News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, March 4, 2019

BREAKING: Reston Rezoning Amendment to Be Tabled Indefinitely, Sources Say (Updated: It Was)

After we went to all the trouble of laundering our yellow t-shirts, several Reston groups have confirmed that Hunter Mill Superintendent Cathy Hudgins, the biggest proponent of the controversial Reston zoning amendment, now plans to make a motion to indefinitely defer the proposal and cancel Tuesday's planned public hearing on the matter. Give us some good Roberts Rules of Order blockquote, BFFs at the Coalition for a Planned Reston:

If this motion is made and passed, the Amendment essentially will be killed, but we cannot be sure at this time.

This motion is expected to occur during the Board Matters portion of the meeting, usually late morning. All meetings are televised on Channel 16, streamed live online and available to view on demand following the meeting.

CPR will communicate with the community about the final status of the zoning amendment as soon as the Board of Supervisors votes on the motion to defer.

If things go as we hope, the community can cancel their plans to attend the Public Hearing.

The proposal, which would allow denser development beyond Reston's Metro stations, was recommended for denial by the Fairfax County Planning Commission a few weeks back, and Fairfax County Chair Sharon Bulova said she planned to support that recommendation. If the proposal is actually tabled as expected, this would represent a dramatic shift from the county's approach to the process to date, which has been characterized by limited public input, vague threats of eliminating Reston's entire unique zoning designation, barely concealed frustration about questions being asked, and accusations of NIMBYism. So good on them!

Next steps would presumably follow the planning commission's recommendations: Having staff develop an actual amendment to the comprehensive plan and "establish a task force with representatives from the community and industry to work on recommending a plan amendment to the board and planning commission." We'd humbly argue that the order of those two steps should probably be flipped, but that's probably just being "rude."

No one is suggesting that growth will stop -- or that a moratorium on growth would be good for Reston in the long run. But hopefully this pause will result in better planning and better relationships between our plastic fantastic planned community and county officials. And let the record show that Hudgins, who has been reviled in comment boards for her stance on this and other Reston development-related issues, may have taken the first step in that direction.

Update: It's official.

Reston Now:

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ motion to “indefinitely defer” the consideration of a proposed zoning amendment.

“There are those in the community who do not support this change to the PRC density because they do not support redevelopment of the village centers and are concerned about future growth in Reston,” Hudgins told the board before the vote. “There is also concern that this PRC amendment will somehow support residential development on one or both of the two golf courses in Reston.”

Hudgins also said that misinformation has plagued the push to update the zoning ordinance and thanked the staff for their work educating the community.

“I had hoped that we could have found a way to provide the necessary zoning tool to implement the adopted Reston Plan,” Hudgins said.

Hudgins said that she will work with staff and community representatives to outline a process and timeframe to reexamine the plan for the village centers before reconsidering the PRC amendment — the Planning Commission’s suggested solution.


Chairman Sharon Bulova told Hudgins that she understands the PRC amendment has been difficult for her and the Reston community.

“This is not easy, and I know that folks have asked for the opportunity to maybe step back and try to revisit the process that will allow things to move forward in a way that has more community engagement and more community support for a path forward,” she said.

Reston 20/20:

At 12:02 PM, March 5, 2019, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved unanimously a motion by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins to postpone indefinitely consideration of her proposal to increase the authorized density in Reston’s PRC zoned areas from 13 to 15 people per acre.

The Board’s vote ends a 22-month saga (starting May 3, 2017) in which the Supervisor Hudgins, county staff, and Reston organizations worked to understand the implications of the proposed amendment for Reston and reasons for its alleged necessity. Throughout the time frame, it became increasingly obvious that the people of Reston, all directly affected by the proposed amendment, broadly opposed adoption of the zoning amendment. This opposition peaked at a community meeting arranged by Supervisor Hudgins in October 2017 at South Lakes High School attended by more than 900 Restonians. More than 100 people stood to comment in opposition to the proposal.

Follow-up small group discussions in 2018 between community representatives and county staff failed to close the gaps in justifying the zoning proposal. In fact, county staff failed to answer questions laid out by community representatives until a week before Supervisor Hudgins was scheduled to propose the advertisement of the zoning amendment proposal. The answers were pro forma and failed to add significant information to that which was already known. Nonetheless, and despite her commitment to the contrary in the absence of substantive responses to the community’s concerns, Supervisor Hudgins moved forward with her proposal to advertise the PRC zoning ordinance amendment proposal—the first legislative step in approving zoning ordinance amendment—on December 4, 2018.

Thereafter, with the widespread participation of Restonians, community representatives from the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) and Reston Association (RA) pressed hard to inform the community, the Planning Commission, and members of the Board of Supervisors of the issues with the proposed zoning amendment. Hundreds of Restonians wearing yellow shirts showed up at the Planning Commission hearing and more than a dozen testified in opposition to the proposed amendment. In its decision, the Planning Commission recommended against adoption of the zoning ordinance amendment and called for a revamped Reston Master Plan tied concurrently to a new zoning ordinance approval.

As a result, Supervisor Hudgins decided to request that the Board of Supervisors defer indefinitely its consideration of the PRC zoning ordinance amendment. Her motion to do so was passed unanimously by the Board on March 5, 2019.

It is not clear when the county will follow through on the Planning Commission’s recommendations, but it is not likely to occur until next year when a new Board of Supervisors is in place.

We commend--and thank--all Restonians who participated in any way in stopping this ill-considered zoning amendment. It was absolutely essential to the preservation of Reston as a planned community. While we have achieved a major victory in sustaining the vision laid out by Reston’s founder, Robert E. Simon, our reward will be to have to tackle the planning and zoning issue once again after the decade of effort that got us here. We will continue to keep the community advised of the planning and zoning issues in Reston as they arise.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like Cathy had her Saul On The Road To Damascus moment. Wonder if the light from Heaven that flashed around her was a lightning bolt hurled by Dear Leader Bob.


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