News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Caddyshackpocalypse Now: 'Rescue Reston' Forms As Plans For Course Remain Cloudy


Hey, golf fans! Been hitting the links with surveyors equipment and property plats the old golf clubs lately? It's been an interesting couple of weeks at Reston National Golf Course, where the recent unpleasantness is starting to get the attention of the media and county officials.

Folks in the clusters around the Reston National Golf Course have formed "Rescue Reston," a group "committed to defending Reston's planned community open spaces from over development." Feel free to check out their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed if you're so inclined. They've identified a law firm to represent them, started to raise money, and are planning to design banners, signs and whatnot. In a letter to supporters, they pointed out one particularly germane fact:
We know that everyone is upset, angry, and scared. Expressing what you thought was true is not helpful. All of us labored under false information for years. Let’s not spend time discussing the past but strategically align to preserve the future by facing facts and channeling skilled resources and funds.
The Reston Association is also holding a special meeting today on the golf course, including sending "a letter of support to homeowners near the golf course regarding what they call 'a Potential Threat to a Reston Founding Principle,'" according to our BFFs at Patch.

Meanwhile, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins tells our Patch BFFs not to worry, as these kinds of requests are totally routine:
"My interpretation is the property owner is asking what he can do with the property," said Hudgins. "It can be for future develpment, but it can also be for refinacing or to sell. The property owners asked for interpretation. The staff gave it. It is not a new thing."
The attorney for the property said similarly comforting things to the Washington Post:
Looney told me that what RN Golf was seeking “is not a rezoning. What this is is trying to determine what the actual zoning of the property is today.” Yes, but then what? Looney said he couldn’t say any more about whether his clients had specific ideas or whether they were just assessing their options.
Color us just the teensiest bit skeptical, as the property owner's appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals specifically calls for the board 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." (Our emphasis, obv.) Not a whole heck of a lot of gray area there, though we're sure that no one's decided whether to put up sweet midrise condos or sweet midrise apartments, or maybe a sweet midrise Cheesecake Factory with sweet midrise condos and sweet midrise apartments on top of it.

Of course, lots of questions remain, including how county officials will react if/when the zoning determination is overturned and an actual development proposal surfaces. We all know the county board has the reputation of being just a soupcon developer-friendly, but given the time and effort they've put into master planning in Reston -- and probably more importantly to them, the walkable urban nirvana that Tysons is supposed to become -- it might not be in their best interest to be blase about this. After all, all the fancy master planning meetings and charettes in the world, no matter how well intentioned, don't add up to much of anything if even one land owner decides to, say, plop a giant parking lot in front of a Metro station or opt out of building connecting sidewalks or trails across their property.

Rescue Reston spokesperson John Pinkman told the Post:
“This is a moment in the town’s history,” Pinkman said, “when we start clarifying who’s going to keep Reston’s promises.”

Okay, here's the part with the jokes: In a RESTONIAN WORLD EXCLUSIVE, here's some grainy YouTubes video of what the first conversations about redeveloping the course just might have sounded like:


  1. "My interpretation is the property owner is asking what he can do with the property," said Hudgins. "It can be for future develpment, but it can also be for refinacing or to sell. The property owners asked for interpretation. The staff gave it. It is not a new thing."

    My interpretation of Hudgins? 'Bend over, Restonians, cause here comes another Hudgins-approved pounding of workforce housing.'

    “This is a moment in the town’s history,” Pinkman said, “when we start clarifying who’s going to keep Reston’s promises.”

    My interpretation of Pinkman? 'Since Operation Rescue Reston strongly believes that legitimately raped open/green space has a way of just shutting that thing down, you know, the potentially impregnating seed of townhouses from the rapist developer, just like a raped woman's body can shut down a resultant pregancy, we've taken the bold step of hiring the country's leading 'promise keeper' communicator, Congressman Todd Aiken, to help us formulate a an anti-open space abortion PR plan to keep the RA oriented as to its promises made to Reston-based green space fetuses.'

  2. I lived in Alexandria during the time Jack Kent Cooke was determined to build a new Redskins stadium at Potomac Yards. The good people of Alexandria would have NO part of that plan. They (me included) banded together and beat back the monster. The stadium was eventually built in PG county. So, if we can fight off the almighty Redskins, then we can certainly defeat a lame developer.

    Of course, I have to note that although no stadium was built, it did become the site of a massive strip mall with a Target and Best Buy.

  3. Cathy Hudgins says "not to worry". I don't know about you, but I feel much better about this already.

  4. Reston National ownership has got a well-known developers' land use lawyer bird-dogging this rezoning request for them. Reston can expect an aggressive move by Reston National to assert its property rights via the development-by-rights doctrine under Virginia law.
    Why is Cathy Hudgins so calm and sanguine about this proposal ? RA and its residents must hold her feet to the fire! This redevelopment proposal must be defeated from the get go!

  5. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonAugust 22, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Buffalo, Java Master:

    This is classic Cathy Hudgins you see at work here. Her standard operating procedure, as far as I can tell, is to hold her cards really close until she sees which way the winds are blowing. I witnesssed this several years ago when there was a proposal to turn the Reston South park & ride lot at Lawyers and Reston Parkway into a high rise development with -- you guessed it -- a certain percentage set aside for "workforce housing." All 300 people at the meeting, from Reston, Herndon, and Oakton, were vehemently opposed, yet Ms. Hudgins refused to say exactly where she stood on the issue. (The proposal was withdrawn several months later).

    As long as any proposed redevelopment of the golf course includes the magic words "workforce housing", Ms. Hudgins will equivocate until she sees overwhelming public sentiment build up against it. It is already patently clear that almost no one in Reston wants to see the golf course be lost as open green space, yet all she can bring herself to say is that such rezoning requests are "not a new thing" -- not something unequivocal in defense of existing open space.

    Of course, when you are channeling Baby Doc Duvalier and know that you are Supervisor For Life (God forbid that even a moderate independent could get elected as a county supervisor in the lemming-like Hunter Mill district), who needs to care what your constitutents think?

  6. The only reason Cathy Hudgins was first elected was because she replaced a Republican supervisor who was a complete idiot, spending most of his time alienating everyone with his brusque attitude and noted lack of constitutent services.( Did he have a Napoleon complex? Remember what Randy Newman sang about short people, right?) Are we to be permanently stuck with Hudgin's pandering to Democratic-leaning minorities, seniors, and good liberals everywhere? I'm just saying...

  7. How can private property be a "community open space"? It is not owned by the community!

  8. I'd gladly let them build whatever they want on the three or four holes closest to the Toll Road if they gave the remaining holes to the community as a park. Unless you're really into that expensive sport you don't get much benefit out of the course (people that bought real estate based on golf course views excepted).

  9. Not to worry, all of you folks that live near the golf course. I have it on good authority the PO will keep it as recreational space. He wants to put in a world class Motocross track that can also sponsor Monster Truck shows and the occasional Tractor Pull.

    Seriously. Do you folks still really trust the BoS to represent your interests? Who here is ready to start the hard and dirty political work of changing Reston's status to Town/City?

  10. ? 11:20 am:

    "How can private property be a "community open space"? It is not owned by the community!"

    The golf courses were zoned open space in the original Master Plan. The county required that they be set aside as open space because Bob Simon created neighborhoods with much higher density than traditional suburban neighborhoods.

    The golf courses were to remain open space in perpetuity. Both golf courses were to be public in the original plan. Not clear how the other one became private. But the county is looking to redevelop that one, too, according to statements by county staff.


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