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Fine-Tuning Governing Documents

Board responds to concerns about proposed new class of members.

Reston Association’s Board of Governors held on Monday its first of two work sessions to hammer out any last minute kinks remaining in the sweeping review of the organization’s governing documents.

This year marks the first time in 20 years that RA has comprehensively updated its Deed, Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation — the documents that outline how Reston is governed by its homeowners association.

For the past two weeks, the RA board has considered concerns over the proposed amendments raised by RA members at two public hearings in March and April. Monday night, the board went through those concerns line by line, making changes where it deemed necessary and dismissing objections it believed unfounded.

MUCH OF THE DISCUSSION at Monday’s work session centered on the proposed policy amendment to create a new category of RA members who would live in the proposed 12,000 new residential units along the industrial corridor, near the Dulles Toll Road.

At the public hearings, opponents of the amendment said the new category of members would overwhelm Reston’s pools and recreational facilities and would form a powerful new voting block, whose interests might run counter to that of original RA members.

Gerald Volloy, RA’s executive vice president, said the objections to the new category of members — officially called Category D — are wrongheaded. The untold thousands of new residents are coming to Reston, whether they are members of RA or not, he said, and by allowing them into the association, RA is ensuring it has a revenue stream to address the impact created by the new residents.

"We can’t stop them from walking on our pathways. We can’t stop them from throwing trash in our lakes. We can’t stop them from using our recreational facilities, other than pools," Volloy said. "They will have an impact on our community and that will mean additional work for Reston Association employees ... Like it or not, whether they are members of not, they will have an impact on our community."

RA DIRECTOR Robin Smyers (Lake Anne/Tall Oaks), said she has heard from friends living near Reston Town Center who want to become RA members, much as the new residents would likely want to become members to have access to pools, recreational facilities and the other benefits of RA membership.

"It’s a win-win situation," Smyers said.

Town Center residents are prohibited from becoming RA members, depriving the association of roughly $1 million annually. By creating the new category of members, RA is making sure that doesn’t happen again, said RA Director Vicky Wingert.

Apart from the financial side, Wingert said, the new category of RA members would help ensure Reston does not become fragmented.

"I don’t think we want to exclude future populations from the core of Reston," she said.

Another concern about Category D members that was raised at the public hearing was that the new residential units would not be subject to RA’s design and review standards. In a worst case scenario, opponents said, this could degrade Reston’s appearance and quality of life.

Wingert dismissed this criticism, saying the residential units at Reston Town Center, which are not subject to RA’s design and review covenants, are far from shabby and the residents are subject to their own covenants.

ALSO MONDAY, the board discussed proposed amendments to the section of the governing documents that outlines voting requirements for the conveyance of common areas. If approved, the proposed change would lower the voting threshold from 40 percent of RA members to 30 percent.

Opponents said at the public hearings that this would unnecessarily erode public input on major projects and could free future RA boards from strenuous oversight by members.

The last time this issue came up in practice was with the Southgate Recreational Center. In order to greenlight the project, RA members had to approve it in a $75,000 referendum. It was passed with overwhelming support.

This proposal, Wingert said, would allow RA to save a substantial amount of money by not requiring such a high threshold of publicity and outreach to pass popular projects like the Southgate c