click here for the rest of this article. 

Notes on DRB Discussion of Fairways Apartments, June 22, 2011

The Design Review Board of the Reston Association met tonight at the Reston RA headquarters to hear a “concept only” presentation by JBG for the Fairways Apartment development.  The normally sparsely attended hearing was crowded with Reston residents who came to witness the decision by the DRB which would bless or reject the current JBG plan.

Though the audience contained both supporters and critics of the plan for an 804 unit concept of both 3.5 level townhomes and 5 level multi-story midrise “Texas doughnut” style buildings clustered around a small “town green,” the critics easily outnumbered the supporters 10 to 1.

One supporter, Joe Stowers cited the need for balance and density in residential housing vs. the number of jobs available in Reston, stating that the Reston Special Study Master Plan Task Force had approved this principle. 

Other supporters were from the tiny cluster of townhouses surrounded by JBG’s Fairways property.  Their immediate concerns were for screening though JBG had pointed out earlier that the new project would be phased.  Phase 2, the Eastern portion of the JBG project could be redesigned to a much more lucrative scale if this cluster were to sell out.  Past questions to some of this cluster’s members have been met with denials, but only time will tell.

Most area residents were staunchly opposed to the scale and density of the current proposal, stating that the traffic would take North Shore Drive from its current “A” status to a “D.”  While Fairfax County only requires a “D” grade to approve a project, this certainly was unacceptable to community members from other areas of Reston as well as immediate neighbors.  The math, methods and timing of JBG’s traffic analysis were questioned as well.  Lacking in the 2009 analysis was any reference to the coming of Metro and the influence of its huge traffic influx to the formula.

Aside from detailed criticisms from a unanimous DRB, members of the audience continued to express dismay at the size of the project.  Although this was a “concept only” review, neighbors were adamant that the increased traffic would be a nightmare.  One immediate neighbor who regularly walks the area, Robert Ortega, voiced concerns about rush hour traffic and the location of the heavily populated Lake Anne Elementary School directly across the street from the Fairway plot.  He stated that even now the traffic snarls to accommodate the school buses can back traffic up for 15 to 20 minutes.  Two of the 3 exits from the 804 unit project are immediately across from the school property.  The third empties onto Fairway Drive directly across from his cluster.  He was also concerned about the safety of children coming and going from the school property.  Another resident voiced concern also for the many children who frequent the Hook Road fields on Fairway Drive as well as the large number of pedestrians in the area.

Though looking forward to redevelopment of the site, several audience members also voiced concerns about the distinctive architecture of the immediate surrounding neighborhood and the need for this project to enhance the unique qualities of Reston life.  Diane Lewis of Sustainable Reston, the leading local conservation and environmental organization, voiced concerns about the need for JBG to hit a high bar with project designs that ensure LEED standards for energy efficiency and environmental stewardship.

Marion Stillson, President of the Reston Citizens Association, presented a copy of a resolution passed by the RCA board more than a month ago, when the current plans were made public, which requested denial by the DRB on a number of points including the loss of over 342 affordable and workforce housing units which would be replaced by only 87 workforce units.  Also of concern to RCA, are the traffic issues, quality and design of construction, unparalleled density in an existing residential neighborhood, and its distance from employment and shopping venues.

Tammi Petrine, Co-Chair of RCA’s Reston 2020 Committee, a watch-dog organization active in the master plan process, noting the Metro Phase 2/Toll Road debacle and the Fairways project, spoke directly to JBG officials about the need for a concept that makes the Fairway project palatable to the community and profitable to JBG, making the project a potential win/win scenario.  She noted the critical need for senior and handicapped accessible housing has been made abundantly apparent.  “Visitable” units which are designed for access by handicapped persons and persons in wheel chairs are highly sought after, command increased prices, and are easy to construct. 

After a thorough re-cap by Richard Newlon of JBG’s repeated meetings with the DRB over the course of 2 years, the current project still contains many of the original problems, he concluded.  After a polling of the panel, a unanimous vote to deny the concept of the project was imminent.  Newlon made a motion to deny but before it could be voted upon, the JBG attorney jumped up and advised JGB to request a deferral.

This resulted in a spirited debate between Jennifer Byl and Neal Rosenberry of the DRB board regarding the merits of granting the deferral (Rosenberry) vs. voting for denial (Byl).  The first vote to decide this impasse resulted in a tie.  On the second vote, Richard Newlon capitulated and the vote for deferral passed, much to the disappointment of the majority of the audience. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Airports authority expected to pick former postmaster general as next leader, Washington Post, June 21, 2011

By Ann E. Marimow, Tuesday, June 21, 1:19 PM

The governing body of two of the Washington area’s main airports is expected to tap the former head of the U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday as its next chief executive, according to sources familiar with the search.
John E. “Jack” Potter, the recently retired postmaster general, has emerged as the leading candidate to take over the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees Reagan National and Dulles International airports and the multibillion-dollar project to extend Metrorail to Dulles and Loudoun County
Potter, who retired in December after a 32-year postal career, would take the top job at a tumultuous time for the airports authority. The authority’s board has been skewered by local, state and federal leaders for its management of the second phase of the 23-mile Metro project and for its initial handling of the search for a new chief executive
Board Chairman Charles D. Snelling said he could not comment on the search . . . .
 Click here for the rest of this WaPo article.  

Battle over Reston apartment complex to be taken up Tuesday, Washington Examiner, June 20, 2011

A yearlong stalemate between Reston residents and development giant JBG Companies over the future of a large apartment complex could move ahead Tuesday when JBG seeks approval from the community's influential Design Review Board.

JBG's original proposal to redevelop the Fairway Apartments was roundly rejected by community and county officials in June 2010, in part because it would've meant far greater density without nearby access to public transportation.

In addition, residents concerned with maintaining the integrity of Reston's original vision – the town was conceived in the 1960s as a planned and economically diverse community – said that the redevelopment would wipe out hundreds of units of relatively low-rent housing in favor of upscale units.

JBG went back to the drawing board. . . .

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Silver Line Agreement ‘Within Weeks’, McLean Connection, June 21, 2011

Controversy over the cost of Phase 2 of Dulles Rail project nears resolution, according to MWAA.

By Nicholas M. Horrock
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

E. Lynn Hampton said last week that ongoing discussions between the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority and its Virginia partners for continuing the 11.6 miles, Phase 2 of Dulles Rail project would produce an agreement "in the next couple of weeks." WMAA expects to issue design building contracts in 2012 and finish construction in 2017, Hampton said. . . .
Click here for the rest of this article and more on future development at Dulles Airport. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

RCA Concerned About Fairway Meeting, Reston Patch, June 20, 2011

Group urging citizens to voice opinions to DRB. 
By Karen Goff
 Reston Association's Design Review Board will discuss the proposal for redevelopment of Fairway Apartments at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
The late addition of JBG's proposal - after more than a year of discussion on several different submissions - has raised the attention of the Reston Citizens Association, which is urging citizens to speak their opinion at the 7 p.m. meeting at Reston Association headquarters.

"The DRB is being asked to give the JBG proposal 'conceptual approval' before it goes to the County Planning Commission," the RCA said in an e-mail to members.  "According to people within the DRB, the proposal remains essentially the same as presented to the DRB and Reston P&Z committees earlier this year.

The RCA Board of Directors unanimously passed  a resolution last month opposing approval of JBG's current proposal for Fairway Apartments. . . .

Click here for more on JBG's Fairway Apartments proposal and several other important upcoming land use decisions re Spectrum and Midtown. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Note:  The following is the text of an e-mail I sent to the RCA Board of Directors, the RCA Reston 2020 Committee, the Reston Task Force, and others concerning the surprise scheduling of JBG's proposed re-development of Fairway Apartments at this Tuesday's DRB meeting.

In a last minute decision, RA has added JBG's redevelopment proposal for the Fairway Apartments complex to the TUESDAY, JUNE 21, DRB MEETING AGENDA, 7 PM, RA HEADQUARTERS.  The DRB is being asked to give the JBG proposal "conceptual approval" before it goes to the County Planning Commission.  According to people within the DRB, the proposal remains essentially the same as presented to the DRB and Reston P&Z committees earlier this year.

Anyone may attend and, subject to the discretion of the DRB Chair, non-affected parties may speak.    Given the non-transparent preparation for this meeting, its late scheduling, and even later pubic notification of this agenda item, I would expect the DRB Chair to be open to public comments.  (Note:  Fairway Apartments is not listed on the currently published agenda on the RA website.  We understand it to be the new Item #4 on the agenda.)

If you wish to register as an affected party (which will carry greater weight with the DRB), Barbara Ramey (RA Covenants) offers the following instructions:

To register as an affected party, you must submit a statement of your concerns along with your Reston address.  Once I receive the statement I will provide a copy to the Design Review Board.  Below is Affected Party information for your reference:

An Affected Party is any owner of Property subject to the Reston Deed, including but not limited to the Reston Association Board of Directors, or Cluster, or Condominium, or their agents who register with the DRB and who is materially impacted by the use or design of another Property owner. To register as an  Affected Party, you must submit a written statement of concerns to the DRB secretary within five (5) days of signing this application. Any Affected Party may be heard by a DRB Panel; will receive notice of decisions and any subsequent actions taken by the DRB; will be sent notice of the Applicant’s appeal, if made; and may file his/her own appeal, all with respect to this application.

You may submit a statement even if you were not asked to sign the application as long as your property is materially impacted.

You are welcome to attend the meeting, whether or not you are registered.  If you wish to make a statement, you can sign in to speak and the DRB chair may allow comments from non-registered members in the audience.

This application was placed on the agenda on Tuesday of this week.  The DRB members were notified yesterday (Thursday). (Emphasis added.)

Some of you may not know--or may have forgotten--that the RCA Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution last month opposing approval of JBG's current proposal for Fairway Apartments.   I have attached a copy of that resolution for your information. 

I would encourage anyone who is interested in the issues surrounding the re-development of Reston's residential areas to attend this meeting as it may set a precedent.  And please speak up if you have a suggestion, concern, or other thought you believe the DRB should consider.

Terry Maynard
RCA Reston 2020 Committee
Reston Citizens Assn. Board of Directors

RA Board of Directors
RA Design Review Board (known members)

Reston 2020
Reston Task Force
Local News Media

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Debating Metro Development Density, Herndon Connection, June 14, 2011

Planning Commission examines density levels for Metro development north of Herndon Parkway.

By Alex McVeigh
The Herndon Planning Commission met Monday night, June 13, to decide if increasing the allowed density for the Metro development north of Herndon Parkway would make development financially feasible. As currently planned, the area just north of the proposed Herndon-Monroe Station is the densest, with Floor Area Ratios (FAR) scaling down farther away from the station.  .  .

. . . "The findings were that development would be feasible for properties that had a 4.5 FAR, it would not be feasible for most of the other properties," (Kay Robertson, senior project planner for the Town of Herndon) said. "Most of the properties in the study area that are south of Herndon Parkway would be incentivized to redevelop. The properties north of Herndon Parkway would not have incentive to redevelop."

As currently planned, the area north of the parkway is set for 2.5 FAR in the land immediately north of the parkway, before scaling back to a zone of 1.5 then 0.7 in the area closest to the residential neighborhoods. . . .
 Click here for the rest of this article.  

MWAA Board Member Shrugs Off Ethics Complaints, Reston Patch, June 16, 2011

Dennis Martire says he did not violate code. 

 By Dan Telvock

When Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) board member Dennis Martire has on his work hat, he is aggressively advocating for project labor agreements that often result in contractors hiring employees who are represented by unions.

As vice president of Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Martire has posted numerous articles on his employer’s website praising anyone who uses project labor agreements, such as the Community College of Allegheny County for its K.Leroy Irvis Science Center project.

But  some believe Martire may have crossed an ethical line on April 6 when MWAA passed a resolution that supports the pro-union labor agreement for the second phase of extending Metrorail to Dulles International Airport and into eastern Loudoun County. Martire was one of the 11 MWAA members who voted for the resolution. . . .
 Click here for the rest of this article.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Notes on the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, June 7, 2011

Notes from the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, June 7, 2011


Summary:  Lengthy discussion of new data prepared by DPZ staff.  No decisions on larger issues, but agreement to submit one development scenario to county staff for transportation analysis.

Attendance:  Eight of 12 committee members. 
Observers included task force members/alternates Kennedy, Pew and Bowman.

Public Comment
No public comments.

Announcements/Administrative Items
            Chair Patty Nicoson provided updates on the status of Metrorail to Dulles, and two meetings chaired by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood regarding Phase II.  Next LaHood meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14.  

Also an update on the Dulles Corridor Rail Association spring meeting and reception held on June 6th. 

The Herndon Planning Commission will discuss the economic/fiscal impact of Metrorail on June 13th (additional Herndon rail meetings are scheduled for July and August).

Discussion of Adjusted Sub-committee Recommendations to 2030 Horizon

            At the last steering committee meeting, members discussed four possible development level scenarios for the transit corridor.  Data was available for Scenarios A and B (current plan and GMU High +20%).  DPZ staff was asked to provide data for the remaining two scenarios.

            Tonight, Heidi Merkel presented a revised map and tables prepared by DPZ staff.  (See here: 
 Thanks to county staff for quickly posting these documents.)

There was extended, ninety minute discussion of the new map (“Scenario C”), which attempts to reconcile the disparate recommendations from the three TOD station area subcommittee reports (they utilized different development time horizons) and to arrive at comparable figures for a 20‑year (2030) timeframe for future analysis.  Staff assumed that certain “dark blue” areas on the new map would be the ones to develop by 2030, and applied minimum-maximum FAR ranges to these areas (most are near station platforms, but one is in North Town Center), but they are not saying that these are the only parcels that might develop by 2030.  Staff generally followed the subcommittee reports, but assumed new (not incremental) development on clean sites, and scaled back the FARs at Town Center.  To build the minimum FARs, developers would have to meet certain unspecified criteria, and “consolidation” or at least cooperation likely would be required to reach the high end of the FAR ranges.

Since staff recognizes that not all parcels would development to their maximum potential and some might not develop at all by 2030, the midpoints of these ranges were used, together with the mix recommendations from the station area subcommittee reports, to project new development potential and the jobs/households totals for each station area and for the entire Reston-Herndon suburban center (pink columns on DPZ tables).  These figures are roughly in line with the GMU 2030 High +20% totals.

The adjusted totals for residential, non-residential units and jobs for the subcommittee report scenario were all lower than those provided at the last steering committee meeting.  Since the projected number of households decreased more than the number of jobs, the projected jobs-to-households ratio increased from 4.5 to 6.7 (compare pink columns on DPZ tables from the two meetings).

Some committee members questioned the staff’s identification of certain land units as likely to develop by 2030, particularly county-owned properties at Herndon-Monroe and in North Town Center, and the omission of other parcels including one near the RTC station platform.  Staff emphasized that these were their current projections for development through 2030 (described as “Phase I”).  There was a discussion of possible modifications to the staff analysis, which staff acknowledged had some validity.  Also discussion of phasing and the “implementation problem,” and whether those issues could be resolved in the next few weeks.  There was a suggestion that the county’s plan should describe the long-term vision for jobs and housing before setting forth plans for Phase I development.  This apparently would be similar to Tysons plan.

Relatively brief discussion of the fourth scenario requested by John Carter, which would “balance” jobs and households by 2030, and strive for a 2.0 ratio by 2050.  Carter cautioned regarding the need to reduce the job numbers, otherwise residential necessary to balance the development will exceed demand, but not everyone shared this concern.  Carter also again cautioned regarding projecting jobs beyond the half-mile. 

Heidi Merkel noted that existing development plus current zoning approvals already would result in more than 109,000 jobs.  DPZ projects 121,880 jobs by 2050 (see revised “Review of Development Levels” table).  To reach a 2.0 jobs-to-housing ratio would require 61,045 households, more than double the 25,000 households in Reston today.  While development would be out-of-balance in Phase I, office development hopefully would flatten out and residential development would increase in Phase II (post‑2030) to bring things back into balance.  Robert Goudie suggested the need to set expectations regarding the amount of office space in Phase I, and create a “glide path” to reach long-term goals.

Totals and jobs-household ratios for the four scenarios are summarized in the slides (see revised “Review of Development Levels” table).  Note: the “current plan” numbers have changed slightly from the last meeting.

Discussion of Allocation of GMU 2030 High Forecast to Station Areas.
At the last meeting, there was discussion of having a transportation analysis performed on the GMU 2030 High figures, but certain items need to be further allocated before the transportation analysis could be performed. 

There was a nearly hour long discussion, which started with the premise that GMU understates residential (although not everyone agreed this was a problem), then turned to possible adjustments to GMU figures.  Committee members suggested giving transportation staff multiple scenarios to test, but ultimately agreed upon a single scenario – the GMU 2030 High (fifth column on the revised “Reston-Herndon Suburban Center” table) but adjusted by substituting the higher residential numbers from GMU 2030 High +20% (same table, far right column, rows 1 and 2) which were described as a better estimate of residential demand.  With these adjustments, office space would increase, but residential would triple; total development potential would be approximately 62-63 million square feet.  This analysis should provide some idea of the impact of growing residential development to help future discussions.

For purposes of the transportation test, DPZ staff will shift the development they had initially placed at Herndon-Monroe (see Scenario C map) to other station areas and allocate it among traffic analysis zones, fifty percent on each side of the corridor.  John Carter recommended that transportation staff adjust test inputs, such as increasing road-splits, assuming traffic management districts and reducing parking, but even with these adjustments Carter and others thought that the scenario would “fail” the transportation analysis.

Carter and other members suggested additional modifications, such as reducing the number of jobs across the board and looking more closely at which parcels are not likely to develop by 2030, but the meeting already had extended thirty minutes past the planned adjournment time, and those suggestions were deferred to a future meeting (and future transportation analysis).

There was no discussion of the full task force meeting scheduled for June 14th, other than a statement that the steering committee will update the task force on its recent efforts.

Next Meetings:
Full task force meeting on June 14, 2011.
Date of next steering committee to be determined, but Wednesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 23 were proposed.  Absent committee members will be consulted.