Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Community Input Needed

Op-Ed: The Road from Nowhere

The following opinion piece was printed in Reston Now on December 4, 2017

This is an op/ed submitted by Dennis Hays, president of the Reston Citizens Association. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now.
Good governance requires a bond of trust between citizens and their elected and appointed officials.  This trust can best – in fact only – be achieved and maintained when citizens are confident officials have the community’s best interests at heart and all proposals and plans affecting the community are fully presented and discussed.
County officials are currently proposing to amend zoning ordinances to allow significantly more population density in Reston.  They make their case by stating such amendments are required to fulfill the vision of the Reston Master Plan.   More specifically, the Plan is the only justification given for proposals to add tens of thousands of new housing units without providing the basic infrastructure needed to support such growth. 
So, is the Plan by itself enough to satisfy the need for transparency and to engender trust?
County officials will tell you the Plan was developed by the “community” through an exhaustive series of meetings held over six years.  Sounds good, but the reality is something very different.  First, membership in the working group was heavily weighted toward developers and their attorneys.  Second, and equally troubling, the Plan has been amended after it was theoretically finalized, without community input.  The following is one example why this should be of concern to everyone who lives, works or plays in Reston.
In mid-2015, after community involvement had concluded, an unmarked line representing a new road mysteriously appeared on revised maps associated with the Master Plan (Staff Report, Appendix B page 60).  This new road would connect Isaac Newton Square and American Dream Way.  The stated purpose is to “construct or improve {a} local or collector street.”  What it actually does is cut through the full length of the fourth fairway and across the approach to the third green of the Hidden Creek Golf Course, thus destroying the integrity of Hidden Creek.   As several observers have pointed out – there is no such thing as a 16 hole golf course.
The placement of this road directly violates the letter and spirit of sections of the Comprehensive Plan rarely mentioned by County officials – the sections  which call for this area to perpetually be “open space, designated as a golf course.”   And open space and recreational areas – along with roads, bridges, schools and public safety – are among the issues ignored or shortchanged in the density proposals. 
So, where did this road come from?  No one knows–or will admit to knowing.  The Reston Association wrote to the County last January opposing this road and asking for an explanation of how it appeared.  Eleven months later they continue to wait for a response.
Perhaps this was a mistake, quickly corrected?  No, the road remains in the current edition of the Comprehensive Plan –  no longer in an appendix, but now promoted to the main body of the report (page 137).
Does the addition of this road have anything to do with the recent sale of Hidden Creek to a development company? One can only speculate. 
The County/citizen relationship is important enough to give the benefit of doubt as to how we got to this point.  But this can’t be ignored any longer.  County officials need to explain why this road appeared out of nowhere and why the County has refused to provide information on it, despite repeated requests.  Although it is late, it isn’t too late for the County to respond.  But there are only two possible explanations and courses of action:
First, the County acknowledges this was a mistake, perhaps just an overeager subordinate acting without proper review or authorization.  If so, the road needs to be immediately removed from the Plan.  Second, this was not a mistake and the County does want this road built and open space bulldozed.  In that case, the County needs to take ownership of the proposal and try to justify the multiple violations of its own rules and planning guidelines.
It’s a matter of trust.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

RCA Resolution on Artificial Turf Playing Fields

Reston Citizens Association Resolution
Artificial Turf Playing Fields
November 27, 2017

Whereas, RCA recognizes the need for Fairfax County Park Authority and Fairfax County Public Schools to ensure that there are adequate athletic facilities to meet the demand from schools, community groups and the public at large;

Whereas, artificial turf athletic fields offer an effective way to meet this demand by allowing for greatly increased playing hours;

Whereas, RCA acknowledges that recycled tire crumb, while currently approved by the relevant regulatory bodies, is under study[1] by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and that many public groups have expressed concern with tire crumb;

Whereas, RCA has learned that alternatives to tire crumb exist including organic infill,


  1. The Reston Citizens Association requests that the County create a framework to allow community groups to voluntarily raise funds to cover the difference in price between infill materials if community groups feel more comfortable with alternative infill materials.
  2. The County should continue to monitor further studies by relevant bodies and take appropriate actions.
  3. RCA strongly recommends that the relevant authorities add signage similar to Exhibit 1 that provides users of synthetic turf fields with best practices regarding safe use.

Exhibit 1

urf sign.jpg

Monday, November 27, 2017

Agenda - RCA Board of Directors Meeting

November 27, 2017
7:30 - 9:00 pm
National Realty/Hartke Building
11890 Sunrise Valley Dr, Reston, VA


ITEM                                      TOPIC                                              PRESENTER

1.                              ADOPT AGENDA                                                 Board

2.                              APPROVE OCTOBER MINUTES                         Board

3.                              APPROVE TREASURERS REPORT                    Leighton

4.                              TURF FIELDS/GFCA                                            Hartke

5.                               VIRGINIA TECH TRANSPORTATION  STUDY    Hartke    

6.                               Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR)                  Hays  

7.                               LICENSE PLATE - LAST TIME!                           Leighton

8.                                PLANNING & ZONING COMMITTEE                 Hays

9.                                 ATTRIBUTION POLICY                                       Hays

10.                              OTHER BUSINESS                                              Board

11.                                 ADJOURN 

Neighborhood Environment and Travel Satisfaction Study

Friday, October 20, 2017

Reston Citizens Association statement on the proposed Reston PRC Zoning Amendment

October 18, 2017

Reston has long prospered as one of the nation's first and most successful planned communities. For over fifty years Reston has lived up to its motto of "Live, Work, Play" because of a carefully maintained balance between development, infrastructure and open space. The unique nature of Reston is threatened, however, when this balance isn't maintained. The County's present proposal to significantly increase the overall population of Reston without providing adequate infrastructure is harmful to the interests of present and future residents of Reston and to the County itself.

The Reston Citizens Association strongly encourages the County to withdraw its proposal and identify a way to balance infrastructure needs before proposing any increased density to ensure Reston will be a successful community for another fifty years and beyond.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Op-Ed: The Tragedy of the Commons

Op-Ed submitted by Dennis Hays, president of the Reston Citizens Association to RestonNow.com
It seems like every day, a major new development project in Reston is announced. And it seems like every day, traffic gets a little worse and schools and athletic fields get a little more crowded.
Is there a connection here? Well, of course there is.
Reston, since its founding, has excelled and prospered as a planned community. And the plan has been that development and the requisite infrastructure would go hand in hand. The problem is not (always) new development; the problem is that new development calls for a corresponding investment in roads, bridges and underpasses, schools, playgrounds, storm drainage, additional open space and, yes, trees — and this isn’t happening.
Economists often point to a phenomenon called “the Tragedy of the Commons” — the observation that when individual users of a commonly held resource are free to maximize their personal benefit at the expense of the larger community, they will generally do so. The “commonly held resource” in this case being the unique and special nature of a Reston where one can Live, Work and Play in harmony with nature. In a perfect world, everyone — the County, the developers and residents of Reston alike — would work together to grow Reston while preserving those things that make this community what it is.
Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world.
The County and the developers want to dramatically increase the population density of Reston. They are naturally driven by, and give priority to, a desire for tax revenue and profits respectively. Not bad things in themselves, of course, unless they come at the unwarranted expense of others — which, in this case, they do.
That leaves those of us who live and work here as the ones with both the most to gain and the most to lose as decisions about our future are made. In the coming weeks a number of key issues — ranging from whether to triple the density of Reston, to what kind of library we will have, to how crowded our schools will be — are to be acted upon. As individuals, we have scant ability to ensure infrastructure is given equal priority to development. But this is Reston, and Reston being Reston, we have a vast community of engaged citizens with a deep commitment to balance and fairness and a future we can proudly pass on to our posterity.
Three weeks ago, over 400 individuals turned out for the County’s fourth attempt to justify the density increase — only to have the meeting canceled because we far exceeded the room’s capacity. Now the meeting has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23 at South Lakes High Schools. The County will draw upon the full-time lawyers and urban planners we as taxpayers pay for to tell us what they say is in our best interest. On our side we have — each other. We need everyone who believes in defending the Commons to attend this meeting.
As Margaret Mead observed, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”