As the Progressive reported last time, Fairfax Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ Reston Master Plan Task Force has stalled, failing to complete Phase 1 of its work—i.e., plans for development in the rail corridor. With the train arriving next year and no plan in sight, the County caved and is now telling developers not to worry about a plan, just bring in their plans so construction can proceed. If you wondered why Reston should become a self-governing town, watch as the County turns planning as well as building over to developers.
What about Phase 2 of the task force’s work—revising the master plan for village center neighborhoods and all of Reston outside the rail station areas? This, too, has been set back two years so far by the stalled Phase 1. A couple of weeks ago, Master Plan Task Force Chair Patty Nicoson suggested to me that she might indeed try to move the task force immediately into Phase 2, leaving it to County staff to decide when/if they would actually complete Phase 1.
Ms. Nicoson’s idea seemed timely. But already events, namely the fearsome "free market" with developers firmly in the saddle, have overtaken the dawdling task force. Shortly after she and I talked, the community was rocked by a newspaper report that Mark Looney, a land-use attorney appointed to the task force by Supervisor Hudgins and who acts like the spokesman for the developers on said task force, had sent a letter to Fairfax County on behalf of the owners of Reston National Golf Club seeking instructions on how to proceed to re-redevelop their land as residential.
The Club’s 166 acres occupies the heart of south Reston between Wiehle Avenue and Town Center train stations-to-be. With Phase 2 of Hudgins’ master planning not even begun and an approved new plan at least 18 months away, once again the developers have the upper hand and will likely determine the character (or lack thereof) and intensity of land use of areas like the golf course, village center neighborhoods and all the rest. No role for Reston.
There has been a strong reaction in the community to the Reston National news, especially among residents of the dozen clusters living on the edges of all that beautiful golf course green. They have organized Rescue Reston, complete with website (www.rescuereston.org) and all the social media links. They also hired a law firm to represent them. The first major battle is a public hearing with the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals on Oct. 24. For more info, check the Rescue Reston website.
Without an approved new master plan, the battle over the 166 acres of the golf course is but the first of many. This battle will be an uphill struggle for the community, especially absent supportive political leadership.
You can build a lot of condos on 166 acres. There is huge money to be made there, potentially several hundred million dollars. In the final analysis, it is hard to imagine more than token green space surviving on Reston National land. There is just too much of that other kind of green to be made, the kind which today in Fairfax County and the United States simply sweeps the political class along with it. This is especially true if you do not even have a master plan in place to provide an alternative vision and some protection.