Circuit Court Judge Michael F. Devine denied the request of RN Golf, the owner of Reston National Golf Course, to delay issuance of the Court’s order finding that the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) lacked jurisdiction when it acted on RN Golf’s appeal of a County zoning letter earlier this year. The Court vacated the BZA decision at a hearing last month finding that the BZA should not have heard RN Golf’s appeal because RN Golf had yet to provide a Planned Residential Community (PRC) plan. Earlier this week RN Golf asked the Court to delay issuance of its order implementing that decision for at least three months so as to permit RN Golf more time to consider alternative strategies, a request which was denied by Judge Devine. The County, along with Reston homeowners and the Reston Association, are opposing RN Golf.
RN Golf is in its fourth year of attempting to redevelop the golf course with housing units. RN Golf has maintained that it has the right to circumvent required filings and build housing on what the County has affirmed is permanent open space. In 2012, the Fairfax County Zoning Administrator rejected that assertion and advised RN Golf that redevelopment of the golf course would require the submission of a PRC plan, triggering RN Golf’s appeal of the Zoning Administrator’s letter to the BZA. With today’s ruling the Court requires that RN Golf, should it wish to pursue development, file a PRC plan with the Fairfax County Zoning Administrator to determine compliance with existing zoning rules. RN Golf has 30 days to appeal today’s order to the Virginia Supreme Court.
The Court heard arguments against RN Golf in three particular areas:
Over the past four years RN Golf had consistently pursued tactics of delay and previously sought five additional unexplained delays of a hearing on the BZA appeal which it had filed.
No PRC plan currently exists to be considered. Further delay was unwarranted.
A judgment allowing needless delay would set a precedent for future delays in other cases. The courts would be flooded with cases if every time an entity lost, they appealed for further delays of the court’s ruling.
Through its counsel, RN Golf has maintained a public position of having no immediate plan to develop the golf course. “We have no plans, we are just exploring our options,” Francis McDermott, a lawyer representing RN Golf, told TV reporters last January. “If that is true…after today the entire case would be over. But, we have always believed they had a plan. It obviously would be unpopular to the community, otherwise why wouldn’t they have divulged it years ago. That plan and the particular process of circumventing zoning procedures would destroy Reston’s concept of a Planned Community,” said John Pinkman of Rescue Reston. Pinkman is also an affected party and attended today’s court proceedings.
“The affected homeowners and Rescue Reston firmly believe that the destruction of the open space/golf course, re-developed into housing would not comply with zoning or the historical managed intent of that land, that has been in place for over 50 years,” Pinkman concluded.
Parties to the proceedings do not expect the controversy to be resolved by today’s ruling. “We fully expect RN Golf Management, LLC to continue its attempts to invade our open space. Rescue Reston will remain vigilant and take all steps necessary to prevent that from happening. We will continue to raise legal defense funds and assist the County, RA and Reston homeowners in any possible manner,” said Connie Hartke, President of Rescue Reston.