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
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
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.Meanwhile, Metro is coming, as this photo from the Toll Road taken by a Twitter Operative last week can attest:
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.
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.