By RCA President Colin Mills

Last week, the Board of Supervisors approved
the revised Comprehensive Plan
for Reston, paving the way for the
development around the future Silver Line stations to begin in earnest.  The new mixed-use, transit-oriented
development along the Toll Road corridor will change the face of Reston in the
coming decades.  Those changes offer the potential
for Reston to be a thriving, forward-looking, 21st-century
community.  They also pose significant
challenges that the community will have to face.
As you likely know, RCA expressed a number
of concerns
about the plan revisions. 
We are concerned that the plan doesn’t do enough to address the traffic
that the new development will add to our streets.  We’re concerned that the plan doesn’t ensure
that Reston’s new residents have enough parks
and athletic fields
nearby.  And we’re
concerned about the plan’s implementation, and who will be responsible for
ensuring that the plan’s goals and constraints are met.
Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors made only minor
tweaks to the plan, and most of our concerns were not addressed.  The Board did pass the follow-on motions
recommended by the Planning Commission, the most important of which calls for “an
inclusive process” to determine how the necessary transportation improvements
will be funded.  But most of the issues
we had with the plan passed by the Task Force are still there.
So is this the end of the road?  Not even close.  What happens next will go a long way toward
determining whether our vision of Reston’s future succeeds.  There’s still work to be done, and we need
our citizens to remain active and involved. 
Here’s an outline of the road ahead for Reston, and how RCA will keep remain
involved along the way.
Let’s start with the “inclusive process” on transportation
funding.  Obviously, RCA will push to
ensure that we and other citizen groups are included in that process.  And we will work hard to develop an equitable
plan that delivers the transportation improvements we need. 
Keeping Reston’s traffic moving will require a lot of
improvements, including multiple additional crossings of the Toll Road.  And someone – really, several someones – will
need to pick up the tab.  Much as we
might hope that developer proffers will pay for it all, that’s not
realistic.  Most likely, a combination of
state and county funding, proffers, and other sources will be tapped to get the
money we need.
However, those “other sources” shouldn’t include another tax
district on Restonians.  At the Board of
Supervisors discussion, the possibility of creating a Reston tax district to
fund transportation improvements came up. 
Supervisor Hudgins has stated that she doesn’t support Restonians paying
for the needed infrastructure on our own; RCA will work to make sure that we
In addition, there’s the larger question of plan implementation.  Transportation funding is a key piece of the
puzzle, but it’s not the only piece.  We must
determine our infrastructure needs and priorities, so that the money we do get
is applied where it’s most needed.  We also
must consider how development can be phased so that our infrastructure can keep
In her remarks at the public hearing on the plan, Supervisor
Hudgins stressed the importance of working with the community to develop an
implementation process for the new development. 
We at RCA agree, and we look forward to helping develop that process.
At the Planning Commission, we heard that the Comprehensive
Plan is only a guide, and the specifics will come when development proposals
are considered.  If that’s true, having a
strong voice for our citizens in the development process is crucial.  We need to be among the first to hear about
proposed projects, not among the last. 
And our citizens must have a seat at the table, to ensure that the new
development is consistent with Reston’s vision and values.
While we’re pushing for a proper implementation of the
development in the corridor, we must also keep our eye on the rest of
Reston.  Remember, the plan amendments
that were just approved only constitute Phase 1 of the plan review.  Phase 2 covers all the other areas, most
notably our village centers. 
We don’t yet know when those areas will be studied or what
form the study will take.  RCA will be
advocating for a citizen-driven process, more so than the developer-heavy Task
Force we saw in Phase 1.  The Phase 2
review should be charged with reimagining our village centers, to create
something better than the strip malls that most of them are today, while
protecting our existing residential neighborhoods and our open spaces.  RCA will be working to ensure that we develop
a process for Phase 2 that benefits the entire community.
As you can see, last week’s vote by the Supervisors isn’t
the end of the process.  Rather, it’s the
beginning of a new chapter.  It’s
important that Reston’s citizens remain engaged in the process, and RCA intends
to keep working hard to ensure that our community’s interests are represented.
Fortunately, we are not alone.  One of the best things to emerge from the
plan review, in my view, is the collaboration between RCA, RA, and the Alliance
of Reston Clusters and Homeowners (ARCH) to advocate for common goals and keep
Restonians informed about the changes that are coming.  Our three organizations issued multiple joint
statements recommending changes to the Comp Plan, and we held a widely attended
and widely praised joint
letting Restonians know about what was in the plan and how we thought
it could be improved.

Our collaboration didn’t perfect the plan, and we didn’t get
everything we wanted.  But the plan is
definitely better for our efforts.  And
the turnout at the forum shows how much the citizens appreciate our work.  As we move to the next stage in planning
Reston’s future, I hope that our three organizations, along with other Reston
groups, continue working together for the good of Reston.  We speak much more clearly when we speak as
one voice, and Reston’s citizens are the winners.