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Another Vision for Lake Anne

Local residents present comprehensive plan alternative for Lake Anne.

Lake Anne resident Guy Rando presented an alternative for the Lake Anne Village Center comprehensive plan amendment in front of the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board on Thursday night, June 14. The alternative proposal differs from that of a consultant team’s proposal in that it is calling for a complete separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic and a reduction in density.

Rando said Thursday night’s meeting was a positive experience for what he and a group of community residents have come to call "The Citizens’ Plan." "The ARB did not have any negative comments about the plan," said Rando. He said his presentation, complete with a model of the plan, focused on the extension of the pedestrian system outward from the plaza. The ARB had no concern whether the density proposed was too high or too low.

Rando said the plan envisions a complete separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and a gateway over Village Road, which would be relocated so that vehicles entering the village center would have a direct view onto the fountain in Lake Anne. He said his plan proposes about half of the density proposed in the consultant-issued report, and that he would superimpose that density on his model to show the difference. "The consultants are proposing a lot of words that nobody can abstract," said Rando.

Reston Community Reinvestment Corporation (RCRC) President Kurt Pronske, who also addressed the ARB on Thursday night, said Rando’s model is premature. "It is inappropriate at this point of time," said Pronske. The effort should deal with an amendment to the comprehensive plan, not with development plans. The model, said Pronske, only shows Rando’s vision of how a developer may wish to interpret the plan.

Another problem with the alternative plan, said Pronske, is that it does not take into account the original plan for Lake Anne. That plan called for multiple high rises at the village center. Pronske said the market dictated how those parcels were built over the years, and only one of the envisioned high rises, the Heron House, was erected. Also, Pronske noted, worrying about parking at this stage is also too early. Although it should be considered when writing the plan, he said the developer should be left to worry about how to construct the parking. "There is not going to be too much surface parking involved. The land is too valuable," he said.

While Pronske considers the alternative plan premature, he said it does offer at least one valid point. "His pushing more than 15 percent open space is certainly plausible," said Pronske. However, pushing for 50 percent open space is probably not realistic, he said.

Reston Association Design and Review Board (DRB) chairman Richard Newlon attended Thursday’s presentation as a spectator. Since the ARB is only responsible for overseeing what happens in the historic district of the village center — only a small part of the proposed revitalization area — Newlon said the DRB would oversee most development revitalization area. Newlon said those present at Thursday’s meeting collectively agreed that any specific design is premature, given that the discussion is about a comprehensive plan amendment, not specific site plans. Any amendment would have to be left flexible enough so that developers would come in, he said.

Newlon said the alternative plan presented some valid points. Those included extending Washington Plaza and a vision that whatever development occurs in the area should take place in regard to the pedestrian plaza.

Rando is also proposing that Fairfax County hosts an open international competition for best designs for Lake Anne Village Center. Such a competition, he said, would attract a lot of attention at architecture and planning schools across the world. "So we can get the best ideas," he said.