As the Phase II (suburban) Reston Master Plan draft goes to the County Planning Commission for consideration this week, Reston 2020 has written the Commission asking it to correct a series of omissions and errors in the draft Reston land use map. The importance of the land use map has been highlighted by the ongoing case of Reston National Golf Course. Here is the text of the letter sent to the Planning Commission:
Fairfax County Planning
12000 Government Center
Parkway, Suite 330
Fairfax, VA 22035
Comprehensive Plan Amendment,
Item ST09-III-UP1 (B) – Reston Master Plan Phase II
Dear Planning Commissioners
Reston 2020 (an independent committee of the
Reston Citizens Association) submits this comment regarding the Staff Report
and Appendix A, Recommended Plan Text of the Reston Master Plan. The Planning Commission’s public hearing
on the draft Reston Master Plan Phase II comprehensive plan text is
scheduled for this Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Reston 2020 appreciates the many efforts of current
and former county planning staff involved in the Reston Master Plan Special
Study, particularly Fred Selden, Heidi Merkel, Richard Lambert and Feheem Darab,
who all worked tirelessly on this project.
Phase I of
the Special Study began in December 2009 and was completed with the
adoption of the Reston Transit Stations Comprehensive Plan Amendment by the
Board of Supervisors in February 2014.
Phase II kicked off with an open house in June 2014,
but the first community meeting was not until September 2014. County staff published final recommended Phase
II comprehensive plan text on April 1, 2015, just six months later.
Phase II was conducted under the new Fairfax Forward procedures, and
thus was highly compressed, it provided some opportunities for citizens
and community groups to provide input at four community meetings on varying
topics, and subsequently to submit written comments on two staff working comprehensive
plan text drafts. Reston 2020
submitted several such comments. These
included comments in February regarding the importance of ensuring that all
existing open space is carefully delineated in the draft plan text.
events have demonstrated, preserving open space is an important, high‑profile issue
in Reston. It is very important that
planned land uses for all parcels be fully and accurately described in the Reston
Master Plan text, and essential that all existing open spaces be correctly shown
on the accompanying maps to ensure their future protection. As we explained in our
February 2015 comment to county staff in this matter,
If the plan text does not
specify land use categories for particular parcels or areas, than the maps must
be absolutely clear and unambiguous to provide adequate notice to the public,
provide necessary information to the Planning Commission and Board of
Supervisors who will be asked to approve the proposed plan amendment and, most
importantly, prevent future land use disputes.
In particular, open space
representations must fully and accurately reflect existing conditions.
Reston 2020 Email (Feb. 13, 2015) (emphasis added).
In addition to this commentary, Reston 2020 simultaneously
submitted specific additions and corrections to the draft Reston maps. We noted that,
the [then] draft plan text
says the Reston Land Use map identifies private parks, recreation and open
space owned by Reston Association, other cluster or condominium associations,
other private owners, and Fairfax County. Indeed, many Reston clusters have common
areas owned by the respective homeowners association, typically separate legal
parcels (e.g. Parcel A), which are subjected by the deed to county
regulations, including regulations regarding open space, tree canopy, etc. Despite the statement in the text (see page 19 of 76), the open
spaces in clusters and condominium neighborhoods do not appear on the land use
map. These open spaces should be
added. In addition, to the extent
that there is any doubt regarding the completeness of the maps, notes should be
added to both the plan text and the map stating that the open space
representations may be incomplete.
Reston 2020 Comments on Draft Maps (Feb. 13, 2015) at 1 (emphasis in original). Reston 2020 made similar suggestions
regarding the draft Reston Parks, Recreation and Open Space map, and the
Existing Trails map. Id. at 2.
Reston 2020’s comments and suggestions regarding the handling of open
space are not reflected in the final staff-recommended drafts. The staff report and revised plan text
continue to state the maps are complete, but open spaces in cluster and condo
neighborhoods were not added, nor are there new notes advising readers that
open space graphic representations are incomplete. In fact, the staff report flatly
states that all open space is shown, stating
All Public Parks, Private Recreation, and Private
Open Space[s] are now reflected in Reston’s Land Use Map and are
further detailed in the Parks and Open Space Map. More parks & recreation facilities
and open space are included in the Reston Land Use Map.
Report at page 7 of 12 (emphasis added). The draft comprehensive plan text is only
slightly less emphatic. It continues say
the “Reston Land Use map identifies property owned by Reston Association,
cluster or condominium associations, other private owners, Northern Virginia
Regional Park Authority and Fairfax County.”
Appendix A, PDF at 22-23 of 93. It also states that,
Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces are shown on the map below (Figure 13
(sic)). The map is an elaboration of the
Reston Land Use Map (Figure 4) displaying the parks, recreation and open
spaces as described in the Community-wide Land Use section in more detail. Reston’s Park, Recreation and Open Space
map distinguishes between Reston Association’s parks and open spaces, and all
other parks, recreation and open spaces in Reston
Appendix A at 43.
As this discussion aptly demonstrates, the plan’s
handling of the open space issue is misleading, at best. Not only are both the staff report and
plan text inaccurate when they state that all private open space is included,
but the three maps are not complete because they do not designate all existing
open space sites in Reston.
Therefore, we request (1) that the draft comprehensive
plan text for Reston (and accompanying maps) be revised to correct these errors,
and (2) that the accompanying draft land use, open space and trails maps
be updated to include all existing private open space, including open
space owned by clusters and condominium associations. If the addition of missing private open
space on the maps proves logistically impossible, at a minimum notes added to both
the plan text and map legends to reflect that not all open space is shown.
Thank you in advance for your consideration. Should you have any questions, please feel
free to contact me.
Fred Selden, C/DPZ
Heidi Merkel, DPZ
Faheem Darab, DPZ
The draft land use maps are
Figures 4, 5 and 6.
parks, recreation and open space map is Figure 14.
The existing trails map, which also includes
open space designations, is Figure 13.