A Violation of the Comprehensive Plan

A Violation of the Comprehensive Plan

Reston resident analyzes Saint John’s Wood redevelopment proposal.

— A group of determined neighbors are holding steadfast in their opposition to the proposed redevelopment plans for the St. Johns Wood (SJW) apartment complex, located at 11555 Old Tiverton Circle, by owners of the Bozzuto Group, and they are adding some serious ammunition to their arsenal. On October 24, Restonian John Mooney sent a letter to a comprehensive list of interested, involved or influential parties, including the offices of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Frank de la Fe, The Reston Association, The Reston Design Review Board, counsel for the Bozzuto Group, and a number of local residents who have joined forces as the group “Reclaim Reston.”

MOONEY is a member of Reclaim Reston. He added his signature to those of more than 675 locals who signed Reston resident Susanne Andersson-Tosado’s on-line petition opposing the project. But he wrote his letter, and its companion analysis “SJW’s Non-Conformity with the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan Generally and the Reston Master Plan Specifically,” as an individual citizen.

Since the redevelopment plan was first submitted, it has been met with vocal protests at meetings of the Reston Design Review Board, the Reston Planning and Zoning Commission, a special meeting of the Reston Association, and even the Governance Board of the Association. Dozens of concerned citizens have written letters in opposition. What makes Mooney’s letter and analysis particularly powerful is its professional, measured tone, and reliance on an in-depth review of the county and local plans that govern development, comparing their restrictions and regulations to Bozzuto’s plans for SJW. Mooney utilized his many years as Assistant County Manager and Director of Utilities and Environmental Policy Division for Arlington County as he performed the extensive analysis.

“The SJW proposal would create a massive urbanization right in the midst of the North Point residential neighborhoods in violation of the Reston Covenant, the Reston Master Plan, and the Fairfax County zoning ordinance,” said Mooney. “The proposal would …demolish the existing…3-floor garden apartments and replace them with two massive buildings and a bank of 44 townhomes,” he added. “The apartment buildings…would more than double SJW’s current 250 units and be twice as high. In the process, 49 percent of the existing tree canopy would be removed.”

RESTONIANS have already gotten the Reston Association on their side, when the directors voted unanimously on Sept. 14 to recommend that the current version of the plan be denied by the County. Next up is the Nov. 15 meeting of the Reston Design Review Board which had conceptually approved the original plan back in July. The submission of a revised plan triggered this new review by the Board. Reclaim Reston hopes that Restonians will take the time to inform themselves on the issues by reviewing documents like Mooney’s analysis and the RA Association’s letter to the County asking for a denial of the proposal, both available on the Reston Association website at www.reston.org. Mooney hopes that the public will “vote with their presence” at the meeting.

“This is an important test case for massive redevelopments in Reston’s residential neighborhoods,” he said. “Analysis and words are important in resisting them. But nothing demonstrates the concern of citizens like their attending public hearings.”