The following letter was sent to the Planning Commission by RCA Board member and Reston 20/20 Committee co-chair Terry Maynard regarding the proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan for Reston.  Terry’s letter does an excellent job summarizing RCA’s and Reston 20/20’s concerns about the plan as it stands.  

If you’d like to share your thoughts with the Commission, act fast: They’ve asked for comments to be received no later than Thursday, November 21st.

November 19, 2013
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
As an observer and participant in last weeks Planning
Commission hearing, I would like to follow up on
what occurred then and address some points that were not adequately addressed from the perspective
Restons citizens. As a longtime Reston resident, member of the Reston Citizens Associations Board of Directors and its representative on the Task Force, and Co-Chairman of the Reston 2020 Committee who
has been working on the revamping of the Plan since before the Task Force was launched, I
believe I have some insight into what many—probably mostRestonians think about their community and the
Reston Plan draft.
I believe most Restonians welcomesome more reluctantly than othersthe arrival
etrorail and urban development around its stations. Certainly RA, RCA, and ARCH have all been strong
supporters of
wellconsidered and implemented transitoriented development along
the Dulles Corridor. RCA
and Reston 2020, which have committed more citizen resources to this effort than the others, have provided
a variety of analyses suggesting how this might be done. We are not too uncomfortable with the density and mix result of this draft Plan, although we believe the office density may be excessive in light of the declining space needed per worker. We would also prefer to see a stronger residential element in the mix to help reduce transportation and environmental
impacts, but we can live with these ambitious core development plans.
I would be among
the first to acknowledge that the Plan, whatever it becomes, is not a law or
regulation. It does, however, set a crucial set of goals and expectations for the core of our community. And Restonians have, over the years, demonstrated their commitment to high goals and great
expectations in all
facets of their communitys development. We very much seek to continue that vital tradition of community planning excellence.  I believe, in particular, that the reason RCA
gave the draft plan a “D grade is that, at best, it does not pursue planning for community
excellence, deferring to
existing standards (some not even legitimized by the Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors) and the desire of developers to limit interference in their profit-making efforts, sometimes
at the expense of
the community.
More importantly, I
think virtually all
us believe Reston is someplace special thanks to Bob Simons
brilliant visiondecades ahead of County thinking—and its effective execution.  And, yes, he faced strong bureaucratic and development resistance like the community is now facing in making
this draft Plan one calling for excellence rather than more of the same. Reston is not just another sub-division. It is an integrated wellplanned community—space, structures, people, movement, living, working, and
playing togetherspanning
a tremendous diversity of lifestyles, employment, and recreation opportunities consistent with Bob Simons halfcentury old vision and values. We want to extend that
forward thinking to enrich the urbanizing corridor and our community—and push our government and the development industry in the process, just as Bob Simon had to do a halfcentury ago.
If we are going to create a much-needed urban corridor, we need to do it the right way consistent with
the highest standards of transit-oriented development (TOD)
as experienced elsewhere (see Rosslyn
Ballston corridor), discussed by industry experts (including the Center for Transit Oriented Development,
ULI, etc.), and studied by knowledgeable academicians (Robert Cervero, Reid Ewing, among others).
This includes, but is not limited to:
  • Our communitys stron
    environmental focus

    in the development that exceeds the Countys
    standards. Take a look at our communitybuilt LEED Gold standard Nature Center as a starting pointThis focus not only applies to green building development where we would
    prefer to see new development in the station areas meet LEEDNeighborhood Development
    (ND)Gold or equivalent standards, it also applies to stormwater management. We actually
    need stronger stormwater management language than current county or state requirements because they do not adequately address
    infill and redevelopment issues that will
    the primary
    thrust of future station area development as County staff has stated.  Our environmental concerns extend also to preserving our tree canopy and reducing
    emissions by lowering vehicle
    miles traveled (VMT) to ease global warming
  • Reston also has an exceptionally strong commitment to open space, parks, and recreationincluding
    thletic fieldsas part of both its legacy of protecting
    natural areas and encouraging
    outdoor activities. They are also integral to placemaking in TOD.  As members of RA, we pay for the operation and maintenance of
    more than 1,200 acres of open space, including natural
    areas a
    nd lakes, the operation of 15 swimming pools, dozens of tennis courts,
    more. We also pay
    he operation of 22 of the 29 athletic fields FCPA
    identifies as being
    within one mile of the study area (and none of which are in the study area).
    • We believe that the language regarding open space that has been in every draft of the
      Reston Plan until the one submitted to the Planning
      Commission calling for a minimum of 20 percent open space  of net lot area
      is essential. The new language
      establishing 20 percent as a” goal is inconsistent with Restons vision and legacy and assures a shortfall inconsistent with Restons vision and values. In fact, RCA
      Reston 2020 had advocated that 25% of the area be devoted to open space purposes.
    • We absolutely need more than three athletic fields in the station areas to support the
      35,000+ new people the County expects to move there in in the next quarter century. The Countys official
      facility standards calls for 25 athletic fields of various types and
      sizes to support that population.
       For secondclass urban dwellers, FCPA unilaterally
      cuts that in half to 12 fields. That’s still far better than the three called for in this draft Plan and a level I
      think most Restonians would find acceptable. It is time for the County
      step up, provide, and operate parks and athletic fields in the station areas that Restons new urbanites will needeven if it loses a few acres of taxable land as one task force member worried.  The County will
      have the
      rtunity to gain double or
      current tax revenues
      the balance of the land through planned development.
  • As a community, we also expect to sustain, if we can not improve, our seriously constrained ability to drive through the Dulles Corridor
    the other side of our town or to the toll road. I
    addressed this in my remarks to the Commission last week, focusing
    an LOS E for our key through streets and limiting parking in the TSAs, so I
    repeat myself further. The development permitted under this draft Plan would simply divide our community in two because of the impassibility of the corridor if strong mitigating measures are not put in place.
  • Developers are seeking to prevent the inclusion of residential
    in either of the two existing
    ton governing associationsRA
    RTCAor architectural
    of their proposed developments by RAs Design Review Board. Architectural design excellence has always been a core Reston planning principle and membership in one of the two residential
    ociations will
    essential for access to most community services and facilities. Absent those constraints, we can expect little architectural
    xcellence and an added financial burden on RA
    members to support needed facilities and services.
     One only needs to look at the recently approved Texas
    donut stickbuilt apartment building near Wiehle station in the former RCIG area absent local architectural guidelines: Property line to property line construction with excessive parking
    nd virtually no attention to amenitiesmeeting
    County standards, but falling well short of Reston
    xpectationsurban or suburban.

The bottom line is that you have in your hands the ability to decide whether Reston continues as a nation-leading
premier planned community or devolves into just another
Fairfax County
housing development bisected by mediocre urban development. I
sincerely hope that you make the right
decision for Reston and that these thoughts help you in that effort.
Terry Maynard
Member, RCA
Board of Directors
RCA Representative to the Reston Task Force

CoChairman, Reston 2020 Committee