Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Attend the January 23 Public Hearing on Reston Density

On January 23, the Fairfax County Planning Commission is holding a Public Hearing on the proposed amendment to raise the Reston zoning density cap outside of the metro transit station areas.  This amendment will facilitate high-rise growth in the Village Centers and other established residential neighborhoods in our community.
At the January 10 Planning Commission workshop on the subject, the Commissioners made it very clear that they want to hear from the public at this hearing. 
Show up wearing yellow to send a strong message  
Where: Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA in the Board Auditorium
Time: 7:00pm (arrive 6:45 to get parked (free) and settled)
Date: January 23, 2019
What to Wear: Yellow shirts (to purchase a yellow t-shirt, please contact CPR at plannedreston@gmail.com)
Learn More:
Articles:  The Folly of FifteenRise Up Reston
Fairfax County:  December 2018 Fairfax County Staff Report, which advocates increasing density: Fairfax County Reston Zoning Amendment-Staff Report
Letter to the Editor: Why You Should Care About the Reston Zoning Cap


Friday, January 11, 2019

Letter to Planning Commissioners re: PRC Zoning Amendment

RESTON CITIZENS ASSOCIATION 
Founded 1968

January 10, 2019

Re: PRC Zoning Amendment

Dear Members of the Fairfax County Planning Commission:
 
The Reston Citizens Association (RCA) strongly urges the Planning Commission to reject the County staff's proposal to increase the population density of the PRC areas of Reston.  Such an action, if approved, would ignore the will of the residents of Reston and irrevocably damage everything Reston was created to be - a planned community uniquely open to residents from all walks of life.  Reston is nationally and internationally recognized for maintaining a balance among development, infrastructure, and nature and for achieving a much envied - and much copied - "live, work, play" lifestyle.  The Reston community is perplexed - and saddened  - by County staff's efforts to diminish this legacy and worsen the quality of life of current and future residents.  
                                 
We are concerned that actions being taken by staff are deleterious to good governance.  That is, we at RCA believe there must be a bond of trust and confidence between government and citizens.  At the beginning of this process we had an excellent working relationship with County officials and staff.  We met in groups large and small and while we didn't always reach agreement, we each gained an important understanding of the other's concerns.  After the four issue-specific group meetings last summer, however, this spirit of cooperation evaporated.   The questions we asked -  which the staff promised to answer  - have gone unaddressed for six months.  The material contained in a December 11th letter was just bits of old information stapled together - with no new information of substance.  And in a further lack of cooperation, the staff has failed to schedule committed to follow-on meetings. 
 
Why has this happened?  The conclusion we reach is that when the staff was asked to justify their proposal in hard numbers developed by an accepted procedure and to respond to other concerns, they were unable or unwilling to do so.  Instead, they just stopped talking with the community and went ahead with their preconceived proposal. 
 
We urge the Commission to instruct the County staff to return to the negotiating table with the community and respond in good faith to citizens' questions, concerns, and objections.  For example, among many other issues: Staff needs to explain how they have determined what they say is the current population of the PRC.  They need to define what they mean by phrases like the "nearer term".   They need to explain why they say there is an urgency when no such urgency has been identified.      
 
Finally, "If you propose a major project, it is incumbent on you to demonstrate that the positive benefits to the community exceed the negative."   (quoted from Liveable Portland).  In the staff report there is not a single word as to how their proposal will benefit current or future residents of Reston.   
 
The Reston Citizens Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary of service to the Reston community.  For most of this time we have enjoyed and benefited from a mutually respectful and productive relationship with County officials and staff.  We would like to have this relationship again.  We again urge the Commission to reject this proposal as a first step to restoring trust and confidence.  

Sincerely,
 
Dennis K. Hays
President
Reston Citizens Association

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Folly of 15

Letter to the Editor published by RestonNow on 1/2/2019.  Dennis Hays is the President of Reston Citizens Association.
Fairfax County has proposed to increase the population cap of the Reston Planned Residential Community district (PRC) from the long-standing 13 persons per acre (ppa) to as many as 15 persons per acre — which when combined with already approved projects would add an additional 30,000 people above our current population for the established, primarily residential areas of Reston. Please keep in mind this doesn’t include the areas around the Metro, where the county is on track to authorize building enough high rises to add an additional 80,000 residents.
Here are 10 reasons why the cap should be left alone. There undoubtedly are more.
1. If the ceiling (13) is shattered, there is no new ceiling: Fourteen or 15 today will be 16 tomorrow, 17 the day after and 20 down the road. The current 13 ppa has been in effect since Robert Simon created Reston. Does anyone believe the county will stop at 15?
2. The county bases its proposal on numbers that are rough estimates at best, gross misrepresentations at worst. The county has provided no established methodology that can be used to arrive at accurate numbers. The county promised to meet with the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) and the Reston Association to agree on a methodology before any action would be taken. We’re still waiting.
3. There are thousands of dwelling units (what the county calls where we live) that have been approved but not yet built (1,400 at Spectrum alone). How will all these already authorized residences affect roads, schools, first responder services, and parks? The county counts them for cap purposes, but not for the provision of services.
4. The county doesn’t count people who live in affordable or workforce housing as part of the cap, despite CPR’s frequent complaints. These neighbors of ours have kids in school, drive to work, go to the library and play ball in the parks just like everyone else. So why are they second-class citizens in the county’s eyes?
5. Although the county is in a frenzied hurry to authorize new high-density construction, they are in no hurry to provide the needed infrastructure that should go along with it. Reston has received no funding from the county in its current transportation budget. There is no land for additional athletic fields or open space confirmed. The Master Plan calls for infrastructure to be phased in with development. County officials talk for hours about their “plans” for roads, schools, parks, etc. but when pressed they are forced to admit they have no funds, no identified land and no timetable for the required infrastructure.
6. Why the push to raise the cap now? Even using the county’s questionable numbers there aren’t any development proposals that take us over the 13 ppa limit. So what is the rush? Why not use this time to assess how we grow in phase with the services needed to support our neighborhoods?
7. Until five years ago the county had an official on the Planning staff dedicated to working on Reston proposals. This provided some coordination. They haven’t replaced that official. Now the county can’t say specifically where the development allowed by their increased cap will go, although it doesn’t take much to figure this out — initially it will go to build high rises in the Village Centers, take parking spaces away from the library and push again on St. Johns Wood and the other “hot spots” the county believes should be more urban. And by urban they mean you will only walk, bike or Metro to work, the grocery store, the movies, to see family and friends and everywhere else. And then they will come for the golf courses.
8. The Reston Master Plan was changed in significant ways after community representatives had signed off on what they believed to be the final version. Leaving that aside for the moment, the Virginia Code calls for Master Plans to be reviewed and updated at least every five years. The Master Plan for the Metro areas is up for review next month. The PRC portion must be updated no later than next year. Yet the county has taken no steps to begin the review process. Given all that has happened, isn’t it time to pause and take stock?
9. The more you dig into the county’s assertions, the shakier they become. The CPR and the Reston Association met with county officials in four sub-groups last summer. It became immediately apparent that a lot more information and data was needed to properly review and assess the issues surrounding the cap. We had agreement coming out of all four meetings that the additional information would be developed before any action on the cap was taken. CPR and RA asked over 30 specific questions. On Dec. 11 the county responded by sending a blizzard of paperwork — that restated what we had already been told but provided no new information. Why hasn’t the county met its commitment to answer these questions? Could it be that the answers would be more damning than not answering?
10. The county speaks often of the need for “community involvement” and the Master Plan lists community participation as the foundation stone on which all else rests. So why has the county refused to meaningfully engage with its citizens? We remain ready to work with the county to further the unique vision of Reston as a balanced, welcoming community that takes to heart our motto of “live, work, play.” Is that too much to ask?
If you agree that raising the cap is unneeded and counterproductive, please let our Fairfax County Supervisor (HunterMillBOSEmail@fairfaxcounty.gov), the other supervisors (bos@fairfaxcounty.gov), the Planning Commission (PlanningCommission@fairfaxcounty.gov) and the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZPRCZOA@fairfaxcounty.gov) know. We can make this a Happy New Year if we act together.
— Dennis K. Hays

Monday, December 3, 2018

RCA Board of Directors Meeting - Agenda

December 4, 2018
7:30 - 8:45 pm                                                     
National Realty/Hartke Building
11890 Sunrise Valley Dr, Reston, VA


                   TOPIC                                                         PRESENTER

1.            ADOPT AGENDA                                                      Board

2.           APPROVE PREVIOUS MINUTES                              Board

3.           APPROVE TREASURERS REPORT                          Hays

4.           PRC POPULATION CAP                                           Hays

5.           USGS                                                                        Hartke

6.           FEDERATION of CITIZEN ASSOCIATIONS              Hanley                                               

7.           HIDDEN CREEK                                                       Hartke
    
8.           2019 ELECTIONS                                                    Johnson

9.           WEBSITE  UPDATE                                                  Inanli  

10.         OTHER BUSINESS                                                  Board


11.         ADJOURN 
                                                





Friday, November 30, 2018

CPR letter to Supervisor Hudgins re: PRC density increase

Coalition for a Planned Reston
A voluntary group of residents from the Reston Citizens Association,
Reclaim Reston, and Reston 20/20

November 29, 2018

Dear Supervisor Hudgins:

The Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) is deeply concerned and dismayed by the announcement that you have requested County staff to move forward with the proposed PRC Zoning Ordinance Amendment. For the reasons explained below, we strongly urge you to withdraw your request immediately and to complete the community dialogue to which you committed.

This past summer your staff, County officials and representatives from the Reston Association (RA) and CPR met in four working groups to examine significant issues arising from the Revised Reston Master Plan, which according to County officials, triggered the proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendment. In the course of those meetings, County officials and the community representatives agreed that additional data was needed in a number of key areas before further face-to-face discussions should be held and conclusions could be reached. There was universal agreement, well documented in the videos of the small group meetings and follow-up communications by CPR and RA, that each side would research and produce the requested information before any further action to move forward with the Zoning Ordinance Amendment. The RA/CPR team quickly provided all that was requested of them. Sadly, the County side has not.

Please refer to the list of twenty-three (23) specific areas where we have been waiting for responses from County officials (attached). We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our County employees and understand how heavy workloads and competing responsibilities can sometimes delay progress in specific areas. However, this cannot justify failing to conduct the needed research and consultations to which you and the County have committed. In light of this, it is premature and inappropriate to move forward as you have requested.

Over the past three months we have repeatedly stated our readiness to meet in the working groups again when the County has completed its work. We continue to stand ready to do that. If there is a need or desire to move forward quickly on the part of the County, perhaps developing the required information can be given a higher priority by County officials.

Madame Supervisor, the issues before us are too important to be pushed forward without completing the community engagement that is the hallmark of the Reston community. Your constituents urge you, in the spirit of transparent and responsive government, to withdraw your request until the collaborative review has been completed.

Sincerely,
Coalition for a Planned Reston

Specific Areas Awaiting Responses from Fairfax County Officials

The follow are specific areas for which CPR is waiting for the County to provide information or analysis. This listing does not include a number of more general discussion points, which are important in their own right, but not listed here.

1. Provide status of County plans to finally build an indoor athletic center in Reston (Hunter Mill is the only district without one. Other districts have had athletic centers for decades.
2. Provide status on exactly where the additional outdoor athletic fields required in the Master Plan will be located.
3. Remove from planning documentation and maps the unauthorized and unneeded "Road from Nowhere" that would mar and deface Reston's open space.
4. Share information on the safety, cost, and benefit of "turfing" and lighting fields. In an interim response on this topic the County speaks of "upgrading Reston Association properties" to partially meet the County's requirements. However, no proposal to or discussion with RA has taken place.
5. Provide information on the status of the "Commission to Assess Reston's Athletic Fields." We are unaware of the existence of any such commission.
6. Provide an update on the County's plans for Reston Town Center North, including the required 10 acres of open space.
7. Schedule the County's own proposal to bring "all parties" together to work on land management issues.
8. Clarify specifically which areas of “One Reston” (i.e., including PRC, TSAs and Town Center) are considered "urban" for planning purposes, as the designation impacts the level of services provided.
9. Explain the frequent exemptions given to developers when their proposals are not in conformance with the Master Plan. This includes numerous cases where the County's own Planning and Zoning staff have found proposals to be deficient.
10. Schedule the agreed upon meeting between County staff and the community to determine the geographic and demographic inputs to be used to determine the population of One Reston for the purpose of re-establishing a population limit for Reston as a whole.
11. Explain the dichotomy between the County's density proposals in the Village Centers and the Master Plan's call for any new development to be at an appropriate scale for the neighborhood under consideration.
12. Provide a statement on the County's plans to conform to Virginia law and review the Reston Master Plan Phase I in early 2019 and Phase II in 2020.
13. Address the need for follow on discussions concerning storm water management, police and fire coverage and related social services topics.
14. Submit written confirmation of the Population-based Countywide Service Level Standard for golf: with a projected Reston population of over 115,200, Reston requires two 18-hole golf courses. (Please see page 22, 2017 Edition of the Policy Plan - Parks and Recreation.)
15. Provide a status update on changes to the proffer formula for private development and suggestions on how RA, CPR and the broader community can support County efforts.
16. Provide data on the expected number of additional students entering the school system using current methodology. Provide data on past reliability of this methodology.
17. Report on student utilization of the Connector Bus since the adoption of student passes.
18. Resolve discrepancies between language regarding school capacity provided in the Comprehensive Plan and actual County practice.
19. Develop a comprehensive Transportation Implementation and Monitoring Plan - to include all projects identified in the Reston Network Analysis (RNA) with their estimated prioritization, timeline, projected costs and funding sources.
20. Provide a chart and map of planned intersection improvements.
21. Provide a model of projected traffic impact of any increased density in the “One Reston” region on the non-TSA areas of Reston (like the PRC).
22. Institute the universal adoption of data that includes residents of Affordable Dwelling Units (ADU) and Work Force Housing (WFH) in all computations of population and density.
23. Provide periodic updates and information on the provision of needed infrastructure along with development as is done in Tysons.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

County Board Approves Lake Anne Fellowship House Redevelopment

RCA followed this project closely.  In 2014 we wrote:

RCA feels it is urgent that the greater Reston community understands the implications of development on one of our Reston Comprehensive Plan ten Planning Principles which is “housing provided for all ages and incomes.”  Our community support is needed to ensure that land owners and potential developers respect and honor our Plan.

Who Lives at Lake Anne Fellowship House (LAFH): Folks 62 or older on limited fixed incomes and those of any age with a qualifying disability and income.

10/18/2018 RestonNow article published by Fatimah Waseem
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved the redevelopment of Lake Anne Fellowship House, a 240-unit project that offers affordable housing for seniors.
County officials and the development team called the approval, granted on Tuesday (Oct. 16), a win for seniors seeking affordable housing in Reston. For years, community partners and Fellowship Square Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and maintains the current buildings, have contemplated ways to replace the aging buildings with a new facility.
All affordable units, currently distributed between two aging buildings built in the 1970s, will be replaced with a new 240-unit building along North Shore Drive near the intersection with Village Road. The eight-story apartment building is 200,000 square feet and includes a garage. The plan also adds 36 market-rate townhouses to the west side of the property that will help finance the construction of senior housing.
Lake Anne’s current tenants will stay in their apartment during the two-year construction of the new building. After residents move, the old buildings will be torn down and converted into townhouses.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Draft RCA Board of Directors Meeting - Agenda

September 24, 2018
7:30 - 8:45 pm                                                     
National Realty/Hartke Building
11890 Sunrise Valley Dr, Reston, VA


ITEM                                                   TOPIC                                          PRESENTER

1.                                  ADOPT AGENDA                                                 Board

2.                                  APPROVE PREVIOUS MINUTES                       Board

3.                                  APPROVE TREASURERS REPORT                   Leighton

4.                                   ELECTION OF OFFICERS                                  Board

5.                                   RESCUE RESTON/HIDDEN CREEK       Hartke/Mulston
    
6.                                   LIBRARY BOND                                                Endsley

7.                                   LANE STRIPING                                               Hays  
  
8.                                    2019 ELECTIONS                                               Board

9.                                OPEDS and OTHER                                     Hays

10.                              OTHER BUSINESS                                     Board


11.                               ADJOURN