Proposal Shocks, Angers Neighbors

Proposal Shocks, Angers Neighbors

County receives unsolicited proposal last week to redevelop Reston South Park & Ride with workforce housing and parking garage.

It wasn’t the house that sold Jennifer Tidd and her husband five years ago on their Reston home on Quorn Lane.

“It was because of right out there,” said Tidd, mother of three children, pointing from her living room out windows with a panoramic view of a backyard full of trees. “When we purchased, we were told those trees were there to stay.”

But now a view of lush woods doesn’t seem so certain.

Last week, several residents who live on Quorn Lane, including the Tidds, received letters that said the Reston South Park & Ride adjacent to their wooded backyards is a potential site for a workforce housing transit-oriented development.

THE LETTER, a notice from Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), said the county has received an unsolicited proposal to build workforce housing on the park & ride at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Lawyers Road. The development proposal submitted by Edgemoor Real Estate Services in conjunction with Clark Construction, Davis Carter Scott and Dewberry includes an undisclosed number of housing units, mainly one- and two-bedroom apartments, built around a large parking structure with at least 500 spaces, preserving the site as a park and ride. The surface lot now has 400 spaces.

“The proposal is for workforce housing, which has become a crisis for Fairfax County,” said Hudgins in her notification letter dated July 21. “This is especially critical for our teachers, firefighters and police officers.”

At no cost to the county, the public-private partnership plan also includes several transportation improvements, including the elimination of a sharp bend on Lawyers Road just east of Reston Parkway. Other improvements include trail connections to recreation and shopping and a possible traffic light at the interchange of Lawyers and Fox Mill roads.

“I’ve always said [development at public sites] should include a significant portion of affordable or workforce housing because we are the ones who can do that,” said Hudgins when asked about the proposal. She would not comment about project specifics.

NEIGHBORS MOST affected by development on the seven-acre site, including the Tidds, don’t like what they hear and plan to oppose it.

“I don’t have an issue with workforce housing,” said Sue Bowman, echoing other neighbors. But Bowman believes the loss of trees, increased traffic and greater noise levels caused by the development will negatively affect the property values of homes in her neighborhood. “I’m concerned about the added density, period,” she said.

“Ridiculous,” is how Doug Brock, a 13-year Reston resident who lives next door to the Tidds described the proposal for a residential development at the site. “We have enough traffic,” he said.

Because the proposal was submitted under the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act, the county will now entertain other proposals from other interested developers in the next 60 days. If additional proposals are received, the county will determine which proposal is best, if any, according to David Dise, deputy director of the county’s purchasing office, describing the process in general. “Then a negotiation process begins,” said Dise.

After negotiations, the proposal is sent to the Board of Supervisors for approval. Their final decision is preceded by public hearings.

The submission of an unsolicited proposal, Dise points out, does not imply that the county has or will accept any change in land use.

“WE PLAN TO fight this tooth and nail,” said Tidd. Several other neighbors said they intend to be very vocal in their opposition.

“We feel like we accommodated them with the park & ride,” said Bowman, a 21-year Reston resident who was shocked the county may redevelop the site.

The developers’ group expected some negative reaction. “We understand that any development may raise local neighborhood concerns regarding construction impacts, traffic congestion, overall design character, appropriateness of scale, and any number of other very legitimate issues,” said their proposal. “We have done our best to anticipate and address those already in our concept and will actively seek community input in our planning and schematic level of design.”