Six Major Wins for Reston’s Planning Principles; Challenges Remain and Community Engagement Will Continue
Reston, Va. | October 24, 2019 — Consistent with the Reston Master Plan principle of public participation in planning and zoning, Reston citizens banded together to improve a flawed redevelopment plan by TF Cornerstone, for Campus Commons, located in the Reston Transit Station Area (TSA) at Wiehle Avenue and Sunrise Valley Drive. Among several reasons, the plan failed to gain community support because it does not adequately provide safe pedestrian crossings and will add at least 6,100 daily car trips. Community members formed the group Save Our Sunrise (SOS) and joined with Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) to advocate for improvements. The plan was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on October 15, but only after multiple community-requested changes were made and follow-up resolutions approved, including instructing TF Cornerstone to work cooperatively with the community until the project is completed.
Changes that were incorporated into the plan approved by the Board include:
- A 50-foot set-back between Sunrise Valley Drive and TF Cornerstone’s new buildings. This will allow TF Cornerstone to save some mature trees on their property and plant three rows of new trees.
- Reduction in the height of the commercial building on the corner of Sunrise Valley Drive and Wiehle Avenue from 14 stories to a dual-level building of seven stories closest to Sunrise Valley and ten stories closer to the toll road. However, the seven-story portion of the new office building will still be 99 feet high, more than five times as tall as the single-story homes across the road.
- A proposal to plant and maintain a row of trees in the median of Sunrise Valley Drive, subject to approval by VDOT.
- Architecture along Sunrise Valley Drive that will harmonize with the adjacent residential neighborhood.
- A wider set-back on Wiehle that will allow for new trees and more green space.
- An agreement by TF Cornerstone to be a Green Neighborhood, which stresses energy and environmental conservation.
”We are incredibly thankful for all the effort that went into improving the Campus Commons plan. In particular, we would like to offer our sincere appreciation to Planning Commissioner John Carter for his commitment and dedication to the Hunter Mill District,” stated Michelle Kimmel, a spokesperson for SOS. “We want Campus Commons to succeed and we are committed to remaining engaged to ensure our neighbors can walk safely to the Metro, rely less on cars, and stay connected to the community. There is much work to be done and we are ready to take it on.”
Two key community concerns remain:
- TF Cornerstone has proffered an ambitious 45% car trip reduction TDM program, but it still stands to add 6,100 MORE cars to the daily traffic load from this parcel, a fact stressed by VDOT in its written analyses of the negative impact of the project on congestion along Sunrise Valley Drive and Wiehle Avenue.
- TF Cornerstone still has no VDOT-approved way to connect pedestrians and bicyclists safely to the rest of the Wiehle Avenue TSA sub-district, including the Wiehle Metro. This is a critical gap, given written warnings from VDOT that TF Cornerstone’s two proposed crossings of Wiehle will significantly delay traffic along Wiehle and Sunrise Valley Drive, which are already gridlocked during rush hours.
In addition to approving the modified redevelopment plan, the Board of Supervisors passed three follow-on motions to address concerns raised by Reston Association, CPR, SOS, a concerned cluster, and community members:
- Resolution #1: Launch a thorough examination of the entire Sunset Hills/Sunrise Valley/Wiehle corridor to identify ways to better coordinate sidewalks and improve connectivity for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles.
- Resolution #2: Identify concrete ways to improve pedestrian safety and develop an enhanced, lighted street scape along all three streets.
- Resolution #3: Acknowledged the unresolved concerns of the adjoining Reston Planned Residential Community (PRC) area, and instructed TF Cornerstone to work cooperatively with them until the project is complete.
“These three resolutions are essential if we are to begin resolving the challenges caused by the intense development in the transit corridor in recent years that have had a negative impact on the daily lives of all Reston residents,” stated Dennis Hays, President of Reston Citizens Association. “CPR/SOS and the entire Reston community look forward to working with the new Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Commissioner Carter, TF Cornerstone and others to ensure that these important proposals are addressed as quickly as possible for the benefit of all who live and work in our planned community of Reston.”
Note: TF Cornerstone is a for-profit developer not to be confused with Cornerstones, a local non-profit, social services support organization.