A New Deal For Reston National Golf Course?

Reston2020 reports that Fairfax County and golf course owners may be working on plan for housing and a big central park.

Are Fairfax County and RN Golf Management close to making a deal to bring residential housing - along with a big park - to Reston National Golf Course?

Reston Citizens Association group Reston2020 says they may be.

Reston2020 reports on its blog that a secret deal is in the works that will set aside a substantial portion of the golf course for a large Reston central park.  

Reston2020 sources say an option is being explored to have the developer proffer land for a park in return for being granted rental unit density.  

"Another source indicates that [Northwestern Mutual, RN Golf Management's parent company] is testing the market among several major area developers to see if the golf course can be sold for commercial development purposes.  From these eyes, that sounds like NM or a commercial developer could develop more than 7,900 units—the current reported zoning limit—on whatever land is still left to “incentivize” a deal with the County," the 2020 blog says.

Reston2020 admits that there has been no corroboration from Reston Association, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, RN Golf Management, Rescue Reston or any other parties in the know about this issue.

But it is food for thought in an ongoing saga.

In Spring of 2012, RN Golf Management asked Fairfax County if the golf course could be zoned residential. The county said it is zoned as open space, and any changes to that would require amending the county master plan.

RN Golf Management then filed an appeal with the county Board of Zoning Appeals. It has twice been postponed, and now has a hearing date of May 22.

To see all of Reston Patch's Reston National Golf Course Rezoning stories, click here.

To read Reston2020's entire piece on the the latest twist, click here.

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Michael February 13, 2013 at 01:05 AM
But it's not tough at all to golf on a 9-hole executive course, and there is demand for such a thing.
Kathi Robinson February 13, 2013 at 02:20 AM
How nice to have an additional 8,000+++ people walking to the Metro every morning. And I'm sure they will all have bikes and no cars. I don't golf; I don't want to golf. But I love driving down Sunrise Valley Drive and Soapstone, and seeing our beautiful golf course and the trees and homes beyond peeking through. It continually reminds me why Reston is the #1 Planned community in the US. Our representatives and the developers are slowly but surely chipping away at those features that make our community a vey special place to live, work and play.
David Barry February 13, 2013 at 04:04 AM
That is amazing. I wish I could get my assessment reduced by two-thirds with no real reduction in value. Was there a rule change for golf courses or was that some sort of special favor?
David Barry February 13, 2013 at 04:12 AM
I'm sure there were and will be chances for "input," but I don't recall any reporting done on the meetings where these proposals were actually hammered out. Maybe nobody showed up, I don't know. I see that some people are already suggesting more and more stuff to add to it.
DGeorge February 13, 2013 at 11:05 AM
It sounds like we are aggressively responding with apathy. Just look around and see what has happened to Reston. It is the the Wildebeest carcass that the lions continue to return to feed. Does not a community have a soul? The little men in gray suits with their strip malls and the professional politicians obsequiously begging for campaign funds will be our undoing. It may already be too late. As said in the movie,Big Night," It is NEVER enough, it is only Not enough."
BBurns February 13, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Regarding a remark made above about the county supervisors standing firm? The county superivsors (plural) will defer to our county supervisor (singular). And Hudgins's actions are pro-development. She has not come out against developing the golf course - even at the rally to save the golf course/green space. She came out for "the process."
Laura Ramon February 13, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Two things: 1 you couldn't have 8000+ residents and a "central park" so I'm going to assume that the density would be much, much less-- I know that throwing around numbers like 8000+ new residents is more fun but not very realistic-- What would be so bad about a Central Park? It's a huge site 155 acres of fertilized wasteland, I'd take a more natural or at least varied, more "green" environment any day in exchange for a few townhouses or condos.
BBurns February 13, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Laura, Reston National is actually certified as a cooperative sanctuary by Audubon. There's lots of wildlife, some extremely rare meadow habitat, fox dens, etc. http://www.restonnationalgc.com/Reston-Virginia-The-Course.html
Laura Ramon February 13, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Dave- none of it is secret, you're just not paying attention.
DGeorge February 13, 2013 at 01:52 PM
I should think that those attending "Secret" meetings should be ferreted out and asked to explain their actions. Is Hudgins one of the attendees? If so why do we re-elect her? Who should she be representing, us or the developers?
Kate Peterson February 13, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Audubon Society aside, I think I have to agree with Laura- it's unlikely that the golf course doesn't have negative impact on the environment, the amount of water required to keep it green, the fertilizer none of these are good. I was speaking with a friend just yesterday and she was wondering aloud-- what if they wanted to do something along the line of Meadowlark Gardens? Would that be worth a swap for some additional housing? I for one would be ok with swapping some acres for development in exchange for something that wonderful. The golf course is open but it's only accessible to non-golfers in off hours, a park could be used by all of Reston, all the time. What would be so wrong about that?
Connie Hartke February 13, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Please everyone, read the article at http://reston2020.blogspot.com/2013/02/rumors-of-golf-parks-and-housing.html. We can all imagine wonderful park-like scenarios, but what if our vision is different from what the developers and others-behind-closed-doors imagine? Let's focus on getting these discussions out in the day light, please!
Stuart Rakoff February 13, 2013 at 02:42 PM
In addition to needed open space, some of the current golf course property could be used for needed playing fields - soccer, baseball etc - especially if some of the Baron Cameron spaces is to be used for new indoor facility. The profits from selling off some of the golf course land closest to Metro would probably pay for these improvements, and enable much more productive multiple uses of that green open space to serve the community.
David Burns February 13, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Northwestern Mutual, which ultimately owns the golf course, claims that they have the right to develop it as residential property, a claim that is unsupported by the zoning history of the land and is being opposed vigorously by RA and Rescue Reston. This is the central issue before the BZA. The County Department of Planning and Zoning, RA and Rescue Reston is that the golf course land is restricted to use as open space, such as a golf course or park. Any residential or commercial development of the land would require an amendment to the County Comprehensive Plan, which would have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Laura Ramon February 13, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Stuart- I think that's a great idea and YES, there are lots of more productive and inclusive uses for that open space. I think we should at least be willing to CONSIDER what those might be--instead we get lead into a "Rescue Reston" dug-in, my-way or no-way mentality that could mean that we lose out on something that's better!
BBurns February 13, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Laura: <<I think we should at least be willing to CONSIDER what those might be--instead we get lead into a "Rescue Reston" dug-in, my-way or no-way mentality that could mean that we lose out on something that's better!">> But we aren't in a position to *consider* anything or negotiate. It's not as if Northwest and developers are going to invite citizens to the table and then say, "Well, you were so strident we're going to build 100 gabilion townhouses, but if you had been nicer we would have built you a park and only 60 townhouses." Developers/boards/etc. often only give up on all or part of what they want to do if citizen objection is strong, and failing that, you go to court. Just my take.
Connie Hartke February 13, 2013 at 06:49 PM
My experience with Rescue Reston is not “dug in.” Their stand is against turning any of the existing open space into residential or commercial development. This does not preclude parks. Please READ the petition language: “I implore the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (hereafter “BZA”) to stop the proposed development . . . The development of RNGC would be detrimental to the very thing that makes Reston special—a beautiful, thriving and diverse community achieved through well-balanced planning that matches available space and infrastructure with residents. Further development of this open space would weaken our current infrastructure, overburden the existing roads, and add additional students to Reston schools already operating at capacity.” Full text of the petition at http://bit.ly/RescueReston. Nothing is said in the petition that it MUST remain a golf course, just open space of some sort. The Reston2020 blog says that Northwest Mutual et al asked for “by right” zoning authority to build 7,900 dwelling units. The petition is asking the BZA to stand by the Planning & Zoning Commissioner’s decision that this “by right” does not exist. Let’s not lose sight of this!!
Ray Wedell February 13, 2013 at 07:50 PM
I love the endless assumptions that all builders have to do is build it and they will come. There is so much redidential development planned and under construction for Reston, almost all of it "high end" And high density. We are to assume all of it will be sold or rented with no problem? Anyone remember Linden Springs, that fiasco near Stratford House? It took five years and dump-it-at-any cost the last two of those for Kettler to sell out MidTown. What a shame if all this takes shape, destroys what makes Reston Reston, and the economics aren't there either.
Connie Hartke February 13, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Ray, I was just thinking this today. I drove down Association Drive and along that road that parallels the toll road up to Wiehle to see what's there - I'd never gone back there before. So many almost empty parking lots!! If this all gets built high on this side, wouldn't it be good to keep the view of the sky and some tree tops on the other side of Sunrise Valley?
Lilguy February 14, 2013 at 01:27 PM
RA's absence, even ignorance, of all this is astounding and disgraceful to both it and the County. They are suppose to protect our property values, our open space, our community. That's why we pay their silly fees which seem largely to be used to overpay bumbling bureaucrats. Where is RA when you really need it?????
Diane Lewis February 14, 2013 at 01:54 PM
As someone who loves wildlife and specifically moved to Reston for its natural settings, development of the course would destroy what I and many others came here for. This open space absorbs large amounts of the unusual rainfall we have been receiving. The trees take in large amounts of carbon pollutants, making our microclimate better. And where are the animals and birds to live if their homes are gone?
DGeorge February 14, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Yes, where is everybody? All I hear is crickets chirping. No one from RA., Rescue Reston, etc has anything to say about these secret meetings? Our hometown amateurs vs the out of town professional developers looks like a match between South Lakes HS and the Celtics, no contest.
BBurns February 14, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Diane, I couldn't agree more. Here's a video made by Connie Hartke about issues of runoff if the golf course was developed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mxV7w71J4c&sns=em Re Rescue Reston's supposed absense, both Connie Hartke and David Burns, who's on the Rescue Reston board, post on these Patch threads, including a few posts above this one. (David's my husband.) Rescue Reston is working on a number of fronts, and has retained a law firm who they're working with. RA has also retained a law firm.
Laura Ramon February 14, 2013 at 08:42 PM
I'm sorry but you can't really call a golf course a natural area- it is an open area but there's nothing natural about it- http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/golf042604.cfm I know the Audubon Society has blessed it for birds but come on-- how much water do you suppose it takes to keep the greens green in the heat of Summer? Golf courses and Cemeteries-- neither is defensible.
BBurns February 14, 2013 at 09:56 PM
For wildlife and the environment, ideally there would be woods and meadow, and no golf course, but what is there now is superior to development. (See the youtube video link in the post above yours.) Currently there are trees and fringe vegetation, and more importantly, somewhat rare "old field" or "old meadow" habitat. Bill Burton posted about it; if he's still reading maybe he can say more. Our yard is a certified National Wildlife Federation backyard habitat, and biologs are installed at the foot of the yard, as well as wood duck boxes. I recently submitted a suggestion that Reston allow man-made (as opposed to natural) "snags" for birds/wildlife instead of requiring that we fully cut down dead trees and grind stumps. An arborist recently tethered part of a tree trunk as a "basking platform" for turtles. So I'm not a golf course fanatic. But I don't want to lose what we have, some of which is very good for wildlife and Lake Audubon and Thoreau (run-off issues).
Diane Lewis February 14, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Totally agree with Beth Burns. My yard is also NWF certified, too. A daily pleasure is watching the bluebird family, the downy woodpeckers, the flickers, and the goldfinches, along with their less colorful songbird relatives, when they visit my heated birdbath and various feeders. Bluebirds, especially, prefer open spaces such as this golf course.
Diane Lewis February 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Yes, sounds like my backyard exactly, Beth. We couldn't keep the 2nd birdbath clean enough, so it's retired until the one up on the deck peters out. And we feed hot pepper seed to the blue lovelies. Tried dried mealworms, but they weren't a hit.
Kate Peterson February 15, 2013 at 12:53 AM
Yes- but what if you could have 125 acres of a Meadowlark Garden and some townhouses, it seems like that would be preferable to a golf course.
Karen Goff February 15, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Kate - I was just envisioning a Meadowlark Gardens-type place if the golf course were to become a park. Perhaps I can relocate Patch world headquarters to a gazebo there.
Diane Lewis February 16, 2013 at 12:29 AM
In summer, my yard hosts more butterflies than Meadowlark Gardens. It may be that my visits to the former were when the winged creatures were not in evidence, but we did have countless numbers of them last summer. It was so gratifying to know that we had provided them with a suitable habitat. Will miss that when the dozers start. Hope they will notify us when the tree fellings begin, also. Hate to watch as these beneficial friends fall to human greed.


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