This is the final piece of a 6-part series discussing essential points that are sometimes missing from the ongoing dialogue about Fairfax County Staff’s pending density recommendation for Reston. Each op-ed focuses on a piece of a recent letter sent to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, in support of Staff’s recommendation, from a group of community leaders who were either members of the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force (which made the recommendations to the Comprehensive Plan related to Metrorail’s arrival in Reston), or who were supportive of that process.
Last week in part 5, I highlighted that approximately $2.4B of transportation-related infrastructure is planned to be phased in with development, and a dedicated revenue stream is already in place.
In this final week I would like to focus on the process for community involvement going forward. It took Reston over 50 years to reach its current population of approximately 62,000 people. It will likewise take decades to achieve anything close to full build-out under the Plan (which may never be achieved). Planning Principle #10 expressly states: “Local participation should remain a hallmark of the planning and zoning processes as Reston continues to evolve as a complete community for the 21st century over several decades. The cumulative impacts of development and redevelopment should be routinely assessed and evaluated.” There will be numerous opportunities for community input as this process evolves over the next several decades, and individual projects will be subject to multiple approvals and community input before they can proceed (the active community engagement and resulting effects on current development applications make that point very clearly). Each project will be required to submit transportation and other impact statements, and the advisory board for the transportation infrastructure tax district is tasked with working with Staff to annually assess and prioritize transportation infrastructure needs.
Retreating from the Comprehensive Plan vision adopted just a few short years ago after an inclusive community process is not the answer to promoting the community’s interests; protecting community engagement throughout this decades-long development process is.
I hope this series has helped highlight important points that are sometimes missing from the ongoing debate about Staff’s recommendation. The best summary of this series of op-eds is to quote directly the community letter that was recently submitted to the Supervisor’s in support of Staff’s recommendation: “Reducing or disincentivizing residential growth is at odds with the comprehensive vision the Task Force so powerfully (and almost unanimously) endorsed. These issues were exhaustively discussed throughout an arduous, inclusive, five-year Task Force and Village Center process; revisiting and endlessly debating these issues will create uncertainty about the Plan’s stability and risks halting needed development or creating uneven or disjointed results, which we don’t think is in Reston’s interests. There will be numerous opportunities for community input as this process evolves over the next several decades, and individual projects will be subject to multiple approvals and community input before they can proceed. For all these reasons, we support County Staff’s pending administrative recommendations, which we think are broadly consistent with implementation of the vision adopted in the Comprehensive Plan.”