News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, May 1, 2015

Caddyshackpocalypse Now: A County Zoning Ruling So Confusing That County Zoning Officials Can't Make Sense Of It, Apparently

Judge smails
Hey, remember that time the county Board of Zoning Appeals took months and months to rule on a completely hypothetical question about whether a nondescript piece of property designated as open space -- let's say, for the sake of argument, a "golf course" -- could hypothetically be developed with thousands of units' worth of midrise bollardy goodness regardless of the designation of that land, and after all that time they made a ruling so convoluted and inscrutable that it could best be summarized, as the kids with their emojis might put it, as \_(ツ)_/¯ ?

Yeah, that was awesome. Turns out it wasn't just journalists, attorneys, advocates, and filthy web loggers who found the BZA ruling confusing. Now county zoning officials want the BZA to 'splain it to them. Give us some good schadenfreude-engendering blockquote from the county zoning administrator, BFFs at Reston Patch:

This is to request a reconsideration in the form of a clarification of one sentence of the April 22, 2015, letter regarding the action taken by the Board of Zoning Appeals in Appeal Application A 2012-HM-020, which states that, “[t]he Board’s findings of fact and conclusions of law were stated on the record at the April 15, 2015 meeting.”

Specifically, I am requesting clarification as to which of the many statements on the record constitute the findings of fact and conclusions of law upon which the BZA based its decision. Without this clarification, the participants in this appeal, including potentially the appellant, may have no choice but to appeal certain statements made by individual BZA members, even if the BZA collectively never intended those statements to be considered among its findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Are county officials suggesting that the BZA pulled this ruling out of their tuckus blighted industrial zones?

Meanwhile, our BFFs at the Reston Citizens Association have argued that the BZA was flat-out wrong when it opted to disregard key pieces of evidence surfaced after 2012. They claim the BZA didn't understand the Planned Residential Community (PRC) ordinances, which are only in place in three different parts of the county, so no big whoop. They write:
The implications of this BZA decision reach far beyond these 166 acres of recreational open space. If Reston National Golf Course falls to development, the Hidden Creek Golf Course on the north side could be next. And what if the U.S. Government decides some day to sell the 105 acre U.S. Geological Survey property in Reston? These are key pillars in the Reston Master Plan that the citizens of Reston and all of Fairfax County must not allow to fall.
In an email to supporters, Rescue Reston says it will soon announce whether it plans to appeal the BZA ruling:
Rest assured that the County, Rescue Reston and Reston Association are actively reviewing all materials related to the April 15 BZA decision. We are keenly aware of the May 15 deadline for appeal and will make an announcement that week.
More surprising, with just over a week remaining, Rescue Reston has come out in favor of the proposed Tetra referendum happening on the other side of the Toll Road from Reston National. In a statement on their website, they write:
There is a parallel to the potential acquisition of nearly 3.5 acres on the north side of Reston. With the Tetra acquisition we have the rare opportunity to put this space under the stewardship of RA and protect it from commercial development. This acquisition is fully embraced by one of Reston’s major developers, Comstock, which is donating more than they are required because they are excited about this amenity. Increasing RA’s amenities will encourage new residential development in the corridor to join RA rather than Reston Town Center Association, a key point to consider.

The parallel to the golf course is that some day we may have the opportunity to put these 166 acres into the public domain, possibly through a conservation trust, when a willing buyer comes along. If that buyer is either RA or the County or a combination of both, will voters embrace the opportunity? Is it possible that several of the “good” developers in Reston will want to contribute to such a venture? Possibly so if we encourage them now to fully embrace and get involved with the “Reston Way” of Live, Work, Play. When one of them (Comstock) knocks on our door with a gift (their donation is higher than required), we need to think long and hard before not answering that offer.

In as much as RA and RR stand together on the golf course issue, the Rescue Reston Board of Directors joins RA in recommending a yes vote on Tetra.
More to the point, the whole Reston National experience to date has suggested that when money and greed come into play, no property -- regardless of designation, the support of county staff and elected officials, the organized opposition of community groups, or even just plain common sense -- is unequivocally "not developable," the end.


  1. So this means that a second McTacoHut is coming or not? I'm so confused! Ugh!

  2. This is a Missed Opportunity . . .

  3. Rescue Reston asks all Fairfax County residents to ask their County Supervisor to appeal the decision that opens the door to developing 166 acres of recreational open space -- and can set a precedent throughout the county. Sample email:


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