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County Outlines Changes

Staff recommends additional residential development of 3,800 high-rise units.

In an eight-page staff paper released Monday, the county recommended changes to Reston’s zoning ordinance that would allow more density but would incorporate greater legislative controls. (See box.)

Since Reston is nearing its density cap of 13 persons per acre, a zoning ordinance amendment is required to prevent additional residential development from coming to a standstill.

But if additional density is allowed, Reston resident Arthur Hill’s first question was where would it go.

“If it’s allowed, someone will find a way to use it,” said Hill at Monday’s Reston Planning and Zoning Committee meeting. “Where will it go? The [Reston] Town Center is full.”

WITH LITTLE UNDEVELOPED space in Reston to add density, Hill, the committee’s vice chair, suggested developers will soon look at already developed areas for redevelopment opportunities.

Zook pointed out that one of the primary problems with Reston’s zoning ordinance now is that it allows some rezoning approvals without legislative review.

“Currently there is potential for a residential cluster to further develop or redevelop in a manner that is not compatible with neighboring properties without review by the Planning Commission or legislative action by the Board of Supervisors,” said the staff paper Zook presented at the meeting.

To rectify that situation, Zook said Reston’s zoning ordinance should be changed. Integrating legislative controls, Zook argued, would give the community greater influence in the redevelopment process.

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), who led the meeting, agreed. She said the primary motivation to change the ordinance was to integrate legislative controls.

HUDGINS HAS CHARGED the Reston P&Z committee to lead a series of community meetings intended to solicit community input and build consensus on what to do next.

But Zook has said he would like to see changes approved by the Board of Supervisors before the end of the year.

Several residents asked what was the hurry.

Under the ordinance, called the Planned Residential Community, which governs about 6,200 acres in Reston, maximum residential density is capped at 13 persons per acre. Current density in Reston is 11.68 persons per acre, according to the county. The available density under the cap allows for only 4,106 high-rise units if changes are not made.

Yet development applications already in the pipeline, if approved, would drop the potential for additional residential high-rise units to below 2,000.

If the cap is ever reached, no additional residential development would be allowed. Redevelopment could occur, but not at additional rates of density.

The first community meeting was scheduled Sept. 20 until Reston resident Faye Codding questioned the timing. “Why are they scheduled [to start] eight days from now?” said Codding. “It seems like a very short timeline.”

Members of the P&Z agreed with Codding and decided to change the opening meeting to Oct. 4.