News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reston Land Use College: Now With Cliff's Notes

revenge-of-the-nerds.jpgWhile we wait for South Lakes High School to be defumigated following last week's infestation, it's time to think about a different back-to-school event: the awesome Reston Land Use College.

Following a fun-filled introductory session/mixer/kegger this summer, three "classes" are scheduled for September:

The classes will be held on 3 consecutive Tuesdays - September 15, 22 and 29 at South Lakes High School, 11400 South Lakes Drive, in the cafeteria. The topics for the upcoming sessions are:

* September 15 - Land Use Concepts and Terminology

* September 22 - Understanding the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan and the Reston Master Plan
- How the Comprehensive Plan guides development decisions in Reston
- How the Comprehensive Plan is amended
- What is the Reston Master Plan
- How the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan and Reston Master Plan relate to each other
- What issues will be considered in the Reston Master Plan Special Study

* September 29 - Understanding Reston's Zoning
- An overview of the Planned Residential Community zoning district (also referred to as the PRC district)
- How the PRC district is different from the conventional zoning used in much of the rest of Fairfax County
- The purpose of development plans in the PRC district
- The review process for applications for new development in Reston and how the PRC zoning designation impacts the development of property in Reston.
Wow. Sounds heavy. Fortunately, Fairfax County has provided its own version of the Cliff's Notes that got us people we know through college: a fun-filled glossary! (PDF) You'll learn such fun terms as euclidean zoning (watch out for rhombus-shaped parcels of land), how to use your slide rule to calculate F.A.R. ratios, and the difference between TMAs and TDM. And yes, there will be a test.

Besides the keggers and showing up that crusty old dean, why should you care about the land use college? Here's one argument, as posted on another filthy "web log":
Why should we care about the revision of the Master Plan for Reston? Perhaps it’s because the county wants to change the essential character of our town. County Supervisor Hudgins wants to transform Reston into a city. That’s why the Board of Supervisors increased our residential density cap a couple of years back. From what I can tell the plans have been in the works since the late 1990s. There’s a small Achilles’ heel in the plans though. And that would be Cathy Hudgins herself. She’s an elected official. She was elected. She has a constituency. I wonder how many of her supporters want Reston turned into a big city? How many neighborhoods are on the chopping block? Leila Gordon of the Reston Community Center when making the case for the new indoor rec center at Brown’s Chapel said revenues from Small Tax District 5 would triple in the next few years. That’s a tripling of residences and businesses in Reston.
Whoa. That's more of a buzzkill than a 7 a.m. calculus class.


  1. Land Use College sounds fun, can't wait. But will there be a section on why inside-the-Beltway planning has produced places like Clarendon Ballroom and Four Courts that attract hot 25 year old chicks, while Town Center hangouts like Jackson's and Il Fornaio are filled with dudes talking about their jobs?

  2. "County Supervisor Hudgins wants to transform Reston into a city."

    Not going to happen, even if she wants to put the Empire State Building next to the Barnes & Noble. Can't call yourself a city when there are mall cops patrolling your "Town Center".

  3. Yeah... Reston won't be a city. The local congressman actually have said they don't support it.

  4. You mean Ken Plum the president of the board of Dulles Corridor Rail Assn, the group of landowners in the corridor who stand to benefit from a big city? Him? He said exactly what?

  5. Fairfax County has Ballston-envy. They should transform Tysons first and see how they well they do at creating one city (and solving the transportations problems generated by that) before they try to remake Reston.

  6. Plum and Howell don't support a self-governing town separate from Fairfax County. They both support increased density.

  7. With 65,000 residents and 100,000s of sq. ft. of office and retail space, Reston attained city status by every measure more than two decades ago.

    That the Commonwealth and County pols won't cede a charter speaks to their greed and meglomania not to the character of the place.

  8. Sept 10 in the evening at South Lakes High School you can all see the plans for the new metro station complex at Weihle Ave, and Sunset Hills. Lots of plans has our Hudgins... I'm sure this will also mean much higher taxes for any concerns along the corridor, as those and increased tolls are expected to pay for the rail project.

  9. Does going to land use college allow you to bulldoze parts of Reston like a Sim City game? That's what I want.

  10. Anon 3:16: If you live in a post-Simon era, late 60s neighborhood, you will have a few things on your mind other than bulldozing other parts of Reston--your kitchen table will be ground zero for bulldozing. The county wants to replace the older neighborhoods with mixed-use high-rises. That's a lot of Reston. Welcome to New Urbanism.

  11. The Bloke From Charter OakSeptember 4, 2009 at 9:12 AM

    Oh horror of horrors! Start the mass panic now! Attempts are being made to provide us with mass transit service to reduce traffic congestion! Maybe...gasp...sidewalks, crosswalks, LANES, or even dreaded BIKE LANES will follow on many of the community's roadways, meaning we can no longer use our massive SUVs to play "Frogger" with bikes? Maybe streetlights will be put in, and those pesky deer won't enjoy getting hit so frequently anymore? Maybe more pedestrian overpasses will come in, and instead of watching people getting smeared by buses making right-hand-turns-on-red onto the Reston Parkway from Temporary Road we'll have to look at them safely crossing the street overhead while a "Welcome to Reston" banner "blights" the overpass and makes those pesky unwanted tourists feel welcomed! Maybe we'll have an influx of REAL independent merchants and restaurants setting up shop, threatening to take a bite out of Pottery Barn and Macaroni Grill! Arlington is such a dump! I can't bear the thought of Reston ever being on an even keel on the "Best Places" list! Why strive for better when you can just settle for mediocrity?! AHHHHHH!!!! I can't wait to hear a fresh crop of semi-retirees spouting more "Doomsday" scenarios like these at future sessions! :-D I went to the one back in June, and I was one of about three people under 35 there, including a college student who looked like he was taking notes for a class and one of the county presenters herself! Reston's surely in trouble if we're going to entrust its future into the hands of people who are one step away from the nursing home! The existing Reston is "fine," but why be happy to just settle for "fine" when you can be "perfect?" Why do so many in this place fear change? Reston has 65,000 residents; it became a "city" a while ago.

  12. The Bloke From Charter OakSeptember 4, 2009 at 9:18 AM

    By the way, increased density equates to more open space preservation, does it not? What would you rather have? Half of Reston's remaining open space devoured by half-acre home-sites for single-family homes on cul-de-sacs or the same amount of people being housed in a few high-rises on a MUCH smaller footprint with the remaining verdant grasslands and woodlands being left intact for future generations to enjoy? Don't tell me there are actually people in Reston who believe we ought to be pursuing the route of sprawling armpits like much of Loudoun County!

  13. Dear Bloke from Charter Oak: There is no more "remaining open space" in Reston. It's either RA common land or is owned by clusters or private homeowners. The only way left now to get land for high-rises on is to take it from people who own it already. Are you willing to cough up your neighborhood so the county can make more tax money?

  14. Dear Charter Oak from 9:18 am. Sorry I didn't realize both of those posts were written by you. And I am really sorry you missed the community meeting October 28, 2008, in which Fairfax County Planner Heidi Merkel stated that the older neighborhoods were to be redeveloped.
    It is unfortunate that younger people don't make time to involve themselves in the larger community issues, such the impending redevelopment of Reston and the Land Use College. Maybe you should ask some of your younger neighbors to attend.

  15. To Bloke from Charter Oak Again:

    Since I think you have not lived here long, I want to add that RA common land refers to the 1,300 or 1,400 or so acres that belongs to Reston homeowners. It is our collectively owned private property and cannot be sold without our permission via referendum.

    Prejudice against the elderly isn't any more attractive than prejudice against people of different racial or ethnic origins.

    I need to say it again, prejudice is very, very unattractive. It's destructive and denigrates the many older members of our community who have worked selflessly for years to make Reston the lovely place it is today.

  16. From the Uplands of RestonSeptember 4, 2009 at 10:39 PM

    To Bloke from Charter Oak:

    You say inexorable "progress" is good. I disagree. 20 years in Reston, and I was never asked if I wanted to live in a city. I do not.
    The local governance system is already cumbersome enough. Lots more ecological damage is unavoidably part of adding more residents. Traffic is out of control, and will get worse even with the Silver Line. And we are paying more than the average Fairfax County citizen for less service.
    So what's to like about adding more people?
    I came here for the balance of suburban living, dark night skies to let the stars peak in, open swards of meadow and woody paths without urban encroachment.
    We had that, and more, in the past, but not now.

  17. To Bloke from Charter Oak:

    You sat at my table at the Land Use College orientation session. I'm one of those people describe as a "one step away from the nursing home." I sure hope you come to the next Land Use College meeting. I'd like to have a few words with you, you know, face-to-face. And I do remember your face very well.

  18. Bloke from CO:

    Um... how long have you lived in Reston?? Reston has no undeveloped green space left (unless you want to count things like Brown's Chapel...).

    And why do we need a second Arlington? If you crave that lifestyle, why can't you just live there, intesd of trying to covert an existing community into its image? I don't care for Arlington at all. If I wanted to live there, I would.

    And as for your comment about people being "one step from the nursing home," well, that's just uncalled for. And I'm 33.

  19. (should be "convert" an existing community, not "covert")

  20. Woah... anyone older than 35 is a step away from the nursing home? Dude, I think you've been watching too much "Real World." Time to turn off MTV and join the rest of us back in society.


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