by RCA Board Member - Hank Schonzeit
About 10 days ago, 100+ Reston residents met with Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning representatives to review the “strawman” draft text of Reston’s Master Plan Phase II. The strawman was proposed as an initial draft designed to start the public dialogue. The plan can be accessed at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/reston/staff_documents/20140905_draft_strawman.pdf.
This plan is crafted to set the goals and criteria for development outside of the Reston Transit Station Area. Among others, Reston Citizens Association (RCA) also wrote to the Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Ms. Cathy Hudgins, expressing concerns about opportunities for adequate public review. Thankfully, Cathy Hudgins responded, and additional community meetings have been added to the plan development schedule.
At the September 13 community meeting, after Fairfax representatives presented an overview of the study area, schedule, vision and planning principles and an overview of the working draft, participants were invited into focus groups. Eight representatives from RCA participated in these groups.
The focus of this meeting was the text on Neighborhoods, the Convenience Centers and the commercial area north of Baron Cameron Avenue and west of Reston Parkway.
The following comments and suggestions were brought up and discussed.
Some participants felt that most of the relevant issues were covered in the plan. However, the text contained considerable duplication often with slight variations, i.e. in describing new development, some passages mention a traffic study and some do not, in describing road improvements, some passages mentioned bike lanes and walkways and others do not, some passages mention achieving Silver LEED Certification green goals and other describe “Gold.” Which is it? These inconsistencies made the strawman Master Plan difficult to evaluate and would make it even harder for the plan to serve as a guide. The duplication should be eliminated and where duplication or summarization is needed, the text should be consistent.
Missing were any mention of specific guidance on street crossing safety, traffic monitoring, how and where additional parks and recreation centers would be created to accommodate the expanded population and how our existing library will be maintained and enhanced.
There are no metrics mentioned for: traffic, green space verses development, park acreage/resident, library space/resident… The only metric included was for affordable housing. That metric however, does not differentiate between the two components of affordable housing, workforce and subsidized.
Someone noted that there was no text describing accommodations for pedestrians and bicycles when the new proposed bridges and underpasses are built, safe crossing of North Shore Drive when the revitalization of the Lake Anne area is implemented and noted that there is no guidance on the maintenance of existing facilities and paths, accommodation for electric charging stations, soliciting a book store, a mechanism to monitor traffic, and the process of how Reston will encourage developers to adhere to Phase II guidelines. A representative told RCA that the Plan sets the framework for evaluating proposals that are brought forward to the Planning and Zoning Department.
One of the main goals of Phase II was to create a new land use map - one that reflects all parks, recreation and open spaces in Reston, both public and private. New site-specific recommendations were added for Reston’s two golf courses – saying they are explicitly planned to remain as golf courses.
There were no goals set for the Baron Cameron Community Retail Center. Should there be a goal, for instance, to eventually bring that center in line with the architecture of the Town center complexes as was the intention of the original Master Plan? Comments on the draft text are invited at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next community meeting to present and discuss "Strawman" text for Phase II will be Saturday, October 18, time and place to be announced. (Note: The time will be 8:45-11:30AM, but the place is still unknown.) The focus will be on the draft Village Center text. There are no goals or plans for the four village centers in the draft text. Apparently the owners are satisfied with the current state of these locations. Someone questioned, “Shouldn’t we have a goal for how these centers will look like in 10-20 years?” If you have an opinion, please mark your calendar for October 18.