In the past week, the Reston Association board has held the second and third public hearing on the governing documents, attracting less than 15 people for the two hearings combined.
During the second public hearing, held Thursday, Sept. 29, the board announced that it would adjust the schedule for the proposed governing documents referendum, which was planned to be mailed out Oct. 31. A new schedule won’t be proposed and voted on until late October.
“At this point, it would seem advisable to revisit the schedule,” said RA President Jennifer Blackwell. “We’re trying to make these documents better and to continue to work with the community to make them better.”
Blackwell also said that the attendance at the past two public hearings has been disappointing. Eight people attended the Sept. 29 hearing and seven people attended the hearing on Oct. 3. Blackwell said more public hearings are likely to be added to a revised schedule.
WITH LETTERS to the editor continuing to pour in for and against the documents, combined with the low attendance at the two latest public hearings, it seems many people may have made up their minds.
For Donn Dears, who had a five-year stint on the board, a verdict has been reached. “I’m going to vote no,” he said in an interview after the third public hearing Monday night, Oct. 3.
While at the hearing, Dears argued that the proposed governing documents are too ambiguous. “There are dozens of places in these new documents that are open to interpretation, and that’s bad,” he said, adding that the ambiguity might lead to more lawsuits against RA.
Speaking on behalf of the board, Blackwell disagreed: “These documents will be easier to defend in a court of law.”
This same issue had come up at the Sept. 29 hearing by Mike Corrigan, president of the Reston Citizens Association. After voicing RCA’s opposition to the board’s changes to the termination clause, which the board recently reduced from 80 percent approval of all voters to 66 and two-thirds approval of all voters, Corrigan made a few personal comments.
“It seems to be a generic problem with these proposed documents that you’ve gone off and gotten a lawyer to make changes as if to protect a developer,” said Corrigan. “I mean, who are we trying to protect, ourselves?”
Ron Stock supported Corrigan’s view. "[The proposed documents are] unnecessarily complex,” said Stock.
Sandy Dresser had a similar complaint, saying the documents had “an element of vagueness.”
Respectfully disagreeing, Blackwell said that the existing documents “are so fraught with confusion and ambiguity” that she is often involved in discussions with RA’s legal counsel about the interpretations of provisions. She added that the proposed documents were written to eliminate legal and other ambiguities.
AT THE OCT. 3 hearing, Dears also complained about the resale fee, which charges people buying homes in Reston $250. “You’ve thought of that fee in this really hot market, but what about when that market cools off?” said Dears. “That fee will become negotiable and buyers will say they’re not paying it, and then RA members will have to.”
Dears suggested to the board that they “scrap” the proposed documents altogether. “These new documents are not what the members deserve,” he said. “Let’s continue to live with the ones we’ve got.”