An updated land-use plan for Reston is under review by the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
Commissioners listened to input from developers, residents and Reston community organizations during a public hearing on the proposed changes, which would allow more urban-style development around Reston’s three Silver Line stations.
The Planning Commission is now slated to make its recommendation on the new land-use plan Dec. 5.
Much like the county’s overhaul of the land use plan in Tysons Corner several years ago, the proposed updates to the Reston Master Plan concentrate the most intense development within a quarter mile of the Metro stops, graduating to less intense development moving farther away from the stations.
The plan calls for an improved street grid, environmentally sensitive design and construction, parks and the provision of affordable housing units. New development would be designed to accommodate and attract pedestrians and cyclists.
It also aims to strike a balance between residential and commercial development, which county staff and members of the task force that developed the new master plan say will help balance traffic flow as well as keep the new neighborhoods vibrant all day long.
Despite the updates, “We want to see the principles that Reston was built on maintained as we look to the future,” said Patty Nicoson, chair of the task force.
Speakers at the public hearing said they support the general concepts of the new master plan, but the development community and Reston residents each raised concerns about aspects of the current proposal.
Some members of the development community said they would like to see the proposed maximum parking limits phased in over time, rather than implemented immediately.
“Rail will not immediately change how employers and their employees behave,” said Mark Looney, a real estate attorney with Cooley LLP. He believes it will take years to coax more people out of their cars and onto the Silver Line.
Resident concerns with the plan include ensuring there are adequate transportation improvements and community recreation amenities to keep the new development from overwhelming the existing infrastructure in Reston.
The draft plan only calls for three playing fields to be constructed within the station areas, something that many residents expressed concern about.
Suburban Reston is already largely built out and is notorious for neighborhood protectionism, said Connie Hartke.
“We should not rely on areas outside of the transit station areas to provide the majority of recreational amenities,” she said.
A unique concern for Restonians is whether the new development will have to be a part of the Reston Association, the organization that operates the planned community’s pools, recreation and community centers, as well as ensuring that development and building design comply with Reston’s covenants.
Having the new communities and their residents be part of the Reston Association or the Reston Town Center Association is essential for them to be integrated into the greater community, said Cate Fulkerson, RA executive director.
“We do not need to have two Restons,” she said.
Other speakers were most concerned with the process moving forward as quickly as possible, as Reston’s first Metro station at Wiehle Avenue will open early next year. The other two stations, at Reston Town Center and on the Reston/Herndon border, are about five years away, part of the second phase of the Silver Line.
“It is important that we speed up this process,” said Matt Valentini, vice president for development with JBG Companies. The master plan review process began about five years ago, and developers are waiting for the plan to begin submitting development proposals, he said. “The trains will be arriving at Wiehle and in Tysons in the next few months, and there is going to be no development to greet those trains.”