News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reston Master Plan: RA, County, Community Groups to Have Voice in Revisions (A Confusing Blog Post About A Confusing Article About Confusing Revisions to a Confusing Document)

As the Metro Silver Line inches its way westward, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is preparing to create a task force to revise both the Reston Master Plan and a broader plan that governs the transition to "another Manhattan" development along the Toll Road.

The special study task force she will appoint will have two jobs. One will be to make major changes to the county’s Comprehensive Plan regarding the Dulles Toll Road corridor, much of whose Reston stretch comprises the Reston Center for Industry and Government (RCIG). According to county planning theory, Metro stations, like the ones coming to the toll road corridor, can be surrounded by dense, mixed-use development, but the RCIG has allowed no residential uses and only limited commercial uses in its boundaries and is currently planned accordingly. The task force will also update Reston’s original master plan, particularly in relation to the changes coming to the toll road corridor.
The Reston Association can only be but so involved, as due to the "wisdom" of a previous board, the Reston Town Center and other actually desirable commercial properties were transfered out of its purview. So the RA held a special meeting Monday with Hudgins to figure out its role in all this exciting planning. We can't tell for sure, because this "news-paper" article has a lot of those, whazzitcalled, "words" in it and we started losing interest about halfway through, but it sounds like it got a bit contentious.
Because areas affected by the changes would include those that, like Reston Town Center, fall outside the RA’s purview, the association cannot create its own committees to guide the process. "The direction this board gave staff back in August was to find a way to facilitate and provide administrative support to the community as a whole for a grassroots review of the Reston Master Plan," board member Richard Chew said.

The association’s staff and board members had previously met with Hudgins to discuss the topic, and RA CEO Milton Matthews said they had all agreed that broad community participation was important, but Hudgins preferred that large-scale charettes be held to gather community input, while the RA wanted eight or so longstanding advisory committees, each assigned a different subject, such as housing, village centers or the environment, to help guide the process. Each committee would have a member of the task force assigned to it.

Chew said the committees’ structure and seriousness would prevent planners from dismissing their input. "If this is a well organized and well administered community effort, it will be extremely difficult not to listen to these advisory committees," he said.

However, Hudgins said she liked the process of "pollination" that occurred when people with different interests and backgrounds participated in a single discussion, rather than breaking participants up according to their areas of expertise, and she expressed concerns that such committees could exclude people and concerns that were not always heard. "I’m trying to get people who aren’t experts but have concerns about their community," she said.

Asked why she wanted the task force’s work completed by December of next year, Hudgins said this was the time to follow up on the area plan review proposals that were filed last year and that the sooner plans were rewritten, the sooner changes and redevelopment could take place.

Ultimately, she agreed to try to work community advisory committees into the planning process. "I do raise the concern that it not be the driver of the task force because the task force is appointed for a reason," she added.

As for the composition of the task force, Hudgins said each of the various community groups in Reston would appoint a primary and alternate member, and she hoped a member of the RA board would sit on the team. "The task force then can participate but really serve as listeners in the community process," she said. There are to be no more than 20 members or so, with a couple from the Dranesville District, which contains a portion of the area in question. Three or four members would be at-large, and Hudgins said she would want some members who specialized in certain areas of study.
This is good news for all those folks who participated in the Land Use College, which was created to help people become reasonably educated in development parlance to actually provide useful input to such committees -- as if a mastery of such acronyms as "PUD" will keep people from being written off as NIMBYs by pro-development forces. The RA Board will decide next month what role it will play in this process, which will probably involve insisting that the DRB be appointed the Supreme Secretariat of the Toll Road in the new master plan, the end.


  1. Confusing especially since the Master Plan is a series of maps drawn up by Simon in the olden days.

  2. What scares me is the residential areas surrounding the new station, for example, upper lake drive. Do we have to worry they will come in and make us disappear?

  3. The county cannot take property with eminent domain. The VA legislature passed a law to counter the effect of the Supreme Court Kelo vs. New London decision. However, the developers can offer money to entire neighborhoods. This process described in the county's comprehensive plan is referred to as "neighborhood consolidation." Such issues will need to be addressed by the new Master Plan. Which areas are to be preserved? Which to be redeveloped?

  4. Note: the county cannot take property with eminent domain to raise taxes or increase density. They can still take it for roads, schools, etc.

  5. This is the county's Special Study page which has a lot of information about the county's comprehensive plan for Reston.

  6. Pollination? Perhaps the Developers' tame County Supervisor want to create toothless sounding boards for taxpayers who are screwed when she brings yet another subsidized slum to Reston? NIMBY yammerers to drown out the few who know what they are talking about.

    One can only hope the next election instructs her in the birds and bees.

  7. Can Fairfax county or Reston redevelop the Glade Dr area from Reston parkway To Fairfax county parkway? specially the Stonegate area


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