News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"Not an Opportunity for Public Input:" Fairfax County Signals Intent to Move Forward With Reston Zoning Changes, Public Be Damned

It's not what Fairfax County says, it's how they're saying it. What should have been a simple announcement of planned public hearings about the complex -- and controversial -- Reston zoning changes proposed by the county definitely reinforces the idea that, despite cafeterias full of concerned residents and the opposition of virtually every organized Reston group, it's a done deal. Give us some zoning-related blockquote, BFFs at Fairfax County Ministry of Truth and Developer Affairs "Public Affairs:"

Following 17 months of public engagement, Fairfax County will move forward with proposed zoning changes for Reston.
That doesn't exactly sound like the county is going to carefully weigh the pros and cons of the proposed zoning changes, does it? But maybe we've just become hypercritical of the county's motives in the face of statements like "we can't stop development waiting for roads to be built." They work for us, after all, and I'm sure our dedicated public servants relish the idea of more public input. Let's give them a chance and read on, shall we?
The Board of Supervisors is anticipated on Dec. 4 to authorize public hearings on the zoning changes for early next year. The Dec. 4 meeting will not be an opportunity for public input.
"You can't provide public input at the meeting to authorize public input!"

As if that wasn't subtle enough, the press release continues with an equally unsubtle threat:

If the update isn’t ultimately adopted, Reston may lose its unique zoning designation that has shaped the community for the past 50 years, officials warn.
"Nice little planned community you got here, paisano. Two golf courses? Cute! Would be a shame if something happened to its governing documents that have (to date) kept anyone from redeveloping them."

Perhaps we're being oversensitive. After all, the press release did acknowledge the idea isn't universally loved:

While some residents believe development in Reston would be halted if the zoning ordinance update isn’t passed, county planning officials say this is unlikely.
We've been writing this filthy "web log" for more than a decade, and we think it's safe to say no one actually believes that development would suddenly come to a halt and, what, Memco and Burger Chef would suddenly reappear. But thanks to Strawface McStrawman, they've set up a nice bit of false equivalency: you're either for development or against it.

Upon reading this somewhat insulting press release, our first question was, "Did Supervisor Cathy Hudgins sign off on this?" After all, she did halfheartedly promise to continue talks on the zoning proposal with concerned residents, although she clearly believes additional development is important to keep Reston a diverse community in the spirit of Bob Simon's original principles, even though developers to date haven't exactly been thrilled about the idea of providing housing for the Ford Focus crowd.

Others, however, are less willing to give Hudgins the benefit of the doubt. The Coalition for a Planned Reston -- the Traveling Wilburys-like supergroup formed by Reston 20/20, the Reston Citizens Association, and Reclaim Reston -- flatly called her out for "reneging" on her commitment to continued engagement:

The announcement did not explain why Supervisor Hudgins was requesting that the formal zoning process commence without having completed the small group working session activity to which she had committed. Additionally, despite repeated requests by CPR, Fairfax County officials failed to provide answers and materials as they agreed during small group sessions held with CPR and Reston Association over the summer.

CPR will soon announce community action in opposition to Supervisor Hudgins’ announcement. In the meantime please call (703-478-0283) or email Supervisor Hudgins at stating your opposition to her decision to move forward with increasing density in Reston.

Here at Restonian World Headquarters, we've long supported the idea that development is not just inevitable for our plastic fantastic planned community, but also potentially a good thing -- if it's carefully thought through and supported by the reasonable efforts to improve the infrastructure needed to accommodate the growth, not just the "pocket parks" and the An Arts that developers begrudgingly toss our way. We've even tolerated some pretty appalling design elements and workarounds, not to mention the CGI grannies, because we believed better things ultimately could come out of this all.

But... wow. It's hard to read a statement like yesterday's and think the county -- or our own elected representative -- give a fig about any of that.


  1. The arrogance is astounding.

    Cue calls for Reston to become a town in 3..2...1...

    1. A town? Forget that, it's useless, let's just move straight to statehood, make even DC jealous.

    2. Let's go for national sovereignty! Then we'll actually need a passport to go to LoCo, not just feel like we do.

  2. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonDecember 4, 2018 at 2:23 PM

    Gotta love this. According to the Dec. 4th Reston Now article (link below), it was County supervisors from OTHER districts -- John Foust from Dranesville and John Cook from Braddock -- who were standing up for Reston residents re community input on proposed zoning changes that would increase population density here.

    Our own County Supervisor For Life Cathy Hudgins? Not so much. MIA,as usual,when it comes to listening to her constituents. Probably channeling her inner Leona Helmsley..."These 'little people' are so... bothersome..."


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