Reston: Three for One, and One For All?

Reston: Three for One, and One For All?

Board of Supervisors, Rescue Reston and Reston Association all filed legal appeals of the Board of Zoning Appeals April ruling regarding Reston National Golf Course.

Circuit Court Judge Michael F. Devine issued a ruling Friday, Nov. 6 that was considered a victory for preserving Reston National Golf Course.

Circuit Court Judge Michael F. Devine issued a ruling Friday, Nov. 6 that was considered a victory for preserving Reston National Golf Course. Photo by Ken Moore.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Rescue Reston and Reston Association last week filed legal appeals of the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

Reston Golf Management seeks to redevelop the 166-acre Reston National Golf Course property, while Reston Association and Rescue Reston want to preserve the golf course as open space.

“We each [RA, County, Rescue Reston] have different specific pieces we may appeal, but appeal we must,” said Rescue Reston’s Connie Hartke. “As we said last week: ‘Letting the BZA ruling stand unchallenged will disadvantage, now and in the future, the County and the Reston community from being able to regulate and control redevelopment requests for the 166-acre golf course property and potentially other properties in Reston within the RPC/PRC District.”

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins announced at the Tuesday, May 12 meeting that the Board of Supervisors also seeks legal relief from the Fairfax County Circuit Court regarding the April ruling.

“BZA erred as a matter of law when it did not uphold all of the Zoning Administrator’s correct decisions regarding the zoning regulations,” according to Tony Castrilli, Fairfax County Director of Public Affairs.

The Board of Supervisors held a closed meeting at its regularly scheduled meeting on the golf course April 28.

The Board objects to the “specific findings of fact incorporated into the BZA’s decision, as well as the BZA’s disregard for the Reston Master Plan and the approved development plans governing the golf course property,” Castrilli said.

Reston Association filed its own petition and hired Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, PC “to coordinate with Fairfax County, its Zoning Administrator and other homeowners adjacent to the golf course, to file an appeal,” according to Reston Association documents.

“The decision reflects RA’s position that any redevelopment of PRC zoned land within Reston, including the Reston National Golf Course, must be reviewed and compared to the existing zoning development plans, and any proffers or conditions attached to the development plans,” according to RA. “This review and comparison is mandated under Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance Section 16-202 with the purpose of protecting the Reston community from unplanned changes to the development pattern previously approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.”

Reston Golf Management’s attorney Francis McDermott did not immediately return a phone call from the Connection seeking comment by its press deadline.

ON APRIL 15, The Board of Zoning Appeals was expected to issue a ruling on the golf course owner's appeal of the Zoning Administrator's "determination that redevelopment of property in the PRC District from a golf course to residential uses would require an amendment to the Reston Master Plan, a development plan amendment and Planned residential Community Plan approval from the Board of Supervisors," according to Fairfax County documents.

But it took more than two hours for the appeals board to rule that it could not rule, other than to uphold some portions of the case but to overrule other portions of the Zoning Administrator's previous ruling.

Rescue Reston, in its legal brief, called the BZA discussion “unclear and disjointed.”

“There was no clear or concise motion by the BZA. There was no clear explanation of the bases for the BZA's rulings. And there were no clear findings of fact and conclusions of law made by the BZA,” according to their attorney Randall T. Greehan.

“Most or all of the adjacent landowners also purchased their respective properties with knowledge of and in reliance on the Reston Master Plan and zoning documents showing the adjacent golf course as both intended and approved for golf course and open space uses,” Rescue Reston states in its brief.

Reston Association agrees in its legal brief.

“The BZA decision will directly affect more than just the golf course – it will affect any redevelopment within approximately 450 acres – which includes the golf course, nearby private residences, and both improved and natural common area land owned by the RA,” according to its attorney John L. McBride.

“Reston was founded as, and continues to be, a planned community, with a deliberate and balanced mix of the built and natural environments,” he wrote.

“An interconnected balance of recreational, open space and residential uses was specifically approved by the Board of Supervisors through approval of the 1971 rezonings and their required Development Plan,” said McBride. “The BZA’s decision to allow RN to pursue conversion of the Golf Course Property to a residential use, without requiring an amendment to the approved Development Plans, runs directly contrary to the Zoning Ordinance and to the specific recreational/open space designation of the Golf Course shown on the Development Plan.”