At 12:02 PM, March 5, 2019, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved unanimously a motion by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins to postpone indefinitely consideration of her proposal to increase the authorized density in Reston’s PRC zoned areas from 13 to 15 people per acre.
The Board’s vote ends a 22-month saga (starting May 3, 2017) in which the Supervisor Hudgins, county staff, and Reston organizations worked to understand the implications of the proposed amendment for Reston and reasons for its alleged necessity. Throughout the time frame, it became increasingly obvious that the people of Reston, all directly affected by the proposed amendment, broadly opposed adoption of the zoning amendment. This opposition peaked at a community meeting arranged by Supervisor Hudgins in October 2017 at South Lakes High School attended by more than 900 Restonians. More than 100 people stood to comment in opposition to the proposal.
Follow-up small group discussions in 2018 between community representatives and county staff failed to close the gaps in justifying the zoning proposal. In fact, county staff failed to answer questions laid out by community representatives until a week before Supervisor Hudgins was scheduled to propose the advertisement of the zoning amendment proposal. The answers were pro forma and failed to add significant information to that which was already known. Nonetheless, and despite her commitment to the contrary in the absence of substantive responses to the community’s concerns, Supervisor Hudgins moved forward with her proposal to advertise the PRC zoning ordinance amendment proposal—the first legislative step in approving zoning ordinance amendment—on December 4, 2018.
Thereafter, with the widespread participation of Restonians, community representatives from the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) and Reston Association (RA) pressed hard to inform the community, the Planning Commission, and members of the Board of Supervisors of the issues with the proposed zoning amendment. Hundreds of Restonians wearing yellow shirts showed up at the Planning Commission hearing and more than a dozen testified in opposition to the proposed amendment. In its decision, the Planning Commission recommended against adoption of the zoning ordinance amendment and called for a revamped Reston Master Plan tied concurrently to a new zoning ordinance approval.
As a result, Supervisor Hudgins decided to request that the Board of Supervisors defer indefinitely its consideration of the PRC zoning ordinance amendment. Her motion to do so was passed unanimously by the Board on March 5, 2019.
It is not clear when the county will follow through on the Planning Commission’s recommendations, but it is not likely to occur until next year when a new Board of Supervisors is in place.
We commend--and thank--all Restonians who participated in any way in stopping this ill-considered zoning amendment. It was absolutely essential to the preservation of Reston as a planned community. While we have achieved a major victory in sustaining the vision laid out by Reston’s founder, Robert E. Simon, our reward will be to have to tackle the planning and zoning issue once again after the decade of effort that got us here. We will continue to keep the community advised of the planning and zoning issues in Reston as they arise.