News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Coincidences in the News: As Cutwater Court Project Rises, DRB Gets Term Limited

Hey, remember that time last year that there was a bit of excitement on Cutwater Court, what with one family planning to tear down an existing lakefront home and build a new larger one, only the neighbors weren't happy and the DRB got involved (or overinvolved, depending on who you ask) and the Action McNews van showed up, and then everyone pretty much forgot about the precedent this would set for piecemeal redevelopment in Reston neighborhoods, which is only more likely to happen as our original groovy earth-toned homes age and Metro makes the property they sit on more valuable?

Yeah, that was awesome. Well, our BFFs at Patch recently dropped by the neighborhood and found a bunch of chopped down trees, plus lots of hard feelings.

When bulldozers knocked down the Lendmans' home at 2004 Cutwater the first week of May, it marked a milestone in a saga that has taken nearly three years.

The Lendmans had to file and refile plans with Reston Association's Design Review Board. Several neighbors spoke at many DRB and RA Board of Directors' meetings, complaining about a number of things. Among them: that the house's footprint was too big, it disregarded the environment and that there was a conflict of interest in using a DRB member, Richard Newlon, as the project's architect.

Discussions were heated. Feelings were hurt. Sides were taken.
Turns out the DRB finally approved the project back in February. The owners say the neighborhood feud added at least $50,000 to the overall cost of the project.

However, all the heat and noise has led to real changes. Last year, the RA Board of Directors sent the DRB new guidelines governing conflicts of interest. Now, they've put in term limits for the board and the Covenants Committee.
Board and Committee members will now be allowed to serve three three-year terms. Those currently serving on the board are considered to be in their first term.

Term limits had been discussed in recent months with varying opinions. Those in favor of unlimited service said DRB members who served a long time had a great depth of knowledge and history on the subject. Some favoring limits cited the limits on the RA Board of Directors (two consecutive terms) as a way to guard against favoritism and conflicts of interest.
Something tells us this isn't a coincidence. It certainly will add credibility to the DRB, albeit at the expense of institutional knowledge and one gutsy recent decision. Plus, given all the recent finger-pointing, we wonder how hard it's going to be to find new architects familiar with Reston willing to get thrown in that briar patch serve on the board.


  1. The DRB is rife with potential conflicts of interest. Institutional memory be damned, all board members should be term-limited, and three (3) year terms, for a total of nine years service, is still too long. Two (3) year terms, for a total of SIX years should be the maximum allowable time on the DRB. All conflicts of interest on any matter before the board should be disclosed up front, and that conflicted borad member should be recused from participating in any way at board mettings on such matters. This is not rocket science after all.

  2. How do you get unpaid volunteers without conflicts of interest? Not saying selfless individuals don't exist. But such are rara avis indeed.


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