News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Grading on a Curve, Pt. II: Reston's "D" Master Plan Gets New Bad Marks, Disses DRB in Process (Updated)

UrlAs the awesome Reston master plan governing Metro-oriented development approved late last year by the Reston Task Force With an Interminable Name (¶) prepares to be put to a vote by the Fairfax County Planning Commission later this week, our BFFs at Reston2020 point out that further revisions have actually made the plan, already given a "D" letter grade by the Reston Citizens Association, even worse:

The Fairfax County Planning Commission (FCPC) posted its edited version of the draft Reston Master Plan on its website yesterday. The draft makes about a dozen "substantive" changes and a roughly equal number of what it calls "clarifications" and "editorial" changes. None of the changes incorporate any of the proposals offered in the joint RA-RCA-ARCH statement sent to the Department of Planning and Zoning on October 28, 2013 and representing the view of Reston's elected officials and 60,000 residents.

On the other hand, the revised draft proposes the adoption of no fewer than six “substantive” changes offered by individual landowners and developers or their attorneys. These include changes that:

• Allow additional “bonus” density for contributions to Corridor crossings above the already generous proposed development standards and "bonus" density;

• Add monetary contributions in addition to "in kind" contributions for vitally needed infrastructure improvements, money that rarely is adequate compensation and will almost certainly not be applied to Reston infrastructure needs.
What could possibly go wrong? A few thousand bucks from a developer would surely be enough to buy a whole truckload of bollards.

But here's where it gets "fun." Our BFFs at Reston 2020 claim that along with ignoring the input of the RA, ARCH and RCA, the planning commission's Hunter Mill representative "has proposed to eliminate the requirement for RA Design Review Board of new construction, thereby limiting the community’s ability to assure architectural excellence that is a key planning principle."

Dissing the DRB? OH NO HE DIDNT

And there's more!
So what community needs doesn't this revised draft address as outlined in the letter signed by the President's of Reston's three leading civic groups (RA, RCA, ARCH) and other actions?

• It fails to constrain "bonus" development to the first quarter-mile around the stations. Per the above, the new language includes the opportunity for additional "bonus" density above the standards, and includes the entirety of the 1/2-mile transit-oriented development (TOD) area.

• There are no limitations on building height, even beyond the TOD areas (i.e.--Town Center North).

• Limits the requirement to develop athletic fields to one per station area (a total of three) when the County's "adjust urban standard" calls for 12 and the County's planning guidance calls for 25.

• Does not call for a traffic "level of service (LOS) "E" (the lowest "passing" grade, which permits intersection delays ups to 80 seconds) at the gateway intersections near the Dulles Toll Road, assuring massive traffic gridlock during peak periods.

• Does not call for the use of grade-separated crossings at the gateway intersections, adding to traffic delays, reducing pedestrian and bicyclist access, and creating pedestrian-bicylist safety threat.

• Continues the generic problem of not addressing implementation issues, especially how to raise and apply the more than one billion dollars that will be required for Corridor transportation improvements.

• Fails to correct the Task Force's vote to change the open space requirement from a 20% "minimum" to a "target" undermining Reston's longstanding planning principle of providing abundant and diverse open space for all.
Wow. Four years of "community input" for this?

You can read the revised plan here.

Update: The county planning commission unanimously approved the master plan, with a few caveats to the new changes. It now goes to the county Board of Supervisors for final approval.


  1. They screwed up Arlington, they screwed up Tyson's Corner, they screwed up Loudoun county, and Herndon and Chantilly were always screwed.

    So now it is our turn.

    Let this be a lesson or at least a refresher to other communities that want the Metro.

    1. Tysons was a hot mess before Metro was even a remote possibility. Arlington, as urban as it is right around the metro stations, is actually still pretty nice -- and almost traffic-free except for the commuter routes that go through it. It can be done right, if the people in charge are actually interested in doing it right instead of promoting a land grab.

  2. BOHICA, Reston. BOHICA.

    No Growth is Smart Growth.

  3. The only thing I dislike more than the DRB is the idea of no DRB when it comes to new construction.

  4. If they propose to eliminate the DRB entirely, I'll get on board.

  5. Are you kidding about the DRB? That pack of small-minded, meanies won't be going away. They live to bully the individual homeowners into their vision of what the neighborhood should be.

    Of course, though, they're going to roll over for the developers. The developers are too big for DRB to bully. The developers, in short, hit back.

    1. They actually stood up to the Fairway Apartments developers and won some significant changes to the project. For their efforts, developers are trying to ensure they're stripped of their ability to force any changes. That sucks.

  6. Keep voting for Cathy Hudgins. This is what you get.

    1. Thomas Paine in the AssJanuary 10, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      Yup, that's what happens when you live someplace like the Democratic People's Republic of Reston that's essentially dominated by one party. Long tenure and absolutely no fear of being voted out in the next election means a politician doesn't have to give a rat's ass about what his/her constitutents think or want. And yes, the same holds true for places dominated by the other side of the political spectrum.

    2. It's a real Catch-22. Were we to have a republican dominated local government, the results would essentially be the same. I can't imagine pro-business conservatives attempting to restrict development anywhere. There is a philosophy that Fairfax County can build itself to prosperity (gotta get those tax receipts!) and the Dillon rule prevents localities from exercirsing real land use and zoning controls that stick. It's gonna be a real mess, from Tysons Corner all the way to Reston. If I had wanted to live in no-zoning Houston, Texas I would have moved there instead.

  7. Words can hardly express the combination of sadness and outrage I feel with the outcome of this "planning" process. Having followed the process carefully and even attending some public meetings, it is a severe disappointment indeed, altho I am not surprised. The developers and the county planning commission think and act as one.
    Can't wait to move out of the area, it apparently does no good to remain here and hope for different outcome.


(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).