Opinion: D-Day for Reston National Golf Course

Opinion: D-Day for Reston National Golf Course

By the time you read this, the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) will have made its decision on the technical merits of the claim by the owners of Reston National Golf Course (RNGC) that they should be allowed to sidestep the normal process to develop 166 acres of open space into residential housing.

We hope the BZA also considered the property rights of the thousand-plus homeowners and businesses who border this Audubon Certified Sanctuary golf course, not just the interests of its owners, RN Golf and Northwestern Mutual.

It is a fact that Northwestern Mutual invested slightly more than $5 million in 2005 in order to become the majority owner of these 166 acres in the heart of Reston. Had anyone imagined this land could be developed, it would have had a far greater price tag.

This property owner is not being hurt by its small investment in one of the most profitable golf courses in the D.C. metropolitan area. When asked at the hearing how financially viable the golf course is, the owner’s attorney answered “…economically very viable.”

Here are a few examples from the websites of Reston businesses and organizations that rely on the recreational amenity of Reston National Golf Course:

*Westin Reston Heights: “The Westin Reston Heights is located just steps from Reston National Golf Course, one of Northern Virginia’s favorite courses. Designed by the legendary Ed Ault and proudly managed by Virginia-based Billy Casper Golf, Reston National is a great place to learn, practice, and play golf.

Home to the Mid-Atlantic’s best Nike Golf Learning Center, the golfer development programs at Reston National are among the nation’s best. A 150-seat, covered outdoor patio is the ideal setting for golf outings and golf events in Reston. Conveniently located in the heart of Reston, just off the Dulles Toll Road midway between Dulles Airport and the Washington Beltway, and right across the street from The Westin Reston Heights, Reston National is easily accessible from anywhere in the greater Washington D.C. area.”

*Sheraton Reston Hotel: “We’re the only hotel in Reston to have a golf course in our backyard! Sheraton Reston Hotel is located just steps from Reston National Golf Course, one of Northern Virginia’s favorite courses.”

*11800 Sunrise Valley Drive [International Building]: “…11800 Sunrise Valley Drive is a 15-story building providing stunning views of the Reston National Golf Course and a prominent top of building signage opportunity visible from the Dulles Toll Road.”

*South Lakes High School Golf Teams: The Reston National Golf Course is their home course.

Tens of thousands of Reston residents relied upon the open space that defines Reston. Our #10 ranking in the 2014 Money Magazine’s “best places to live” lists the “range of lakes, pools, shopping areas, golf courses, and more” that make Reston unique.

Owning this “very viable” golf course is not hurting the property rights of RN Golf Management. The property rights of well over 1,000 homeowners bordering the course would be severely damaged by development.

Radiating out from that will be the damage to other residential and business owners. Reston’s transportation and school networks would become untenable by this unplanned development in what has been a hallmark planned community.

Rescue Reston expects the BZA to uphold the decision of the County Zoning Administrator to maintain the Reston National Golf Course as open space. However, we will remain vigilant and stand ready to oppose any efforts to overturn the BZA decision on appeal, or to otherwise pursue the development of the golf course.