The following statement was delivered by RCA President Colin Mills at the Fairfax County Planning Commission hearing on the proposed amendment to Reston’s Comprehensive Plan on November 13, 2013. The Planning Commission voted to defer the decision on the Comprehensive Plan amendments until December 5.
My name is Colin Mills,
I am president of the Reston Citizens Association. RCA has
participated in the Task Force review of the Comprehensive Plan since its beginning. In
addition to attending every meeting, we submitted
over a dozen papers to the Task Force containing detailed
analysis and recommendations,
and we submitted
rounds of comments as the draft Comprehensive Plan emerged
over the last several months.
amount of time and effort that has
gone into this process – by RCA
many others – as well
as the excellent support provided by County staff, you would hope that the plan would be thorough and complete, and one that we could all support. Unfortunately, that is
not the case.
the Comprehensive Plan as
it stands, and graded it section-by-section
(see the attached
report card). The bottom line? Overall,
the plan received
a grade of “D.”
should come as no surprise that RCA’s Task Force representative voted
“No” on the plan.
One goal of this Comprehensive Plan revision
is to redevelop
the areas around the Silver Line stations into
dense, mixed–use, transit–oriented areas with a
real sense of place.
By this measure,
the new Comprehensive Plan is fairly successful. However,
it falls well short in
another area: sustaining Reston’s values and
quality of life.
the report card, you’ll see that we felt the plan could be improved in
many areas. However, some parts
concern us more than others. Therefore, I will focus on the areas where we believe the plan
really missed the mark.
transportation. The Dulles Toll Road corridor is Reston’s biggest
transportation bottleneck; it divides our community in half and generates our biggest traffic jams. The Silver Line will bring a lot more traffic to our community; careful and thoughtful
planning is needed to
avoid gridlock on our streets. Sad to say, this plan
As an overall
The answer has a
huge impact on our community. How much congestion
should we in Reston expect?
plan will mean multi–minute delays at the
near the Toll Road. The County
Department of Transportation’s own modeling demonstrated that. String a few of
in a row and add in
spillover effects, and the Toll Road turns into a virtual wall between
south Reston during the rush. That doesn’t
the traffic moving will require a
improvements, including multiple
the Toll Road.
The price tag will run
in excess of $1 billion. Someone’s going to have to pick up that tab. More likely, a
of someones. A combination of
state and county funding, developer proffers, and other
sources will probably be necessary to build these improvements. With a need
this great, and the sources so diverse, we need careful planning and guidance on how these items
will be paid for.
The brief section on transportation funding
contains only a list
of possible money sources. It provides no concrete guidance on how to acquire
the funds we’ll need. We in Reston are left with
an uncertain future: more traffic is coming, but we don’t know how much or who’s going to pay for the relief we’ll
need. The placemaking around the stations
could come at the cost of the place we live.
of serious concern to Restonians is parks and recreation
facilities. The planned
development will bring over
35,000 new residents to Reston. Those residents need places to play: not
just pocket parks
and playgrounds, but athletic fields as
well. The plan calls
for only 3 fields
be built in the transit areas. There aren’t
any fields there now, and the Park
Authority calculates that the new residents will demand the equivalent
of 12 new full-size turfed
and lighted fields.
the station areas will have only 3, where will the rest of the demand go? Into the rest of Reston. The Park Authority expects that existing Reston fields will
be turfed and lighted in order to meet the demand. The plan is silent on where these newly lighted and turfed
will be. We believe that the fields serving the transit areas should be located within the corridor or
at least within walking distance.
Reston’s existing fields are well-
used, and many of them are paid for by us through RA assessment dollars. Is Reston’s
future going to
find the existing residents fighting for
field time with the new residents,
and paying for
the improvements to boot? That’s not acceptable to Restonians. The plan needs to make clear that
any new or
improved fields to serve the station areas will be paid for
the development in those areas.
The rest of Reston
shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the park infrastructure that the transit areas will need.
issue that concerns Restonians is open
space. We were greatly disappointed when, at its
last meeting, the Task Force
cut back on open
space requirements, dropping from a minimum requirement
of 20% of net lot area as publicly accessible open space to a “goal” of 20%. Open space is central to Restonians.
We support reverting to the staff’s
language mandating a 20% minimum, not just a fuzzy goal.
plan is implementation.
Here we’re not concerned about
what’s in the plan, but rather what isn’t there. That is, any meaningful guidance about achieving the goals laid out in the plan, or ensuring
that its constraints are met. In 2010, RCA produced
a paper on this subject, and its title has become a mantra for
us throughout this process. That title: “Planning Without Implementation
Is Empty.” We never dreamed that, over three years
later, we would be looking at a completed plan with virtually nothing on implementation.
isn’t just a planning issue; it’s a political
issue. It’s where the
the road. If
the desired transformation of the Toll Road corridor
is going to happen, implementation is crucial to that.
If this vision fails,
or if the development comes at the cost of Reston’s quality of life,
our citizens will have our elected officials
to blame. It’s in everyone’s best interest that we get this right.
plan for inspiration
here. We support having a single
entity responsible for implementation issues. Tysons called it
the “keeper of
promoting coordination between developers, citizens, and government, this
entity would formulate an implementation strategy, and determine how the
necessary infrastructure will be paid for. The key
benefit here is that there would be a single point of responsibility for carrying out the plan’s vision. If implementation isn’t someone’s responsibility, it’s no one’s responsibility. We can’t let that happen.
the plan encouraging new development in
the transit areas to become members of either the Reston Association or
Center Association. These two
entities are essential to maintaining Reston’s character and identity. Creating another
new association – or several new associations
– would only fragment our community and increase
the disconnect between
the transit areas and the rest of Reston. We urge that this
language be preserved
in the plan.
Its fuzziness in key areas, especially
transportation and parks and rec, and the lack of implementation guidance run the risk of
divided community and harming our overall quality of life,
instead of making Reston stronger into the
future. We urge the
Commission to defer approval of the Comprehensive Plan amendment until these
areas are strengthened. Thank you for
your time and attention.