Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Fairfax Board to Reston: Screw you and your Master Plan!

In an announcement yesterday, Fairfax County stated that the Board of Supervisors plans to move forward with actions that will implement changes in Reston's Planned Residential Community (PRC) zoning ordinance that will allow the tripling of Reston's population.  The specific changes are:
  • Increase overall density in the PRC area from 13 to 15 people per acre.
  • Allow the number of dwelling units on individual high-density parcels to increase from 50 to 70 per acre.
None of this counts the planned increase in Reston transit station area (TSA) population from zero in 2010 to more than 90,000 resulting from a change in the zoning ordinance applicable there and a change in the "target" dwelling units from 29,000 to 44,000 without any interaction with the community in a 2015 amendment.

Democracy dies in darkness--and the arrogant, insensitive, disgusting Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is well on the way to making that happen.  It does not care what most Restonians think about preserving the values and goals established by its founder, Bob Simon, and encouraging organic growth, including the transit station areas, within that context.

It's just allowing more buildings, more residents, more commercial space in more places.  At the same time, it is not creating better roads, schools, parks, environment, and other necessities to accommodate those people.  Plans, yes; action, no.  Its only goal is more tax revenue without the necessary accompanying infrastructure investments.

Contrary to what the county says, there need be no fear that Reston will lose its broad PRC zoning because developers will choose alternative zoning categories.  That's a lie.

First, the only place that this could occur is where alternative zoning ordinances overlap with the PRC in the TSAs--basically Reston Town Center (including RTC North) and a portion of Reston Heights.

The two alternative ordinances are Planned Development Commercial (PDC) for commercial-centric high-density development and Planned Residential Mixed-Use (PRM) for residential focused high-density development supported by retail.  These ordinances, in revisions a couple of years ago, increased the allowable density from FAR 3.0 to FAR 5.0 with Board approval.  That means a 20-acre plot could have as many as 3,620 dwelling units (DUs)--some 7,500 people excluding affordable and bonus housing which don't count in the PRC zoning ordinance--using the county's planning factor for DU size.

Second, a change in zoning requires the approval of the Board of Supervisors; it is not a unilateral action by the developers.  The Board can say "no," but the current Board would almost certainly say "yes" as it continues bend over for the development community at the expense of Restonians, current and future.

In fact, the county's worry isn't a "patchwork" of zoning ordinances in Reston as its announcement states.  That too is a lie.  Its concern is the loss acreage covered by the PRC if developers shift to another zoning category in the TSAs, thus lowering the level of allowable development in the smaller PRC areas of Reston.  In short, it's trying to insure maximum development, not avoid some imagined bureaucratic complexity.

The county's announcement highlights that the master plan process "ended in 2015" and included a community task force that worked on the station areas (Phase 1 of the planning process).  That task force worked five years to create a reasonable Reston transit oriented development plan.  It culminated in a "Scenario G" in 2012 that constituted the task force's perspective on more residentially-focused station areas at a reasonable density.  The total number of households targeted was 27,538 dwelling units.  In 2014, the Board approved the plan with a target of 27,900 dwelling units in line with the task force's recommendation.  Then, in mid-2015, the Board suddenly changed this dwelling unit target from 27,900 to 44,000 without any discussion with the community That was the "end" of the planning process: A big screw you to Reston!

And who was behind this move?  Our supervisor, Cathy Hudgins, of course.  Her treacherous action, completely ignoring the will of Reston and her own specific commitment to have county staff answer a series of mutually agreed upon questions before proceeding, is unforgivable.  Her letter to RA and CPR (below) about her perfidious action tries to justify the unjustifiable.  We, as a community, need to step forward--and do so quickly--to show her that her dishonesty and treachery will not stand.

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