News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The American Dream (Way): Gated Communities Apparently A-Ok for Reston, Says County Board

So this filthy "web log" has been a bit lax about detailing the tortuous path to approval for specific Reston development proposals of late, because (waves arms to encompass most of the area along the Toll Road). Also, nothing can surpass the excitement of our Jetsons-like, Wegmans-curious,videodrome future. Bring it on!

But still, the v. v. exciting news that the former Fannie Mae campus across from Plaza America was finally approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors after a lot of contentious meetings got our attention. Give us some good meeting coverage blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

The board voted to approve the redevelopment with a roughly 220,000-square-foot reduction in the amount of previously approved office space and the addition of a total of 74 townhouses and eight two-by-two units. 

The approval comes despite county staff recommending that the project be denied because a portion of American Dream Way will be gated off to the pubic — a move intended to secure the former Fannie Mae building at the request of prospective tenants.

In fact, the planning commission called installing a gate on the property "unacceptable" in a 237-page report. It's not exactly shocking that the Board of Supervisors found a way to accept a big-ticket Reston project against the recommendation of its own planning staff, as it's happened more than once.  But folks certainly are a bit touchy about this one!

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said that the issue of the gates was not a “basis for denial,” adding that a portion of the roadway is already gated off. 

North Shore Cluster Association Homeowners Association President Michelle Silver questioned “why the planning commission went against the recommendation of its own staff.”

Board Chairman Jeff McKay said the issue of the gates alone, however concerning, was not enough to shut off the project. 

“We’re now at a point that we’re down to one issue,” McKay said, adding that the project has “come a long way” and is “not perfect by any means.” 

Okay, fine. We like townhouses. And two-by-twos. And we can overlook the irony that "American Dream Way" is, as befits its name, blocked off so it's not accessible to all. But in the eyes of the county, what "one issue" would warrant denying a project? Building heights? Density? Shiny blue cladding that makes a mauvescraper look like an extremely tall smurf? Proxies for parks and wetlands 'n stuff? Building on, you know, a golf course or something the county is supposed to protect as open space, because of some invasive English ivy growing on it? Or refusing to provide the required amounts of workforce housing? Let's not forget that one developer attempted to skirt around that inconvenient little rule right around the corner from this development a while back.  

Anyhoo, we should just be happy they're preserving the mandated wetland areas ponds for "public access," meaning the guys in the golf carts who will patrol the gated parts of the property once some alphabet agency moves in (probably) won't taze you for admiring the nature from a respectable distance. Unfortunately, the proposal has changed considerably from its original iteration, so we won't be able to enjoy one particularly inspiring bit of nature that was supposed to be kept outside the gates for us unwashed to enjoy whilst lingering in the shadows of the two-by-twos:

"Green Mews?" Well, ex-mews us, the end.

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