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Golf Course Owners Ask For Zoning Specifics

Does inquiry mean Reston National might eventually be something other than open green space?

Are there plans for to be turned into something other than 166 acres of rolling greens, manicured turf and recreational space?

Maybe, but it will take some work to change the property's designation in Fairfax County and in Reston's Planned Residential Community (PRC).

Representatives for the investor-owners of Reston National will go before the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals on Oct. 24 to discuss the golf course's designation as major open space.

The appeal stems from an April inquiry, in which the owners asked the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning exactly what designation the South Reston property holds.

Is it residential? Open space? And what would need to be in place to offer it up for redevelopment?

"The owner is inquiring is to what is the current zoning of the property and what does that mean," said Mark Looney, the land use lawyer who wrote the letter of inquiry.

In a June response to Looney, an attorney in Reston office who is on the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force, the county said this:

* The property is zoned PRC and was approved under three rezoning applications in 1971.

* The Reston Master Plan is part of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan and the golf course is classified as open space. Any alternative development of the property that cannot be construed as open space, golf course or nature center would require an amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.

* Any redevelopment of the property to a use other than a golf course would require approval of a development plan amendment (DPA), as well as a PRC Plan approval.

* Even though a 1993 determination from county officals says that a commercial golf course is permitted in a PRC District otherwise zoned residential, it does not mean the golf course is considered a residential zone.

"No determination was made regarding whether conversion of the existing golf course to residential uses would be permitted on the property," Cathy Belgin, senior assistant to the Fairfax County zoning administrator, wrote in the June letter.

"In summary, it is clear based on previous approvals that redevelopment of the property from a golf course to residential uses would first require an amendment to the Reston Master Plan, which is part of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, as well as obtaining both a DPA approval and PRC plan approval from the Board of Supervisors," Belgin wrote.

President Ken Knueven says he only recently heard about the inquiry, but the Board of Directors will look into the matter.

"Any time we look at any redevelopment, we are also going to adhere to what we consider essiential Reston and protecting green space," he said.

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The Analyst August 11, 2012 at 06:58 PM
If readers believe that Tysons Corner is a mess, wait until the developers get done with Reston. People should really stop paying theiir RA assessments. The RA is really nothing more than a marketing wing for the development machine that we pay several hundred (probably soon to be over a thousand) to finance - we're financing our own ruination. What could the RA and developers do if we simply stopped paying the assessment? Are they going to take 50,000 people to jail? And of course you can count on the county and our "representatives" to side with the developers - they've got a lot of cash.
Terry Maynard August 11, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Why not use the golf course to meet Reston's park and recreation needs as outlined by the committee advising the Reston Task Force? See http://www.reston2020.blogspot.com/2012/08/golf-course-owners-ask-for-zoning.html
John Farrell August 11, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Because the investors spent millions buying the place and demand a windfall for their investment!
Kathy August 11, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Mr. Farrell, Fairfax County planner Heidi Merkel stated at a task force meeting last fall that, "We need to decide how to redevelop the golf courses." This has been on the table for a long time. That table has been behind closed doors, but it can't remain behind closed doors if a comprehensive plan amendment is required for the rezoning. What the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force is working on is a comprehensive plan amendment for Reston. I suppose a rezoning for the golf courses could be folded into that effort. And since developers hold a voting majority on the task force by the hand of Supervisor Hudgins, they have the ability to achieve that. Both of the golf courses are part of Reston's minimum required open space. When Bob Simon wanted to cluster dwellings, the open spaces were required by Fairfax County to be set aside to counterbalance the increased density of his PRC plan. I suggested last fall that RA should buy Reston National rather than let the open space be destroyed. I don't think the intention is to develop only the golf course, I think the developers and Fairfax County want to redevelop the entire section of Reston including the surrounding clusters. Rezoning all of Reston to high density would allow that. Heidi Merkel made comments that such a thing was being considered. People need to wake up to the changes Fairfax County wants here. Kathy Kaplan
Robin LH August 11, 2012 at 09:20 PM
It appears that the meeting on October 24 is open to the public, and that the Board of Zoning Appeals publishes its agenda for meetings 20 days prior. You can subscribe to get that agenda via email at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/email/lists/. Would hate to lose my beautiful view of nature and see a row of townhouses behind my home.
John Farrell August 11, 2012 at 10:26 PM
This inquiry was made in April. How is it that RA only heard about it in August? Contacting RA Board members I'm told by one, they "need more background and history" before they can comment. If an RA Board member doesn't immediately see the loss of the largest open space in South Reston as an existential threat to Reston, how can they claim to be qualified to be on the RA Board, especially as an At large member? How can Ms. Hudgins allow Mr. Looney to continue to serve on the Task Force when he demonstrates a fundamental contempt for Reston by submitting this inquiry? Every homeowner whose lot backs onto the golf course had better attend the 10/24 BZA hearing before your lot values are destroyed. Where is the RA statement that it will defend the integrity of the Reston Plan and the Covenants?
BBurns August 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM
The county, including Hudgins, salivate over development. You think the developers on the Task Force don't support Hudgins' campaigns? The Reston board, RA and citizens can fight it all they want, but Reston doesn't have much clout. But we need to fight this anyway - now and then there's a win for open space, wildlife, the people who live here.
Chipperson August 12, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Develop it. This is a poor quality open space after all. How many thousands and thousands of pounds of NPK have been dumped over the years. Fairfax ecology won't miss a few golf courses. FWIW i work in and have a degree in an environmental field relating to development....
Kathy August 12, 2012 at 01:23 PM
By my count there are ten clusters that front Reston National Golf Course. They need to get themselves organized with the single family homeowners who also own property on the golf course and hire an attorney. Now. The owner of the golf course has hired the best land use attorney in these parts, Mark Looney. He's brilliant and enormously creative, but even an average attorney can block development proposals and keep things tied up in court for years. Time is money for developers and confronted by delays they will usually move on to other projects. There is a wonderful section in Dwight Merriam's book, The Complete Guide to Zoning, which deals with protecting your property rights from developers. It was suggested reading for the Land Use College (remember that?). Anyway Merriam, a land use attorney, has written extensively on the Supreme Court's Kelo vs New London decision on eminent domain. You folks need to do this as soon as possible. It may be possible to block the comprehensive plan amendment early on. There may be multiple legal strategies that would work here. I'm not an attorney, but I know when it's time to hire one. The golf courses are amenities that belong to everyone who lives in Reston. Reston Association needs to step up and represent the people who live here. But nobody should wait on Reston Association. They move at glacial speed and a lot of RA board members want to see Reston turned into Manhattan. Kathy Kaplan
BBurns August 12, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I wonder how many people in the surrounding clusters read Patch? (That's not to knock Patch - or the people who live there - at all. It's just that Patch may not yet be that well known yet for providing prompt local coverage.) What's the best way to get word out to them, if there aren't folks reading this who tend toward activism? And Kathy, do you really think the RA board is consistently pro-development?
Tammi Petrine August 12, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Anyone want to guess which side of the equation Frank de la Fe would be on?
The BSD Guy August 12, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Hudgins is a forerunner for a new branch of the Democratic Party: "Democrats by and for the One Percenters." She's actually proving to be much, much worse than Bob Dix ever was.
The BSD Guy August 12, 2012 at 06:53 PM
The surrounding clusters and homes (especially the homes if they're not in an HOA) probably really need to be worried about eminent domain seizure. If good 'ol Hudgins could steal the homeowners homes and give them to developers, the developers profits will certainly be much, much higher. Developers could then sell them at optimized prices to investors, leave town with the cash, and the investors will lose their shirts when they don't get sold, rented, leased .... You know....they sit there empty or marginally occupied for 10-20 years, like so many other buildings in the county. Is a taxpayer allowed to see Hudgins financial records?
Kathy August 13, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Beth-- If you know someone who lives near Reston National, pick up the telephone and call them. Email them with a link to this article. A call to the Washington Post might get them interested enough to run an article. Write letters to the editor of the Connection and the Fairfax Times. Alerting homeowners that their property is about to be impacted should be the responsibility of Reston Association, don't you think? RA never bothered to say boo to the folks at Polo Fields across the street from Herndon Metro Station. They were very surprised to learn that the county planned 13 million sq feet of development across the street. Cheryl Beamer was their RA Board Director. Did she call them? Nope. I called them. We could also leaflet the neighborhoods around the golf course. Call their cluster board members. Post links to this article to your facebook and twitter accounts. Do those two things right now. Cathy Hudgins wants high-rises on our open space. Send her an email. Tell her what you think. Is there any will left in Reston? Stay tuned. Kathy Kaplan
BBurns August 14, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Kathy, my husband or I will call the Wash Post - I hope others do as well. The BODs of the clusters should be contacted, as well as the BOD of RA (different from paid staff)l. I'll shoot the South Lakes director an email with a link to this page. The Save Brown's Chapel group and the Hunter Mill Defense League seem like successful models for organization, though every situation is different. Have to start somewhere.
John Pinkman August 14, 2012 at 05:13 PM
To begin with there is a lack of courage when people comment on an issue and fail to identify themselves by name. We have lived on the course for 20+ years. Forgetting about the devastating blow to our lifetime investment, if government officials fail to honor this promise to us, it subsequently changes the entire concept and faith in Reston; for which we moved here 35 years ago. We have endured the broken promises like -the "25 cent toll" and then free once the road is paid off. If this rezoning passes we not have left Reston - Reston left us.
Alexander Filipour August 14, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I think the golf course should remain in place. If that land is used to build more houses it will reduce the value of housing in Reston simply because more will be available. Also it will change the look and feel of all the homes situated around it. Reston was designed to be a family friendly, green town and we should keep it that way. If we can maintain the unique feel of Reston AND get metro access it makes our town more valuable to live in. Lets keep Reston the way Robert E. Simmon intended it to be!
Alexander Filipour August 14, 2012 at 06:30 PM
If we let big money decide what direction Reston goes we wil be making a huge mistake. Reston was designed to be the way it is now and no changes other then knocking down old homes to build newer ones should be allowed by Restonians. How do developers control the vote? Thats not right!
Skip Endale August 14, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Its nice to fly into IAD Dulles Airport especially if you're coming in from the north - the flight will usually take you into the Manassas area but not before flying over Reston. You will see the Lake Anne Plaza, the golf courses as well as a lot of green space along the way. Its also nice to know that this is what makes Reston different from most other communities in this area. With increased density to be expected in some places around town it would be helpful if we can keep some spots in our community green. LIVE WORK PLAY
BBurns August 15, 2012 at 02:46 PM
This could happen very quickly. This is not just about Reston National. It's about developers and the county wanting to shred Reston to bits. So it's anyone's issue, even if you think golf is boring and you don't live near the golf course. It was the same for Brown's Chapel park. People who never went there got involved.
Sandy Dresser August 15, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Sandy Dresser, Golf Course View Cluster The proposal by the owners of Reston National Golf Course to redevelop all or part of the golf course for mid- to high-density residential use poses a major threat to every resident of Reston. We all invested not only in our homes, but also a quality of life promised by the design and promise of "a place to live, work and play." If the owners of Reston National are successful in their redevelopment plans, everything in this great community that we bought into will be put in jeopardy. A core group of residents in Golf Course View have begun efforts to get the ball rolling on a concerted defense of the golf course and our Reston way of life. This project is much much larger than one cluster can handle successfully. We need a coordinated approach and are looking for all the help we can get. Today, there are three equally important challenges facing us. 1. To form a leadership group that includes representatives of as many of our neighborhoods as possible to coordinate the effort and ensure that we tap into our most effective resources. 2. To locate and analyze the documents that Fairfax County can't produce that we believe confirm the golf course is zoned as permanent open space. 3. To develop effective channels of communication available to all Restonians to mobilize effective support for the defense. If you will join the team, send an email to gcvca@golfcourseview.org. We'll welcome you!
The Analyst August 15, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Just as the Republicans are heavily financed and supported by big oil, big gas, big coal, and investment banking, so too are the Democrats financed by big development. I truly believe Gerry Connolly's only real goal as an elected official is to manipulate laws to suit developers - he's known for being a huge proponent of eminent domain seizure and working to allow developers to seize more property more easily. If you recall the development fiasco about 10 years ago along Hunter Mill between Crowell Road and Lake Fairfax Park the residents essentially revolted to a proposed high rise in this area (Hudgins handy work) and after proving the whole thing was essentially a fiasco, even the BOS rejected the plan, but it took a lot of work on the part of the residents. Hudgins capped off the fiasco at its close by making public comments essentially calling the residents "unstable nimbies" (paraphrase). Jim Moran's third wife is a developer. Need I say more? Just as so many Republicans love outsourcing and the "throw away American worker," so too do the Democrats love developers and the "throw away resident." This won't change until the American people start to clobber our elected "representatives" over the head and demand actual representation of voters instead of special interests. Kathy Hudgins and Gerry Connolly will be good places to start.
Robert Beale August 15, 2012 at 06:23 PM
The planners and developers appear to have a plan to pave over all of the unpaved space left in our little unincorporated place called Reston. Present plans are to build speculative retail/office space with little regard to our easily accessed, small friendly shopping centers that are experiencing more and more vacancies. I know of a bunch of small nice quality businesses (few examples: ice cream, Mexican food, eyeglasses, and Chinese food) that have gone out of business due to their lessors raising rents to push them out for higher density redevelopment or for higher rent. More will follow. Reston’s growth is out of control. None of the powers to be, including our local news papers, will take a stand and speak up about how this once lovely community is changing. I have lived in Reston for 25 years and now we just what to move away. So many trees have fallen. The stress caused by growing congestion, which is only going to get worst and soon, makes living here frustrating. Maybe we will be able to sell our home to someone who likes big city life.
CicadaReston August 15, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Here's what Reston Golf submitted for their appeal application: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/bza/appeals/appealstaffreports/a2012hm020app.pdf
David Chambers August 18, 2012 at 03:42 PM
btw, public details for the "Next Meeting is September 11, 2012 " of the Reston Master Plan Special Study are currently "unavailable": http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/projects/reston/meetings_2012/meeting_09.11.2012_tf.htm Fairfax County, get these simple, important details published - now!
Andrea Karalyos August 20, 2012 at 08:29 PM
please spread the word http://rescuereston.org/
Ray Wedell July 21, 2013 at 10:35 AM
Good work, Rescue Reston and all supporters!

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