The owner of Reston National Golf Course has sent Fairfax County a letter asking for a routine clarification of the zoning for the 160-plus acre property--and, oh yeah, just for giggles, "the potential for redevelopment of the property to uses other than a golf course," according to the response from county zoning officials. Will fanciful concrete bollards and midrise condos become new hazards?
Our legal specialty is pet divorce, not zoning, but we think that it's safe to interpret the planning staff's response to the idea of potentially rezoning the golf course as at least somewhat tepid. Here's part of the letter:
It goes on like this for a couple of pages. But really, the property owner would just have to go through the same approval process as other redevelopment projects, only working against the fact that the current use of the property isn't existing office or residential space. But then there's the cold hard reality of property values: How many 18-hole golf courses are within a half-mile of Metro stations in the DC area? And Confidential Restonian Operatives have told us that the idea of redeveloping the course has come up during previous master planning meetings. Of course, during those same task force meetings, there's been a call for at least 54 acres of additional open space to accommodate all the growth in the area, not less of it.
The RA appears to have been taken by surprise by all this activity, according to our BFFs at Patch:
Reston Association President Ken Knueven says he only recently heard about the inquiry, but the Board of Directors will look into the matter.Of course, no redevelopment plan has been proposed (at least not yet). And there may be a perfectly innocent reason for the request for zoning information. Maybe Reston National just wants to build a really bitchin' snack bar:
"Any time we look at any redevelopment, we are also going to adhere to what we consider essential Reston and protecting green space," he said.
Update: The property owner has appealed the original determination by county zoning officials and has filed a request for the Board of Zoning Appeals to "reverse the Zoning Agent's determinations and direct that the County be required to accept a properly filed and complete PRC Plan application as the next step in redevelopment of Subject Property for residential uses." (PDF here). A hearing has been scheduled for October, so it looks like the property owners weren't just asking about the zoning designation to settle a bet in the clubhouse.
The Reston Association issued a press release stating it "has been made aware" of the review process initiated by the golf course owners and is "researching the history of zoning for the golf course property and what our options might be." The RA release states:
Knowing this matter would have significant impact on the community, we will keep them informed of what we have learned. This includes a letter to all RA property owners that border the golf course, making them aware of our research, the events and a scheduled hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals on Oct. 24.Members of Golf Course Cluster are also weighing their options.
We will also be discussing the issue at our next board meeting on Sept. 13 and encourage you to attend.
"This is a detailed legal battle and is not political in nature," said John Pinkman, a resident of the cluster for 20 years. "I am advised that the most prudent method of preventing this from happening is legal research and action; not phone calls to supervisors, political entities, or petitions. We need to quickly raise funds directly from homeowners to hire specific land use attorneys. "Sounds about right.
The Washington Examiner weighs in with an article. The golf course's owners and their attorneys have still not publicly commented on what plans, if any, they have for the property.