Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) ensured a frustrated local community group leading efforts to revitalize the Lake Anne Village Center area Thursday that the project is moving forward.
“I know this is an urgent issue or project for the community,” said Hudgins, addressing the Reston Community Reinvestment Corp. She added that two important steps toward revitalization will soon be underway.
The first is the development of design guidelines, which will steer any proposed redevelopment plan. A few months ago, the county hired a consultant team for $30,000 to work with a technical advisory panel comprised of seven community members recently named by the supervisor to work over the next 90 days to create the guidelines.
A complete timeline for completion of the guidelines will be worked out during a meeting on Oct. 17.
THE SECOND STEP involves changing the comprehensive plan to allow more density at Reston’s oldest village center, which merchants say suffers from too little foot traffic during the winter.
Hudgins anticipates that the measures — the changes to the comprehensive plan and the creation of the design guidelines — will help generate plans from developers. “Hopefully, it would be enticing enough that it would invite those interested in actually getting involved in the development side,” said Hudgins.
Several members of the committee wondered if the ongoing issue of the density cap, a clause in the zoning ordinance that has all but restricted additional residential development in Reston and is currently being updated by the county, will need resolution first.
“The elephant in the living room is the question of density,” said Kurt Pronske, president of RCRC, who added that the Lake Anne area has been the “catalyst” for making changes to the density cap. Under the current cap, there is virtually no room to add density at Lake Anne.
But Hudgins said the changes to the Planned Residential Community ordinance should not halt progress on plans for Lake Anne.
“We see them running along in parallel,” said Hudgins.
When discussion turned to the density issue, Hudgins said changes to the PRC will help stabilize neighborhoods. “The only thing we’re trying to do is inject a legislative process,” said Hudgins.
BUT RESTON’S founder, Robert E. Simon, said that the change wasn’t a substitute for good planning. “The legislative process is not going to have any equitable distribution of the remaining units,” said Simon.
Hudgins argued that a legislative process would protect the community from potential development decisions that can now be made with minimal administrative oversight and without community input.
“It may be the choice of two evils,” said Simon.
For Howard Green, RCRC treasurer, the issue could be avoided with planning. “Plan out the high density areas now,” said Green.
Several board members agreed that the village centers, the Reston Town Center district and immediate sections around the future Metro stops were the most appropriate areas for added density.