Independent Progressive: Local Controversies—In Need of Resolution

Independent Progressive: Local Controversies—In Need of Resolution

For two years, Fairfax County staff and Supervisor Cathy Hudgins have been threatening to raise Reston’s Planned Residential Community zoning density ceiling from 13 to 16 persons per acre along with other changes to zoning rules. One estimate predicts these changes could drive Reston’s population from the current 62,000 to 180,000 over the next forty years.

The proposal has drawn broad-based pushback from the community. Nine-hundred mostly angry residents registered their opposition at South Lakes High School at the most recent public meeting. The Reston Association, Reston Citizens Association, Reston 20/20, and Reclaim Reston have joined forces in opposition.

Once again, the County has postponed final action—for the time being.

The good news, in my view, is that community groups have combined as the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) and have put on the table a solid, thoughtful alternative for growth consistent with Reston’s founding principles. To see the state of play and the Coalition’s proposal to amend the Reston Master Plan rather than raising the zoning density, go to The Coalition’s proposal, drafted by Terry Maynard and a supporting cast, would cap densities and dwelling units per acre at more moderate levels than Fairfax County’s nightmarish proposal. CPR would set the ultimate population ceiling for Reston at 120,000.

Furthermore, the CPR proposal would require that supporting infrastructure — roads, schools, fire and rescue services, etc.— be implemented pari passu with new development. Parks, ballfields, open space and recreation facilities would be planned according to Fairfax County’s standards for such amenities, unlike the zoning proposal, and would also be put in place along with new development.

I commend the Coalition’s constructive initiative to resolve this conflict with Fairfax County with a workable plan of action to achieve growth in a sustainable, community friendly manner. Let’s encourage Supervisor Hudgins to support it.

Lake Anne Village Center could also stand the infusion of constructive leadership and a path to the future. Lake Anne’s Washington Plaza has a lot of positive momentum for business. There is a new, prize-winning brew pub plus a renovated coffee house with a wine bar attracting more foot traffic. We also have word that a new concept spa, a hair salon, and a Trail Cycling Studio will fill remaining empty spaces this spring. Alas, now merchants on the Plaza are at loggerheads, so much so that legal actions are in process.

It’s a bit complicated at Lake Anne Village Center. With the exception of the E Block of Washington Plaza Cluster (where the coffee house is), the Church, the former bank building and the Community Center, the rest of the Plaza is a mixed-use condominium consisting of both apartments and businesses. The Lake Anne of Reston Condo Association’s (LARCA) is run by a small Board of Directors elected by Condo membership. There is also a Merchants Committee, overseen by the Board and open to all 20-plus businesses, which exists to promote the Plaza and its businesses. The businesses are assessed a fee to support promotion of the Plaza, and a private, limited liability corporation which runs a crafts market contributes to special activities (e.g., an annual jazz festival) on the Plaza.

Here’s where infighting and squabbling arise. Legal actions involve questions of control of the Committee, transparent accounting and use of resources for promotion and activities, and how benefits of the resources are shared.

For a long time, especially during winter months, Lake Anne has struggled. Recently, however, things have really been looking up with the emergence of several successful new businesses and more promising prospects expected to open shortly. Now is the time for openness and cooperation, not secrecy and struggle for control, if Lake Anne is to take full advantage of opportunities on the horizon for all the businesses. Let the peace process begin!