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RA Opposed To Golf Course Redevelopment

Board of Directors takes a stand as Reston National Golf Course owners may look towards residential development of open space.

At a special meeting Wednesday to discuss Board of Directors voted to adopt a policy that the group is completely opposed to the proposition.

The board will send a letter to homeowners adjacent to the 166-acre South Reston outlining its position and upcoming key events on the issue. Click here to see the full letter.

"The golf course represents a significant recreational resource for RA Members and the Reston community," the letter reads. "It is the intent of the Reston Association to continue its advocacy that this property should remain open space as defined by Fairfax County. The RA Board feels strongly that redevelopment of this property as anything other than open space would have a significant adverse impact on RA Members."

Like , RA is getting ready for a potential fight, though there is not yet a redevelopment proposal on the books.

In April, the owners of Reston National queried Fairfax County for clarification on whether the golf course is zoned residential. The county said any redevelopment would require an amendment to the county master plan. The owners, RN Golf Management, have filed an appeal with the Board of Zoning Appeals, which will be heard on Oct. 24.

The directors were considering sending out a letter offering residents information about the hearing - as well as encouraging them to attend RA's regular Sept. 13 meeting - but without taking a stance on the issue

However, South Lakes Director Richard Chew - whose constituents live in the area around the golf course - convinced the board to make a formal policy. Though more residential development would mean a larger assessment base for RA, filling coffers at the expense of open space is unthinkable, he said.

"I don't think there is a member on this board that would even contemplate redevelopment of the golf course," Chew said. "I suspect there are some people out there in the community who would think this is a good idea. There would be a substantially favorable impact on RA with assessment units. But having said that, I don't think that advantage even weighs in consideration on this board."

"Unless someone came to me and said 'We are going to change the greens and plant some trees,' I am not in favor," Chew said. "I don't think this board should be in favor now, this week or next month.  ... No way in hell this is going to happen on my watch."

Other board members agreed.

"I strongly oppose development of the golf course beyond what it currently is," at-large director Michael Sanio said. "We hear the community and we're here to support you."

About 15 Reston Association members, several of whom are involved with the new Rescue Reston advocacy group formed last week, attended the meeting. All who spoke were against golf course redevelopment, citing home values, open space and wildlife that make its home around the golf course.

 "When Bob Simon proposed Reston, the county said 'you cannot put all these people in clusters without open space'," Reston resident Kathy Kaplan said. "Golf courses are part of open space. It is an amenity that applies to all of us. It needs to be protected. You need to fight this rezoning with, in my view, every nickel you have in the bank."

Meanwhile, Reston land use lawyer John Farrell says the 231-pages of zoning appeal and related documents look towards a tough fight.

"The person [attorney Frank McDermott] filing the appeal is not someone who wants to play nice," Farrell said. "They are out to take your lunch money.
This application is looking to do 'by right' development. They want to be able to redevelop the golf course into something with close to 7,000 people. They are arguing they don't have to go through the rezoning process. That needs to be reiterated to our citizens." 

Kathi Robinson August 24, 2012 at 09:44 AM
7,000??? Fairfax County zoning has increased Reston's population cap from 68,000 to 150,000. That's 82,000 additional people!!
Deva Brehony August 29, 2012 at 01:55 AM
I totally understand and fully support the idea of RA to resist development of the Golf Course, and maintain open space. I favor that position. My question is who owns it? "The golf course, which came into being around 1970, is owned by RN Golf Management LLC, a group of institutional investors". If it is privately owned, then as land owners, they are within rights to attempt to rezone; and if successful sell. I recall Evans Farm in McLean. Citizens fought valiantly against the sale and development of the acerage, which necessitated the destruction of a lovely, open, natural area. But the owner wished to sell to developers, and ultimately won his battle. I look forward to learning more, and certainly will study this issue. I would wish, if possible, to keep our open space and golf course.
John Farrell August 29, 2012 at 02:04 AM
RNG knows that it would never get approval for a rezoning from the Board of Supervisors. RNG wants not to have to go though that process. It wants to subdivide the golf course without going through the rezoning process. That's the conflict.
Deva Brehony August 29, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Just thinking - Both Sides are valid. Perhaps approve the edges of the property abutting the major roads and metro station for mid-rise and multi-use hi-rise, which would perhaps be enticing to the owner/developer, and leave half of the property as open space, a nine hole chip-and-putt. How might that fly as a compromise solution?
John Farrell August 29, 2012 at 02:25 AM
The course already has townhouses around the "edges of the property abutting the major roads." Google satellite demonstrates this relationship. This is a binary situation for the hundreds townhouse owners that surround the course.

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