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Development Could Make School Crowding Worse

A FCPS report shows that South Lakes High School is already overcrowded. What will happen if thousands more people move into housing here?

For many months, Rescue Reston has been trying to broaden the discussion of why the redevelopment of Reston National Golf Course into housing is a very dangerous idea to the entire community of Reston.

Thank you, Patch, for today’s article addressing the existing overenrollment in South Lakes High School. Thank you for introducing Rescue Reston’s January message - overcrowded schools. Development of open space will negatively impact education.

Reston, this crisis involves more than a real estate issue for those surrounding the Reston National Golf Course.

While the potential elimination of the golf course and redevelopment will directly affect more than 1,000 homeowners, a much bigger issue faces Reston. If and when there is development of the open space, you can bet you last dollar that Hidden Creek Golf Course in north Reston will fall in the same manner.

Reston National is not merely a crack in the dam; it is a gaping hole - a massive breach.

Hidden Creek Golf Course is a much different - and many say easier - open space to redevelop than Reston National. Hidden Creek has fewer residential homes contiguous to the course. Much of the current housing units are rental apartments that may produce less resistance and objection.

Reston National has but a few hundred yards of commercial border. Hidden Creek currently shares an expansive border with existing commercial real estate development and will be a very short walk to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, which opens in 2013.

Everyone’s Issue

It is reasonable for young families to focus on the immediate pressures of today. We have all been there; the early stages of establishing careers, the rush to get the kids to sports, piano or dance lessons. But please consider that young families moved to Reston for a specific lifestyle that includes education as well as a balance in open space and density.

Reston was named by Money magazine as one of of the top 10 places to live in the nation for that very reason and not because we stuff anything that will make anyone a buck anywhere we can!

That educational asset and balance are under attack. That battle is simply between lifestyle and profit. Community planning by definition involves the community.

We say NO!

These redevelopment plans could bring 2,500 to 3,000 people to fill the homes that are then constructed in the South Lakes pyramid and conceivably a larger amount (3,000+) in the Lake Anne area.

Lake Anne development will be in addition to a recent sale of apartment units on North Shore Drive (with a higher density projection) and the current redevelopment of more apartments on Temporary Road.

On Jan. 30, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals will hear the appeal from Reston National Golf Management (a subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Life) to begin the destruction of what took Reston 60 years to create.

Please join Rescue Reston and help to prevent that from happening. Go to RescueReston.org to discover the many ways you can help.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Michael January 02, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Redistricting could change this, but North Shore Drive and the entire Lake Anne area are currently at South Lakes, not at Herndon HS. Boundary map at http://www.fcps.edu/images/boundarymaps/southlakeshs.pdf So adding trailers at Herndon HS is not necessarily in the cards just yet. There are few more steps to take before that would actually happen.
Java Master January 02, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Actually, to redevelop Hidden Creek makes emmient sense by virtue of its location and the potential for less serious impact upon existing residential development. Commercial and residential ensities are already certain to rise north of the Toll Road/Sunset area. And unless Hidden Creek could substantially improve its operations and financial future, any number of new development proposals would suggest themselves for such a large parcel, that would not precude the preservation of some open space/recreational space alongside any new proposed building activity.
Java Master January 02, 2013 at 08:50 PM
...but what are we really saying here? Don't build in my backyard, go over to that other guy's golf course instead?
Eve Thompson January 03, 2013 at 02:02 AM
I think it's important to remember that the majority of the redevelopment planned in the Lake Anne area isn't typically the type that would house families with students. High rise apartments or condos are generally occupied by a different demographic, so I wouldn't expect the development in that area to contribute to over crowding at South Lakes HS.
Laura Ramon January 03, 2013 at 02:13 AM
I wish we could have these discussions on development without the intense spin. This time I agree with Java Master- bottom line, this post seems to say most clearly: "put it on the other guys golf course." I think it's important to remember that we--RA doesn't own either golf course, if Restonites want to demand that it remains forever a certain way shouldn't we buy it from the current owners? Also- I think you should clarify your "we" by which I assume you mean the Rescue Reston organization? Because you aren't speaking for me. I'm not a fan of tearing up the golf course but unless you can do a little more reasonable job of imparting information I think I'll pass on joining the club.
John Pinkman January 03, 2013 at 03:04 AM
It is hard for me to understand how you could have interpreted my post to believe that I advocate developing Hidden Creek. But let me be clear. I don’t. The sole purpose of that paragraph was to raise the specific possibility of both courses turning into medium to high density housing. Some have suggested that will never happen, perhaps. Please consider this. All Reston Community organizations except the Chamber of Commerce opposed the construction of tallest building in Reston, a 23 story building on Reston Parkway. The building now will be built despite the community opposition. The toll road promised that the toll road would never exceed $.25 per exit. What did you pay today? As far as school districting, that can and has changed many, many times. As far as traffic increases, we are assured it will be no problem. People will walk again. I think we have had enough of development spin. If you support massive development of open space in this town you have the right to stand up and say so. If you believe that your property and life style will not be affected, good luck with that. Rescue Reston Does not believe it is the community’s best interest. Rescue Reston is asking people to become active and involved. Over crowded schools is merely one of the many problems that redevelopment of open space will deliver.
Laura Ramon January 03, 2013 at 03:38 AM
As was pointed out by the prior poster - the proposed development in most of Reston is unlikely to create additional demand on SLHS. What I'm suggesting is that this and your other blog posts comes across as over the top and NIMBY sounding, neither of which do your cause any good. This sounds a bit chicken little.
Michael January 03, 2013 at 04:16 AM
Here's where you sound over the top: "If you support massive development of open space in this town you have the right to stand up and say so. If you believe that your property and life style will not be affected, good luck with that." Are you suggesting that anyone who supports development must necessarily believe that there will be no affect on their property and/or lifestyle? Because your rhetoric certainly makes it sound that way. Yet some of us have concluded that although there will be a change, the change is worth it. You seem to discount that possibility at every turn. Even the very name of your organization suggests that anything other than your policies is automatically wrong - because that's pretty much the common definition of "rescue:" to free from danger or evil. For the record, I'm not in favor of paving over both golf courses - but having two of them seems a bit excessive, especially given their struggle to remain viable business enterprises. Losing one of them would NOT be the end of the world. Added development means added traffic, yes. But it also means added services, added retailers, and added revenue. I suggest the REAL danger here is the stagnation proposed by those who want to freeze Reston in a time warp. Look at any town that refuses to grow - they ultimately fail.
John Pinkman January 03, 2013 at 04:52 AM
The comments that opposing the addition of 1200 homes on the Reston National Course alone, with 2500 to 3000 more people to school district that in 2015 will be over enrolled by 600 students by current growth is in one comment, an attemp to place Reston in a time warp and another says its a bit chicken little. Well it's hard to argue with that logic.
Laura Ramon January 03, 2013 at 11:29 AM
Again Mr Pinkman, you don't do your cause any good by now adding rudeness. I think the point is that if your only option is polarization then there's no room for discussion. Your videos are laced with semi-accurate data and full of fear mongering. It's insulting to your audience, as if without the kinda-lies and fear we might make the wrong choice. No one wants to see open space get paved over, no one wants indoor tennis in their backyard, no one wants to lose their golf course views. Yeah- we get it.
DGeorge January 03, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Hmmm. Wonder where Laura is coming from? Strange.
Richard Holmquist January 03, 2013 at 06:10 PM
What makes you think either golf course is in danger of failure? Reston National seems to be thriving as a golf course. I think their owner, Northwestern Mutal Life, just wants to cash out with a big land deal at the expense of Reston. Do we really need or desire more services and retailers in Reston when they come at the cost of decreased green space, traffic gridlock and overcrowded schools? There's an apparent majority in Reston who came here for the wonderful qualities that our community already has, not the promised amentities and urban landscape of the future.
Richard Holmquist January 03, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Eve, the development in the Lake Anne area will certainly add to the school problem. There are a sizeable number of student in the current apartments around North Shore Drive. Many are my son's classmates at Forest Edge. Of the hundreds of new apartments/condos planned, many will include children. The added housing inventory will benefit your real estate practice and Lake Anne businesses, but it will also add to the strain on schools and traffic. There's typically a mile-long back-up during the morning rush hour on Wiehle. What can we expect when these developments are complete? Turn Wiehle into a highway? Straighten and flatten it with a big Tall Oaks bridge from Fairway Drive south? These are the things that are destined to come with the future that the developers are creating. I support concentrated new development near the metro stations, but it should be restricted within our existing neighborhoods.
Eve Thompson January 03, 2013 at 08:05 PM
Hi Richard, the 2010 census says that 29.6 percent of all Reston households have children under 18. Of those 46% are in single parent or non-family households--the demographic most likely to live in multifamily apartment type housing. Based on 3000 additional units that comes to approximately 415 children spread across 12 grades. I don't know if that is significant or not, my point was that it's not the same as 3000 single family homes which most certainly would create a huge influx of children into our area's schools. Regarding the benefits of development to me personally, let me say with the utmost respect that if Reston never built another dwelling my business would still be just fine. Reston traded over $480 million in real estate this past year, more than enough for me and my Reston agent colleagues. We have the same concerns our quality of life, beauty of our neighborhoods, protection of open space, and traffic as the rest of our fellow Restonites, it wouldn't be fair to infer otherwise.
Laura Ramon January 03, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Laura is wondering why it's so hard to have a discussion about development without people immediately going to extremist rhetoric. The problem is this: It allows the other side- in this case the developers or property owners to dismiss us because we're running around partially informed stating things as fact when we don't know. I think we do ourselves a huge disservice. Do we have any specific information about the golf course owners intentions beyond their desire to change the property's designation? Regarding ownership my understanding is that the Northwestern connection is pretty distant, but, hey why worry about details. What do they want to do with the property? Is there a developer? Is there a plan? If they only want the money is there some other alternative? Could we buy the golf course? Would the rest of Reston want to purchase the course to insure that it remains open space? These are the questions that could get asked in a discussion, but instead of discussion we have accusations and demonizing. It's just very tiring and so unproductive. This blog post starts off by thanking Karen Goff for pointing out the serious over crowding that's going to occur from development-(Her post doesn't say that; it says that redistricting screwed our schools up), and closes with the destruction of Reston. What? Really? Agh-- Sigh- no discussion.
Karen Goff January 03, 2013 at 08:36 PM
To add to this, while we don't know prices of any of this yet - most of the new construction is sure to be pricey. I would imagine a swanky $2500+/month two-bedroom apartment is not where people are going to move with a whole family, especially with teenagers. Couldn't that price can get you a rental on a whole house or even a monthly mortgage payment? I think there are school age children in the affordable housing developments in Reston, but if those go away in order to make way for development, I would bet so would most of the families.
Richard Holmquist January 03, 2013 at 08:43 PM
I would be in big trouble in my family to slight the realestate profession. My point is that there may be positives and negatives to this development, but I see the negatives far outweighing the positives. Too many development decisions, like the tower on Reston Pkwy, are getting plowed through over the unified opposition of Reston's residents, with little thought to the consequences to our quality of life. 3000 new single family dwellings would be disastrous, but I don't see 3000 new apartments in my neighborhood as a terribly good alternative. I support some modest re-development in the Lake Anne area or significant growth adjacent to Metro stops, but 3,000 new units is too many for North Shore Dr to absorb.
Eve Thompson January 03, 2013 at 08:59 PM
I don't disagree Richard, just pushing on the assertion about the school angle, traffic is a whole other knotty ball of trouble.
Karen Goff January 03, 2013 at 09:05 PM
One more thing - the 3,000 more people on the golf course is purely Mr. Pinkman's speculation. For the record, Reston Patch has not seen any developer's plans that show exactly what is planned for the golf course. It could be 12 homes, it could be 1000 condo units. We just don't know (and neither does anyone else as far as I know). At Lake Anne, the only facts for right now are 362 units at Parc Reston (replacing 82 units) and a proposed 804 units in several multifamily buildings and 131 townhouses at Fairway.
DGeorge January 03, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Yes, I think the developers are surprised to hear that there is opposition to paving the golf course. Considering how civic minded they are and how concerned about overdevelopment they are, they will probably just go away as they have in the past. I think the first rude comment in this discussion was the "Chicken little" remark.
Catherine Baum January 03, 2013 at 11:05 PM
I have read the legal paperwork submitted by Northwest's attorney stating why they believe they have a right to develop without a change to the master plan. Is there anything other than the zoning administrator's letter which says they must go thru a change which supports Rescue Reston's "they should not ever develop"?
Kathy January 04, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Here is the link to sign the petition to keep the zoning as it is, to keep the golf course as open space. If you haven't signed it, please do. It's called supporting your neighbors and your community. http://www.change.org/petitions/fairfax-county-board-of-zoning-appeals-virginia-stop-the-proposed-development-of-reston-national-golf-course-in-reston-va-3 Kathy Kaplan
Michael January 04, 2013 at 04:11 AM
I would like to reiterate, because you obviously didn't get my point - I'm not actually in favor of any particular redevelopment plan. It's impossible to be in favor because at the present time no firm plan actually exists. And all of your rhetoric points exactly towards a time warp. People who moved here years ago were indeed buying into a particular vision of the community. But if they expected it to remain the same forever, well, nothing does. All living things must eventually grow, or wither. I don't think Reston is ready to wither, so change and growth must come in some way. If it's not 1200 homes on Reston National it will be something else, and we can rest assured that no matter how big or how small, some people will ALWAYS be against change. They want to preserve their image in aspic, and not give newer generations a chance to pursue their own vision for the community.
Michael January 04, 2013 at 04:14 AM
So anyone who doesn't sign must be demonized? There's the rhetoric again: the only way to "support your community" is to do what we tell you, and don't think of any other ideas? "Sign our petition or be known forever as someone who doesn't support your community!" You could have just asked people to sign it, and not gone for the emotional blackmail.
Richard Holmquist January 04, 2013 at 05:02 AM
Michael, do you at least concede that it's fair for Reston's residents to expect Reston to grow based on its founding principles? I think John has correctly identified how several principles will be violated with this end-around by the golf course. Planned development, bands of green space and diverse recreational opportunities are a few that come to mind. Some may expect everything to stay the same, but I think most of us would be satisfied with slow, steady, well-planned growth. That's what has always proven the most effective in the long-term, not boom & bust growth based on developers cramming through projects that win them a fast buck.
Richard Holmquist January 04, 2013 at 05:20 AM
In the spring you reported on a proposal for a 1330 unit re-development of the Crescent Apartments. It didn't go through, but that set the bar for what I expect the county will seek in the coming years for that property.
DGeorge January 04, 2013 at 11:01 AM
It is supporting your community and neighbors by signing the petition. You have a problem with that Michael? Or would you rather just sign it if no-one said you were supporting your community. Sounds like you would eat your carrots only if no-one told you to. I had a six year old that went through that faze.
Karen Goff January 04, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Richard - yes, there are MANY proposals out there and of course some will approved down the line. I am just stating here what is either under construction or has been approved. The line between facts as I report them and rumors batted around in the comments has gotten very fuzzy, so I am just reposting the numbers to remind people.

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