As Tuesday night’s Reston Master Plan Task Force meeting, RCA representative Terry Maynard read a statement expressing RCA’s objections to the current draft of the Comprehensive Plan being considered by the Task Force.  Terry’s statement is reproduced below. To read RCA’s full critique of the Comprehensive Plan draft, click here.
The Reston
Citizens Association has been an active and enthusiastic participant in the
Reston master planning process since its inception nearly four years ago.  We have been strong advocates of
transit-oriented development around Reston’s coming Metrorail stations,
constraining that advocacy only by calling for the development to be of the
right type at the right density in the right place.  With the help of more than five dozen
volunteers in its Reston 2020 Committee, we have provided the Reston Task Force
with more than one dozen well-researched and presented papers on virtually
every facet of TOD planning for Reston and have been at this table at every
meeting since the task force began. 
In general,
we support the densities, mixes, and locations for that important development
as outlined in Scenario G months ago although we would amend it further to meet
the needs of Restonians based on the impact analyses we have reviewed. We
believe it is fair to say that the extent of our dissatisfaction with that scenario
mirrors much of the development community’s dissatisfaction with modestly
constrained densities and greater emphasis on residential development.  Under Scenario G, no one would get all they
want, but we would all garner many of the goals for a transit-oriented urban
community we each want to achieve.  In a
task force setting, that is called compromise and probably means that the
Scenario G densities, mixes, and sitings are the best we can accomplish.
as Scenario G has been written up by County staff in draft Comprehensive Plan language,
the goals and constraints in that scenario have been utterly destroyed.  Each draft has been less satisfactory than
its predecessor as a planning document.  At
this point the draft language has virtually no spine or muscle to achieve the
goals and limits it professes. 
The latest draft, even more than its
predecessors, includes numerous weasel words and phrases that undermine achievement
of the planning goals of Scenario G, such as extending the TOD walking distance
by five minutes for an added 200 feet  in
direct contradiction of County TOD policy. 
It omits or minimizes vital details for critical
planning elements, such as phasing, implementation, financing, and incorporating
parks and recreation to serve future residents and employees in the transit
station areas. 
It overlooks opportunities that would serve the
longer term development of the station areas, including moving now to acquire
air rights along the Dulles corridor and calling for a recreation center in one
of the station areas.
It generally calls upon the current Reston
community, and specifically Reston Association, to provide space and financing for
amenities that serve station area residents and workers without any commitment
that the new residents would become members of RA. 
There are
two critical ramifications of this amorphous, incomplete, and ultimately
dysfunctional draft Plan language.  The
first is that it gives developers virtually unfettered opportunity to build
what they want in the density they wish at places of their choosing.  The stretching of boundaries and softening of
planned mixes means almost anything can be built anywhere.  The easy opportunities for developers to
increase densities and alter mixes through proffers and bonuses means, among
other things, that we risk development far exceeding even the traffic clogging
levels identified in Scenario G.
On the other
hand, the draft Plan language essentially calls upon current Restonians to
absorb all the burdens created by adding up to 50,000 jobs and 40,000 residents
in the station areas.  Despite the fact
that the County Parks Authority has identified a need for more than 100 acres
of parks and recreation facilities to serve those people, the draft plan does
not identify space in the station areas to accommodate that need.  In fact, it calls upon the current residents
of the Reston to share their space—which they pay for annually—so that
developers can build more and make greater profits.  At the same time, the draft plan does not recommend—much
less require—that the new station area residents become members of RA.  This is a double whammy for Restonians. 
community’s apprehension and dissatisfaction with the plan is aggravated
further by the draft plan’s failure to address meaningfully key implementation,
phasing, and financing issues.  This
shortcoming is highlighted by the reality that virtually none of the
infrastructure upgrades recommended by RMAG nearly five years ago in connection
with the arrival of the Silver Line at Wiehle Avenue has been planned or funded,
much less completed, before the arrival of Metrorail.  With the exception of work by Comstock, only
a few County sidewalk improvements are likely to be completed before rail
arrives.  The most important improvement,
the Soapstone Connector, is still in the feasibility stage and that process
began just six months ago.  Only $5
million of the estimated $105 million needed to complete the recommended
infrastructure has been approved.  From
Reston’s perspective, the County lacks credibility in delivering even the most
basic infrastructure needs—streets, transit, schools, recreational facilities,
etc.—much less amenities, such as a performing arts center as they are laid out
in this draft plan.   
In short, this
draft plan states that what the developers and County have is theirs; what
Reston has is negotiable if not outright takable.
If this
draft Plan or something like is approved by the Board of Supervisors, it means
that the Reston community is being used as the financial and space resource so
that station area developers can increase their profits and the County can
increase its tax revenues.  Meanwhile,
Restonians face likely cuts in library services under a new Board initiative,
could face paying tolls on the Fairfax County Parkway under another Board
initiative which would also divert more traffic to Reston Parkway, and confront
the prospect of having to pay for the construction and operation of a
recreation center itself while every other County recreation center is paid for
through county-wide revenues. 
We get
it.  We know that the County is in
significant long-term financial jeopardy and that it hopes that it can increase
tax revenues through additional development in Tysons and along the Dulles
Corridor.  To do this, it feels compelled
to give developers what they want.  At
the same time, it is clearly unwilling to make even the most necessary
investments in Reston.  Nonetheless, we reject
the notion that Reston should be a cash cow for the County and give up its
visionary well-planned community to serve the profitability of the private
sector or redress bad financial decisions by the Board of Supervisors. 

It is
extremely unlikely that RCA will be able to support this draft Plan if it is
finalized with the many massive flaws we have identified in our multiple
submissions to County staff.  We will
encourage the community to express its objections in the most vociferous means
possible to the task force, the County staff, the Planning Commission, and the
Board of Supervisors.   We are also working with other community
organizations to protect Reston against the many grievous shortcomings in this
draft plan.  We will not be easily rolled
over by County and developer agendas in our effort to preserve Reston’s values
and planning principles as well our personal wellbeing.