By Terry Maynard

Over the last month, RCA’s Reston 2020 Committee has focused
on the first complete draft of the proposed new Reston Master Plan for the
transit station areas, so-called Draft Version 5.  The committee found the draft plan unacceptable. 
In an
eleven page letter to the County Planning staff
, Terry Maynard, Reston 2020
Co-chair and RCA representative to the Reston Task Force, detailed the draft’s
shortcomings both general and specific.  
Two specific additions drew particular criticism:  Expanding the walking distance by five
minutes (a quarter mile) and considering hotels as a residential use.  At the more general level, the letter
critiqued the increased ambiguity of the draft language, including the failure
to address implementation and associated financing and phasing issues in any
meaningful way, the amorphous language concerning parks and recreation, and
other topics.  The letter concluded:  “We are extremely disillusioned that a
reasonably acceptable development scenario has turned into this amorphous,
directionless mass of words. We hope that you can return this draft plan to a useful
guide for development in Reston’s station areas consistent with Scenario G. If
not, it will be extremely difficult for us to support it.”
To add emphasis to the letter,
Maynard read a forceful statement on behalf of RCA at the August 13, 2013,
Reston Task Force meeting
concerning the failure of Draft Version 5.  In part, he stated: 
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 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 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 fora 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.

Maynard and RCA President and Reston 2020 Coordinating
Committee member Colin Mills followed up on these concerns in a meeting with
Heidi Merkel and Richard Lambert of the Planning staff on August 26, 2013.  In that meeting, they learned that the County
staff had abandoned the ideas to extend the walking distance time and to count
hotels as residential space.  They were
also assured that new language would be forthcoming on parks and recreation,
and an evolution in language concerning transportation as well as new resident
membership in RA.  Many issues remain
surrounding the key implementation language.
The Reston 2020 Committee is looking at possible options
engaging the Reston community more broadly in addressing the shortcomings in
the draft plan.  Work will need to be
done quickly since the final draft plan is scheduled to go before the County
Planning Commission for a hearing on October 30, 2013. 

Draft Version 6 of the Comprehensive Plan was due before the
next task
force meeting on September 10, 2013
, but that has now been postponed.  Reston 2020 will review and comment on it
with the same thoroughness as previous drafts.