News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, March 1, 2019

After Planning Commission Recommends Denial, Fairfax County Supervisors to Act on Reston Rezoning, Maybe

Fans of yellow t-shirts and land use hearings will enjoy next week. The rest of us, not so much.

Next Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold its long-anticipated public hearing on the proposed Reston rezoning proposal, which would essentially allow denser, more bollard-laden development beyond Reston's present and future Metro stations, including the existing village centers, and ultimately push Reston into the six-figure population range.

There was a glimmer of hope that the proposal might be tabled after the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted to recommend that county Supervisors reject the proposal and basically direct county staff to reconvene another community task force on the matter, using terms like "highly problematic" and "pushback" in describing the proposal.

However, the Board of Supervisors doesn't exactly have a great track record when it comes to listening to its staff and subordinate boards, particularly when it comes to Reston and building up that sweeeeeet sweeeet tax base. So it -- and the accompanying public hearing -- are officially on the agenda for the March 5 meeting.

"While we believe the Supervisors should accept the Commissioners' recommendations, they have no obligation to do so," the Coalition for a Planned Reston said in a statement.

Already this particular proposal has generated a lot of "greatest hits" from county staff and board members, including:

"This is not an opportunity for public input."

"We can't stop development waiting for roads to be built."

It’s rude to claim that nothing is being done."

"Yes, there are some questions that people have. Those questions have been answered before or are not relevant to this.

And our representative on the board, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, has been a vocal proponent of the zoning change, against the opposition of virtually every organized Reston group (except for the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, whose president spoke in favor of the proposal at a Planning Commission meeting and many of whose members could probably use the added foot traffic from new development). She's also retiring this year and has lumped critics of the proposals together as a bunch of unwelcoming NIMBYs, so we think we have a pretty good idea of how she's going to vote, Planning Commission recommendation be damned. Those NIMBY... um, planners, not wanting to, um, plan things!

Board Chair Sharon Bulova, however, said in a message to Rescue Reston that she supports the Planning Commission recommendation to pull back on the rezoning and reconvene a community-based task force as a next step.

We're all for growth in our plastic fantastic planned community, but we think the county has really fallen down on planning the needed infrastructure to go along with it. There's been a lot of talk of late about the Dillon Rule, which supposedly completely ties the county's hands and keeps it from building the fancy and expensive 93-lane roads and pony-laden parks and whatnot it really wants to in Reston, like, yesterday, though promises of infrastructure improvements ahead of development seem okey-dokey just a few miles away in another Dillon-constrained county. All we're saying is if it takes nearly a decade to build a bike bridge that's been needed since the late 1980s, we're not exactly confident. Sorry if that makes us "rude."

The public hearing is scheduled for 4:30pm on Tuesday, March 5 at the Fairfax County Government Center. We're guessing there will be a fair amount of yellow in the audience.

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