Groups representing Reston citizens said they were disappointed by Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins' support of the 23-story tower planned for Reston Parkway.
RTC Partnerships' proposal for the 330-foot tall building, which will replace the five-story "Reston Times" office building at 1760 Reston Parkway, was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
"This is very much about how Reston will move forward in growth," Hudgins said before the Supervisors' vote. "This building will stand an example of what world class design is called for in principles of reston. This [will help] bring Transit-Oriented Development closer to what the Master Plan calls for."
However, Terry Maynard of advocacy group Reston2020 called Hudgins' vote "disheartening" and called into question what purpose the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force plays in light of this decision.
"As a member of the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force, Supervisor Hudgins' willingness to vote for the proposal was particularly disheartening," he said. "Her disregard for the Task Force's efforts to apply transit-oriented development (TOD) principles and County TOD policy to Town Center's future development was unfortunate at best. In voting for the proposal, she also ignored the opposition to the proposal from her own staff, the united voices of Reston's three key civic groups (ARCH, RA, and RCA), and the County planning and zoning staff.
"Her decision to vote for the development undercuts the legitimacy of the her own Task Force and the credibility of County planning and zoning policies, endangering the well-planned future development of Reston," he added.
Reston2020 is among several groups that have been against the development of the tower since it was first proposed in 2010. Among the criticisms: too tall (125 feet taller than any other existing or planned building in Reston) and too far (over a half mile) from the future Reston Parkway Metro station.
Colin Mills, president of the Reston Citizens Association, says it is "unfortunate that Supervisor Hudgins has apparently chosen to ignore the recommendations of the Master Plan Task Force she commissioned."
"Despite the claims of the property owners and their representatives, we do not believe this proposal to be in keeping with transit-oriented development," said Mills. "We believe the building will worsen the traffic on our streets, and it may inhibit the development of office buildings closer to the Metro station, where they should be.
Mills pointed out that the approval was part of a unique development situation. That parcel of land was given no height or density restrictions when it was given Planned Residential Community designation in 1978.
"Therefore, the value of this decision as precedent for future development should be limited," he said.
Ken Knueven, president of Reston Association, says the decision reinforces the need for the citizens to unite and speak with a stronger voice.
"To that end, I think this is being clearly demonstrated by RA, RCA, ARCH, and other organizations, partnering and collaborating together," he said. "Going forward, I believe the county will see a powerful collective - properly organized, behaving proactively rather than being reactive."
Knueven also noted the unique zoning situation for that location.
"I don't anticipate this will open the floodgates for like buildings everywhere in Reston," he said. "But we have learned an important lesson; it's important to get well in front of these matters."