News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, November 30, 2012

Got an Extra $25 Lying Around? The RA Is Here To Help

money clipart.jpegThe Reston Association board voted yesterday to increase assessments to $590 next year, a $25 increase from 2012. The RA board could have raised assessments to as much as $600, but opted for the lowest possible option, so good on them.

To be fair, the RA is getting squeezed from both ends. The awesome demolition of half of Parc Reston has resulted in a loss of $48,000 in revenue for the RA, and more households are qualifying for tax relief and reduced assessment rates. Meanwhile, the RA is spending $25,000 in legal fees as part of its involvement in opposing the redevelopment of Reston National Golf Course. There's been lots of handwringing over this issue on this filthy "web log" of late, but to our thinking, this is still one of the smartest decisions the RA Board has made in recent years -- it's not just a defense of some homeowners with fancypants golf course views, but the authority of the RA to oppose any undesired project. And rest assured, there will be more of those on the way. If you want to get picky about what the RA's spending its money on, there's always the $50,000 it plans to contribute to South Lakes High School's planned turf field, and $20,000 for a "documentary about Reston for its 50th anniversary in 2014." Even though we've already got that second bit covered, we're happy to throw a few of our ducats to both projects.

As our BFFs at Reston Patch pointed out, only one person spoke up about the increased assessment at a meeting last night.

The resident of Sagewood Lane encouraged the board to find creative solutions other than consistently raising assessments.

"Eighty-two units are gone at Parc Reston," she said. "We are going to see more and more of this kind of thing. Isn't there some sort of tax the developers can pay? They are making big bucks. Those of us who are retired are not making big bucks."
The RA needs to keep pushing to ensure that future residents of all the bollardy projects on the table become assessment-paying members for just that reason.

19 comments:

  1. An extra $25, eh? Isn't that, like, two trips up and down the DTR?

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  2. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonNovember 30, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    Convict, you're right that the $25 increase is approximately two or three round trips on the Toll Road or an evening out for two at Cafesano, neither of which will bankrupt most of us. I think the point is, however, that the RA assessments have been rising at a rate about double the overall rate of inflation. According to one inflation calculator I found, inflation since 2006 has been 14.7 percent, meaning that if our assessments had risen at that rate, the $437 we paid in 2006 should have been only $501 this year, as opposed to the actual figure of $565.

    When I start seeing expenses like $50,000 for artificial turf at SLHS, or $20,000 for a documentary about Reston's 50th anniversary, it's hard not to get the feeling that the RA is somewhat cavalier about spending money. Everybody's tightening their belt in this economy, and I think the RA could do the same. Individual expenditures may seem like small potatoes -- remember the $40+ cost for each No Smoking sign to be posted on the Reston trails? -- but in the end they add up. Mike Collins mentioned on Patch that the net cost of the quarterly RA magazine is $100,000 a year, for example.

    I'm sure if the RA looked hard enough, they could find savings. When I worked for Uncle Sam we once had to come up with how we'd handle a 25 percent budget reduction. Painful, but we kept our core activities intact in this scenario. How about the RA does an exercise with a five and/or ten percent budget reduction and see where and how it makes the hard choices?

    Just my two cents.

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    1. Supposedly the Reston magazine is actually a money-maker for RA, since they sell advertising in it and don't mail as much stuff as they used to. Plus, as Restonian loves to point out each time a new issue comes out, it has a word find!

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  3. Of course, a certain proposed major residential project(s) would only enhance RA's financial picture, bringing in new households and assesments to help defray RA operating expenses. I'm just saying...

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  4. The $50,000 donation for the turf field is just part of the overall cost and will enable the players to not have to relocate when we get the rains we did last year and this year. It's not only SLHS that uses those fields -- RYA and other local sports teams as well as Relay for Life and other events. It's a community school -- and should be the centerpiece of the Reston community. I'd give up the stupid magazine in a heartbeat--it's nothing but self-promotion.

    And the golf course? There's no entitlement for private owners to dictate their neighbor's use of his own land. If RA's vision had been for it to be a golf course in perpetuity, they should have written that into the covenant for that parcel.

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    1. Re golf course, I think that's what the BZA and subsequent law suits will be all about.

      FWIW--It appears increasingly likely that the zoning law prohibits development of the golf course since certain formerly "missing" documents have been found.

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    2. Actually once the turf field is in Relay will probably have to relocate. You cant put up a tent on turf. That's what happened in Hendon when they got a turf field and they've been trying to get Relay attendance back to normal numbers ever since.

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  5. How about reducing the CEO's salary by $20-25,000? That would somewhat at least show some generosity. Not even the Supervisors make $180,000.

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  6. Anon 9:15 Do tell! What missing documents?

    Anon 11:08, the County certainly has the legal authority and right to dictate land use zoning.


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  7. Zoning is where all of the land use power is, and precisely why Reston needs to be a municipality of some sort. Does anyone here actually trust the Board of Supervisors to do right by us?

    And, Peasant, my $25 comment was meant as a swipe at the high cost of using the DTR, not to show that it's a trivial amount of money best spent on frivolities.

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  8. Anon 10:40 -- the County has the right yes, but the people who live next to that golf course parcel, who aren't the owners of that golf course parcel, have no right to do so. When the plans for Reston were first developed, and that was designated for a certain use, if the community (now RA) had wanted to preserve it forever, it should have designated it as common use, held by the homeowners association -- like our paths and other common areas. Absent that, the new owners (i.e. developers who purchased that parcel) had every right to do whatever they wanted with it, subject only to COUNTY P&Z. This is an example of the problem Reston has in being an HOA, not an incorporated entity able to determine its own future development.

    Reston's only voice (hope) is Cathy Hudgins lining up support with her fellow supervisors to oppose this. Given that the properties near the golf course are not typically Section 8, and that any subsequent development will be required to have HUD units, you can pretty much figure where her interest lies.

    I don't really have a position one way or the other in regards to the "good" or "bad" of redeveloping the land this is currently used as a golf course. I just don't like my next door neighbor thinking he has some right to dictate my legal use of my property, simply because he thought when he purchased next door to me that I would keep it the way HE desired it to be. It's a land rights issue. I'm subject to RA's covenants, not my neighbor's preference for me keeping my property the way he thinks it ought to be.

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    1. Are you part of a community (in this case, Reston) or do you believe you are living alone in the forests miles from anyone else?

      Of course, what your neighbor does (or wants to do) with his/her property affects your property, including its economic value & aesthetics, and you have a "right" to preclude him/her from doing something that adversely affects your property.

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    2. Do you mean to say that if the county had purchased that parcel and decided to turn it into a dump, that it would be "tough noogies" to the neighbors? How about if your neighbor had decided to turn his home into a half-way house for child molesters. Would you want a say in that?

      We live together in communities. Our lives are interconnected. The stuff you do to your property might impact my enjoyment of my property. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some small say when your plans have a drastic impact on my property.

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  9. So, Anon 9:37: You'd be okay if your next door neighbor, a cluster, sold out to a developer and the developer decided to put in 8-story apartment buildings? You'd be okay with that because it's "his" land and "his" choice?

    Twenty-seven, give or take, of our clusters are zoned high-density under the current master plan. They were not built at high-density, they were built at medium density. They can be redeveloped under current zoning. That number may increase when the task force finishes writing a new Reston Master Plan which they are working on right now.

    What about if the cluster next to you sold out to Wal-Mart? You'd be okay with that, too? Having a box store and its parking lot next door?
    That would be fine by your interpretation of property rights?

    Zoning doesn't count for squat in your worldview?


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  10. The point is that the law says a property owner owns that property and if the property owner doesn't like the zoning next door, that's where his efforts should be focused. This situation has arisen because no one did their homework in the beginning and protected these parcels.

    And no, I would prefer to not live next to WalMart, but before I purchased my property, I looked at what was zoned on all sides of me.

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    1. Both golf courses have been zoned open space since Reston was first created. The zoning has been designated on every single county map since then.

      This zoning has been part of the Reston Master Plan for 50 years. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance wants to throw out the zoning we have lived with for 50 years so they can make money. There are lots of places to make money in the country, they don't have to do it in the middle of the country's most well-known, planned community.

      I don't live on the golf course, but I donated to Rescue Reston for their legal defense. I suggest other Restonians do the same.

      Please sign the petition: www.RescueReston.org

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  11. I have a position. NIMBY. And not in your back yard either. I'm not on the golf course, but I donated to Rescue Reston, and will vote against Hudgins should she support the developers.

    I will support NIMBY neighbors anywhere in Reston. Because sooner or later the bulldozers will come for my back yard. Then I hope my neighbors will support me when I cry, "NIMBY!"

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  12. When was the last time we got to vote on Hudgins? I just reviewed the election calendar and its not up again until 2015, I feel I missed the window and I am very disappointed.

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    1. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonDecember 3, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      Anon 4:06, yes, we are stuck with her for three more years. And, unfortunately, she will almost certainly win should she run again -- after all, showing voters in Reston a candidate with a (D) after the name is like showing a cliff to lemmings.

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