Reston Residents Outline Fairway Flaws To County Planning Commission
Staff report supports it, but residents who spoke at public hearing generally do not.
The Fairfax County planning commission will decide July 20 whether to approve developer JBG's latest proposal for redevelopment of Reston's Fairway Apartments.
On Thursday night, the planning commission reviewed a staff report recommending approval for JBG's proposal. A staff report last July - when the redevelopment was to be 951 high-rise units - did not recommend moving forward.
But JBG has made many modifications since then lowering densities with a campus that include 804 units in several five-story buildings, 131 townhouses and 38 percent open space.
"The changes made to the plan, along with the proposed development conditions result in a development which is now in character and scale to the surrounding development," the report read. It also asked for some small modifications.
The report said even though the density will be higher than the current medium-density neighborhood, the current application now conforms to the comprehensive plan guidelines and zoning ordinances.
But that doesn't mean it pleases the neighbors. Eight Reston residents stayed at Thursday's public hearing past midnight to gave their thoughts to the planning commission.
Most support the idea of redevelopment and agree the aging Fairway development needs something, but they are not sure the latest proposal is it.
"We welcome the arrival of rail in 2013 and the opportunity to develop a true Transit Oriented Development," said Diane Blust, president of the Fairfax Coalition for Smarter Growth. "Fairway is not a TOD development. This runs counter to the comprehensive plan. It will increase traffic, disrupt a stable neighborhood and create a loss of relatively affordable housing."
Tammi Petrine, co-chair of the Reston Citizen Association's Reston2020 group, also decried the reduction in affordable housing.
"Reston values its diversity," she said. "The loss of 348 affordable units would be devastating."
She urged JBG to rethink the development as one of the elderly and handicapped, as there "is a huge need for that."
The commission also heard from Barbara Byron, chair of the Reston Association's Design Review Board.
She outlined all the concerns the DRB has with the design of the plan. Ultimately, the DRB has final say in the future of the project, even if it is approved by the county planning commission and the board of supervisors.
"We are universally opposed to components of design that do not respond well to surrounding buildings," said Byron.
Among the DRB's concerns: 50-foot townhouse heights; flat townhouse facades; little greenspace; five-story buildings that are really seven-stories in order to accommodate underground parking; the "Texas Donut" style that wraps a building around parking; and the increased density.
RCA president Marion Stillson says Fairway is extremely important because it will set a precedent for about two dozen other neighborhoods that may next be in line for redevelopment.
"Why is Fairway so dangerous?" she said. "Because it breaks the rules at a time and in a manner that could spoil Reston. Fairway is the first residential neighborhood in Reston to seek development. If it gets the greenlight for this, what will stop the others?
"This proposal is dense in scale, urban in design and does not belong next to a golf course," she said. "It is unacceptable and violates Reston's values. Please reject it."