The Fairfax County Planning Commission (FCPC) posted its edited version of the draft Reston Master Plan on its website yesterday. (A copy is also embedded below.) The draft makes about a dozen "substantive" changes and a roughly equal number of what it calls "clarifications" and "editorial" changes. None of the changes incorporate any of the proposals offered in the joint RA-RCA-ARCH statement sent to the Department of Planning and Zoning on October 28, 2013 and representing the view of Reston's elected officials and 60,000 residents. This is the draft Plan the FCPC will vote on this Thursday evening, January 9, at 8:15 PM, Government Center auditorium.
On the other hand, the revised draft proposes the adoption of no fewer than six “substantive” changes offered by individual landowners and developers or their attorneys. These include changes that:
- Allow additional “bonus” density for contributions to Corridor crossings above the already generous proposed development standards and "bonus" density;
- Add monetary contributions in addition to "in kind" contributions for vitally needed infrastructure improvements, money that rarely is adequate compensation and will almost certainly not be applied to Reston infrastructure needs
- He has proposed to eliminate the requirement for RA Design Review Board of new construction, thereby limiting the community’s ability to assure architectural excellence that is a key planning principle. His language: "There are several existing design review bodies in Reston that developers may submit plans to for review."
He has proposed that, in addition to educational uses, new institutional and government development uses should not be counted toward the development of workforce housing requirements to contribute $3.00 per square foot for new non-residential development. As the draft Plan states, these include: "A strong institutional component will include a major hospital center, a regional government center, a new 21st century regional public library, a major fine and performing arts center, other civic and cultural uses, and public and private
educational institutions of higher learning." That's a lot of development! This will mean less funding is available to develop much-needed workforce housing in the station areas. Given the importance of County development in this area, especially Town Center North, this is a substantial opportunity lost.
- Deletes any mention of "parking study" as needed to justify expansion of parking beyond the commuter-constraining parking space maximums laid out in the draft Plan, relying instead on the vague phrase "suitable justification". The result will be excessive parking and greater traffic congestion.
So what community needs doesn't this revised draft address as outlined in the letter signed by the President's of Reston's three leading civic groups (RA, RCA, ARCH) and other actions?
- It fails to constrain "bonus" development to the first quarter-mile around the stations. Per the above, the new language includes the opportunity for additional "bonus" density above the standards, and includes the entirety of the 1/2-mile transit-oriented development (TOD) area.
- There are no limitations on building height, even beyond the TOD areas (i.e.--Town Center North).
- Limits the requirement to develop athletic fields to one per station area (a total of three) when the County's "adjust urban standard" calls for 12 and the County's planning guidance calls for 25.
- Does not call for a traffic "level of service (LOS) "E" (the lowest "passing" grade, which permits intersection delays ups to 80 seconds) at the gateway intersections near the Dulles Toll Road, assuring massive traffic gridlock during peak periods.
- Does not call for the use of grade-separated crossings at the gateway intersections, adding to traffic delays, reducing pedestrian and bicyclist access, and creating pedestrian-bicylist safety threat.
- Continues the generic problem of not addressing implementation issues, especially how to raise and apply the more than one billion dollars that will be required for Corridor transportation improvements.
- Fails to correct the Task Force's vote to change the open space requirement from a 20% "minimum" to a "target" undermining Reston's longstanding planning principle of providing abundant and diverse open space for all.