The mere suggestion of redeveloping Reston’s only public golf course — one of two courses within its borders — has community organizations arming themselves for a legal battle.
The owners of the Reston National Golf Course are appealing a Fairfax County zoning administrator’s ruling that stated that the golf course cannot be redeveloped without going through a rezoning process.
The owners believe the course could be redeveloped as a residential community under its current zoning.
The case will go before the Board of Zoning Appeals in October.
Already, several Reston organizations are preparing to do what they can to support the position of county staff. These groups say that, if the zoning administrator’s ruling is overturned, it will undermine the vision on which the planned community was built.
“We are not anti-development, but when the threat of redevelopment changes the entire culture of the reason that people moved here, that destroys the community,” said John Pinkman, executive director of the group, Rescue Reston, which is opposes overturning the administrator’s ruling.
Pinkman, who lives in one of the communities adjacent to the golf course, and some of his neighbors, hastily formed Rescue Reston this month after learning about the zoning case. The group is incorporated, with a board of directors and an active website and social media pages.
Rescue Reston has started a legal fund to hire a land-use attorney to help represent the community’s interests and, according to Pinkman, have signed up hundreds of Restonians on its email list.
Pinkman said the idea of redeveloping the golf course and losing that open space has generated such a visceral reaction because it would overturn the whole idea of Reston, which the people who live there bought into.
“As the town matured, it matured with a concept … an implied guarantee that if you buy here, your lifestyle will remain,” he said. “If, after 50 years, someone can come in and say that’s not true … that changes the whole nature of the town.”
Frank McDermott, a land-use attorney representing the golf course owners in the zoning hearing, said that, even if the board decides the case in their favor, nothing will change on the golf course.
It is not a rezoning case or a development proposal, he said.
“It is merely an appeal to confirm the property rights that we believe we have,” McDermott said. “Nothing will change by virtue of it.”
Reston’s two more established civic groups — the Reston Association, which is the homeowners association-like body that manages the community, and the Reston Citizens Association — also have come out in opposition to developing the golf course.
“We’re concerned not just about this development but what it could potentially mean for the future,” RCA President Colin Mills said. “It’s the larger principle about what kind of community we want to be.”
The RCA passed a resolution formally stating the civic group’s opposition to redevelopment at the golf course.
In an Aug. 22 letter to homeowners, the Reston Association also stated that it intends to fight any attempts to redevelop the golf course.
Mills said the RCA is planning to work with the other Reston organizations leading up to the Oct. 24 hearing.
“We’re trying to make sure that we can present as united a front as possible going into the [zoning] hearing,” he said.