Taking A Look at Next Phase of Reston Master Plan Special Study

Phase II, slated to begin in late spring 2012, will concentrate on neighborhoods and village centers.

Residents eager to hear about Reston's future came to S on Wednesday to Fairfax County Planner Heidi Merkel outline the next part of the Master Plan Special Study process, which will concentrate on residential and village centers.

Merkel says the Master Plan Special Study Phase II process will likely begin late next spring after Phase I is expected to be completed. , has been going on for more than 18 months.

Ideally, Phase II will take three months, Merkel said.

Merkel says both phases are necessary to accommodate changes as the original Master Plan was formulated nearly 50 years ago.

"The bottom line, is future growth is going to happen," said Merkel. "We need to figure out how to give places for that growth to happen in Reston in a way that is still respectful of the original idea and concepts of Reston."

Merkel also said most of the residential neighborhoods are not likely to see drastic change.

"We are not planning from scratch," she said. "I am not saying going to take existing map and start over. Really, we are building on fine tradition of Robert Simon’s original master plan."

Key points of the presentation:

* The population of Reston (58,404 in the 2010 U.S. Census) is not likely to radically change in residential neighborhoods, keeping them well under the Planned Residential Community population cap of 83,000.

"The PRC district area will remain basically constant at currently 13 people per acre," she said. "Phase II will evaluate options how to address a time when it may go above where the cap is. It could be exceeded on a case-by-case basis."

Merkel said the plan intends to "preserve the stability of residential neighborhoods in Reston. Part of process will entail how best to do that."

The task force will look at how neighborhoods were zoned originally and what ended up being built there. For instance, if a neighborhood was zoned medium density and townhouses (rather than high-density apartments) were built there, the zoning might be reclassified as low to accommodate what is already there, Merkel said.

Redevelopment projects already under consideration, said Merkel.

* The other part of Phase II will look at South Lakes, Hunters Woods, North Point and Tall Oaks Village Centers, as well as smaller shopping centers at Baron Cameron and Reston Parkway (Home Depot), on Sunrise Valley at Soapstone (Reston Barber Shop) and on Soapstone near Glade (7-Eleven).

has already been the subject of a study, so it will not be a part of Phase II, Merkel said.has also been under consideration as part of Phase I, so it will not be included in Phase II.

"I think there is merit about what village centers should evolve into in the future," said Merkel.  "What should village centers be? Should they be retail strip centers? That has a place, perhaps, in Reston, or should they evolve, as Mr. Simon has said, to make them community gathering places – places where residents can come together around a variety of activities?"

Discussions will include residents as well as property owners, but any action might not happen for a long time, Merkel said. Rather, ideas could be in place for whenever the owner decides it is time to redevelop.

There might be charrettes (design study work sessions with a variety of input) for envisioning redevelopment. Charrettes were used in 2002 to work on the areas around the Metro stations and in 2006 at Lake Anne.

Merkel mentioned that a charrette may be helpful for

 To see Merkel's presentation, click here.

NinosListos November 18, 2011 at 01:17 AM
I asked the question last night about whether they would postpone any redevelopment (such as Fairway Apts or Colvin Woods) until Phase II was completed. I took away that the if the area was already zoned for higher density even though it isn't currently built that way, the developer would be able to redevelop it because they already had that right. That is the explanation for allowing Fairway Apartments redevelopment to go through. NOTHING was said about changing any zoning to lower existing density. They also stated that the Phase I area isn't subject to the 13 per acre limit currently in force for the rest of Reston. They hinted at increasing this density limit in the PRC areas. If everyone is telling us that growth is inevitable and the revising the Master Plans so that we stare where it is to happen, we have to believe that redevelopment of existing neighborhoods is in the pipeline unless it is strictly forbidden.
NinosListos November 18, 2011 at 01:19 AM
No "drastic change", Depends on the definition of drastic.
NinosListos November 18, 2011 at 01:24 AM
The 2002 Charrette is the excuse for allowing sky-high density along Sunrise Valley and Sunset Hills. I wouldn't trust any group of "experts" from LA to tell this Tall Oaks area resident what Tall Oaks needs. The last two grocery stores failed at Tall Oaks not because of lack of visibility but because they didn't match the wants or needs of our neighborhood or most commuters that travel Wiehle daily.
Kathy November 18, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Fairfax County DPZ head Fred Selden came to the Reston P&Z as the task force was getting started about two years ago. One of the issues Selden discussed was that of downzoning. He said that Fairfax County would not be downzoning, that is, taking an area zoned at a higher density and changing it to a lower density. Arthur Hill had been calling for a category of zoning he called, "as built," which would have protected neighborhoods that were built at densities lower than their current high-density zoning (up to 50 neighborhoods). Karen Goff has written in the article above that Heidi mentioned something like that might be tried to preserve the stability of Reston's neighborhoods. There might be legal issues that could make that difficult, especially if a developer already owns the land and intends to redevelop at higher density, as in the case of JBG Fairway Apts. Downzoning would devalue their property. They could sue the county. Arthur Hill suggested another strategy to Fred Selden to protect Reston's at-risk clusters. He suggested that the cluster could vote to create a covenant declaring that the cluster had fulfilled its density requirement and therefore could not be redeveloped. Fred Selden said that would not work until Reston was built out enough to reach the current density cap. With Spectrum and Fairway developments we are not far from fulfilling the density cap so perhaps it is time to revisit Arthur Hill's idea of such a covenant. Kathy Kaplan Reston
The BSD Guy November 18, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Development in Fairfax County is a CLASSIC example of why we now have the 99 percenters and OWS movements...it's an example fo "Governement by the special interests and for the special interests...with taxpayers footing the bill." In one of the recent posts, a writer referred to a Fairfax County official ... you know, one of those people that's being paid by US, as stating essentiallly every old neighborhood in Reston needs to go. You see, fellow neighbors, even in small governments like the county we now have billionaire elites in the development industry essentially dictating through their subordinates in the County Government (being paid by us) what they are going to do to us to line their pockets with more and more money. It's a cool trick when you think of it - Get taxpayers to fund their own destruction. The only way this will EVER change is to start REMOVING people from both county positions and elected office if need be. Until these people are fired or removed from office, the same old dedication to the billionaire elites will continue, and county residents will continue to have more and more and more ludicrous ideas shoved down their throats (and partially funded through their tax dollars) against their wills. Playing "nice" or attempting to compromise with developers when no compromise is due is to follow the exact same recipe for failure that has always existed.


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