News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

D Day: County Supervisors to Vote on Bollard-Intensive Reston Master Plan; RA Urges Changes Before Adoption (Updated)

After four years, the work of the Reston Master Plan Task Force With an Unpronounceable Acronym (¶) comes full circle: The proposed master plan, which will guide development around Reston's two Metro stations, comes to a vote before the Fairfax Board of Supervisors this afternoon. It's a safe bet to assume it will be approved, although there is a public hearing scheduled for 4:30pm.

The master plan, which was given a D grade by the Reston Citizens Association, has met with opposition from that group, ARCH, and the Reston Association, although the RA ultimately agreed to support the plan. Revisions since made by the county's planning commission have only exacerbated concerns about traffic and the ability of the RA to have a say in future development. Reston 2020's Terry Maynard says this about the last round of changes:

Even the Planning Commission has amended the draft Plan on its way to the Board by cutting out a proposed requirement that new construction be reviewed by RA’s Design Review Board. The likely result: A developer-dominated design review board (if any) that won’t care about architectural excellence—a key Reston planning principle. For example, see the results around Wiehle and Sunset Hills from the previous RCIG Architectural Review Board (ARB). Would you like to see a high-rise version of that asphalt and concrete mess?
Last week, RA President Ken Kneuven wrote a letter to the county supervisors, urging six changes to the plan before it is adopted. They include:
  • Stronger language about the role of RA and the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee in approving proposed development
  • Emphasizing land contributions in lieu of monetary contributions to preserve open space.
  • Stronger language about the conditions under which additional density will be approved.
  • Emphasizing the need for 12 new athletic fields in Reston
  • Emphasizing the need for grade-separated pedestrian and bicycle crossings near the Metro stations, in light of the fact that VDOT's own study apparently pointed out that the traffic light timing needed to keep those areas from perpetual gridlock does "not allow for sufficient pedestrian crossing time." Hey, don't sweat the small stuff!
John Lovaas argues that the master planning process was never a "fair fight" between community interests and developers and their hired guns:
The product bears the gunslingers’ heavy imprint, but is not as terrible as I expected. A central issue, of course, was density. The final stage Plan calls for a lot of high density, especially closest to the stations. The densities, however, are generally appropriate to an urban core, which is what the rail corridor will be. Unfortunately, the type of development reflects the composition of the gunslingers team — that is, far too much commercial vs. residential development. And, it means greater traffic gridlock and less character.

A major difference from our Reston tradition may be the loss of excellence in design and environmental standards. While there is a lot of verbiage about the importance of quality design, the Plan is filled with platitudes and lacking in standards and an institutional mechanism to enforce them. This was made far worse by Ms. Hudgins’ planning commissioner who struck the requirement for design review by the Reston DRB, and substituted developer preferred weasel-wording in its place.
RCA's Colin Mills points out that the real challenge will come after today's vote:
Once the Supervisors approve the Comp Plan revisions, they will take effect. But when the redevelopment proposals start coming in, that’s where the rubber meets the road. If we want the development in the Toll Road corridor to align with our vision for Reston’s future, we must remain engaged with both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.
Ain't that the truth.

Update: The Fairfax Board of Supervisors postponed a decision on the plan until next month. According to our BFFs at Reston Now, Supervisor Catherine Hudgins pointed to implementation as an unfinished area that needs to be addressed.


  1. Too bad the Hooters isn't on the docket. Otherwise, it would be Double-D Day.

  2. Developers and the their minions on the BoS to Reston:


    (Hint: Reston will never be the Master of its own fate until it becomes a municipality.)

  3. Too late. The gold rush is on, and we're in the way.


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