Reston Letter: Tall Oaks: More Than Just a Village Center

Reston Letter: Tall Oaks: More Than Just a Village Center

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

The Fairfax County Planning Commission clearly showed that unless a court tells them differently, they can dictate Reston’s future. Robert Simon’s vision, decades of planning and careful growth have now been taken over by Fairfax County. They know what’s best for Reston.

It appears that if any item in the Reston deed cannot be defended in court, then it is fair game for the Fairfax County commission to do as they please. Tall Oaks is a Village Center as described in the Reston deed, yet despite the interpretation and desire of the Reston Association, including the Design Review Board, the majority of the site will become homes. I wonder what they will call this new addition? A few possibilities come to mind, such as “The Homes at Tall Oaks,” or “Tall Oaks Cluster.” Who knows?

Here are some things I found out about the development of the final plans at Tall Oaks. During one of the last community meetings, I asked a couple of questions that I thought might be relevant to keeping the Tall Oaks Village Center viable.

Did the firm conducting the market study contact VDOT regarding new access to Wiehle Ave.? The answer was no. I checked with VDOT and no one contacted them. Gee, one of the biggest causes for the failure of Tall Oaks (flaunted for years) was restricted access to Tall Oaks Village Center. When I contacted VDOT some time ago, they stated they would “consider” a new access point on Wiehle Ave.

I asked if the developer’s consultant considered or contacted smaller grocery stores or markets (Aldi, Walmart shop/stop) to see if they were interested in moving to Tall Oaks? The answer was no, they only contacted mainstream grocers. I wonder why.

What was really surprising was the initial interest people like Supervisor Catherine Hudgins and the planning commission staff showed. Early on, everybody attended the community meetings: drawing up ideas and prioritizing desires along with business reality checks. I wonder which trash these ideas ended up in. We never saw the results of the community input clearly pointed out in the approved plan. I wish I could have recorded all the supportive comments made to the community by Hudgins. It was a wakeup call when we heard that she along with the county supported the developer’s plans.

It just goes to show that the county pretty much runs things the way they want without much regard for the Reston deed and the Reston Association, the largest homeowners’ association in the country. Take this to heart if your HOA has to go through this process.

I guess things really haven’t changed that much since the ‘80s and ‘90s. The same factors tend to lead to the same results as in the past.

These factors are developers, elected officials, proffers, community input and more. You figure out how much each of these keeps the same old development process running.

Bill Woloch