News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reston Master Plan: Task Force With Unpronounceable Name Completes Report Draft as Metro Nears

Task Force Report.jpg

Wow, did Christmas just come early to those of us who love land use debates focused on transit-oriented development! Our BFFs at Reston2020 have posted a draft of the fancy report that the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force With the Unpronounceable Acronym (¶) has spent the better part of three years putting together. It has a "vision for Reston in the 21st Century!" And "traffic issues!" (Don't we all!) And visions for the areas around the three future Metro stations! Just don't look for conclusions or performance standards, because those aren't done yet. And none of the work thus far involves the much scarier "Phase 2," which is where recommendations will be made about the extent to which Reston's existing righteous stucco strip malls village centers can be redeveloped into bollardy midrise goodness.

The other thing that's been going on sub rosa has been a quiet dialing back of proposed maximum development levels, due to a traffic analysis that suggested that Reston traffic would melt down for most of the daylight hours some key intersections would be completely jammed at "peak hours." Some inside-baseball changes could lead to more flexible development options, balanced by a greater mix of residential development and caveats that office space should be closest to the Metro stations to minimize the traffic impact. Not everyone is pleased, says an anonymous commenter to Reston2020:
You should’ve heard the crescendo of outraged cries from developers and land use attorneys at the last meeting as some of us did. This plan would mean no “tear down” and re-building, just less desirable infill construction—if any!—they said. Limiting development for traffic reasons is “the tail wagging the dog!”—they added. This will prevent Reston from achieving the visions laid out by the task force’s committees!—they raged. In the only counterpoint offered, one task force member noted that congestion is a major Reston problem now, not a hypothetical one for the future.
The real problem is the time that this process has taken, as developers continue pushing through proposals in the absence of guidance from a master plan. As RCA President Colin Mills wrote a few months back:
This timeline is, to say the least, disappointing.  The whole point of splitting the Master Plan Special Study into two phases is so that Phase 1 would be completed before the Silver Line got here, so that we'd establish the ground rules for development before the Metro-related proposals started coming in.

But as we've seen in the case of the notorious 23-story office tower, Metro-related development plans are already rolling in.  And by voting to approve a tower that violates the Task Force's planning principles, Supervisor Hudgins has indicated that she won't follow the Task Force proposal until it's approved by the Board of Supervisors.  Now we know that it's going to be at least a year before that proposal is in place.  That means another year of uncertainty in Reston's planning, which is frustrating for developers and the community alike.

I'm not blaming planning staff or the FCDOT for the schedule; the planners are working diligently, and the transportation analysis will take as long as it takes.  But the Task Force's deliberations have always been, well, deliberate.  Now we're seeing the price of that slow progress.
Meanwhile, Metro is coming, as this photo from the Toll Road taken by a Twitter Operative last week can attest:

Reston Metro.gif
What will arrive in Reston first -- a complete master plan or the first Silver Line train? Betting on Metro doing anything on schedule is a sucker's game, but we're definitely leaning in that direction at this point.


  1. So this is the end result of 3 years of deliberations? Maybe they should be looking at the 22nd century. Reston will be shoulder-to-shoulder high rises before the final report is complete.

    This "task force" is simply another ploy by Fairfax County to keep the "kids" busy, while the "adults" move on with the build out. Does anyone actually believe that the county will pay any attention to any recommendation that doesn't fit into their own plan for redevelopment?

    The Metro is the wedge into Reston that the county/developers have been waiting for -- it's a feeding frenzy now.

  2. In this, the real world, the plan is primed to be undercut on arrival, with or without final recommundations. The development community, comprised of many individual actors, aided and abetted by their attorneys (together with compliant planners and supervisors) will seek to amend specific plan recommendations with respect to virtually any potential building site, thereby maximizing any development opportunities. Not satisfied with mere infill projects, they will seek increased densities and greater building heights at virtually every opportunity, in service of yet another speculative cycle. To think they would do otherwise is sheer fantasy. It is the nature of the beast, and I do not see the political will by supervisors or planning staff to prevent the beast from running loose. Of course, all of this will be justified and rationalized by planning staff and developers alike as "smart growth" or "transit-oriented" development.
    Reston, you don't know what is about to hit you!

  3. But the real Silver Line travesty? The new Ffx Connector bus routes no longer serve Lawyers road or Capstone south of Glade. 553 and 557 can serve Glade but Lawyers is out? I'm sure that it is an oversight, but Restonian can shine a light on this busmageddon 2013. Keeping the 557 on a Lawyers route will barely impact its new route to Herndon Monroe.
    But I digress... lets talk about master plans!

  4. I have to agree with Buffalo. The BoS is only paying lip service to the Master Plan and will do what it wants for the Board members first and Restonians as as afterthought.

    Remember, the Board is composed of politicians who want to get re-elected. The get campaign funds from the developers or, worse yet, have to run against developer backed opponents, and get elected at the end of the process by the constituents.

    The only way to turn this around is to make Reston a municipality. It is time for "A City called Reston".

    1. Rose By Any Other NameDecember 13, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      I find myself in virtually complete agreement with both Mr. Convict and Mr. Buffalo, which for me is a rare occurrence indeed. Java, I have always thot you were long-winded but at least we are playing in the same ballpark. Call me sometime :)

    2. ...And while I'm unloading here...Just don't get me started on the liberal environmentalists' completely b.s. fraudulent concept of "sustainability"--another word that is completely devoid of either context or meaning (except that given to it by cumbayah enviro groups and the EPA) unless you live in a Crunchy Granola Land like Reston! Hah!
      [As in: How much extra will it cost Restonians in future assessments, taxes and fees to live in their "sustainable" wonderland, which looks suspiciously like the "old" non-sustainable Reston.]

      Meet ya for coffee, Rose. But puhleeze don't bring up the Save the Bay crowd, okay? lol

  5. The only way to turn this around is to make Reston a municipality. It is time for "A City called Reston".

    Hardly solves the problem. The city will be run by politicians who want to get re-elected and who will need developer money.

    1. So are you saying that we're better off remaining beholden to the BoS?

      Okay, I'll buy the argument that Developer's money is going to be an issue no matter which Marshall is running the town. Still, I would rather have a Marshall who only has to balance the interests of Reston as opposed to the whole dang territory, dagnabit.

  6. I am still hearing December 2013 for the Silver Line opening. Seems inordinately long!

  7. Ratstown, the Principality of Darkness!


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